Deciding to move abroad to teach English comes with a myriad of unknowns. This lack of information coupled with questions that people around have might make you question your decision. When I was first leaving Canada, I heard many of the same things from doubtful family members and friends:
“But when you get back, won’t it be hard to get a job?”
“Teachers abroad aren’t REAL teachers like the ones we had in school”
”It is not possible to save money on an English teacher’s salary”
Initially I had the same preconceived notions about what being a teacher abroad was like, and let me tell you, they have all been proved wrong.
“You won’t be a REAL teacher”
Definition of teacher: one that teaches
especially: one whose occupation is to instruct
According to Merriam-Webster:, you indeed are a teacher if you teach EFL abroad. I think this notion has a lot to do with the fact that you don’t necessarily need to complete teachers’ college or whatever accreditation for teaching your home country requires to teach in the public school system. (That isn’t to say that many teachers here at i2 Education aren’t accredited teachers in their home country) Often teachers at home have the feeling that people are “bypassing the system” to become teachers and are still landing gainful employment as teachers.
Here in i2 Education, it helps students build a stronger foundation and interest in English. There is often a gap in the English curriculum at schools so parents want to give their students the best chance to develop their English skills and interests. While we might not have the same students all day 5 days a week, we do get to see our students on a weekly basis and help them grow. We care about their linguistic, social, and physical development etc. just like any other teachers. We keep track of their progress, assess how they’re doing, and provide individual support to help them meet their goals. We are teachers.
“Once you’re back home you won’t have any real experience so it won’t count for anything”
Well, this one is just plain wrong. Employers understand the courage, adaptability, and social skills it takes to move to a new country. Having international experience shows you’re able to work with people of different backgrounds, cultures, and personal experiences. If your end-goal isn’t teaching that doesn’t mean there are not transferable skills in EFL teaching. At training centers like i2 Education for example, there are many avenues for professionals of all backgrounds.
If you’re interested in HR, management opportunities and foreign HR opportunities are available. Want a career in public speaking, training, or development? The jobs of city trainers and academic managers allow you to develop skills in that area which are transferable to almost any job.
While we are teachers, we also care about parent satisfaction and providing classes that make our guests happy. This gives you invaluable chances to practice your communication skills and learn from talented teachers around you.
“You can’t save money as an English teacher in China”
This is one of the most ridiculous misconceptions. If you ask anyone currently in the EFL Industry, particularly in China, they will let you know that saving money is not only possible but pretty easy. At i2 Education most of our centers are based in tier 2 cities which makes living costs very low. With FT salaries ranging from 24,000 – 27,000 RMB at the moment, saving money is not hard to do at all. In most cities where i2 is located rent can be as low as 2,000RMB and a 4-bedroom apartment can be under 5,000RMB. If you do the math, that leaves you with a lot of disposable income. I think this financial fallacy comes from the old days of teaching EFL abroad. 10 years ago, companies accepted pretty much anyone who was a native English speaker. The regulations regarding education, TEFL certificates, and experience needed has made it so that companies can choose the highest quality candidates and pay them higher wages in return. This is particularly the case here in China where the industry is growing year after year so at i2, we do everything we can to attract new high-quality teachers with training opportunities, unique teaching opportunities, and a competitive salary. There are also countless opportunities for promotions, lateral moves, bonuses, and pay raises for teachers that show initiative, willingness to develop, and talent.
Don’t believe everything you hear. The TEFL industry abroad is multifaceted and allows for several avenues to grow and develop your skills. If you want to learn more about it, talk to one of our recruiters via email [email protected] or find out more at our Instagram @i2_education. Through Instagram you can connect with us directly or find teachers that are already here to find out more about their experiences.
By Christian Lopez