There are many different ways to experience the various flavours of the world on your Career Break or Sabbatical leave. A great way to immerse yourself in a new culture and get to know the locals is to teach English abroad.
You are incredibly lucky if you are a native English speaker. This simple skill is highly valued around the world and a fantastic asset when taking a Career Break. Worldwide demand for native English speaking teachers has risen by 300% in recent years and HSBC tell us “there are five times more people learning English in China then there are people in England”.
Even in Singapore, where the common language is English, there is an exceptionally high demand for native speakers for both school and business. If you embark on the teaching path, you may, like us, teach a variety of ages from four year olds to adults. We loved teaching English even though it was a world away from our previous jobs. It gave us new skills and an appreciation for the grammar and structure of the English language.
Gone are the days when you could just turn up to the door with your ruck sack, no idea how to teach and expect to get a job. Most counties have higher standards these days and some want proof of a degree and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. The level of teacher training required varies country to country, but more and more require a CELTA or equivalent.
Research teaching jobs in the countries that interest you to find their requirements. Good websites include ESL Cafe and TEFL.com who also has a cost of living report by city, so you can calculate your income compared to expected outgoings.
While a lot of counties require you to have experience teaching in a classroom, some advertise no experience necessary. Even if you are planning to go to a school that doesn’t require experience, we advise you to take a TEFL course that includes classroom teaching as a course requirement. We both took a 4 week Cambridge CELTA course (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). This, along with TESOL (Trinity College London Certificate) are excellent courses, but be prepared to work hard. There is no softly softly approach to these teaching qualifications.
Finding a TEFL course
Finding the right course is important and you needn’t limit your search to your own country. We took it in turns to do our CELTA course, with Robert studying in London and Liz completing hers in Vietnam so that one of us was always working. Both CELTA courses were roughly the same price, but Liz’s in Vietnam was much better organised, resulting in a lot less stress. One friend of ours opted for the beauty of Prague, while another travelled to exotic Mexico to take their CELTA courses. To discover some of the courses out there, look at Cactus TEFL In case you are wondering where Liz completed hers, it was ILA in Vietnam.
Preparing for a Course
Don’t think that just because you speak English, the course will be a breeze. Training to teach English as a foreign language via CELTA is very intensive and you will have to assimilate huge amounts of information normally within a four week window.
Whichever course you select, we advise you to swot up on your grammar and the phonemic script beforehand. Teaching English is a great skill to have and a really enjoyable way to fund your Career Break. Robert was even awarded ‘Teacher of the Year’ which still surprises everyone……
Here are some videos we shot of real teachers talking about their experience:
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