Graduating from university is cause for celebration. After many late nights of paper writing and last minute cramming for exams, you will finally get to hold that diploma in your hand. Graduation can also be a stressful time, though, as everyone starts asking what’s next. While some might be ready to start their careers immediately after walking across that stage, for those who aren’t looking to settle down just yet teaching English abroad after graduation might be the right step for you.
The job market for ESL teachers in Asia is booming with schools in places like China struggling to fill the many positions that keep opening. If you’re from an English speaking country the only requirements for a teaching job in China are a Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate. If you’re worried that teaching English abroad after graduation might put you at a disadvantage, think again. The personal and professional benefits from being an ESL teacher are numerous. Here are six reasons to put that newly minted degree to good use abroad.
Have some student debt you want to pay off? Looking to have a bit of a nest egg before starting a career in your home country? Want to see more of the world? Teaching English abroad after graduation is a good option for those seeking financial freedom after surviving off ramen noodles for the past few years. ESL positions in China offer a competitive salary and some schools provide return airfare, a furnished apartment, and the opportunity for bonuses. Combined with a lower cost of living, teaching English abroad will help pad that bank account.
As the world becomes increasingly more global and interconnected, international work experience will be even more important across all fields. Having taught English abroad after graduation will show future employers that you have cross-cultural competency and are able to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, the workplace culture of your school will probably be much different from what you might expect at home. Once you’ve dealt with the challenges of a foreign office environment- especially in a different language- you’ll be well prepared and able to adapt to different workplace cultures at home.
Packing up and moving to the other side of the world to teach English might mean you are further away from your friends and favorite pub, but it also means you are a lot closer to all those awesome places that were once on the other side of the world. As an English teacher abroad you’ll have all public holidays off and most schools offer additional annual leave or vacation of some sort. You can use these days to explore your adopted home country, or maybe jump on a short flight to somewhere new nearby. If you don’t have time to travel much while teaching, many ESL teachers will use some of the money they were able to save to take post-contract backpacking trips in places like Southeast Asia or South America. Being able to travel while you’re young and free from a mortgage, limited vacation of days, or babies is an opportunity recent grads shouldn’t pass up.
Asian languages are generally considered some of the most difficult for native English speakers to learn so you might not be fluent in Mandarin after a year in China, but you can make some decent progress. Not only will learning the local language make your life a lot easier and more fulfilling during your contract, foreign language skills will make your resume stand out when you start job hunting back home.
The friends you make abroad will be friends for life. Navigating life in a foreign country and trying to wade through differences in workplace culture or language barriers help these friendships flourish quickly. With so many people moving to a new country (oftentimes alone), you will have no problem finding people who need friends. Expect your social circle to expand quickly. And since teaching abroad attracts people from all native English speaking countries, don’t be surprised if at the end of your contract you have a free place to stay the next time you’re in London, Sydney, or Toronto.
Most people who teach English abroad after graduation don’t plan on pursuing a teaching career in their home country, but that doesn’t mean the skills you gain are worthless. Managing a classroom full of students requires creativity, organization, and problem solving skills. Teaching can make you a more confident public speaker. You may have to work in teams with other teachers or write reports about students or classes. Teaching English abroad after graduation will give you transferable skills that will help make you an attractive candidate for whatever you want to do next.
Besides the confidence to tackle just about anything when you’re back, teaching English abroad after graduation will allow you to experience another culture, travel, and make some long lasting friends. You have the rest of your life to start your career. Find a job in China and start making memories.
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Elyse has taught with ABIE in Nanjing for a year and just signed for another year! Check out what she loves about living in China and teaching with ABIE