About 430 million speak English as their first language and many millions more around the world, are keen to learn the language and become one of the more than 500 million people across the globe, who speak English as their second language.
The popularity of English as a language and the desire for so many people to learn it means that there is a wealth of opportunities for teachers who decide that they would like to teach English in Japan for example, or any number of different countries.
Why teach abroad?
There are a number of positive benefits to taking up an English teaching position abroad and one of them, is the chance to truly experience what life is like living in a foreign country rather than the more homogenized view you might get as a tourist.
As you will almost certainly be a valued member of the local community when you take up a post as an English teacher, there is a good chance that you will enjoy a good standard of accommodation and living, as well as meeting new friends and immersing yourself in the local culture.
Paid to travel
Another positive aspect about teaching abroad is that you will be earning an income that will allow you to support yourself and your family financially, whilst getting the chance to travel and enjoy new experiences abroad.
Teaching English is certain parts of the world such as Asia and the Middle East can be quite lucrative. Many positions that are available can be expected to offer what would be classed as a satisfactory living wage and can even compare favorably to rates in your home country.
Improve your resume
An overseas teaching position will enhance your resume and there are plenty of prospective employers who will place a high value on a candidate who has gained some experience in an international teaching post.
Having overseas teaching experience on your resume can set you apart from other candidates and it demonstrates that you possess a fair amount of courage and initiative to travel outside of your comfort zone to teach.
There are even opportunities for native English speakers who do not have a degree or educational background up to this point.
You may be asked for TEFL or TESOL certification, which could be sufficient for someone looking to take up a new challenge but without an employment history in mainstream education so far in their career.
Spending time abroad in a working capacity is a completely different scenario to taking a few weeks away, so you need to be sure that you are ready to spend a year or more away from home.
You should apply a lot of thought to the length of time that you want to spend teaching abroad and make sure that you check the terms you are being offered, as some contracts may be for longer than a year, although some might be more flexible.
Although you are going to be teaching English in a foreign school, you should give though to the fact that you might be working in a country where English is not spoken very widely or at all. You can choose to work in a foreign country where English is widely spoken already or take up the challenge of a different language to contend with as part of the experience.
Cost of living
The cost of living can vary widely depending on what part of the world you are teaching in and the salary being offered, may well reflect this fact.
Do some research and look at salaries and the cost of living in the country where you are looking to work, so that you can decide if the offer being made to you is in line with this or otherwise.
There is often quite a lot of competition for teaching jobs abroad, especially in certain area of the world where the pay, working conditions and the cultural experience make working there an attractive proposition.
Be flexible in your approach and keep an open mind about where you want to work, especially if your first choice doesn’t get offered to you. There are many great teaching experiences to be had and you may find that your time in a place that you were not so sure about at first, turns out to become a job that you are really glad you took.
Take the time to weigh up all your options so that you can get the most from your teaching adventure abroad.
John Sheldon is an English teacher with over 25 years experience in teaching, phonics, business English, TOEIC, grammar and pronunciation to students of all ages in Japan.