Published 15th July 2021
When it comes to packing up your life and moving abroad to teach English as a Foreign Language, you know we don’t need convincing! But we understand that this is a big move so it’s understandable that you might be a little wary of taking the plunge. You might have a very comfortable full-time job that pays the rent. You go to your office every day with your nice stationery and all your plants and then go home to your two-bedroom house in a nice, quiet suburb. On weekends you probably catch up with friends over a bottle of wine, or you crash on the couch with Netflix.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But maybe you have a feeling that there’s more to your life. Maybe you’ve had this feeling for a while. A feeling that your life could (and should) be different. And if we’re honest, this is probably the biggest reason people choose to uproot their lives to become TEFL teachers. The underlying feeling that they should be doing more with their lives, that there is more to life.
We get it, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.
But if you are still sitting on the fence, then let us give you a bit more clarity by giving you five reasons you should quit your 9-5 and become a TEFL teacher.
It gives you wings
Obviously not literally but most definitely figuratively. The simple definition of a 9-5 is the fact that you work from 9 am to 5 pm. Lots of people like that and cherish the predictability of it, but TEFL teachers often prefer to live a little more freely. Some months we might work from 9 am to 2 pm, while other months we could work from 6 pm to 10 pm, and other months we might only work on weekends. Your schedule can change on any given day.
Many people stay in one job, in one office, at one desk, for years, if not decades. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. But we like the fact that being a TEFL teacher means your classrooms can change every year – or even more often than that. TEFL contracts are often a year long, and changing jobs could very easily mean moving to a new country, never mind a new school!
Your students could change too, as well as the content of your lessons. If you are teaching kindergarten this year, maybe you want to teach Business English next year, or English for exams, or teen learners. The variety and flexibility in this job are not found in many other careers.
And it’s all up to you. You can decide where you want to live, who you want to teach, what you want to teach. If you find you don’t particularly enjoy teaching a certain age group or subject, you can simply finish up your contract and move on.
Money makes the world go round
We can’t dispute the fact that money makes the world go round, and we don’t deny it. Sure there are careers that can earn you a lot more money than a TEFL job, but there are plenty of TEFL jobs that will earn you a very comfortable salary. Some even give you accommodation and reimbursement of your flights – both of which are huge savings. Besides your principal teaching gig, it’s also possible to earn extra cash with a side hustle – and your TEFL job probably gives you the freedom to do that without burning yourself out.
But the real beauty of being a TEFL teacher is the lifestyle. Even if you don’t have the most lucrative teaching job, your lifestyle is likely to be comfortable, if not lavish. The cost of living in relation to a TEFL salary is usually quite low. This means it’s possible to live the life you’ve always dreamed of with weekends at the beach, twice-weekly restaurant visits, and regular shopping trips, without working your fingers to the bone and without breaking the bank. Or you can save your cents to pay back your student loan back home.
Either way, teaching abroad gives you the financial freedom that can be hard to find in other lifestyles.
Be the change you want to see in the world
All jobs are meaningful but not all jobs allow you to see the change you are affecting. English is one of the most widely used languages in the world. It is useful for business, leisure and personal situations. Our students are in a position that they need English for a certain reason, and we are able to help them achieve their goals.
Because of this, teaching English is a very rewarding job. You will see your students improve before your very eyes. You will not only feel a sense of achievement in your teaching abilities but you will notice their own pride in their English abilities. If your students pass an English exam or get a job or get accepted into a university, you will feel a sense of achievement along with them – because you are making a real difference in someone’s life.
The world is your oyster
There are very, very few places in this world that you can’t teach English as a Foreign Language. If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug then teaching English is the perfect job for you. Where you live doesn’t depend on your job; your job depends on where you want to live. Bali? Bermuda? Bangkok? Go for it.
While in a regular job you need to plan your holidays around your limited number of leave days, with a TEFL job your life is your holiday. You are already living in your holiday destination, so any time off in the afternoons or on weekends you are already where you want to explore. There’s no need to jump on a plane! Around every corner is somewhere new waiting to be discovered. And if you have lived in one place for a while and don’t consider it exciting anymore, you are surely not far from somewhere new, either for a holiday or for a more long-term move.
You’re up for the challenge
Living in the city you’ve always lived in, working in the job you’ve had for years, doing the same things every weekend that you’ve always done – this can put you in a comfort zone. Sometimes removing ourselves from our current situation is exactly what we need to challenge ourselves intellectually and emotionally.
Becoming a teacher is undoubtedly a challenge, particularly if you have never taught before. Teaching will upskill you in so many ways. Teaching teaches you time management, people management, public speaking, communication, responsibility and so many other skills. Plus, it encourages creativity and imaginative thinking.
Read more: Skills You’ll Pick Up Teaching English
At the same time, living abroad fosters independence. Being responsible for your own bills, your own schedule and your own lifestyle will help you become more self-confident, as you prove that you are flexible and adaptable. Living in a foreign culture will broaden your horizons, as you experience new cultures and meet new people with different mindsets to your own.
Not speaking the language will again test you, as you will need to survive in a community without being able to communicate. You will have to pick up the language through immersion in order to fit into the culture.
Read more: Culture Shock
As you can see, there is a myriad of reasons to become a TEFL teacher.
On the flip side, there might also be a number of reasons to give up your current 9-5. If you work in a toxic environment or do not get on with your colleagues, maybe it’s time to move on. If you dread going to work on a Monday and spend all day at your desk daydreaming, maybe you should consider leaving. Or, if you’d rather be packing your bags and getting ready to jet off to a new destination, maybe you should put that resignation letter together and sign up for a TEFL course!