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9 Reasons Why Teaching English Abroad is the Best First Job for New College Graduates
Written by: John Bentley
Last Updated: January 14, 2021
So you've returned your cap & gown and cleared out the old dorm room. Believe it or not, your time in college has come and gone. Now what?! Are you ready to jump into a cubicle and spend the prime of your life in an office behind a computer screen? After 15 years of school, do you really want to go straight into the classroom for graduate school? Are you going to stay in your old hometown and hang out with the same old friends doing the same old thing?
Or do you want to jump-start your career by doing something challenging that will enable you to travel the world, make a difference, and build experience and skills that will serve you well in any career you pursue down the line?
Can I teach English abroad as a college student?
College grads face one of the toughest job markets in generations. One field offers viable employment opportunities to nearly any college student in addition to life-changing overseas experience: teaching English abroad (and online). No prior experience or degree in education is even required.
Here are 9 reasons why teaching English abroad is the best first job you can get right out of college:
1. You Can Get Paid To Live Abroad
Looking to move out of your hometown or even out of your parents’ basement? Do you have more ambitious dreams of living, working and traveling in a foreign country like Mexico, Spain or Japan? No matter what your degree may be in, as a new college graduate, you can get paid to teach English abroad in up to 80 countries worldwide.
As an English teacher actually living in foreign country you'll have a true opportunity to live as a local, not as a rushed vacationer rushing from site to site. You'll be immersed in the community - not seeing it from the vantage of a tour bus or a youth hostel. You'll have time to experience the cuisine, local culture, and holidays; and, you'll make friendships to last a lifetime, both with locals and other expatriates.
Whether you teach businessmen in the Middle East, school children in China or university students in Spain teaching English abroad not only offers a convenient way to make money & pay the bills but unique opportunities for you to engage with people from all over the globe. Of course, international travel is a top benefit of living and teaching overseas as well.
2. Teaching English Abroad Provides International Work Experience that Employers Seek in the 21st Century.
More than ever, success – or even just survival – in business depends on moving and selling goods and information across borders and around the globe. From financial securities and information technology to food products and petroleum, if you want to be a “global leader” in anything, businesses need to compete in places like China, Europe and Brazil. This means that major corporations in all fields seek those with experience, a comfort level and a proven ability to work internationally with people from different cultures. This is exactly what you will gain by teaching English abroad while living and working as a member of the local community in a foreign country.
3. Your Experience Teaching English Abroad Will Set You Apart from Other Applicants for Grad School Programs.
A majority of graduate school programs – especially professional schools like law schools, business schools, and medical schools – actively encourage applicants to gain “real-world experience” prior to applying for grad school. They want you to take on challenges and gain experience in an environment apart from being a student, and they particularly value international experience.
By working as an English teacher abroad, you will gain international work experience that proves you are up to the rigors and responsibilities of the professional world, and that you can take on the challenges of adapting to a new culture.
Key Takeaway! You'll actually have something interesting to talk about in interviews for both jobs and grad school programs! Believe it or not, this makes a huge difference. Many human resources or admissions departments interview hundreds or even thousands of job or graduate school applicants a year, and in truth most have very little to say that is interesting, unique or memorable during the interview process – the majority are plain forgettable.
But when you are asked about what you’ve done with yourself in the past year, or to relate a story of how you’ve displayed initiative or struck out beyond your comfort zone, and you can describe moving to another country like Spain, Brazil or China to teach English, you will place yourself miles ahead of your competition. In addition, stories and anecdotes about living and working abroad make for great small-talk fodder and will provide ample opportunities for you to market yourself as interesting and worldly.
4. Teaching English Abroad Proves Your Ability to Adapt to a New Environment Outside of Your Comfort Zone.
In the multi-cultural societies of the 21st century, proven abilities to take on new challenges and adapt to new environments is resume gold. The same goes for demonstrated success living in a new environment and working with people from different national, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. As a new college graduate, learning how to adapt and take on major challenges will serve you well throughout your life no matter what career path you ultimately pursue.
5. You will Develop Organizational and Communication skills, as well as the Ability to Manage Group Settings.
No matter what field of employment or study you enter in the future, developing these skills, including the ability to command a room, will serve you well and make you more desirable as an employee or a student. Do you know how many people cower just at the thought of speaking in front of a group or trying to communicate with somebody who doesn’t speak English? The ability to command a room and to keep an audience engaged is highly desirable and as an English teacher, you will be doing precisely that up to six times a day running classes.
6. Make Money & Pay Off Student Debt
None of us really think of teaching as a way to make piles money (its rewards are much greater than any financial payoff), and in most countries (think most nations in Europe & Latin America) English teachers "break even" financially, meaning that they make enough to support themselves and enjoy life but likely won't be saving a significant amount of money per month. If saving money is a priority even first-time English teachers abroad can make enough to save up to $500-$1000 a month after expenses in many Asian & Middle Eastern countries. In South Korea, English teachers can typically save between $10,000 & $15,000 a year after expenses while in Japan, Taiwan, China & Vietnam, savings often range from $5,000 - $8,000 annually (and sometimes higher in China). There are good opportunities to make & save extra money in Thailand as well.
