Home / How to Tell Your Family You’re Moving Abroad

You did it! You completed your TEFL Training! You are ready to teach English abroad!

One small problem–you have no idea how to tell your family. You’ve told all your friends and a bunch of random strangers, “I’m going to teach English abroad!” But you haven’t said a word to mom and dad. Because because because…because that conversation is probably going to suck.

Unless your parents are globetrotters or diplomats the news that you are planning to teach English abroad will come as a surprise. So here are a few tips to get them on your side and excited about your TEFL future:

Get Your Story Straight

The decision to teach English abroad is adult and grownup. You didn’t get to this point by accident, so don’t stammer like you did. “I mean, I don’t know, I just thought maybe…” Break it down for mom and dad.

  • Culture: “I want to explore other cultures and there are some things you can’t learn by reading a book or traveling for a few weeks at a time. When I teach English abroad, I’ll be able to learn about another culture from the inside. And, I’ll learn to appreciate our own cultural by seeing it from the outside. I’m going to miss my family and friends. I’m going to miss this place. It’s going to be really hard. But I think that’s a good thing.”
  • Responsible Adventure: “I want to travel and see the world but I want to earn it. When I teach English abroad, I’ll be working and making money. I’ll be able to see the world without going into debt, without damaging my future. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think it is the best way to be responsible and have an adventure too.
  • I Don’t Want to Live with Regret: “I know I am young, but that is exactly the point! I don’t have anything tying me down. But I will. If I pass on this opportunity now, if I wait until it’s already too late, I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering what if. Teaching English abroad is something good and something important and I honestly believe that now is the best possible time.”

Give Them a Reasonable Timeline

Maybe you’ve already decided to teach English abroad for five years, ten years, forever. Don’t tell your family that. Break them in easy. Explain that most TEFL jobs are for nine months–the length of a school year. Tell them that after nine months teaching and a few months traveling, you’ll be ready to come home. Because the truth is, you don’t really know. And you won’t know until you move abroad and do the job. After a year, you’ll know if you want to continue and they will have had time to adjust to your new life.

Explain How Teaching English Abroad Will Impact Your Future AT HOME

Chances are your family is expecting a future filled with easy Christmas dinners, not “Sorry, I can’t make this year. The flights from Cambodia are too expensive.” And chances are your TEFL career won’t last forever. So be clear about the positive impact this decision will have on your future. Explain that:

  • Teaching English abroad builds leadership skills
  • Teaching English abroad gives you exposure to international markets and cultural customs
  • Teaching English abroad gives you the opportunity to become bilingual through real-world experience
  • Teaching English abroad makes your CV stand out

Before you speak to your family, think about how you felt in the exact moment the thought, “I could teach English abroad” popped into your head. Remember the feeling of excitement and feelings of doubt too. Remember that at that moment you had unanswered questions.

Do I really want to do this? And why?

How long do I want to teach English abroad?

How will teaching English abroad affect my future?

Walk them through your thought process. Let them see that you are serious and passionate and focused. They may have to wipe away a few tears, but they’ll be happy for you–they’ll be supportive.

Good luck!

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