If Why TEFL? (Part 1) didn’t convince you, read on…
Teaching English as a foreign language may well provide the greatest opportunity to meet and interact with local people without being fluent in the local language. Other travel jobs might give you the opportunity to see a place or to meet people — both locals and other foreigners – as a visitor, but I’d guess that very few of them put you in a position to talk with locals about topics like their daily lives and views on a whole slew of issues. Part of your job description is, in essence, to talk with people and encourage them to talk. From my Bosnian landlady to the students in my debate class in Chicago, I’ve met a wide range of fascinating people.
You will also also be in a position to appreciate things from a radically different perspective. I’d guess that most potential EFL teachers, or people who are already interested in traveling or living abroad, are already relatively open-mined about other cultures — but it can be eye-opening to actually see that, though people are learning English, not everyone wants to emigrate to English-speaking countries and many people are happy with their own ways of life. Other, totally different, ways of doing things work and often work quite well.
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Career-wise, though I think the benefits of TEFL to your job hunt upon your return home are sometimes overrated, teaching does give you some concrete skills and it also distinguishes you from other candidates. My own feeling is that if you don’t have the initial qualifications or experience that would land you the job back home, teaching abroad won’t magically get you the job…but employers are likely to at least take note when they see Korea or Bosnia Herzegovina or Ecuador on your resume.
Teaching English abroad for a year is something that many people only dream about, but with some hard work and dedication, you can make it happen. Find out here how to choose and why to do a TEFL Course, how and where to find jobs, what your options are for volunteering with, say, the Peace Corps or VSO, or how to arrange job placement with Language Corps or the Jet Program. And after you start teaching, come back to read about speaking, listening and reading activities as well as games, songs and debate topics.