“For all you Brits who don’t realise it, you have the knowledge of possibly the most valuable language on the planet – English.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say our language is one of the important communication tools on the planet. In almost every city on this planet, you can guarantee that two people will be conversing in a language which is not their own native tongue and in many cases; the language which will connect these two people will be English. English is the Global language and trust me, I know, because of it I have met and spoken with people from countries all over the world and yet aside from one or two of them, I haven’t known a single word of their native tongue.
People in England, I believe, take their language for granted. It gives them the possibility to link with millions, possibly billions of people, who have learnt it or are learning it as a second language. The evidence is there for yourself when you go abroad and more often than people will be able to speak at least a few words of your Native tongue.
So how do these people learn this language? A language in which only one rule holds true – that all the rules have an exception. The answer, in part, is native English speakers like me and my colleagues all over the world who make a living by teaching them, and there are several very good reasons why you should why you should do the same:
Wanderlust combined with a busted bank. So let’s start with a very common reason for taking up English Language teaching as a career; for every person who can take a year out for nothing other than delightful travel, there is a person looking on jealously, wishing they could do the same. Teaching English as a Foreign Language can act as a way in which to solve the age old problem of wanting to travel, but having no money to do so, because, you can earn money and travel at the same time. You can take a position in a foreign school, work the weekdays and the weekends are yours to explore your adopted home. You also learn so much more about the culture of that country, as you will be fully immersed in it, rather than just flitting through to check out the sights detailed in the lonely planet.
There is a market for it. For any travelers out there who are currently stuck at home, wondering if this is really a feasible option or if there are really any jobs available, then let me tell you that there are. In almost every country where the native tongue isn’t English, there is the potential to teach English, either in a professional school or as a freelancer and there is a shortage in the supply of Native English speakers. It is a job which can and will take you to any place on Earth that you want to go to, providing you’re willing to put in the hard work to get there.
Lost on a career choice. Not everyone is a traveller suffering from reverse culture shock (or travellers syndrome as I like to call it), some people might genuinely be wondering what they want to do in life and looking for a career to focus on. This was a problem I actually found myself in after I quit MSc in Evolutionary Biology to get a job so I could travel. My entire future was about getting a PhD in my subject and moving onto research. Once I quit and looked to teaching, I can honestly say I have never looked back, the job is different every day and I honestly believe that my new career will be that of a traveling teacher, getting me money and more importantly valuable experience which can lead to a more permanent teaching job when I decide to settle down.
Reap the benefits. You might not want a career in it, but this job can enhance your prospects in another one. In a world which is becoming smaller by the minute, first-hand experience of different culture could be invaluable in the job scene, regardless of whether or not you decide to stay in teaching forever. It provides an extra dimension to your CV and a significant one back home when you consider just how culturally diverse our native country is becoming. You will also pick up significant skills as you become more confident in your teaching which are extremely transferable to other occupations. The leadership skills you gain as you guide and control your class while they learn their new language, will give your application for a manager’s position that extra edge, while the organisational and planning attributes are extremely sought after in all areas of employment and above all, taking on such an unusual role can only make your CV stand out more.
You’ve lost your enthusiasm as a teacher. Everybody knows how difficult a job teaching can be at times. Why? Because at some point we were all students, who were making our teachers’ lives hell. It is fair to say that in some occasions the youth of our country are less than enthusiastic about being in school and learning about any subject. This will wear even the most stubborn of teacher down to nothing but a cold and resentful ghost of their former self. My advice to you is, take some time out and go to one of the many countries out there where going to school is a serious privilege and children are happy to be learning. All those children and indeed adults listening to your every word with bated breath will give you that much needed ego boost to revitalise you into the teacher you were before the enemy wore you down. You will return a better teacher and a happier (should you actually decide to return)
What else are you going to do? Perhaps you’re stuck in a dead end job, maybe you don’t have a job right now or like I’ve just said, you’re a teacher in need of a reminder of why you started it in the first place; Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a job oppurtunity which is both satisfying and will typically provide you a wage which will ensure you’re more than comfortable in your new surroundings. It is never boring and two days will never be the same regardless of the ages or levels that you work with and your students will be just as excited as you are to teach them.
Anyone can do it. So finally, I would like to put your mind at ease as to your potential ability as an English teacher; are you a native English speaker? If the answer is yes then you have all you need to become an effective English Language Teacher. There are some simple courses out there which can prepare you for the challenges you will face in a classroom and provide you with some basic grammar knowledge, however, the phrase learn as you do couldn’t apply more and I can honestly say, most of my learning has come in the prep beforehand and in the classroom afterwards. In some countries a Degree may be necessary to obtain a working visa, but there are just as many which will allow you to walk in and start working.
To finish this I would like to say that, becoming an English Language teacher is easy, becoming a good one can be challenging, but it shouldn’t put you off, you have all the necessary skills to teach English (you speak the language) and even if it’s not for you, then at least you tried and trust me, you will come home changed with many a great story to tell.
My name is Peter, I was born in Britain and ever since I was young I had a fascination with travel. I have traveled to twenty countries in four continents (Europe, South America, Asia and Africa), I have taught freelance English in Spain and Latvia; now I am working for a company in Indonesia on a two year contract.