Check out the following resources to learn more:
- Top 5 Countries to Make the Most Money Teaching English Abroad
- How I Had the Best Year of My Life While Paying Off $10,000 in Student Debt
- I Have Student Loans: How Can I Teach English Abroad?
Hot Tip! Many English teachers save extra money for travel or students loans by giving extra lessons on the side as a private tutor or by teaching English online. Teaching English online is one of the fastest growing fields in international education and provides a ton of flexibility. Because you can teach English online from virtually anywhere, English teachers who teach solely online can easily move from country to country without being tied down to a specific job in a specific country or city.
- Teach English Online: Your Guide On How to Make Money & Travel the World
- How to House Sit Your Way Across Europe Teaching English Online
7. With Huge Demand, Plenty of Jobs are Available across the Globe
According to the British Council, one of the largest providers of English classes in the world, approximately 1.7 billion were learning and using English worldwide in 2015. That will rise to 2 billion by 2020. In China alone, it is estimated that more than 300 million people (nearly equivalent to the entire population of the United States) are learning English. There are simply not enough qualified teachers, or even teachers who are fluent in English to provide the training that people need and want. Tens of thousands of schools, in addition to millions of students specifically seek to employ teachers who are native English speakers with a TEFL certification (see below). This demand creates hundreds of thousands of job opportunities each year across the globe for first-time teachers. Many English teachers abroad stay abroad for only a year or two, so there is constant turnover and jobs always need to be filled.
To learn more about the scope of the demand for English teachers worldwide and how job markets world, check out: How Large is the Job Market for Teaching English Abroad?
8. You Don't Need a Specialized Degree or Previous Teaching Experience
One great aspect of teaching English abroad is that you don’t need to invest tens of thousands of dollars or years of your life into getting a specialized degree. Whether you graduate with a degree in engineering, English lit, psychology or any of those liberal arts degrees that people keep telling you will never get you a job, you can make good money teaching English abroad. The key is to get TEFL certified, which will provide you with the skills and qualification to get hired to teach English abroad.
9. You'll Make An Important Difference in the Lives of Others
Anybody who has taught, coached or mentored others understands the challenges and satisfaction of teaching and making a difference in the lives of others. It’s a powerful feeling that inspires many of society’s most talented citizens to forego more lucrative opportunities in other fields to pursue a career in education.
The vast majority of students you work with while teaching English abroad will not just be taking classes for fun or even just to pass class. For billions of people worldwide learning English significantly enhances their educational and professional opportunities and empowers them to get better jobs and make a tangible different in their standard of living for themselves and even their families.
What is the Key to Getting a Great Job Teaching English Abroad?
Earning an internationally accredited TEFL certification will provide you with the skills in methodology, lesson planning and classroom management that you need to succeed as a professional English teacher abroad. You will also earn a qualification that thousands of schools and language institutes around the world require when they hire new English teachers. A TEFL certification course that meets international standards will incorporate several key elements:
- At least 100 hours of academic coursework (4 weeks full-time in person, or the equivalent part-time online);
- 6-20 hours of live practice teaching with actual ESL students (not role-playing with other teachers-in-training!);
- A curriculum that is accredited by a recognized, independent accrediting body;
- Instruction provided by experienced university-level instructors.
You also want a TEFL certification course that provides lifetime job search guidance to provide you with the resources, guidance and expertise you need to find and interview for jobs teaching English abroad.
Too many aspiring English teachers have taken second-rate TEFL courses or classes from organizations that did not provide quality job placement assistance so they are left with a piece of paper stating that they are TEFL certified, but they are unable to find the quality job opportunities that they should be qualified for.
Learn more about your options:
So, it's time to make the move to see the world and make your international mark.
Take the next step and request a free brochure on teaching English abroad and becoming TEFL certified. You can also call 773-634-9900 to speak with an experienced advisor who has taught English abroad and can answer all of your questions.
ITA Graduates Discuss How Teaching Abroad has Impacted their Careers:
- 3 Major Ways Teaching English Abroad Has Changed My Life Since My Return Home
- How Teaching English Abroad Jump-started My Career
- Teaching English Abroad: A Second Chance After Not Studying Education in College
- Teaching English in Turkey: A Journey Towards Career Freedom
- A Definite Resume Booster...Teaching English in Brazil
John Bentley is Co-Founder & Senior Writer for International TEFL Academy (ITA), the world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad. A graduate of Harvard University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, John is a recognized expert in the field of TEFL. His articles have appeared across the field's top websites, including GoAbroad.com, StudyAbroad.com, InterExchange, GoOverseas.com, Adventure Teaching, & many others. He has also spoken as an expert on Teaching English Abroad & TEFL certification at major conferences like MeetPlanGo and Lessons from Abroad (LFA) in Portland & San Diego.
Want to Learn More About Teaching English Abroad?
Request a free brochure or call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of TEFL certification and teaching English abroad or online, including the hiring process, salaries, visas, TEFL class options, job placement assistance and more.
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