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Teaching English Abroad: Stories from ESL Teachers around the world

There are few careers that are as sought after or as exciting as teaching English abroad. I have been living and teaching in Italy for more than ten years, and while it has its challenges, it has been an incredible experience and an opportunity to live and work in such an amazing and rich culture.

Teaching English in Italy

I’m Celia from New York. I first came to Milan, Italy to work in fashion. Milan and Paris are the biggest hubs of the industry.  One thing led to another, I met my husband and decided that Italy would be my home forever. I started teaching English to cover for a friend who went on maternity leave. I thought it would be a temporary job, but I soon realized I could learn so much about Italy and the Italian culture from my students. I now split my time between private lessons, online lessons, and blogging – it’s really ideal!

Lake Como, Italy

Every year, hundreds of thousands of native and non-native English speakers apply for and seek teaching positions abroad (click here to see the English teacher job board). Teaching English abroad is not only incredibly rewarding but also a great way to learn more about yourself, other cultures, and languages.

Becoming an ESL teacher abroad is a little bit different than teaching English domestically. Although native English speakers from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia or New Zealand have an advantage, non-native speakers of English can also teach English abroad. Language studies or degrees in education give you an edge,  but you can teach English without having a degree. A TEFL certificate or a CELTA certificate is required for most countries and although the training is intense,  does not entail the long term commitment a university degree demands.  


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Here are some stories of ESL teachers working around the world

Teaching English in China

My name is Hannah, and I’ve been living and teaching ESL in China for the last five years. It’s been one the most rewarding experiences of my life.

My first year in China was one of culture shock. I went from living on a college campus to living in a cramped apartment with two other people. And yet, the experience was liberating; I had time to rediscover myself and made lifelong friends along the way.

Shanghai, China

Teaching English Online

I’m Jackson. My friends and students call me ‘Jack’ and I teach online from my home in Georgia, USA. I have been teaching online for the past 3 years. Teaching English online is very gratifying. You will find that it is a rewarding way to interact daily with different cultures while still enjoying life at home.

Many of my students come from South America, Europe, Africa, India, or other places in Asia. I really love pop-culture and I love talking about music, film and style trends with my students. In some ways, I think I learn more about their cultures than they do about mine!

Atlanta, Georgia USA

Teaching English in Argentina

I’m Brandon from Australia. Living in South America is an exciting experience. The culture and traditions are filled with vibrant colors, and you can explore some of the most beautiful parts of the world. I’ve always wanted to visit Amazonia, and while it’s sometimes difficult to travel through parts of South America due to safety concerns, I’m happy that I can live here.

At first, I was quite intimidated. I live in Argentina, and although Argentinians are friendly and welcoming once you get to know them, at first, they can seem cold. Once you have established a report and relationship, you’ll find that they are very warm.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Teaching English in Africa

My name is Sarah and I’m from East Sussex. If you’re considering teaching English in Africa, I want to warn you, be emotionally prepared. There are of course modern cites and countries which are more “westernised” but teaching English in Africa can be a difficult and heartbreaking task in some rural areas.  

I wasn’t emotionally prepared the first time I went; I was in a small town in Rwanda where living conditions are not at all like we’re used to. I lived in a residential complex, which was more like a campground rather than a town. The bathrooms and showers were in a communal building (men and women were separate) and living quarters were like small cabins.

I have since gotten to know the Rwandan people and learned about their history, in particular, the 1994 genocide. The countryside is clean, breathable, and beautifully green and the cites are gradually developing.

In many African countries that were once French colonies, English is taught as a second language, but French remains the preferred language for business. However, in Rwanda they are trying to cut their ties with their French history and change to an Anglophone society. It will take time, but new generations are moving things forward.

 I have been there twice, but in 2020 I had to go back home to the U.K. but I look forward to returning.

Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills

To sum it up, teaching English abroad is an amazing experience for those who decide to take the leap, but it can also be challenging. Having a support system like the one provided by Premiere TEFL makes the transition and move to a new country so much easier.

Premiere TEFL is a company that assists people who are looking to teach ESL abroad. They provide you with all the materials that you will need to work in a foreign country. There are also systems in place to offer support for newcomers.

Main image of Bangkok and other city photos by Canva Pro.
This article is a compilation of teacher experiences. Do you want to share your experience? Contact us.

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