Teaching English Abroad can be one of the most valuable, life changing, exciting experiences ever. However, some people can be put off from embarking on their own TEFL adventure after having read a less-than-inspiring article online, or hearing about someone else’s story. Whilst issues can happen from time-to-time, most people have an amazing, life-changing experience teaching abroad, so we’re going to dispel some of those common myths surrounding this intriguing career: get ready to have your minds opened!
1) TEFL means I’ll be teaching really young children!
If you’re really keen to teach abroad but you just don’t like the idea of teaching young children then there’s no need to despair. Yes, the fastest growing area of TEFL is young children, but this does NOT in any way mean that it’s your only option and it is perfectly viable to get a job teaching English to people of other ages. A couple of options to explore are teaching business English in the Middle East and Europe or using your TEFL qualification to set yourself up as a private one-to-one tutor in Asia. It all depends on your preference; but you can rest assured that there will ALWAYS be people wanting/needing to learn English.
2) I need to speak the language of the country I’m going to teach in.
You don’t need to be able to speak the native language to teach English abroad. Many people think you have to know the local language of the destination you want to teach English in, but this is incorrect and in fact, at school it’s ideal if you don’t speak a word of it so that the whole class is taught only in English, as it allows students to experience a fully immersed classroom environment where they can pick up sentence and grammar structure naturally. However, it’s always nice to know a bit of the local language such as “please” and “thank you”, as it’ll make getting around the country and conversing with the locals a lot easier.
3) I’ll be taking the locals’ work.
The whole point of you going to teach English abroad is to help the locals – not take their jobs! For you to teach the local people English will hugely benefit them in terms of getting a great job (there is nothing more satisfying than hearing your students’ success stories!).
4) Teaching English as a Foreign Language will affect my future career prospects
Everything from teaching, travelling, both learning and experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a difference to peoples’ lives will provide you with confidence, and help you benefit greatly in terms of future employment. The skills you will develop are ones that will stay with you forever and shape you as a person, and you can pretty much guarantee that at application and interview stage it will make you stand out from the crowd!
5) TEFL is just for young people
When some people think of a TEFL teacher, many imagine them as a fresh Uni graduate, and whilst many teachers are like this, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Don’t believe us? Over 20% of teachers that train with i-to-i are between the ages of 50-65, so it’s worth remembering that you’re never too old to live out a dream.
We hope we have helped to address some of the myths about teaching English as a foreign language; and you’re now confident enough to fulfil your TEFL dreams!