When should I go teach abroad?

A question that I often hear from people who are considering to take a TEFL program like the one we offer here at UVic, is "when is the right time for me to teach abroad"? Unfortunately (and fortunately) there isn't one best answer that I can give to this question. In my opinion, there isn't one specific time when people should go abroad, but instead I feel like you can really go teach abroad at anytime in your life.

In my case, the first time I went abroad to Ghana to teach English, I was in the middle of my Bachelor of Arts degree and thought that teaching abroad would be an exciting adventure that could also help me to gain acceptance in the Education program I was going to apply to. The second time I went abroad I had finished my Bachelor of Education degree and taught in public schools for a couple years. I decided that I wasn't ready to be tied to one job for a long time, and instead I wanted to see the world. I also have a goal one day to teach English again in a totally different part of the world...possibly when I reach retirement age. As you can see from my experience, there wasn't one specific time which was right for me, and there may be more opportunities to go abroad in the future. Likewise, in my travels and teaching career, I have met people of all ages and from all backgrounds teaching English in foreign countries.

In the next part of this blog entry, I'll highlight some benefits of going abroad at certain times of your life. As mentioned earlier, for different people the right time to go varies from person to person, however I'm hoping that my advice may help your decision.

During College / University
Although it may be hard to find paying jobs teaching English abroad before you finish your degree, there are many volunteer opportunities out there. Traveling at this time of your life will definitely open your mind, and contribute to your education. Traveling to Ghana to volunteer teach, is still the most defining moment in my life as far as how I see the world, and definitely taught me to be far more grateful for everything in my life.

After College / University
If you're like me, then you probably will leave university or college with a student loan looming over your head. Many opportunities abroad will give you the chance to substantially chip away at that loan, if you can spend your money wisely. Teaching abroad at this time can also provide you with meaningful work experience that can help you find a job later in life.

Middle of Your Career
No matter how much you love your job right now, all of us at some point need a break or change. Teaching abroad can provide that needed change in your life or a brand new perspective and clarity before returning to your career. Teaching abroad may also offer a career change in itself. When I was in Korea, I met so many people who had had completely different jobs before teaching that they totally hated. In teaching abroad, they were able to try something new and excited, and eventually decided this was something they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

I also had the pleasure to meet so many retirees will traveling abroad. For so many people, family consideration, careers, financial concerns all limited their chances to travel and see the world. Teaching English as a foreign language has given them that opportunity to finally pursue their own dreams, while supplementing the income they lost when they retired.

As you can hopefully see from reading this blog entry, there is no correct time to go teach abroad. If this is something you are really interested in doing, then go and do it. If you have taught abroad, let me know when you went and how you decided it was the right time for you.




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