There are lots of people out there who would love to be a TEFL teacher, and there are just as many people who have a number of excuses why they can’t become a TEFL teacher. Although some legitimate arguments exist, here are a few excuses which really shouldn’t be holding you back…
Working with kids is certainly the only job I’ve ever got cheers and hugs just for entering a room – who can complain about that?
“I don’t like kids”
Children are not the only ones learning English as a second language. There are plenty of adults in need of English teachers, from those continuing their studies at university level to others needing to learn businesses English at work, and plenty of people looking for private tutoring. Some of these positions may require extra qualifications, such as a CELTA, but many are far more attainable than you would think. Also, as someone who started out saying “I don’t like kids” before trying TEFL, I can confirm that they’re not as bad as I thought. Working with ESL kids is certainly the only job I’ve ever got cheers and hugs just for entering a room – who can complain about that?
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“I don’t want to move somewhere by myself”
So, you’ll hop on the flight by yourself, but everything after that is as social or isolated as you choose to make it. You can meet people by joining a house share, making friends with the other teachers at work, going to events or learning the local language in a group class. On top of that, most of the other foreigners you’ll meet will have moved there by themselves too. So, not only will they understand what you’re going through, they’ll often be extremely friendly and welcoming.
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“It’s a dead-end job”
There are endless opportunities in and after teaching English as a foreign language. If you are a natural-born teacher, then TEFL gives you the opportunity to share your gift all over the world. There are also lots of places that will offer room for growth, taking on extra responsibilities and even promotions. On the other hand, if teaching is not your life’s calling but something you’d like to try, there is still invaluable experience to be had. You’ll find yourself coming away from working as a teacher with better time management, planning and organisation skills, as well as experience of public speaking, managing groups and thinking on your feet. These are all skills that plenty of employers will be looking for in a number of industries.
Nope, this is not an excuse! Admittedly, I spent my first lesson forgetting how to spell four-letter words, but by a few months into teaching, I was doing spelling drills like an army sergeant. Everything is scary at first but before long it becomes second nature.
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“I don’t have enough money”
This excuse is my personal pet peeve. If you can afford a few drinks at the weekend, a meal out once in a while and the occasional new outfit, you can afford to teach abroad. A few months on a tight budget is enough for many people to save up enough cash for their qualification, a flight to their country of choice and their first month of living while job hunting. It took me six months working as a receptionist to save up enough money to get TEFL qualified and move abroad, in my country of choice, Vietnam, I arrived with $1500. Saving up may take you more or less time than me but, however long it takes you, I’m pretty sure you’ll feel that it was time well spent.
Now, for some people, this is not an excuse, they really do have too many responsibilities at home. But, for many of us, our ‘essential responsibilities’ are more like self-imposed torture. Take a minute to think of all the responsibilities you have, and then take a few more minutes to work out if they really are important enough to stop you trying something new. If no individual responsibility on your list is big enough to stop you becoming a TEFL teacher, it may be worth considering why a collection of semi-important responsibilities is…
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“I don’t know if I’ll like teaching”
Lots of people take a leap of faith when it comes to teaching, but you don’t have to. There are likely people learning English as a second language in your home country, even in English-speaking countries. See if you can observe a lesson, or even apply for online teaching! If you don’t like your first experience, you may ask yourself “why do you want to be a teacher”, remember, there isn’t only one type of teaching. TEFL teaching ranges from working in international kindergartens to academic universities, and working as an English-speaking football coach to a language centre teacher who gets to do science projects. (For the record, these are all real teaching jobs.)
As with any big career or lifestyle change, there’s going to be a few difficult decisions to make and worries to overcome. But, with any luck, you can cross these excuses off your list!