Satisfy your “TEFL Gene:” Teach English Abroad
This post was written by Matthew Clark
For the past four years my life has, to some extent, revolved around TEFL, first as a teacher in Ukraine and now as a program advisor for BridgeTEFL. When you believe in what you are doing, and enjoy what you are doing, “work” doesn’t feel like such a large chore. And in that regard, the past four years have been great for me.
Over that time, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from several different cultures and backgrounds, of varying citizenships and origins. It’s one of the things about teaching English abroad that I enjoy the most—its ability to transcend barriers that would be otherwise impassable. I’ve met a lot of people similar to myself (or the way I like to think of myself, anyway)—adventurous, interested in other cultures, fascinated by languages different from their native tongue, and driven to share their experiences, either domestically or abroad.
I’ve also met a lot of people that are skeptical of TEFL:
Teach English abroad? That’s for people that don’t know what they want to do with their lives. (Sometimes true.)
And the pay is probably terrible. (Not always true.)
And isn’t it dangerous? (Isn’t life sort of dangerous?)
Why would I do that?
It’s a fair question, and one that should be examined before going abroad. The majority of native English speakers that taught in Ukraine at the same time as I did are not still teaching, and are not currently working in a field related to TEFL. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to discount the role TEFL played in their career paths. I think about a fellow teacher that transitioned her international TEFL experience into a career as a project planner and grant writer for a non-profit in Africa, or my friend that is a semester away from a Master’s degree in Public Health, or my other friend, a social worker that has had several job opportunities in the past few months because of a Master’s degree—which obviously helps separate him from the pack—and some impressive Russian language skills acquired while TEFLing (the combination of degree + language skills really draws attention from employers).
But you know what? If asked, the people referenced above wouldn’t say they pursued TEFL for financial or professional gain. They would say they pursued it because it filled a piece of their mind or body or soul—here at Bridge we like to call it “the TEFL gene.” And if that is something you can relate to—if you think you may have been born with a strong desire to experience a foreign country, new culture and face all the challenges that come with it—then I strongly encourage you to consider a career (or a stint, at least) in TEFL.