Great Expectations – What Can You Expect When You Teach ESL Abroad?

Are you planning on teaching English abroad? Here’s some things you need to think about before you accept that position.

There are times in our lives where we have the opportunity to try new things and take off on an adventure. Whether you are in your 20s and just finished uni, in your 50s and the kids have left home or anywhere in between, teaching English abroad is a great way to have new experiences, explore the world and get paid to do it.


However, many of us are used to living in developed nations with minimum wages, certain standards when it comes to housing, maximum work hours and other cultural boundaries. First time TEFL/TESL teachers can often set their expectations too high with wages and living arrangements for a number of reasons.

Sometimes it may just be not realising that the wage they are being offered is exceptionally good for that role in that particular country. Sometimes it is a belief that because many TEFL/TESL jobs are available, they will be able to set their own terms and get any job they choose.

When applying for roles in other countries it is important to consider what ongoing obligations you have at home, but also what your salary will get you in your job placement location. For instance, if you have a mortgage that you have to pay it is not likely you would receive a high enough wage in most countries to be able to afford to keep paying it while being able to afford to live overseas.

However, if you have no obligations a salary of US$1500 a month plus free accommodation and free lunch while at work for only working 20 hours per week would give you spending money to explore the region you are in plus save some for future travel in most places in Asia. It is very unlikely you will receive a similar wage as you are used to, but you may end up with more money in your pocket plus you get to live in an exotic destination.

It is also important to consider other cultural issues. Housing can be very different in other countries, so you must expect that you may not be living in a house with all the comforts of home. Most schools offer western style housing and amenities, but they may be very basic in comparison to what you have in your home country. It may take some time to adjust but many do easily in time.

TEFL/TESL is an industry with candidates in high demand, but schools and businesses must still recruit the best candidate for the role. They have visa requirements that must be adhered to, plus they of course want their students to have great teachers.

With this in mind it is important that applying for TEFL/TESL roles still require you to put your best foot forward and make a positive first impression. Your resume should be up to date and error free and you should make sure you meet all the job requirements. Take a look at How to Write a Great TESL/TEFL Resume for some sound advice.

If you proceed to the interview stage, and often it is via Skype or similar, it is not a given that you will get the job, you must still act as professionally as if you were going for a job face to face. Find out how to have Video Chat Interview Success

Teaching English abroad is a fantastic industry to be a part of, but you must be realistic about your expectations and consider if you think it is something you can actually do.

If you do decide to go ahead with it, that’s fantastic! Go for it, there’s a whole world out there!

Further reading:

Common ESL Interview Questions and the Best Way to Answer Them

Is Doing a TESOL/TEFL Certificate Really That Easy?

7 Best Countries For Teaching ESL Abroad

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