What if I am
not young, white, thin, blonde, native-speaking,
straight, or ?
What if I am
not the "standard" person?
Yes, it is common in this business for some schools to
want to hire blond, blue-eyed, young, thin and straight
native-speakers. But, you will find a very wide variety
of people in this occupation. Schools often have an
"ideal" candidate - a stereotype if you will - in mind.
reality is that there is just not enough native-speaking
EFL teachers in the world to meet the demand, and they
find themselves very happy (and lucky!) to hire those of
us who don't fit the stereotype.
What if I am over 30, 40 or even 60 years of age?
started teaching English in Korea at age 41, one month
before my 42nd birthday. And, I had grayish hair and a
white beard at the time. Right now, at age 58 and with
thinning white hair, I still wouldn't have trouble
finding a good job. I have worked with people over 60
years old and even met a teacher over 70!
The more you
vary from the standard stereotype though, the more you
may need to adapt your job search strategies.
Don't allow your age to limit your goals. Luckily, us
older folks aren't usually asked to teach kindergarten
(thank God!). If you are older, your broader life and
work experience will often work to your advantage -
don't be afraid to use it.
What if I am not "white"?
Most countries are beginning to realize that the UK,
Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa -
and other countries that speak English as their first
language are nations of immigrants - and not "lily
white" countries. In Korea in 2005, I saw
Chinese-Canadians, Hispanic-Americans, Black-Americans
and just about every other kind of "ethnic mix" you
might think of.
While it might take you just a bit
longer to find the right employer - you really don't
want to work for the narrow-minded employers who would
rule you out anyway. Persist and you will find the job
What about gay or lesbian or other "non-straight"
Many cultures are bit more reserved than Western
countries about sexuality issues. While alternative
lifestyles, preferences, etc. certainly exist - they are
sometimes hidden and not openly talked about. Most
people find they need to be a little more discreet
overseas than back home. But, this is not always true.
The discussion board at
ELT World can help you find out the best approach where
you want to go. Generally speaking, it won't come up,
unless you bring it up - so it shouldn't get in the way
of landing, or keeping, a TEFL job overseas.
whole point of this page is to say that anything about
you that you might be concerned about - should not
really be a worry. But . . . do ask on the discussion
boards about possible difficulties. Generally, you'll
find people very encouraging - and you'll often hear
from others just like you.