Have you been day-dreaming about jet-setting to a new country and starting an adventure-filled career? I used to daydream about this a lot and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to do it. And then, I learned about TEFL and realized that this dream could become a reality.
I remember growing up and thinking to myself: “I don’t want a ‘normal’ job” “There’s no way I’ll be able to sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day” “I need to do something different – something that will make me unique”.
These thoughts recurred in my mind a whole lot. While attending university, I chose to study and obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. I wasn’t really sure what my career would become. I pondered thoughts about marketing and advertising work, administrative work and even work in the public sector. It was also during this time that I realized a few things about myself and what I wanted my life to be like:
- I loved the English language – everything about it.
- I admired my professors greatly and realized I wanted to have the same effect on students.
Discovering what TEFL Is
Since I had already chosen my bachelors degree, I wasn’t able to change it to Education. Without a degree in Education in the USA, you are unable to teach in the public (and most private) school systems. So, I began thinking about what else I could do and that’s when I learned about TEFL.
Woah…”A career TEFL is basically everything I’ve wanted since I was a little girl”, I thought to myself. Adventure, challenge, travel, teaching, English.
Everything began to make sense…
What Happened Next
I graduated from University and began doing a lot of research into obtaining my TEFL certification. I didn’t have a job yet, so I was able to afford a lot of time and hard work into this effort. I realized I had two options:
- Take an online class from the USA
- Go abroad and complete an in-person course
There are pros and cons to each (which I discuss in another blog post that you can access here). After weighing them out, I came to a clear decision.
I would go abroad to complete my TEFL certification.
How did I get to this decision? Well, here are the factors I laid out for myself.
- I didn’t have a job in the States yet
- I didn’t want to move home and live with my parents
- I wanted to explore the world a bit while I was young
- I always wanted to live in Costa Rica
- I really wanted to teach English
- I wanted to learn a new culture
The list could go on and on but I’ll stop it there for now. As you can see, there were a lot of pros in my factoring process. As for the cons, here’s what I got:
- I might get homesick
- I might not love Costa Rica as much as I think I will
So, my answer was very apparent. To Costa Rica, I would go so that I could learn how to teach English!
My time in Costa Rica was great! It was a perfect start to my new career; my new life. I had amazing TEFL instructors throughout my 6-week certification course. They were experienced TEFL teachers who really knew the ins and outs of the career. They also had a lot of connections in Costa Rica which was beneficial for job-finding purposes.
I couldn’t have asked for a better course and I was lucky enough to have had the time in my life to be able to do it. Of course, if your life is busy and you realize you want to teach TEFL, there are still ways to do it. Online courses are readily available today and prepare you equally as well as an in-person course.
After getting certified, I applied to a lot of jobs in Costa Rica. I loved it down there and thought it would be an optimal place to begin my career since I knew a few others down there and because I was, after all, already there.
I found my first job at a small school near the beach. Now, had you asked my 1 year earlier if I thought I would be living in a small Costa Rican beach town this soon after completing university, my answer would have probably been “no”. But, here I was.
To start, I had about 10 hours of actual teaching time a week. This is pretty normal for a new TEFL teacher. Teaching is a lot of work and when you add lesson planning, grading and other administrative duties to the mix, your workload can become a lot more than you thought.
I stayed in Costa Rica for a few months before returning to the States.
I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to travel to after my time in Costa Rica, so I moved back to the USA. Once back in the States, my TEFL career continued to evolve and change. I began working at a bi-lingual school and was able to teach early learners (ages 3-10) here. It was my first opportunity teaching young learners and I loved it. It was a whole new view of my career but I realized I also love teaching adults the language, too.
After teaching young learners, I decided to travel to Greece in 2017 and work with refugees there. As they were experiencing a huge influx of refugees coming from the Middle East, there was a great shortage of English teachers in the camps and surrounding areas. I was able to teach within a camp outside of Athens for a few months. Read my past blog post to gain a little bit of insight into what this experience was like.
Of course, without an EU passport, you are unable to live inside Europe for longer than 90 days, so yet again, I ventured back to the USA, with a newfound purpose.
Upon my return back home, I sought out TEFL teaching opportunities in my area that would also help work with refugee populations. I began teaching English as a foreign language at a non-profit. My job was utterly fulfilling and gave me a real purpose in my life.
About a month ago, I moved to another state and I am now looking at my next steps as a TEFL teacher. I know this journey is still just beginning even though it’s already been 4 years since I received my certification. It is one of the best life choices I have made because it has afforded me such a unique, satisfying and adventurous lifestyle. I really wouldn’t change it for anything.
Teaching TEFL helps you learn about the world, about other cultures, and about yourself. You’ll begin to see the world as a vibrant and beautiful place. So, if you do feel stuck in your career or if you are just finishing up school, read up on TEFL and see if maybe it’s right for you. too.