teacher wearing a backpack teaching English abroad

Top 5 myths about teaching English abroad

By Paula Dicu

A career as an ESL teacher is rewarding and filled with many adventures. 

If you desire to start teaching English abroad, you no doubt already started the research to turn this dream into a reality.

But with all the information and opinions on the internet, how can you be sure about what the teach abroad myths and realities are? 

Questions may arise, such as: Do I need a degree? Is it safe to travel abroad? What is the TEFL certification? How do I get a TEFL certificate online? 

Don’t let a sea of misinformation discourage you from pursuing a career overseas. 

This is a life changing experience! Speak to ESL teachers that have traveled and taught in different countries around the world, or even read what they have to say about common misconceptions.

We put together a list containing the top five myths about teaching English abroad in 2022.

  1. You need a teaching license or degree in English
  2. You need to know the language of the country where you’re teaching
  3. You need teaching experience
  4. English has to be your 'first' spoken language
  5. You’ll only be teaching children

1. You need a teaching license or degree in English.

Many interested ESL teachers believe that you need a teaching license or degree in English to teach abroad.

This is a common myth that is still circulating many blog articles on the internet today. 

To be clear, you do not need to have a Bachelor’s degree in English or a teaching license if you specifically wish to teach abroad. 

Your Bachelor’s can be in any subject matter, and many schools will hire teachers with simply a TEFL certification

TEFL prepares you for teaching English. It is a certificate that never expires and will set you up on the right path. Plus, TEFL will accredit you to get hired for higher paying jobs.

Other benefits to TEFL include that it is internationally recognized, 100% online, self paced, and offers 100, 120 or 150-hour course options.

Depending on who and where you want to teach, you can choose to pursue a TEFL, TESL, TESOL or CELTA certificate program

It would be worthwhile to better understand the misconceptions that have also been associated with the TEFL certificate, which you can read more about here

2. You need to know the language of the country where you’re teaching.

You do not need to know the language of the country where you’re teaching. 

Whether you’re visiting Japan, Brazil, China, France, Italy, or virtually anywhere else, it is not essential that you speak the language you're teaching in. 

All that is required is for you to complete the TEFL certificate program

Once you are paired with a school and arrive at your destination, you will be paired with staff that know how to speak English. 

In fact, schools prefer that teacher’s aren’t fluent in their language. 

The classroom you are entering is meant to be immersive. The students will pick up the English language much faster if the teacher speaks in English all day. 

Outside of the classroom, knowing the basics of the local language can help you make connections, and that is something to consider for learning in your free time.

3. You need teaching experience.

You do not need teaching experience to teach abroad. 

To land a great paying teaching abroad, your essential requirements are:

  • English fluency
  • TEFL certificate 
  • Bachelor’s degree (any major)

Many of the schools abroad that hire teachers understand that you are coming with no experience.

Of course, you still want to stand out from the crowd when applying for a coveted position.

Always tailor your resume for the job you are applying for. 

In this scenario, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What volunteer experience can I list that is relevant?
  • Any experience in the classroom setting?
  • Experience traveling or living abroad?
  • Any experience working with students? 

Knowing that you lack experience, schools will also support teachers on their journey. You will be provided with orientation, lesson plans, and other tools that will help you succeed in the classroom. 

4. English has to be your first language.

The belief that you have to be a born English speaker is a big misunderstanding. 

This is dependent upon the country you desire to teach in. It is true, some countries require you to be an expert English speaker, but it’s not the case for everyone.

Teaching in South East Asia and South America, for example, does not require English to be the teacher's first spoken language.

The big takeaway is that even if you are from a country whose local language isn’t English, you must have English fluency. 

The degree to which you are fluent in English is what will get you hired. 

Having English as a second language could even stand to benefit you, as you will already know what part of the language has been the biggest struggle for you to learn. You can help students that are having difficulty with the very thing you overcame. 

English fluency is not something that you can fake! 

Schools will test your fluency when coming from a non-English speaking country. 

5. You’ll only be teaching children.

There is a belief that ESL teachers only teach young learners. This is yet another myth.

You could be teaching students at the elementary, high school or even adult level. 

Where do your interests lie? Is there an age group that you are particularly drawn to? 

There are millions of students around the world that are learning English! You are bound to find your niche. 

You could even opt to teach Business English, which will always lead you to adult classrooms. 

Discover new paths with the new OISE TEFL course

Traveling the world to teach English as a foreign language is an experience that will forever change you, in the best way possible.

The connections you will make, the experiences you will have and the skillsets you will learn are one of a kind. 

If you're interested in pursuing a career path teaching English abroad, consider enrolling in the new OISE TEFL certification program!

Why should you choose the new OISE TEFL course?

  1. More Interactive There are more interactive elements than before which include labeled graphics, scenario activities, sorting activities, and more.
  2. More Visual & Multimodal There are more images, graphics, videos, and infographics to support and present course content.
  3. Up-to-Date on Current Research Updates were made to the language teaching and technology portion of the course.
  4. Modern UI/UX Design The new responsive design makes this course mobile-friendly.
  5. More Accessible The course meets accessibility standards.
  6. More Curated Content The new course includes a lot more curated online content (videos, articles, infographics).

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