Weighing up your career or gap year options?
Here are eight reasons why you should pack your bags and teach English overseas.
1. Earn money while you travel
Teaching abroad is one of the best ways to travel the world and earn money at the same time.
Some people squeeze as much traveling as they can into weekends and vacation time during their teaching stint, while others complete their contract and travel afterwards. Some do both!
Seasoned English teachers, armed with experience and a hunger for travel, often ‘job hop’ from one country to the next. It’s a great way of seeing the world without breaking the bank.
Although some countries pay better than others, it's best to focus on whether your salary is higher than the local average. That way, you know you're getting a good deal.
2. Enhance your CV
Overseas teaching experience can significantly improve your resume and boost your career prospects.
It demonstrates that you’re flexible and resilient, and have loads of initiative!
Most importantly, it shows that you’ve got experience in leading and managing people – one of the toughest gigs out there. This is highly valued by recruiters and a great way to differentiate yourself.
Teaching abroad can enhance your CV as it demonstrates you can manage a range of people.
As soon as you’re back home, make sure you update your resume and LinkedIn profile so you can stand out from the crowd.
3. It’s easy to get qualified
Most countries require you to have some sort of teaching certificate. This is relatively easy to get.
The most common certificates are Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) and Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA).
You need a teaching certificate to teach in China (Pictured: Summer Pagoda in the north of China).
The length, inclusions and price of each course varies between providers, so it pays to do a little bit of homework first.
My review of some of the best online TEFL courses should help you.
Many countries, including China, require a TEFL course of at least 120 hours plus a bachelor's degree.
But the requirements differ between countries and schools, so check with your recruiter.
4. It will open your eyes
Working overseas opens your eyes to new cultures, new experiences and different ways of doing things.
When you return home, you (or those around you) may notice that you’re more open-minded, tolerant and patient. That’s a good thing!
If you teach in a developing country like China, culture shock is a given.
However, try not to be afraid of culture shock. There will be an adjustment period and it may take a little bit of time to settle in to your new home abroad.
Open up your eyes to a new country and culture.
As strange as it sounds, culture shock can actually change your life for the better.
5. The job market in your country probably sucks
Don’t worry if you can’t find work in your own country – there are plenty of teaching jobs overseas.
In fact, demand in some countries is so strong that schools simply can’t fill all the advertised positions.
China is regarded as one of the world’s teaching hotspots, where demand outstrips supply year after year. It’s good to feel wanted!
6. It will provide a new challenge (in other words, you’re sick of your job)
Are you bored of doing the same old thing every day? Want to learn something new?
Teaching English overseas will give you a new lease on life.
For many, the journey starts with the teaching certificate. The content is interesting and will really make you think. Studying can also be a nice change from work, and is an exciting lead-up to your trip abroad.
Once you’re there, the new culture will challenge you, so too will your classes. It’s a challenge that you will want to take on as it will stimulate and motivate you.
You may even start learning a bit of the local language while you're overseas. Imagine how impressed your friends will be when you return home!
7. You’ll make new friends
Teaching overseas is a sure-fire way of meeting new people.
Whether it’s your fellow English teachers, local teachers, your students or simply the friendly face at the corner store, you’re bound to make lifelong friends.
You’ll meet new friends while teaching abroad.
China, in particular, is known for its friendly and inquisitive people. You’ll be asked about your home country a lot, people will want their photo taken with you, and you’ll even have strangers wanting to practice their English!
Being out of your comfort zone effectively forces you to speak up, gain more confidence, and connect with new and interesting people.
8. Feel good by helping others
Life is too short to work in a monotonous, depressing or soul-destroying job. Wouldn't you rather be touching the lives of hundreds of aspiring students?
Teaching English gives students real opportunities. It improves their communication skills and gives them the confidence they need to handle everyday situations.
For older students, it helps them advance their careers, improve their job prospects and compete in a global marketplace.
Knowing that you’re making a difference in people’s lives is rewarding. And helping others gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, so it’s a win-win situation.
So there you have it – eight good reasons why you should teach English overseas.
If you have any questions about teaching in China (like I've done), ask me in the comments section below. Teaching abroad is an awesome experience!