On paper, teaching English abroad seems like a great option – exploring amazing cultures, getting paid to travel, making amazing memories to share with your mates back home.
But thinking about it, and actually, properly getting on that plane and doing it are two very different things.
So what holds people back? Fear, that’s what!
TEFL is great, but leaving your comfort zone (including gravy, the BBC and Jaffa Cakes) can be daunting. So, to help you channel fear into excitement, here are people’s most common TEFL fears and how YOU can face them:
Fear 1: My students will eat me alive
Students. In the majority they’re adorable and well-behaved, but sometimes it feels like the spawn of Satan is sat at the desk in front of you. One teacher recently had a student sitting in class systematically breaking pencils in half. How do you deal with that?! Adults aren’t always the easy option either – while they probably won’t smash up your stationery they can undermine your authority and start taking over your show.
Solution: Be assertive and take a stand, because students of all ages can smell fear, seriously. You’ll also feel much more confident about situations, and know how to cope with them better, if you do a TEFL course before you head out.
Fear 2: I’ll be all by myself
What’s the point in experiencing all these amazing new things if you don’t have anyone to share them with? You could be in the most incredible place in the world, but if you’re sat in a crummy apartment eating instant noodles, watching TV shows alone you won’t be having the best time in the world.
Solution: Get out there! There are plenty of ways to make friends in a new country – start with the people directly around you (other teachers at your school, students) and branch out from there. You can also sign up to a supported programme, like a paid internship opportunity, where you’ll get a chance to meet lots of other people just like you.
Fear 3: I’ll hate my school when I arrive
The optimistic part of you is hoping for amazing beaches, lovely locals and bags of spare time to explore. The less optimistic part of you is imagining a dungeon-esque classroom which you’re locked into 7 days a week and forced to run English classes for the rest of eternity.
Solution: Research! It’s really easy to chat to people on forums and carry out Google searches of your school before you sign anything. Ultimately though, don’t believe absolutely everything you read online, if everyone believed everything on the internet, seriously, we’d never go outside.
Also, in the unlikely event that your school isn’t what you hoped it would be, there will be other options while you’re in-country, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.
Fear 4: I won’t like the food
Some people love the idea of not knowing what they’ve just ordered from the menu, for others that’s a nightmare situation. But you will not go hungry! Even if you have to take an emergency stash of baked beans in your suitcase, you’ll find foods you already know and some new ones you never thought you’d like!
Solution: Wherever you are in the world you will have a choice about what you eat. It won’t be like some constant bush-tucker trial filled with fried locusts and sheep testicles. Yes there will be exotic food, but weigh that up against the amazing new food you’ll taste and it seems pretty low-risk. Plus, wherever you are in the world these days, there’s never a McDonalds far away.
Fear 5: I won’t find a job when I get home
You’re looking at taking a TEFL adventure, but worried about your CV going rusty while you’re off having the time of your life. Won’t employers see your swanning off around the world to teach English as rather indulgent? I mean, shouldn’t you have been back at home chained to a desk like they were at your age?!
Solution: Quite the opposite! Rather than damaging your long-term career prospects, TEFL can actually help them. By making that leap to teach English abroad you’re proving you’ve got courage (aka balls) and that’s before you factor in the leadership, communication and organisational skills you’ll develop during your time in the classroom. Take that!
This post was written by Katie Baxter, Online Marketing Executive at Career Break Site-approved organisation i-to-i TEFL. They provide TEFL training so you can get out there, travel the world AND get paid to do it! For more information, visit www.onlinetefl.com, follow them on Twitter or find them on Facebook.