By: Amanda Moutinho
When faced with any big decision, the most important question is to ask yourself is "what are your priorities?" When I graduated from college I realized that my biggest priority was traveling. I wanted to see the world before it became “too late,” or in other words, before I was tied down. I realized that if I got a 9 to 5 job, I would have one or two weeks of traveling a year at most. That just didn't sound ideal to me.
When weighing the options, teaching abroad became the right choice for me. While to some, it may seem I'm putting off finding a "real job," to me, teaching is a new challenge that will only make me a better candidate in the future. Getting TEFL certified with International TEFL Academy will help you grow professionally and personally. Here are just some of the skills you'll gain.
Teaching forces you to be innovative. I’m constantly trying to interest my students, whether it's finding an engaging topic to teach or a creative approach to a "boring" subject. My goal is to think of games and activities that will actually help them remember a grammar point like conditionals (if my students ENJOY learning, they WILL understand this concept.) For a student who struggles with rhythm and pronunciation, I must find an alternative to constant drilling, like tongue twisters, Dr. Seuss, or a song like "Rockin' Robin."
Constant problem solving
Teaching will always surprise you. You can spend several hours preparing for a class, but then your student can blind side you with a vocabulary question that could take five minutes to define. (Try to explain "storage" when your student doesn't know the verb "to store" or doesn't have a basement or attic).
Unexpected problems will always arise in class. One explanation doesn't work for every student. When your student looks at you with a blank face, you'll have to find a new approach.
Improves your English
Teaching vocabulary inadvertently forces you to expand yours. Through explaining various synonyms and antonyms of words, you'll awaken part of your vocabulary that you don't use every day. Consequently, you'll also improve your grammar, which is vital in every career path.
You'll learn something new
Sure, some of the teaching English books are super dull. But sometimes you stumble across interesting lessons where you learn something too. Through teaching business English, I've picked up a additional knowledge on accounting, marketing, law, and finance.
In other classes, I've had stimulating discussions about topics from the environment to cinema to politics. You also learn a lot about the country you're in from your students. I'm constantly finding out more about Brazilian history, geography, culture and government.
You’ll learn how to talk to people, and how to listen
Having to fill an hour and a half lesson with just conversation will quickly teach you how to talk to people. You learn how to keep asking questions and keep a conversation going. Whether talking to client or at a networking event, knowing how to talk to people is always useful.
On the other hand, you also learn how to shut up. Your lessons are about your student, not you. So it's your job to encourage your student to keep talking. You'll learn to be patient as students begin to grasp concepts. I've had to hold my tongue and take a breath to allow my student the necessary time to construct a full sentence.
How to manage
In some situations, a teacher is essentially a babysitter. On the positive side, you learn how to manage people. You'll have to reign in the rowdy students and shake up the quiet ones. You'll have to administer directions, which is a lot harder than you'll initially think. You learn how to be clear and concise, which important for any manager. You have to know how push your students to succeed and not just give them the answer.
On top of all that, travel is good for any career path.
New cultures bring new perspectives and an open mind.
You become more flexible and adaptable to change.
You become a more diverse candidate who can bring new life into any office.
This is just a short list of things you learn while teaching abroad. Whether you’re convincing yourself or your parents, teaching English is a resume booster. The experience will be invaluable no matter what happens. Even if you hate it and don't learn any of these skills, at the very least, you’ll learn about yourself, and that information is always beneficial. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it for yourself or for your career. Just go!
About the author: Amanda is a 23 year old from Denver, CO and a International TEFL Academy graduate teaching English in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
You can read more about her experiences on her Q&A and her article: Even If It’s Stressful...It’s Worth It - Teaching English in Brazil