Teaching English abroad, for many of us, is simply a way to facilitate our travel. When we look for teaching jobs around the world we sometimes forget to consider the type of students we might have or what our classroom will function like. Instead, many of us are guilty of looking at the culture, food choices, and tourist attractions first in order to make the most of our adventure. While teaching English overseas certainly guarantees adventure, it’s important to also remember why the job exists in the first place.
You are more than a traveler who teaches; to your students you are a teacher who has travelled to a far-away land in order to help them learn English, and you can make a big difference. Here’s why it’s important to remember that the work you do in a classroom abroad matters:
English is everywhere
Did you know that 53 countries have English as their official language? In fact, one in five people speak some English, so it’s a language that can open many doors. No matter where your students go, which university they want to go to, or what job they apply for, in much of the world English will most likely be encountered. Even when the official language is Israeli or Japanese, the tourism in many countries relies heavily on English language to serve as a common language between all people. So not only will your students be able to participate in the world, they’ll be able to travel it!
The best-selling books, biggest blockbusters, and the top music hits are–in many cases–in English. Sure, one can always rely on translations, subtitles, or dubbing, but learning English will allow students to really engross themselves first-hand in some of the most popular art on Earth. By avoiding other people’s translations, they will be able to use their comprehension skills to become more intimate with the art they’re experiencing for themselves.
Access to Knowledge
Even if a German discovers nuclear physics or a Chinese engineer builds a futuristic car, those ideas will be translated into, discussed in, and shared in English. In the age of the internet, many courses, tutorials, social media trends, and articles are shared globally in English as well. Understanding and accessing all these resources can lead to better job prospects either because your students will be able to communicate with global companies or just that knowing English is an asset in and of itself.
Better Brain Function
There are a multitude of studies that prove being bilingual literally changes the way people think. Bilinguals can be more focused, more open to new ideas, and even more creative. Someone who speaks more than one language obtains abilities to reword and rethink ideas in a unique way, which can help with problem-solving and communicating ideas. There’s also evidence that learning a second language helps with memory and the ability to retain new information.
Learning a second language changes the way you think about things, and can help with empathy and learning new ideas. So–not only will English open up an entire world for your students–they will literally think differently, helping them socially and economically.
In the classroom you are on more than a personal adventure. By taking on the role of a teacher, you are impacting the lives of children around the world. As long as you are invested, passionate, and willing to put in the work to teach English as a foreign language, you will succeed.
Contact us today to see how YOU can get involved with TEFL!
Words by Brianna Stimpson.