A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

Learn about TEFL:
Teaching English as a Foreign Language Overseas

Is Teaching English Overseas appropriate for me?

It might be.  Only you can decide if a career in TEFL - teaching English overseas - is the right path for your life at this time.  While this section serves primarily to raise and examine the questions you should consider, more in-depth help with answers for those questions are in the other sections of this guide. 

What are the things to consider?

Do you have a family that you are responsible for?  How would they feel about moving overseas and living in a foreign land?

Do you have a spouse?  How would s/he feel about giving up their job?  Will she be able to find work overseas?  Is she interested in teaching English also?

Do you have children?  How will you educate them while overseas?  How might they feel about giving up their friends?

Do you have debts that must be paid while you are overseas?

Are there special medical issues for you or your family that must be considered?

Do you have the financial reserves to return to your home country and re-establish yourself if things don't work out?

Have you ever taught before - do you have any reason to believe that you might enjoy teaching English?

Have you ever traveled or lived overseas before?  Did you enjoy it?

Would you find the daily problems of living and working overseas frustrating - or a refreshing challenge? 

This list is only a beginning - as individual as each person is -
so are the questions that need to be answered in making this decision.

What qualities are needed to succeed?

My observation has been that people who succeed in TEFL overseas have the following characteristics and knowledge:

  • They have reasonable expectations about their new occupation
    and what it can and cannot provide for them

  • They understand that their new country is not like their home country
    - solutions to problems that work at home often don't work overseas

  • They realize that problems they had at home will probably also exist overseas

  • They know they will have good days and bad days - just like back home

  • They know they may experience good bosses, bad bosses, good jobs and bad jobs - just like back home

  • They are flexible people who can roll with surprises and "punches"

  • They are willing to work under different cultural expectations,
    willing to follow different cultural work rules

  • They are resilient and can bounce back from a bad situation

  • They are not generally moody or depressed

  • They view their success as a personal challenge

  • They spent a considerable amount of time researching their move
    - before they moved.

Here's the directory for this section:

Learn about Teaching Overseas

Is Teaching English Overseas appropriate for me?
What qualities are needed to succeed?

How much might I earn or save?

Is there any kind of job security?

What are my chances of landing a “decent” job?

What types of jobs are available?

Is it possible to find a job teaching for only a few months?  For a few years?  For the rest of my life?

Who does this kind of work and why?

What if I don’t speak the language where I want to go?

How long might it take me to find a job?

I hear only flakey things about teaching overseas!  Do people respect the occupation?  Is this business full of misfits?

Can TEFL Overseas be a “real” career?

What if I am not young, white, thin, blonde, native-speaking, straight, or ?

What if I don’t have teaching experience?

What if I don’t have a degree or TEFL training?

What kind of quality of life can I expect?


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