For many people who decide to teach EFL overseas, it’s just a temporary job for a year, or maybe two. They sign up to teach English in Korea, Thailand, Mexico, Argentina or Dubai, so they can experience a year of living abroad and make some money while doing it. But, once the year is over, they’re on the plane back to America or Europe and continuing on with their normal lives.
For others like me, a long-term teacher in Thailand, they love teaching EFL so much, the idea of it becoming a permanent, full-time career begins to enter their mind. They fantasize about teaching EFL in Japan, Peru, Vietnam and Brazil – traveling around the world teaching English, for the next 20 years or longer. A career they would not only love, but that would be incredibly exciting.
This is when these people start to ask themselves, can teaching EFL abroad actually be a permanent career, or is it just a temporary job for the young or the temporarily bored?
Teaching EFL as a temporary job – Teaching EFL on a temporary basis can be a great way to start your teaching career. Getting jobs in countries like China, Japan, Korea and Russia is easy and salaries are good. Plus, the experience you’ll have while you’re living there will be one of the best you’ll ever have.
As a temporary job, being an EFL teacher abroad also beats working as a secretary in an insurance company back home or stocking shelves at the local grocery store. It’s also a wonderful way to fill in a gap year between high school and university, or university and the ‘real world’.
Sure, it’s temporary and you’ll probably have that ‘temporary mindset’ when you go into it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Not as long as you work hard while you’re doing the job, and teach your students to the best of your ability. After all, a high percentage of them pay fees to learn English that they struggle to afford, simply because they hope it will ultimately lead them to opportunities that will give them a better life.
Enjoy your temporary career move and use it to benefit your own life and future career when you move back to your home country.
Meanwhile, you can start looking for EFL job opportunities on Dave’s ESL Cafe, one of the best resources for would-be teachers online.
Teaching EFL as a permanent career move – So, now comes the question, can teaching EFL abroad be a permanent career? Yes, it absolutely can, and I’m one person who can prove that.
I originally moved to Thailand almost 11 years ago with the idea that it was a temporary career move. I planned on teaching EFL in Bangkok for a year and then going back home to the United States to pick up my permanent career where I left off. Needless to say, over a decade later and I’m still living in Thailand and, for seven of those 10-plus years, I taught English at various Thai schools and at two large international companies. If I hadn’t followed a different career path, I’d still be teaching today. So, yes, teaching EFL can be a permanent career, if you want it to be.
Opportunities for permanent EFL teachers all over the world – Teaching EFL as a permanent career move can be one of the best things you will ever do. Job opportunities are on every continent, and in more than 150 countries worldwide. You can teach in far-flung places like Brazil, Peru, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Spain – you name it, and the country you would be interested in living in is probably on that list.
Of course, you can do like I did and choose one country where you’d like to teach EFL and settle down permanently in it. Or, you can do what friends of mine do. Teach in Thailand for a year and then move to Vietnam. Spend two years in Vietnam and then give China a go. Or how about Mexico, Italy or Morocco? They’re all countries with thousands of opportunities for permanent EFL teachers, and the more experience you have often the better those opportunities are.
Don’t forget about international schools – If you’re serious about EFL teaching and would love to make a lucrative career out of it rather than just teaching in local markets, your best bet would be to get a degree in Education or a Teachers’ License in your home country so you are qualified to teach at an international school abroad.
Salaries at international schools overseas are often in the $4,000 to $6,000 a month range, with air fares paid, free health insurance, three months vacation every year, a housing allowance and on and on. If you’d like to make a serious career move, and don’t mind teaching students from all over the world rather than students of the country you are living in, then look into becoming an international school teacher.
If you like an interesting life, love to live in new places and learn about new cultures, and enjoy teaching English to foreign students overseas, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t. There are hundreds of thousands of EFL teachers all over the world who have made teaching EFL a permanent career. If they can, why can’t you?