Hopes and dreams
So you want to teach English abroad? Or maybe you just want to teach but stay close to home. Realistically, if you’re interested in becoming an English as a Foreign Langauge instructor in the age of Covid-19, you’re going to be teaching online. Of course, there are schools around the globe opening up, and so are the opportunities. You have options, you just need to know where to look.
When I made the decision to teach, it was honestly less about teaching and more about traveling. With a knack for coaching and working with adults, I thought I’d be fairly well-suited to teach. However, I wasn’t inordinately excited to be in a classroom, nor did I really even know what it all entailed. What I did know, was that this job I thought I’d potentially enjoy would lead me to a life I would love unequivocally more than any other life I could lead.
With that said, Teacher Training kicked my butt. In 2009, I attended a CELTA training class in Seville, Spain at CLIC (CLIC Escuela de Idiomas Sevilla). As a native speaker of English, I regretted every single moment I dozed off in English class. The stress of learning my language from the inside out was more than I’d anticipated, so I really had to buckle down to learn. No joke, I definitely worked more than I played that month I was in Spain.
It sort-of made sense when I was in school and doing my practice teaching. It definitely faded when I went back to my regular, non-teaching job. However, I will say that after a few months of teaching, it all just clicked. The conjugations, tenses, parts of speech, etc. just fitted together. Partially because learning about language turned out to be an incredibly interesting topic for me, and partially because I found teaching to be so rewarding.
One afternoon, a teacher at CLIC asked where I planned to teach. Honestly, I had no clue and around this time was getting pretty homesick. I’d considered Spain and Vietnam. I’d also ruminated on Australia and Mexico. What I wanted most was to be home for a while. So, while most students mentioned places like South Korea, China, even staying in Spain, I told her that I’d like to teach at home. Perhaps on the Arizona/Mexico border.
She laughed and said it wasn’t going to happen. In kindness, she provided what was intended to be sage advice and told me to start looking at other places. Alternately, I disagreed, and when it came right down to it, I didn’t want to leave my family.
When I was ready to teach, started at a fantastic private language school just 15 minutes from my home. There I taught in a multi-lingual classroom to students of all levels. It was during this time I had the opportunity to co-teach a TEFL training course and also work with advanced professionals on things like accent reduction, editing, public speaking, and business communication. It was fantastic exposure I’m not sure I would have experienced had I not found this school.
Which leads me to my next point: There are opportunities everywhere. You just have to put yourself out there. In this case, it was a friend of a family friend who knew I was looking for language school work.
Take the first steps
- Explore training programs. As mentioned, I chose to train in Seville. You can train in your area, go online, or study abroad. They each have their own advantages (and costs).
- Determine if you’d like to do a TEFL, TESL, TESOL, or CELTA. I completed a CELTA through Bridge TEFL’s program at CLIC. This was due to a high placement rate in schools over the TEFL/TESL candidates.
- Start to daydream & research where you’d like to teach. Do you want to travel? Stay home? Teach online? – Where you want to teach will help determine which program is best for you.
Good things to consider if you’re thinking of teaching abroad:
What your school life will look like. For example, are you teaching adults or children? How many hours do you work a week? Does the school offer training or support?
What your personal life will look like. Where would you live, what do you do for fun on your off time, will you have vacation time to travel?
What your financial life will look like. How much is the program? What is paid upfront and what is reimbursed (for example, schools often pay for your flights there, but not a flight home until your contract ends). How much is the rent? In general, consider your total cost of living.
Is it feasible? This is sometimes the bubble-popping moment. Read your State Department’s travel recommendations on the area.
Also, consider work restrictions. For example, as an American, I cannot work in the EU without certain permissions. These such permissions are enough to prompt me to teach in areas that are easier for me to find employment.
Lastly, for my parents’ (and yours’) sake, consider safety. The consulate can go a long way to helping you here, but search engines are also your friends. Find someone who can speak for the area you intend to visit and explore their perceptions.
It’s important to note here, I did not teach abroad. I do have experience looking for, finding, and securing an international position for myself (as well as the TEFL students I taught and mentored) While offered a job in China, I went through the steps of obtaining my visa and booking my tickets, but life got in the way. My experience stateside was fantastic and I am grateful.
About the Author
Brianna is a businessperson and certified English as a Foreign Language instructor with a passion for social science. If you’d like to read more about my time in Spain, check out my blog here. Thanks, as always, for reading! If you have a story to share, please share it below!