Teaching Abroad as a means to your own personal end
Although a number of graduates cite being attracted to TEFL teaching as a way to finance their international experience abroad, there is an increase in those who choose TEFL teaching to compliment an existing career in a completely different industry.
Countless actors, writers, musicians, sportspeople, politicians, graphic designers, film directors, sound and light engineers, craftspeople and graduate students also do a bit of teaching on the side, or else teach in order to make ends meet while accepting less steady or less lucrative work in another field, both inside and outside their home country.
Could this be the perfect combination of dreaming and pragmatism that you’ve been looking for? The TEFL industry’s non-traditional hours and flexible schedule allows for time to pursue other interests or the means to subsidize your art or another more transient career in another field. Much of our work teaching abroad happens when most people haven’t even started work yet or when they have already finished for the day. You can teach as much or as little as you like; face to face or online, whatever fits your schedule. Musicians, you can easily gig of an evening (until you get your big break) and still make your 8 am lessons, with an adequate supply of caffeine, of course. Sportspeople, sing and play games at a preschool in the morning and train with your team mates in the evening. Painters/writers/actors, you can paint or write or practice all day Tuesdays and Thursdays – simply don’t schedule any lessons on those days, or if you need the money, make up the missed time with some young learner lessons on Saturday afternoon – you’ve got to finance that masterpiece somehow.
Maybe work in your particular discipline is project based or seasonal; teaching abroad can be a great way to keep the wolf from the door in the lean times and you can still keep your hand in by teaching a few lessons or online when things pick up. Not to mention all the ESP (English for Specific Purposes) opportunities that abound when you have insider knowledge of a particular area; English for football coaches or pastry chefs of filmmaking, to name just a few.
TEFL teachers are often just that, TEFL teachers, but a lot of us identify as something else entirely. Those who can, do, and some of them also teach, too.
Christine Thompson, CELTA, DELTA
Originally from Nashua, NH, Christine began teaching EFL full-time in 1996 for GEOS Japan in Osaka. She eventually moved to Europe.
Christine has worked as a Director of Studies for Threshold Training Associates, Prague since 2011. And witness to some hundreds of both masterful and painful demo lessons later, she’s been Lead Trainer for TEFL International Prague since 2015.
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