5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Teaching English Abroad

There’s a new trend on the rise, and you may want to jump on board. Along with globalization came cheaper and more accessible travel, cross-cultural connections (made easy with international social media channels) and an ever-increasing desire to speak the English language. With demand comes supply, and fluent English speakers are now traveling all over the globe to teach something they know well: English.

As teaching English abroad rises in popularity for those looking to mix their career with travel, it’s no wonder studies like this are popping up, too. It found that multicultural engagement can have long-term benefits in many areas from personal development to future career success.

Determining if you have what it takes to teach English abroad can be done in a number of ways, but answering the following five questions first can help you figure out if you should be the next traveling teacher hopping on a plane to Costa Rica or Thailand or wherever the wind may take you.

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How will teaching abroad benefit you?

Few of us are truly selfless enough to uproot our lives and do something we have no interest in doing just for the sake of others, so there’s got to be something in it for you.

Have you always wanted a meaningful travel experience, a cultural exchange opportunity, and/or the chance to fully immerse yourself into a new and foreign land?

Are you interested in learning a new language?

Do you want to build your teaching resume and/or gain work abroad experience to boost your credentials?

Whatever it is, define it so you can choose the best country/program that will help you deliver on your goals.

How will teaching abroad benefit others?

And of course, you need to ask yourself how this experience will benefit others.

What can you bring to the table?

Do you have a unique background, educational experience or teaching style that others would be interested in learning about?

Sure you do!

Remember that even though you’ll be teaching and impacting the lives of your students, it’s also a cultural exchange opportunity so your students will be interested in learning about you, your country, your background, etc. as well as the language you’re teaching them.

english teacher in thailand

Where in the world do you want to teach?

Are you drawn to cultures similar to your own or something on the opposite spectrum?

Do you know if a specific region like Latin America, Europe, or Asia really speaks to you?

Determining where you’d like to go instead of keeping the net too wide will increase your likelihood in the training and job market.

Perhaps you’ve already done a little research on where English markets are booming in order to support tourism and you want to go wherever that is—either way, choose a region or country that has been calling your name for a long time in order to know that it’s the right place for you to grow.

Can’t decide? Get our free, downloadable Country Comparison Chart here. 

Will you need more training?

Getting the right certificates and training necessary for teaching English abroad is just part of the process.

Even if you’re a certified educator in your home country, many schools will require you to have something called a TEFL certificate (also called TESOL, CELTA or simply an ESL/EFL endorsement — read the differences here) in your name.

There are courses all over the world designed to teach you everything you need to know to successfully teach English as a foreign language, including how to deal with cultural and language barriers in the classroom, intensive grammar reviews (since most of us haven’t touched on that since primary school!), lesson planning and more, plus most importantly, a teaching practicum with feedback from your instructor.

Not only will you graduate fully prepared to step foot in a foreign classroom, but if you choose your training smartly, they’ll also help you find a job in the country you wish to teach in.

before teaching english abroad

Do you have what it takes?

For many people, moving abroad is a big, life-altering decision. Whether you go for one month or two years, there will undoubtedly be a transition phase you’ll have to endure, including homesickness and culture shock.

Have you lived abroad before, or traveled for a significant period of time? Perhaps you studied abroad in college? If so, you have a good idea of what it will be like for you.

If not, you’re in for a roller coaster of emotions…and anyone will tell you that the highs are totally worth it. Plus, in time, you’ll overcome those initial difficulties.

A huge chunk of the rewards of this job can only be seen in the passing of time. And it’s not just about the students—your path to self-development and growth take time, too! Ask yourself if you have what it takes to see it through, for yourself and others.

Teaching English abroad is an exciting and challenging path for anyone! Answering the above questions should get you closer to knowing if it’s the right fit for you before you decide to go all in.

Feeling ready? Let us know in the comments where you might consider teaching abroad!


Words by Jayla Rae Ardelean.