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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Top Reasons to Travel and Teach


Are you still deciding whether or not to make the commitment and become a certified TEFL trainer, travel overseas to a country where you don’t speak the language and work for a year or two? That’s understandable. It can be a daunting task for any first time teacher, and even experienced teachers struggle in new environments. However, if you are confident enough and prepare yourself before you go, there are many benefits to working as an EFL instructor. For information on preparing to travel and teach, you can check out our earlier blog posts. Making sure you are well prepared will help you make the most of your trip and ensure you experience minimal difficulties.

In this article, we will cover just a few of the perks, or bonuses that come with a good TEFL job, and with the experience of travelling and teaching.

1. Independence
One of the main reasons people travel overseas is to ‘find themselves’. It sounds cliché, but experiencing a new culture by immersing yourself in it definitely teaches you a lot about life, and a lot about yourself. One benefit of travelling and teaching is you need to take care of yourself, and overcome your problems (somewhat) on your own. Life is definitely more enjoyable when you know you don’t have to rely on others to get by.

2. Money
This needs to be close to the top of the list, because even though teaching English as a foreign language will not make you ultra-rich, it is a good way to save money while still having a good quality of life. In many TEFL countries you will be paid a modest amount compared to in your home country, however, it will most likely be a good amount for the country you live in. In most EFL environments, teachers are considered professionals and are held to a high standard. You will typically be paid more than enough to get by, and by preparing most of your own meals and living thrifty, you are able to save a good proportion of it.

3. Experiences
Travelling and working opens up a world of new experiences for any new teacher. In many cases, teachers will use their free time to learn a new skill (like a local sport, or art) or to get out and see something they have always dreamt of. If teaching in China, it is quite easy to spend a weekend hiking the Great Wall. If teaching in Switzerland, why not learn to ski? Working as an EFL instructor means you will have the money and time to have plenty of ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences. You can also expand your pallet by trying new food.

4. Welcoming atmosphere
As mentioned, English teachers are generally well respected around the world. In most cultures, teachers are considered to be intelligent and thoughtful. When working as a teacher in a foreign country, you will find a lot of people open up to you when they find out you are a teacher. People will go out of their way to speak to you. This can be overwhelming at times, but most of the time it is friendly and useful.

5. Change of pace
In our everyday lives, we tend to rush around and don’t get a chance to take in our surroundings. Typically, the teachers in EFL environments are not overloaded with work. In fact, many jobs only require teachers to work 5-6 hours a day, and most work contracts contain sections relating to holidays. Most schools will find you accommodation in close proximity to the school meaning there is no need to commute, as it is only a short walk away.

6. Meeting new people
The TEFL industry covers a wide variety of countries, and EFL teachers come from a variety of backgrounds. Depending on where you teach, you will have a chance to meet a whole new range of people. You will obviously meet a lot of people from the country you are working in, but your co-workers will also be a mix of nationalities, age groups, teaching skills and background. Even the city you live in will likely have a vibrant community of ‘foreign teachers’, who organize all types of fun activities, from parties to trivia nights. These connections will stay with your for the rest of your life and meeting people who share the same interests can pay off years later. Meeting friends from a wide variety of places means you will also have people to visit when you travel in years to come.

7. Get a fresh start
While it is generally not a good idea to run away from your troubles, sometimes the best thing you can do is pack up and get a fresh start. Some people travel because they want to get into a new career, others because they need a steady income. The idea of travelling overseas for a fresh start is not a new one, and can be exactly what the doctor ordered.

These are just some of the great things you can get out of a career in TEFL. In the vast majority of cases, the ‘pros’ outweigh the ‘cons’ and if you speak to EFL trainers, they will tell you how amazing the whole experience is.

Do you know any other great reasons to travel and teach? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below.

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