In this day and age, there is no denying that English has solidified its position as the language of the world. Today, almost two billion people speak English, a number that is bound to grow, and it is the preferred language in the corporate world. In regions of the world where English isn’t the first language, students and professionals are often taking the extra effort to learn the language.
The preeminence of the English language across the globe provides excellent job opportunities for fluent users of the world’s lingua franca. English teachers are highly sought after in foreign countries, especially the Asian continent, where there is a huge demand for and influx of expat teachers.
Why teach English abroad?
Some of you might be wondering why one should go abroad, particularly in Asia, to teach English?
The short answer is that you can embark on a wonderful adventure that has the chance to change your life. Teaching English in Asia perfectly captures the idea of the international student exchange program; people from all ways of life and culture come together, learn from each other and develop positive relationships. Helping young students master English ensures that more opportunities are available when they hit the job market while for adults, it makes it easier to communicate and be more competitive on the global stage.
Still not convinced? Read on for the top benefits of teaching English in Asia. This little list is sure to change your mind!
There is a large demand for professionals, unlike many other industries
With over a billion people enlisting for English lessons every year, the job opportunities available for a qualified English teacher is far beyond the average in other industries. Now, this hardly implies that you can walk into a job, but it is true that the competition isn’t as cutthroat as it is in many industries.
You are paid to live, travel and work in a new country!
Studying abroad for your degree will cost you or your parents a significant amount of money. On the other hand, when you are teaching English in Asia, you are actually paid to live in a different country. These can be countries like Vietnam, India, China, or even Turkey. For those of you consumed by wanderlust but unable to afford it, this is a dream come true!
Many in the West often took up teaching jobs in Europe or Latin America, but over the last few years, there has been a growing trickle into Asia and the Middle East, lured by benefits like free air tickets, accommodation and the chance to live in exotic regions.
Most Asian countries offer more vacation and flexible work hours
The US is possibly the only developed nation that does not guarantee its citizens paid vacation time. Up to twenty-five percent of US workers don’t receive any vacation time off but fortunately, things aren’t the same on the other side of the world. Many countries have laws requiring a certain number of days off every year. For example, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) requires that employee have thirty days off every year. This gives you more time to spend with the family or explore the country!
Most English teachers in Asia are able to save thirty to fifty percent of their salaries (per month). This can range from about four hundred US Dollars (as teachers in language centers) in Thailand to a couple thousand US Dollars (as teachers in international schools) in South Korea or the UAE. Free air tickets, accommodation, and medical insurance are some of the perks included in the package. Most of these countries also have a lower cost of living than the US and other western countries, which allows you to save a larger portion of your salary.
To get a better idea of the compensation, benefits, and requirements in specific countries, check out this chart.
You can become a member of the local community in a different country
As an English teacher residing in a foreign country, you will have to immerse yourself in the country’s culture more than the average tourist. You will be swapping a hotel in the tourist district for a middle-class neighborhood, shopping at the supermarket or farmer’s market, using public transportation along with other locals and spending evenings at the café or bar down the road.
Over time (if you are nice enough!), you will be invited to gatherings like weddings or festival dinners, allowing you to experience the country’s vibrant culture from a local’s perspective, something that your friends and family back home can only dream of!
You will basically be a student in your own classroom. Your pupils and neighbors will be more than happy to show a foreigner, especially a foreign teacher, the best bits of their culture, whether it is bargain shopping at night markets or trying out street food.
Moreover, even if you spend just a year teaching English in Asia, it gives you enough time to experience all the festivals, cultural events, and seasonal food of the country. It isn’t just local festivals, worldwide holidays like Christmas aren’t the same across the world and by experiencing it elsewhere, you enjoy a unique twist on these familiar holidays.
Professional development is encouraged
Professional development has always been a centerpiece in Asian education and teachers are encouraged to follow PD programs. Workshops, seminars, and conferences are regular additions to a teacher’s calendar. These events focus on a range of issues including special needs training, helping teachers structure lessons, improving in-class observations, and moving towards interactive teaching rather than sit-and-get” lectures.
You gain valuable global experience for the resume
The world is fast becoming a smaller place. Rising use of the internet and quicker modes of transportation have propelled many companies to go international and likewise, they look for employees who have professional experience from around the world. Furthermore, signing up for a job in a different country shows that you are ambitious and able to move out of your comfort zone when necessary. Succeeding in a foreign country is no easy task and the fact that you have successfully integrated into your new role in an unfamiliar country shows that you are versatile and open to new challenges, two key skills sought after by employers.
It isn’t just companies that are looking for employees with real-world experience. Many graduate programs look for students who have proved themselves outside the academic world and teaching English in Asia or anywhere else in the world is exactly the type of experience that would appeal to a university.
P.S; Your experiences make for a great conversation starter and can help break the ice during the interview!
Dream of a career in diplomacy or international affairs?
Ever wished you could work for the State Department, United Nations or Red Cross? Well, a resume that shows you spent time teaching in a foreign country can help you stand out from the other applicants. Your foreign experience proves you have what it takes to spend long periods away from home and that you have the communication skills to interact with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and linguistic backgrounds.
A further plus point would be if you learned the native language of the country during your stay. On the same vein, it is much easier to learn a language when you are continuously exposed to it and had the chance to practice it on a regular basis. Oh, and don’t forget you will probably learn it with the natural accent, which can play to your advantage if you are trying to get hired at one of the above institutions!
You will have better leadership skills
Managing a class of twenty or so pupils is no easy task and being able to capture and hold their attention is a laudable achievement. This not be much of an issue in your home country, but when you are in a foreign country where the students don’t fully understand your language, you will have to step up, whether you like or not, and take over control.
The role of any teacher is to guide and inspire their pupils to reach their goals. Navigating through the language barrier, dealing appropriately with issues and inspiring your students help develop key leadership skills that will serve you well in the future. No employer would turn down someone with such a skillset.
You make a profound difference in the lives of many
I briefly touched on this above, but while teaching English in Asia might be just a way for you to pay your bills, it will help many others learn a global language that could be the ticket to a better life, better education, and more opportunities in their professional life. You as the teacher have the power to enable this.