Life as a TEFL Teacher – What’s it Really Like?

Here at i-to-i, we’re always telling you about how great a TEFL adventure can be… where you can go, what you can do, and even how you can make a millionaire’s salary (we’re looking at you, South Korea)! But… what’s life as a TEFL teacher actually like?  Let’s hear it straight from the mouths of our TEFL adventurers:

Amy on telling people where you’re going:

“I knew I wanted to go to Asia, but that was about as much as I knew. After a few weeks of research, I had my heart set on South Korea. Yes, there were practical reasons, South Korea offers probably the best deal for English teachers on this side of the world, but the culture sounded interesting, and I liked the fact that it wasn’t an obvious choice.  I really loved watching people’s expressions when I told them where I was going.  They ranged from shock to bemusement, to intrigue.”

Sophie on arriving at your TEFL destination:

“Guys! I did it! It all happened so quickly, I applied for a job in Taiwan on Wednesday, got the job on Saturday and was out here by Thursday.  It’s amazing out here!  Started today and only working half days this week to settle in, the kids are the cutest things on this planet and the weather is amazing (if not slightly too hot for me).  I just can’t believe I actually did it.”

Katie Lou on the strange things that can happen when you TEFL:

Well in the space of a few months I’ve gone from being a teacher to a Professor and now a TV star apparently.  I was asked to judge the Provincial Final of the CCTV Outlook English Talent show which I was happy to do in the interests of promoting the English language.

Unbeknown to me it was being filmed and my students saw me on CCTV!!!!!  Imagine my surprise as I would never have known as I don’t watch TV here.  They were all very proud of having “their” teacher on national TV… but their teacher is not so sure!!!  My friends at home are now telling me that I am an “international” TV star so should milk it for all its worth when I return for the summer break.  Somehow I think it would all get lost in translation… not too sure that CCTV is big outside of China.

Jen on her first day as a TEFL teacher:

When I first arrived here, I had no idea what to expect, as I had never taught before.  I was so nervous on my first day that I woke up at 4 am.  Fortunately, everyone at my school was so kind and wonderful to me; I soon felt at ease.  My biggest worry initially was “what if I can’t do this?”, but at the end of the day I thought to myself: even if I can’t do it or it’s difficult, at least I can say I’ve tried!  You find your feet very quickly here. Other teachers are more than willing to help you out with teaching-related matters, or even if it’s just knowing what bus to get from A to B or where the cheapest place to buy things is, because they’ve all been in the same boat.  Soon enough it wasn’t a case of “what can I teach??” it was “what can I teach next???”  Here I am one year later, and I can honestly say coming to Korea was the BEST decision I have ever made.

And finally, Bridget on coming home:

After being home from assorted travels for about a month, I’ve concluded one thing: I am not suited to the first world.  If I were in the States right now, I’d definitely be marrying into an Amish community (is that possible?) as to avoid anything and everything to do with money.  Obviously, travel costs money and it can cost a lot, but in the countries I was going to, your dollar goes further.  Also, I was working in Thailand, so I was getting enough moolah to live off without having to turn tricks at the karaoke bars by night; but thinking about it, I don’t think I have the right “equipment” for that kind of thing…

So there’s the ultimate low-down on what life as a TEFL teacher is really like… whether you’re out on your TEFL adventure, or you’re getting ready to go, hopefully, we’ve prepared you somewhat for how dramatically your life is about to change!

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