Why would I want to become an ESL teacher? This is a question you’ve probably asked yourself if you are looking at this page. It was the same question I had over 20 years ago.
So what happened all those 20 years ago? I did it! I took the plunge, and I started a journey that I have not regretted since. I’ve been thinking about this recently after providing resources for teachers already in the field. And for those of you who are still on the fence, here are 5 reasons to become an ESL teacher.
Travel the World and Get Paid to Do It!
Did you know that a lot of schools overseas will buy you a ticket to get you there? Not only that, once you arrive in the country, you will probably have a place to stay as well. Of course, conditions and living arrangements all differ, but you can travel the world without having to ever buy a plane ticket if you work it right.
Just remember to be careful and check out the school that is hiring you. There are plenty of school blacklists online that list bad places to work. A lot of times, you can just Google a school’s name and the word review after it, and you can find all sorts of useful comments. I have found a school online at myTEFL that will actually help you get a job after you get your certification.
If a school gives you a list of teachers to talk to, it’s a pretty good sign that they are on the up and up. My last school was actually for the Korean military, and they often gave out my contact information for prospective teachers to use.
Just remember that not everybody will be happy. I loved my time in Korea, but I also worked with plenty of people who complained non-stop every day. If you meet people like that in your travels, do yourself a favor and stay away from them. Too much negativity can be contagious.
Remember the title of this site, “Teaching English is Fun,” and enjoy yourself. Learn new cultures and my next point. Learn new skills.
Learn a Lot About Yourself and Gain New Skills
There are a lot of different kinds of people teaching abroad. Some do it for cash, some do it for adventure and believe it or not some do it to find themselves. I myself went to Korea to teach for what was going to be 2 years. Twenty years later and I finally came back home.
My first thought was to go and see a new country while I figured out what I was going to do with my life after the military. I discovered that I really loved teaching and had quite a knack for it. I actually had a student tell me I was the best teacher she ever had!
I was hooked! I found that the more difficult the students, the harder I tried to show them that I was worth the tuition they were paying. I also started to improve my public speaking ability. I got rid of all the umm’s and ahh’s that plague so many people because the students were not shy about commenting about speaking mistakes.
And I learned a new language! I can now stumble though a conversation in Korean, and if I have time, I can also find my way around Japan.
So, what new skills will you gain? Maybe you can take up snowboarding in the winter, learn a language, find out you can really rock a singing room, or countless other skills and abilities that you don’t even know you have.
Meet Interesting New People and Gain Friends from All Over the World
There will be people you meet who you hope you never see again, but by and by, you will make some great friendships with people from all over the world. I, for one, have friends in Canada, New Zealand, Korea, Australia, Japan, and countless other acquaintances I have learned valuable lessons from.
Open your mind to new cultures, thoughts, ideas, and ways of life! Sometimes the most valuable things that you will bring back won’t be material goods, but what is in your heart and mind.
I now know things about countries I’ve never even been to. A shout out to “Candle Guy” from New Zealand! I miss seeing and arguing about American politics with my British and Canadian friends, as well. We all had wildly different backgrounds, but we all got along and were able to enrich each other’s lives.
Have Adventures in Lands Most People Only Dream About
Climb a mountain top in Korea to visit a Buddhist temple. Visit the Great Wall of China. Feed Koi in one of the many gardens in Japan. These are all things that you can do if you travel overseas.
Go rock climbing over the ocean in Thailand. Have live octopus or eat the deadly puffer fish. Be on a Korean TV or radio show. I’m listing out things that I have done, and many other people have experienced all because they took that leap of faith and got on a plane to another country.
Learn an Exotic Foreign Language
Odds are you will have to learn at least a little of the language. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean are just some of the languages you can learn much faster than if you were sitting in a classroom reading from a book.
You may or may not become fluent, but now that I am back in America, it is nice to see the look of surprise on someone’s face when I greet them in their native tongue.
If you are worried about having the skills to teach or you would like to improve your chances at a good job before you go, I suggest getting some kind of special training. I’ve done some hunting, and I’ve found a really great deal at myTEFL. They offer three different types of classes, all at very competitive prices. Check them out and see what you think.
So what are you waiting for? I have mainly mentioned Asian countries here, but there are places all over that have people willing to pay you to come teach. Oh, and I think I forgot that one. You can save a lot of money if you live right. You usually don’t have to pay for a house. Your ticket is taken care of, and in Korea, they pay you a bonus at the end of your contract.
The choice is yours, but if you have questions, I will be adding more information for the prospective teachers out there in the weeks to come.
Until next time remember, Teaching English is Fun!