A new year starts, dear readers. Welcome to 2009. Just one more year and we are in 2010 – I always thought 2010 was just some distant space year when we’d be flying around in hover cars and the world would be one big metropolis (a la Blade Runner). So before that futuristic year comes about, what are you going to achieve in 2009?
Maybe you’ve been thinking about teaching English as a foreign language, weighing up the pros and cons and deciding where to go. You may even be studying for a teaching qualification. Here are 5 reasons to turn your ideas into reality this year.
The credit crunch is here – the world is tightening its belt. Despite that, the TEFL industry is a fairly stable source of income. Teaching jobs in many countries still have a fairly high minimum wage, allowing, at bare minimum, a comfortable lifestyle in your host country. In fact, thanks to fluctuating exchange rates, you may well find that you are able to send considerable monies back home. The Japanese Yen, for example, that last year was as high as 240 yen to 1 GB Pound, is today only at 130 Yen to 1 GB Pound. That means your 250,000 Yen/month teaching wage is worth roughly double in English pounds what is was worth last year – that can get you a nice little nest egg in no time if you are sending money home!
Sick of grey days, cold summers, and city life? TEFL allows you quite a lot of freedom – freedom to choose where you want to work. You could be working in a Spanish beach resort, rural China or any number of places. The where depends on your preference (and the jobs available, of course). Simply living somewhere new can inject you with life and enthusiasm, and TEFL is the ideal stepping-stone into a new culture and climate.
TEFL is a great way to make new friends. Within TEFL there is a strong international spirit of camaraderie, so making connections with fellow teachers in the area is never a difficult task. Students can also be great fun to teach and to talk to. Local people are always going to give you a fascinating insight into a new culture. All you have to do is make the effort.
One TEFL job often leads to another. I’ve heard stories of people who take 6 month teaching positions and ending up staying for a lifetime. Also, once you have the experience of your first job behind you, it makes taking on new teaching posts easier in any country – it opens up, literally, a world of possibilities. You can even progress beyond standard teaching positions by studying for an MA or some other post-grad qualification to enhance your profile.
Suppose you only teach for one year abroad. Within that one year, you can gain sufficient mastery of the local language to equip yourself with a skill that will benefit you for your whole life. Many TEFL employers offer their teachers language courses, but even if they don’t there are usually locally run language classes for foreigners. Failing that, a bit of effort on your part to study alone, and the courage to speak up and practice conversation in everyday settings will suffice to help you along the path to linguistic proficiency.