I was motivated to become an ESL teacher to have a career with which I could travel. I didn’t want to be tied to one place or one company, and becoming an ESL teacher gives me the freedom to work basically anywhere around the world. Not only is the career flexible, but it is also viable, as ESL teaching is a fast growing industry with great opportunities.
Growth, Travel and Constant Learning
The best benefit of working overseas is getting to experience something totally new every single day. I love to learn, and you learn both in and out of the classroom overseas. You are immersed in a culture and get to see another side of the world. I also love the flexibility of being able to travel to nearby countries. Another rewarding part of working overseas is seeing your students grow from barely able to greet you, to having a full discussion about the movie they just watched!
I chose to work in Shanghai, China because I felt Shanghai was a good central hub to explore Asia (especially Southeast Asia). Shanghai is close to so many great countries – like Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Korea, and Japan. In addition, China is a relatively inexpensive place to live and Shanghai, even though it’s one of the biggest cities in the world, is a good place to come and save money.
A Community of Support
With any job, there are certainly some downsides to working in China. My biggest worry coming was the language barrier. I worried what I would do if there was an emergency, and say, I had to go to the hospital. That being said, I have found ways to work around this through online translators and bi-lingual friends. Another worry I had was simple things like “how do I open a bank account?” or “how do I pay bills?”, but these were all answered relatively painlessly through other expats and expat communities.
A Rapidly Improving Standard of Living
The standard of living in China as a whole is rapidly improving, and in Shanghai it is comparable to living in an American city or European city (in some ways even better!). I love how extensive Shanghai’s subway system is, and China’s transportation system as a whole. Back home, I would rarely go out to eat as restaurants in Canada are very expensive, but in Shanghai, food, clothes, phone plans and more are so cheap! My money goes a lot further here.
Learning Best Practices with a TESOL Course
My TESOL course gave me the tools to excel as an ESL teacher. Before even starting my job, I knew the best practices on how to approach ESL teaching, including how to grade my language, how students learn best, and what I could expect from ESL students.
Always Be Flexible
The single greatest lesson I’ve learned is to always be flexible in a classroom. No amount of lesson planning and preparation can make a class go smoothly. If something doesn’t go your way I’ve learned to adapt quickly and just go with my intuition. Being flexible doesn’t just apply to the classroom, but also to every aspect of living overseas.
I’ve also learned just how much I love teaching! It’s something new every single day, and you feel rewarded every time you step out of the classroom.
Why EF English First?
I picked EF English First because I knew it was a reliable company that would provide a credible visa etc. I also had a couple friends who worked for the company previously and recommended it to me.
Recommendations for Teaching English Abroad
I would definitely recommend teaching in China! There are so many career opportunities, the pay is excellent, and the culture (especially the food!) is amazing. For someone considering teaching abroad, my advice would be that you will regret the chances you don’t take. If you are seriously wanting to do it – don’t wait! The best time is now.