Monday 1 July 2013

10 Myths About TEFL Teachers

Here are the top 10 myths I've heard about TEFL teachers over the years.
  1. We're backpackers. Many people think TEFL teachers aren't serious about their jobs and bounce from job to job. While some teachers are like that, many others make a career out of TEFLing.
  2. Teaching is easy. Lesson planning, looking for supplementary material, making and grading quizzes, tests, and exams, grading papers and essays, creating rubrics and PPTs all take time. I've spent more weekends and weeknights than I'd care to count grading. 
  3. We all learn the local language. People forget that TEFL teachers get their jobs because they speak English. They also spend most of their time in and outside of work speaking English. Some people put forth the effort and learn the language, although it's hard to become fully immersed in the language as a TEFL teacher.
  4. TEFL teaching is really glamorous. Sometimes it is, but often it becomes just a job like any other.
  5. Employers will welcome you with open arms when you go back home. People think that it's easy to transition out of TEFLing since you'll learn the language in a year and have a lot to offer companies back home. The reality is reverse culture shock and the fact that many (but luckily not all) employers look down at TEFL teachers. 
  6. We're immersed in the culture. Some people do, but it's very easy to live in your English speaking bubble with other foreigners. Culture shock and the language are big barriers to becoming immersed in the culture.
  7. We make lots of friends with the locals. Culture and language can make making friends hard. In addition, some people will just want to be your friend so that they can get free English lessons.
  8. We travel all over the place. Yes, some of us are able to travel. However, many TEFL positions pay about as much as MacDonald's does. You can survive, but just barely. Sure you can often live decently since the cost of living is lower than back home, but saving for travelling or finding ways to travel cheaply is another thing all together. In addition, TEFL teachers might only get a couple weeks of vacation a year and they often like to go home to visit family and friends.
  9. Life overseas is dangerous! In some places it can be dangerous, but generally I feel safer overseas than at home (the US) and I've lived in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Many people think that the Middle East or Africa is extremely dangerous. While they can be right, the countries that are in political turmoil don't usually have a need for TEFL teachers. If political strife breaks out, such as it did in Libya, the embassy will almost always help you get out.
  10. Life overseas is cheap. Somethings are and somethings are: it tends to even out. Eating out and transportation can be cheap. Gas is about double what it costs back home. Groceries are expensive. Housing, taxes, and schooling for your kids can also put a big dent in your income


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