What's the downside
of Teaching English Overseas?
What if things go bad?
TEFL, just like any career, things can go south. You
can find yourself in a job or with coworkers you don't
like. The same can happen if you don't like or don't
feel comfortable with the culture, country or city.
Anything that could go wrong with a job back home can
also go wrong overseas and even a few more things.
Fortunately, in most countries, it is not difficult to
change jobs. Be aware though, that in some countries
there can be a difficult process for changing jobs and
you may need to go to another country for a "visa run"
or even to find work.
Plan for the best, prepare for the worst
None of us have trouble dealing with ideal situations,
so lets talk about the worst case scenario. There are
many ways to avoid this difficult situation - be sure to
read and follow the advice in the "Job Hunt" sections,
especially the parts on
to know before you accept a job.
Just in case things do go bad - it is my opinion - you
need to make sure you have a return ticket home, or to
another desirable country, and enough cash to survive
for at least three months. This is more than most
people recommend, but I am a financial conservative and
I don't ask family or friends for loans.
Three months and a plane ticket will give you the time
and ability to figure out your next move, make it, and
work in your new job/location until you get your first
pay check. In an ideal world - six months cash would be
great. But I know most people don't have that kind of
money put away.
Stay cool, try to work things out - culture differences
can take their toll when you are first overseas.
Misunderstandings are easy and culture shock is common.
Some of my most frustrating moments have been due to
simple cultural and/or language misunderstandings.
was a university dean who thought I was insulting him
due to the direct translation of a positive comment
being negative in his language. Another was a
supervisor refusing to say "No" when he meant "No" - but
it was a cultural impossibility for him to do so - so he
said "Yes" and I didn't pick up the cultural reluctance
until later - with uncomfortable feelings all around.
Follow the guidance on this website on looking for a job
and researching your new position, and you can avoid 98%
of the headaches involved.