If you have a summer or a gap year coming up with no plans, maybe you should consider teaching. You may be thinking, “Why is this random girl trying to tell me to get a teaching job?” and that’s justified, it’s kind of weird, I get it. But I’m not talking about your regular, run-of-the-mill teaching job in your local school district that could take forever to even get certification for. I’m talking about Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Even better, I’m talking about TEFL in a different country.
Getting a job as an English foreign language teacher is easier than you think. You don’t need to be fluent in the country’s native language; you don’t even need to have a degree in Education or prior teaching experience. You may need to take a course to earn a TEFL certificate, but even then, that requirement doesn’t apply to every country. A teaching visa is the only mandatory requirement here.
The task of teaching a bunch of people, usually kids, might seem a bit daunting for some, but you get a native co-teacher to help you out. Being an EFL teacher is an easy and fun way to gain an excellent life experience and a good-looking resume, among other things.
Forget Studying Abroad
A common description of TEFL is that it’s like getting paid to study abroad, a comparison that is not very far from the truth.
Unlike with studying abroad, which makes you (or your parents) pay for everything, these teaching programs pay you to live and work in a foreign country. Programs in Europe and Latin America allow you to live comfortably, paying enough to cover bills, meals and transportation; you can even afford to enjoy yourself a little, but if you do, know that there won’t be much left at the end of the month. On the other hand, Asia and the Middle East offer programs that pay for travel and housing, meaning you can save a fair amount of your pay check, up to fifty percent in some cases!
Putting the money talk aside, what makes it similar to study abroad programs is the amazing travel experience. On your off days, you get to do whatever you want with your time. (Did I mention lesson plans are pre-written? Yeah, it’s like a dream.) If you’re in South Korea and you want to take a quick day trip to the beach on Jeju Island or the historical city of Gyeongju, you can. Unlike us, most countries aren’t ridiculously large. Go to museums, beaches and every famous attraction there is; experience a new and fascinating culture and be as much of a stereotypical tourist as your heart desires. Make the most of your time in your new country of choice. Studying abroad suddenly doesn’t look as amazing, huh?
The Business Side
Most people that get involved with study abroad programs are in it for the fun experience, making the bullet on your resume just a really, really good plus; this also goes for teaching EFL.
By teaching English in another country, you earn yourself some international work experience that will look amazing on your resume. The world’s economy is so globalized nowadays and employers everywhere want someone with international experience to work for them. Teaching somewhere foreign and new, shows that you have excellent initiative, an ability to adapt to new environments and that you aren’t afraid of leaving your comfort zone. Even if teaching in a foreign country was just a summer gig, that experience on your resume should make getting a new job easier.
If you aren’t jumping into the working world quite yet, TEFL is also really great for catching the eye of graduate programs. You’ll have something interesting to talk about at interviews and orientation, and you get that “real-world experience” that programs are always looking for.
Learning a foreign language also looks amazing on both grad school and job applications. It opens you up to more opportunities and shows perseverance, because learning a new language when you’re not a kid is not easy. The best way to learn any language is to immerse yourself in it, and unless you only hang out with and talk to your fellow EFL teachers, which is kind of impossible unless you only go to school and home, you will definitely be exposed to the local jargon. Not only does this look good, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment once you realize that you can fully communicate in a whole other language.
You’re Young, Live a Little
As someone in their twenties, now is the time that you want to spend seeing the world. Most of us are major procrastinators, don’t even deny it; if you’ve wanted to travel but haven’t gotten around to scrounging up money or applying for study abroad scholarships (or whatever other excuses you have), this is the perfect opportunity to get out into the world. There’s no blaming your lethargy on not having the money or waiting to pay off student loans, because you’ll be earning money in the meantime. Besides, this would be way more fun than a crappy part-time job in some restaurant or something.
If, for some odd reason, that doesn’t convince you to put yourself out there, think about all of the lives you would be impacting. Not only would you be gaining experience that can help you in this competitive world, but you would be helping someone else get a leg up; a lot of someone else’s in fact. Remember how billions of people are taking English as a foreign language these days? Some may be doing it for fun, but most are doing it as a way to increase educational and professional opportunities. Wouldn’t it feel good knowing that you helped better someone’s life?
Whether you’re looking for a way to experience a new culture in its entirety, get a resume-building experience, or go on a journey of self-discovery, teaching English as a foreign language is really one of the best things you can do for yourself.