TEFL teachers love the English language. And they love sharing the English language with their students. But their reasons for teaching English abroad are more complex than nouns and verbs. It’s about exploring the world, exploring oneself and tapping into an unknown, unthought of future. And that unthought of future isn’t something you can find on the internet. It’s not something you can apply for ahead of time–at home and without risk. The unthought of future is always a post leap discovery. You just have to GO!
Here is a glimpse of what you’ll find beyond the job boards:
In the TEFL Bubble
Sometimes TEFL dream jobs drop like manna but usually they are a combination of luck and hustle. It is impossible to say what opportunities will come your way, or what opportunities you will make for yourself. But the possibilities are spectacular. Our former students have proven this time and again.
A few years ago a student of ours landed a short term gig teaching English at a beachfront resort in South East Asia. She taught three ESL classes a day and was provided accommodation and a meal allowance. It was a dream job but one with an expiration date. She tried to convince the resort to bring her on full time but they didn’t have enough money in their budget. The hotel manager told her that finding work in a single resort would be difficult but that nearly everyone was interested in offering classes to their employees. She put together a proposal and went resort to resort pitching her services as a TEFL teacher. Before long she had several clients, a lot more money and a lot more free time.
Another student of ours had a job teaching English at an ESL program in Colombia. He barely made enough money to break even but he loved the country. He made a list of private and international schools and started knocking on doors. He handed his CV directly to school directors. He made an impression. Within two months he had three job offers. He is currently teaching at a private school on the Caribbean Coast, living well and loving life.
On the TEFL Fringe
There are a lot of interesting jobs that are offshoots of teaching English abroad. You won’t find them listed on any of the job boards. They are jobs that you can only find through networking and experience. Someday you might find yourself writing educational materials for ESL students, running an ESL theatre program for an international school, founding your own ESL program or working for your TEFL school as a TEFL trainer or onsite liaison for their paid internship program. Imagination is your only limit.
The average lifespan is what, 75 years? In all likelihood, you are going to have several different careers; TEFL teacher, fringe TEFL gig, and then ______. The ways in which former TEFL teachers fill in that blank is fascinating. Here are a few examples of the paths our friends and former students have taken.
- Managing Director of a volunteer/charity organization
- Founder of a yoga studio
- International wine sales and distribution
- Hostel owner
- Adventure tour operator
- New dad currently doing “computer stuff”
All the people we’ve talked about used their TEFL certification as a stepping stone to a bigger life. They leapt. They used hustle and imagination. They understood that if you want an unthought of future you just have to GO!