So, you have heard the rumors that teaching ESL overseas is an awesome experience (it is) and have decided to explore the possibility that this experience might be right for you. You are perhaps thinking of taking a TESOL course before applying for teaching jobs and heading abroad (good idea!). No one can predict how their overseas experience is going to play out, but some training before you go will better prepare you for the experience of living and teaching in a foreign country. For the vast majority of ESL teachers, going abroad to teach is an overwhelmingly positive and rewarding experience. What follows are the three most common experiences that ESL teachers have overseas, and the great ways teaching ESL overseas could change your life, depending on which experience you have.
1. You get to spend a year experiencing a new culture and earning money
You go abroad for a year to teach English and experience life in a different culture. During that time, you will: travel to some exciting places; save some money; meet awesome people and become lifelong friends; and possibly inspire your students and change the course of their lives (that doesn’t feel like pressure, does it?) After a year, you will return home to continue the life you left, but you will have changed as a result of your experience overseas. The self you knew before going abroad is rarely the self that returns home. (FYI: Self 2.0 is most often a happier, more outgoing, and positive version of Self 1.0).
2. You teach and travel abroad for multiple years (and in multiple countries)
You go abroad for a year to teach English and experience life in a different culture…and stay longer than a year. It happens more often than not. If you have read at least two articles on this blog, then you understand that we (the collective ESL instructor community) believe that living overseas and teaching English rocks! How might this experience affect you? You might decide that living overseas merits more than one year or possibly more than one country. So you go from one contract/country to the next until the call of home becomes too loud to ignore. You might fall in love with teaching and decide to go back to school yourself. In that case, a degree in TESOL or a Bachelor of Education might be your next step, moving you a step closer to making teaching a career. Speaking from experience, it’s a pretty good career.
3. You find a new home abroad and a new career teaching ESL overseas
You go abroad for a year to teach English and experience life in a different culture…and end up staying there. Whoa! You didn’t expect that could happen, did you? Well, let me tell you that it probably didn’t occur either to the legions of English teachers who went abroad and for whatever reason, decided to call their ESL destination ‘HOME’. What happened? They fell in love with the country, the culture, the climate, or the food, or even possibly another person. They probably fell in love with teaching others how to speak our crazy language. They definitely learned to deal with and accept the short-term unpredictability of living in a different culture until it evolved into long-term familiarity and, in the end, chose a life ‘there’ over a life ‘here’. The difficult-to-believe part is ‘they’ could become ‘you’.
So, there you have it. Three in-a-nutshell outcomes you might experience if you decide to follow your heart, mind, and spirit to an overseas ESL experience. The next move is yours!
Written by Dana Clarke
Dana Clarke went to Japan for a year and ended up staying five, mainly due to the awesomeness that is living overseas. He currently teaches in Canada.