Teaching abroad versus teaching at home - TEFL-Certification

Teaching abroad versus teaching at home

It’s no secret that teaching can be one of the most rewarding and the most challenging jobs out there. Time spent on lesson planning, grading assignments and tests, writing report cards, and dealing with difficult students and their parents can be exhausting and far exceed the standard 9-5 work week. While teaching abroad will be just as rewarding as teaching at home, if not more, it will also present a new set of challenges that most teachers have never experienced in their classroom at home.

So, what are the differences between teaching abroad versus teaching at home?


The most significant difference between teaching at home and teaching abroad is, of course, the English level of your students. At home, your class might consist of 5-10% ESL students, but abroad your class will consist of mostly, if not all, non-native English speaking students. Teaching subjects like Math or Science can be difficult enough, but try explaining complicated concepts to students who don’t have a strong grasp of the English language! In addition, the level of your students’ English can vary significantly in a single class. It will be important for you to keep this in mind when planning lessons and class activities to ensure that your lessons meet the needs of your students and can be understood by everyone.

Student Behaviour

Some parts of the world may place a higher importance on education than what you’re used to at home. If this is the case, you will find that your students are more motivated and encouraged more at home to work hard in school. This typically yields good student behaviour, which will allow you to focus on their education and academics, instead of behavioural issues. You may find, however, that parents are more involved in their children’s schooling and have higher expectations of you as a teacher.

Relationships with Colleagues

When you first arrive to your new school and country, you’ll rely on your colleagues to show you the ropes and help you get settled in your new home. While it may seem easier to bond with the other foreign teachers in your school, it’s important to make an effort to create relationships with the local teachers as well. They will be great resources for you and could be the difference between a fulfilling teaching experience abroad and an early flight home.

Salary and Benefits

One of the biggest appeals of teaching abroad is the salary and benefits package that many schools offer, which can include a tax-free salary, free accommodation and airfare, health insurance and more. While you might be earning a similar salary to what you’re used to at home, your living expenses will decrease significantly, giving you more disposable income!

Teaching abroad can be one of the best career decisions you make, but it’s necessary for even seasoned educators to prepare for the new challenges they’re bound to face. Realizing the differences between teaching abroad versus teaching at home, and taking steps to adequately prepare will be pivotal to your success as an international educator and mentor to your (majority) foreign language students. A TEFL certification will help you anticipate these challenges and create strategies to overcome them.


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22 thoughts on “Teaching abroad versus teaching at home

  1. I am a male graduate with 15 years of teaching experience. Six of the fifteen years i have been out of my country but on the same continent. This time, i want go out of the comfort zone and go find new experience in another continent, preferably UAE.

    • Hi Kikambi! I am excited to hear you’re interested in seeking teaching opportunities beyond your continent. If you have any specific quesitons about teaching in the UAE, your qualificaitons and experience and how a TEFL certificate can make you a more competitive candidate, please email us at teflonline@teachaway.com Best, Christie

  2. I am intersted to do a job in abroad preferably in UAE. I have 4 years teaching experience. I have master degree in english literature. Yes I need a special certificate to find a suitable job in abroad. But i want to get the certificate after joining in school. Is it possible to get a job without TEFL.

  3. I am a 39 year old female, have 8 years teaching experience and would like to have the opportunity to teach in the UAE, I have already applied but no one has contacted me yet

    • Hello Laetitia, thank you for your comment! If you are referring to an application made through the Teach Away website to which you have not had a response, it will be important to ensure that you meet the requirements for the position – inclusive of qualifications (degrees, certifications, etc.), experience and are eligible to obtain a work visa in the UAE. If you have any questions in regards to the TEFL certification that Teach Away offers designed by the University of Toronto, please reply to this comment or send us an email in teflonline@teachaway.com Have a great day! Best, Christie.

  4. Iam intrested in to do a job in abroad preferably UAE I hav 2 yrs experience in lower primary classes.now iam pursuing master degree in english literature I need a special certificate to find a suitable job in abroad

    • Hello Rafna! I am excited to hear you are interested in teaching abroad. If you are looking for a certification that will prepare you for teaching in English in classrooms abroad, such as the UAE, a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification course will benefit you in many ways. If you would like to learn more about the TEFL Online course curriculum you can visit: https://teflonline.teachaway.com/online-tefl-curriculum/

      If you have any questions please send us an email to teflonline@teachaway.com or chat us, using the chat function in the bottom right corner of your screen.


  5. I am a Music Educator K-12 and Elementary/Middle School Education Teacher grades k-8.
    How will your Teflon line Course assist me.

    • Hello! There are no age requirements to enroll in the TEFL Online program. We currently have students enrolled in the program of all ages. When you are considering teaching abroad, you will need to keep age in mind only when qualifying for a work visa is concerned. Countries typically have minimum and maximum ages for teachers to qualify for working visas. These ages are determined by Immigration of the country and are not set by recruitment companies or TEFL providers. The minimum age to obtain a working visa is often the age of majority and the maximum being the age of retirement of the country. If you have any questions about getting TEFL certified to teach abroad, please send us an email to teflonline@teachaway.com or reply to this comment. Best, Christie.

  6. I am really interested in teaching in the UAE whats the procedure for me to qualify. I am a primary school teacher with 13years teaching experience and my highest teaching qualification is a bachelor of education degree.

  7. I’m so interested to teach in other countries…my highest education level is bachelor of Science in Business and I took some courses in education… I am currently teaching in secondary school and I have been working for the last two years.

  8. I have 3 years experience teaching chemistry, but now I am looking teaching abroad. I have no TEFL certificate so how to a land a job abroad?

    • Hi Rakesh,
      As a licensed chemistry teacher, you can apply to teach chemistry or science overseas right away, but a TEFL certificate can provide you with the skills you need to manage a classroom of English language learners. You’ll often find yourself teaching chemistry and English vocabulary in the same lesson, for instance, so make sure you’re well prepared by getting TEFL certified. PLUS a TEFL certificate makes you a top candidate for any teaching job abroad, meaning you can land a job faster! It’s definitely a good first step as you plan your adventure!
      – Elspeth at Teach Away

  9. I am a non-native speaker and I am a Filipino educator. So, what’s the difference between TEFL and the other international English proficiency tests? I have been catering services to foreign students like Koreans and Persians for several years now. Whenever I see the test content of TOEFL, TOEIC, and the likes, they are all the same.

    • Hi Jonadab,

      TEFL stands for teaching English as a foreign language and qualifies you to teach in any country where English is not the first language. It is not an English Proficiency test, though I must admit the acronyms are similar. I hope that helps!
      – Elspeth at Teach Away

  10. Thank you dear. I have been teaching in high schools for upward of 10 years now. I want to gather new experience by enrolling as a teacher away from my home country. – Lilian

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