Longstay & Backpacker

Teaching English Abroad with TEFL

Teaching English as a foreign language (or TEFL for short) has many benefits, not least of all that you can experience a foreign culture while you are doing so. In time you may also gain an in-depth understanding of your chosen country’s culture that would be otherwise impossible during a brief visit.

Where can I teach English abroad?

teaching English to children abroad

The most popular destinations to teach abroad are China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan and the UAE. However, the scope is really only limited by the number of countries where English language skills are required.

You may wish to remain in one destination for the duration of your time away, or you could ‘hop’ from one placement to the next, each in a different country. You will find that each is as unique as the last and that you may learn as much from your students as they do from you!

What are the benefits of TEFL?

Not only can a trip like this boost your CV back in the UK, but it can also provide you with a better salary package than those offered at home, especially in places like Dubai. In saying this, it can, of course, make it harder to land jobs there due to increased competition for places.

Becoming a TEFL teacher allows you to work globally, in doing so you can gain so much experience and confidence in a classroom.

Is there an entrance criteria for those seeking TEFL jobs?

Many believe that you need a university education to qualify for teaching abroad programs but this is not the case. There is a range of entry levels that suit most people, with some programs allowing English to be taught abroad without a degree. For some, just being able to speak the English language is the only requirement.

Whatever your background, there are specific companies and agencies that can help you find English teaching jobs abroad based on your requirements and experience.

What do I need to bear in mind when teaching English a long way from home?

Any form of long-distance or long-duration travelling can be difficult and teaching abroad also comes with its own set of considerations:

Culture shock – Adjusting to your new surroundings can take some time. Even in cultures similar to our own. With a high proportion of English language speakers, this can be hard. Then there are cultures that are so far removed from our own that it is hard to find any similarities. Either way, it may take some perseverance. Stick with it and before long you will start to feel more comfortable as you get more used to your environment.

Tip: Carve out your own space however small and establish your own routines.

Homesickness – You will go through a honeymoon period when you first arrive but this may then give way to a series of emotions including homesickness. It is very natural for anyone in this position, so best to think ahead about how you would cope if you do experience it.

Keep this in mind when you are thinking about placements, and how the location may affect:

homesickness abroad

  • How far-removed from home you will feel. In other words, will there be some aspects of life that will be similar, or will it be completely different?
  • Keeping in touch with loved ones. One or two hour’s difference won’t cause too much hardship when calling home – but what if your waking hours fall when family and friends are asleep and vice versa?
  • Meeting new friends. You may feel that you will need someone from home that you can reminisce with about a good cup of tea, roast dinners or your favourite TV programs. How important do you think this will be to you and how likely is it that you will meet someone to do so?

Foreign education systems

Whether you have teaching experience or can remember your own educational system from when you were a student, adjusting to foreign policy can be difficult. In some places, students can be at school for eight hours and then have as much as three hours of mandatory homework. This might be hard to witness and you may feel compelled to object. Making value judgements about other cultures will never go down well. So you may have to make up your mind to accept these cultural differences before you leave or ‘on the job’.

Feeling isolated or lonely

The nature of travelling enables you to meet plenty of people, make new friends, get very close to some and only to miss them if they then leave for another post. The positive is, you made new friends once, you will do it again and the longer you do so, the more accustomed you will get to meeting and interacting with new people.

Local laws and customs

Travelling abroad brings with it a multitude of conventions and unwritten rules that can at best cause embarrassment or at worst attract unwanted attention from locals – even the police. Always check travel information prior to going and stay updated while you’re away. The most recommended site for travel advice is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

making friends teaching English abroad


What type of insurance do I need when teaching English abroad?

All those looking to travel, for whatever reason, should purchase comprehensive Insurance to have adequate protection against unexpected events. From pre-departure cancellation to being abroad, needing medical assistance or repatriation back to the UK, without proper protection, the potential costs for such events can be somewhat catastrophic.

When choosing a company to arrange your TEFL trip, be sure to check the benefits package. Some provide national health care or private health care insurance but many won’t. It’s important to remember, not all packages and policies are made equal, so working out what cover you are being provided with is important. Additionally, the cover you need is strongly influenced by where you are travelling to. Medical costs across the globe vary. For example, you may require higher medical cover in Dubai compared to if you were travelling to South Korea.

The good news is P J Hayman offers a comprehensive solution for almost any destination to protect you while pursuing your TEFL dream abroad. With a policy that provides up to 18 months cover, cover for cancellation up to £2,500 and medical expenses up to £10 Million, not to mention hundreds of activities included as standard, Longstay and Backpacker ensures you can travel with peace of mind.

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