With over 1.5 billion students learning English each and every day, it is not difficult to see why TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) has become such a growth industry in recent years. However, knowing this fact and then leveraging it into a well-paid and successful one is often not as straightforward as it might appear at first glance. Added to that, the wanderlust that so many global citizens experience, of wanting to drink in every last drop of what the planet has to offer, could make one’s head spin. Thankfully, help is at hand, and the following article will guide the reader through the myriad challenges that this modern society faces.
Decide where to teach
Intitaly, this might seem like the most fundamental of all questions facing a wannabe TEFL teacher, but it does come with significant strings attached. For one thing, teaching in Asia may well be an entirely different proposition to teaching in Europe, where each country seems to be interconnected via a sprawling morass of rail and public transport options. On top of that, there is the financial aspect to consider. While some nations might offer what seems on paper to be a more attractive monetary package, the cost of living could also be considerably higher. To name just one, Norway is notorious for being especially challenging on the pocket, meaning the pay packet does not go quite as far as one might initially hope.
Find out the technology basics
In some places, having internet access easily and widely at one’s fingertips is as easy as 1,2,3. However, this is not the case everywhere, and this can be even more so the case in locations that are far from the beaten tracks, such as island nations or those hidden in the wilderness. So, before embarking on a travel odyssey, ensure that there is a way to both keep in touch with loved ones back home, as well as the possibility of supplementing the day job with a side hustle in teaching TEFL online. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether one is teaching preschool or adult level college students, the rules are absolutely the same.
On top of having reliable and continuous WiFi on hand, the traveling individuals should also pay attention to keeping spare charging cables, power packs, and even replacement devices available, because the worst case scenario can and often does happen when least expected.
If one is flying solo, then this is perhaps less of an issue, but there is still the very real aspect of keeping friends and family in the loop, whether through technology (see above), or by writing letters back home to make sure that parents and relatives do not worry too much.
For those being accompanied by other family members, though, the ramifications can be far more far-reaching. As just one example, it is vital to consider whether the children will be homeschooled or placed in a local school, and weighing up the pros and cons of each of those decisions. Like, will that child be happier to be in a classroom with their peers, even if those classmates do not have the same native language? Or, would homeschooling be more effective, especially if the parent desires the flexibility to continually move around as their career grows? All these and more are absolutely elements in the equation that any parent would need to think about before embarking on a planetary trek.
The digital market
Another massive consideration for any budding TEFL teacher is the dilemma of whether to favour online teaching over the conventional old-school approach. On the one hand, the digital world has utterly transformed the way in which most people think about education in general. Nowadays, there are a plethora of apps, websites and learning communities dedicated to the pursuit or learning English, and the TEFL instructor can now be armed to the teeth with the very latest in gadgets and widgets for their learners.
On the other hand, there are many who still crave the in-person experience, wanting to interact with their pupils and see those Eureka moments face-to-face, as opposed to on the other side of a screen. For those individuals, the world is still very much open for such teaching opportunities, and these can easily be combined with travel options. To clarify, there is the chance to kill two birds with one TEFL stone: gaining real life teaching experience in a TEFL classroom, while going on weekend and vacation excursions to those bucket list places.
Whether it be teaching in China, and visiting the Great Wall on a Saturday, or working in Dubai and taking a Friday excursion to the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building, for those not in the know), the possibilities can be almost limitless.
Consider the climate
Although weather does not feature frequently in the travel and work plans of aspiring TEFL tutors, the reality is that the climate can make a big difference in the thinking behind where to work. Initially, one of the most obvious things that is frequently missed by people is the fact that the southern hemisphere has the opposite seasons to the northern one. In other words, the summer is actually celebrated below the equator in December and January, meaning that one should pack their swimming trunks for a Christmas tour to those southern climes. Also, the converse is true – June and July are the coldest times down under, so be prepared for a chillier reception at the Great Barrier Reef during those months which are conventionally warmer above that central line.
There is another aspect to this weather issue too – perhaps as a result of this, the academic year in places like Australia, New Zealand and Brazil is different too. Where people in the United Kingdom are familiar with half a dozen weeks off in July and August, the main summer break in the lower tropics is between January and February. So, for a TEFl pro who likes to dabble in a little summer school work during their weeks off, this is actually not really an option for those wishing to engage in their career in those nations.