5 Reasons You Need to Try Teaching English
At 23 years old, I accepted an internship as a teaching assistant in a private school in southern Brazil. Although the pay was low, I learned an invaluable lesson from that experience that helped me build my dream life abroad: teaching English can be a passport to seeing the world.
Fast-forward to age 33 and I quit my job in nonprofit management, grabbed a suitcase and my newly acquired TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) qualification, and moved to Rome, Italy. After three years of teaching English to business executives in the Eternal City, I made my way over to Southern France and landed a position managing an English school in 2011. Today, going on 14 years of living abroad, I wouldn’t trade my teaching experience, nor the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, for anything in the world.
Here are a few reasons to consider a career in teaching English:
You don’t need a background in English to teach the language.
If you weren’t an English major, there’s no need to fret. Teachers are needed from all walks of life, since there’s no typical English language learner. I’ve worked with everyone from bank executives to artists and aspiring tennis professionals. Schools are looking to hire people from diverse backgrounds, and whatever you might be missing in teaching knowledge, you’ll easily pick up on the job.
An American expat at my school recently left to pursue full-time work as a language teacher for a local MBA institute. Back in the U.S., she trained as a potter.
Getting qualified is easy and inexpensive.
I completed my TESOL qualification over four weekends at a local university campus. Since that time, the availability of online programs has skyrocketed. Several qualifications, like the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) can be completed entirely online—the current price is around $210 for a 120-hour course. Other qualifications, like the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (or CELTA, an in-depth training course provide by Cambridge English), offer blended-learning programs.
You can teach anywhere, at any time.
English-language classes have moved online at warp-speed in recent years. You can teach a student in Shanghai from the comfort of your home in Los Angeles…or Bangkok…or the South of France. Many schools, like the one I work for, have created their own online platforms, or you can find eager students on a host of independent sites. And if you’ve had your fill of Zoom, Skype, and the like, brick-and-mortar language schools are always hiring.
The money can be good…or very good.
When I taught English in Rome, the demand for my services was so high that I frequently had to turn down requests for lessons. With a teaching salary of nearly $1,700 a month, and the money I earned from my private students, I had quite enough to live la bella vita. Other teachers did private lessons only—charging €25 ($29.50) and up for an hour. The pay for more coveted, university teaching positions starts at around €40 ($47), while the MBA program I mentioned above pays €33 ($39) an hour. As an English teacher, you will often need to combine in-school work with online jobs or private lessons—but the money’s there if you’re willing to be a bit flexible.
It’s one of the quickest ways to make friends abroad.
Working in a school abroad, you’ll have a ready-made set of friends in the form of your English-speaking colleagues. They will be your support team, sounding board, and literal home-away-from-home. And there’s usually someone on the team who knows how to make a really good Thanksgiving turkey.
By Tuula Rampont