Dispelling Myths About Teaching English Abroad

Going overseas to another country to teach English abroad is an incredibly rewarding experience that many people miss out on due to misconceptions or myths they have heard about teaching English abroad. In this article we will address a few of the most common myths, and explain what you really do need in order to teach English abroad.

You have to know how to speak the local language.

This is one of the most believed myths about teaching English abroad, and it couldn’t be further from the truth! Nearly all schools hiring TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers do not expect that they will speak the local language. These schools are more concerned that their teachers are native or native-level English speakers, and that they have been thoroughly trained in TESOL methodology (also known as TEFL certification). This allows teachers to thoroughly commit to the immersion approach to teaching English abroad, in which only English is spoken in the classroom. Many schools worry that if a teacher is also fluent in the local language, they will use that common language to communicate during class, and students may not feel the same motivation to really learn English. If you do know the local language where you will be teaching, that is fine, but you may be asked to only speak English with your students.

If you are worried about not knowing the local language, most schools offer local acculturation and language training courses once you have arrived at the location where you will be teaching. These courses help to acclimate yourself to the locale as well as learn your way around the area.

It’s dangerous to teach English abroad.

Most schools offering the opportunity to teach English abroad are located in or near primary and secondary cities in assignment countries. Learning centers and teachers’ accommodations are in safe areas, and most programs will work only with select schools that operate in similarly attractive, secure locations. Although these locations are all safe, it’s advised that teachers should be aware of local customs and rules, and always use common sense, good judgment and caution.

I have to get a teaching degree in order to teach English overseas.

While all schools do require excellent English speaking skills, many locations do not require a college degree – and even where they do, your degree does not have to be in English, Education, or a related field. Schools are generally more interested in candidates who will easily adapt to and thrive in new surroundings.

Once accepted to a program you will most likely go through intensive classroom training and hours of practice teaching before earning a TESOL Certificate. TESOL certification is widely regarded as a rigorous standard for teachers, and requires prescribed curriculum, and a minimum six hours of supervised practice teaching in an actual student-classroom environment. A TESOL certificate is widely recognized by EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching schools and programs as the mark of a well trained, highly qualified EFL teacher.

It’s a big decision to live and work overseas for an extended period of time – and you want to be sure you’re truly ready for it before you find yourself far away from home, and unhappy to be there! However, the above myths should not factor into your decision. If you’ve already spent some time in a country and culture other than their own and are anxious to do it again, or are genuinely interested in interacting with new people, and living in and learning about new cultures, you are an excellent candidate for teaching English abroad.