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Teaching ESL - Your Ticket To See The World

By Edited Feb 12, 2016 2 9

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.

Anais Nin


Happy Times

What has drawn you into this article? Maybe you wish to find out exactly what it is that ESL means, or is it the offer of a ticket to see the world? It's a lofty claim but one that's backed up and confirmed by many who are currently participating in this booming industry.

So What Exactly Is ESL?

ESL is an acronym meaning English As a Second Language. ESL is a form of education provided to students all over the world whose primary language isn't English. It's taught at all ages and levels. Kindergarten, primary schools, middle schools, high schools and universities all of which employ people to teach ESL to their students. You can also find many private language schools catering to any age that wishes to learn english as a language. Taught in many countries all over the world, ESL teaching is a great career choice if you love to travel.

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What Are All These Acronyms?

The certification that you gain when you wish to become an ESL teacher may have other acronyms in its title, along with ESL there are many other titles, all basically with the same meaning

TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language

EFL -English as a Foreign Language

So Can ESL be A long Term Career Choice?

Well the answer to that question really lays with you. It can certainly be lucrative depending on the country you choose to teach in of course. It can also be extremely satisfying and fun. There is certainly no shortage of positions and most places of employment actually include nearly all your expenses including your return travel once every year back and forth between your home country and work place. Accommodation is nearly always supplied, utilities all paid for and general medical insurance taken out for you. As far as wages go, it can depend on your location, your decision whether to teach at a private company, university, private or public school. It can also sometimes depend on how many years experience you have and what kind of ESL certification or higher education you have obtained. It can often be the case that you see people scoffing at the idea of doing ESL as a long-term career, but for many people it really is a case of, "Why Not? I am genuinely helping people so the job is satisfying. I get a great wage, comparatively speaking, and everything's paid for. I can travel the world if I do so wish and I even get free airfares back home every year...What's not to like?"

How Do I Become An ESL Teacher?

It is relatively easy to become an ESL teacher and there are many ESL training companies either online or in your local city who offer courses offering a "Certificate in ESL" at its completion, such as this one called ATA (Australasian Training Academy). You do not have to have any qualifications to take part in a basic ESL course and complete and gain your ESL training certificate, however, in some countries that you may want to teach in, it may be that you are required to have some other form of higher education in the form of a degree or diploma. This is not the case for all countries, sometimes all you need is your ESL certificate, the want to go experience a new lifestyle and whole lot of guts, strength and determination to actually get on the plane and do it! When you have done the training and picked up your certificate, It really is a ticket to jet set your way to a job, teaching different races and cultures. 


Decisions, Decisions... Where Shall I Go?

It can be an obvious decision deciding where you would like to go. For instance if you've always had a dream to see China and climb "The Great Wall", or would love to embrace the harsh cold winter in Siberia, then it becomes a very real and exciting opportunity for you to embrace. If you're really not too sure where you would like to go, it can also be exciting surfing the net and checking out which country, city or even a remote little village in the middle of nowhere that might take your fancy. The company with which you have trained, can sometimes directly help you with finding a job or at least give you all the internet sources advertising the positions available worldwide.  There are many choices for locations and lifestyles that suit any of your destination desires. 

The Great Wall(130344)

So What Does Being An ESL Teacher Entail?

This can vary of course from school to school, but the basic requirements are planning and presenting lessons that aim towards getting the students to actually speak. Usually the students already have a good knowledge of grammar from their everyday english classes, what they often don't have is a chance to put their english into practice. It must be pointed out that this job, whilst satisfying, can be extremely tiring. It can often seem that you need performance skills to go with your  teaching skills, especially when teaching ages through from kindergarten to middle school. It could also be the case that when you arrive at your new job, you actually have no workbooks and little materials to work with, this means many hours searching the internet for teaching ideas that are not only informative but interesting enough to keep the students motivated and happy to learn.

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I Like The Sound Of This But I Don"t Particulary Want To Travel

If this applies to you, you can still teach ESL in your home country. As we know, the world is a big melting pot of races and many of these people arrive in your country with a need to learn the local language. It may however be the case that you will need a higher form of certification to teach ESL in your own country where as teaching ESL overseas, in some countries, requires nothing more than your ESL certificate and your résumé, which in turn then gets you your working visa.

At The End Of The Day


Remember that even though you get to wing your way to amazing places around the world, it is work. In fact it is hard, tiring but satisfying work. The whole experience of being an ESL teacher and visiting different places, gives you a tremendous opportunity to grow as a person. Life challenges come up that you could never have imagined. You can see how people live in countries, that are so different to your own, it can feel like you've accidentally flown to another planet rather than a different country. To get a return flight included in your job package, you usually need to work a 1 year contract. 3,6 and 1 yearly contracts are available. If this appeals to you, if you need a change in direction or if you want to do something completely different whilst you are in a transition period in your life, this could be just what you're looking for!



Surrounded by kids


Feb 28, 2013 6:05am
Wow all those letters were confusing. Now I think I understand it better. Is that why you left us for greener fields. Are you ...one of those teachers? Good article. You are doing well in short time. Keep working at it.
Feb 28, 2013 7:32am
Hey eileen, Thanks for the encouragement. Yes I'm...one of them ;-)
Mar 1, 2013 7:32pm
Can you do ad hoc work here and there - unofficially - without a teaching certificate?
Mar 1, 2013 8:28pm
It happens, but I guess it depends which country you're in as to how strict they are with that kind of thing. I'm in China and they are very strict on that now, anyone found working, whilst only on a travel visa can get booted out very quickly, certificate or no certificate... and it does happen...That's really more to do with what kind of visa you have rather than if you have a teaching certification or not. All countries do the visa thing differently. In China it's actually quite unnerving because even when you sign a contract for a job, you can still only enter China on a tourist visa, then when you arrive at your place of employment, they take you to the authorities and get your working permit and visa organised. Very odd!
Mar 2, 2013 7:29am
I have also heard that China is very strict. I'm thinking more about South America. If I end up staying in one place for a long time, could I make a little money but having small classes, maybe for adults who want a few more words to help their tourist trade. I guess I'd have to research each country individually.
Mar 2, 2013 8:18am
Yeah I agree, you'd have to research the particular country to be on the safe side. Like Barrelpounder said, Adhoc or private tutoring works in Japan, but I don't know the details behind it. It does here too in China, but to stay in the country long term you have to have a job which in turn gives you the visa and if the job that you want to get is teaching, you need the certificate...if you get my drift
Mar 2, 2013 4:16pm
hey JestMe, I should also point out that when I say "Full-time" Job..It can really vary. I've had a semester where I've taugh 23 - 45 minute classes for the week...that's has been my maximum. It was then added to my contract that I should have no more than 18 - 45 minute classes a week, which for a couple of semesters was what they gave me. This semester I have 12- 45 minute classes per week...and have even once had as low as 10. Pretty good for a full-time job hey! but you do have to spend time at home organizing what to teach each week and some schools (Not mine) require that you spend some time just sitting around the office, just to be there :-) ...Might be worth adding that to the article I think.
Mar 2, 2013 7:57am
Ad hoc/private tutoring work works great in Japan, and for many it has replaced their full-time jobs.
Mar 2, 2013 8:11am
People here can do private tutoring too, depending on their place of work, whats written in the contract or how strict the school is about following the contract. But you have to legally have a teaching job here first and to do that you must have a certificate, which in turn enables you to live here. We couldn't give up our full-time job and only tutor as we would then loose our residency.
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