Who doesn't love the idea of travel? Who doesn't dream about a job that could take them anywhere in the world? If you're interested in teaching English as a second language, you've chosen one of the most popular careers for those with a true sense of adventure.
As with most careers, there are certain personalities that succeed at this job, and certain personalities that don't. A close look at native speaking English teachers overseas would likely result in seeing some common traits which all successful teachers seem to have. If you're not sure whether or not you could be successful at this job, check out the following list.
• Are you an independent worker? This not only applies to the classroom setting- it also applies to getting yourself over to your new country. Unless you fall in with a very helpful employer along the way, you will be negotiating travel plans and lining up job interviews entirely by yourself. Chances are good you'll land in the country with nothing but your luggage (if you're lucky). You must be self-reliant enough to figure out your own lodgings, food, and transportation- at least at the beginning.
• Do you have a love for other cultures? You'll have to be very tolerant and very open to change in order to teach English in another country. Keep in mind you won't just be visiting- you will be a working citizen of that country for the entire term of your contract. If you're absolutely attached to your SUV or you can't handle eating things you don't recognize, you're not going to adapt very well. If, on the other hand, you're the type of person who loves to travel and can't wait to immerse yourself in a world that's entirely different from your own, then you're in the perfect mindset for success.
• Are you a pre-planner? If you drive your friends crazy by having to over-plan everything, congratulations- you're the right personality type for teaching English as a second language. The number one problem people experience in this job path is ending up in a position that doesn't make them happy. You must be prepared to literally do hours of research about your school and your chosen position. Things aren't always as they seem at first blush, and if you don't take the time to dig deeper and plan for what's coming, you could find yourself in a very unlucky situation. Nobody likes to hate his job- particularly when it's thousands of miles away from home.
• Are you prepared to make a few big leaps? It might sound contradictory, but even with all the pre-planning, there will come a moment when you have to trust fate and just go for it. We're not saying to do anything rash. Please, check out your future position, fly to the country and interview in person if you feel it’s necessary, and keep thousands of to-do lists. But when the moment actually comes to get on the plane, you'll have to have a certain amount of bravery. Those who can't handle jumping into the somewhat-unknown a few times aren't going to be able to handle this job.
If after all of this you're still determined to teach English as a second language, then you know what to do. Start researching and working your connections as soon as possible. And start preparing your family and friends for the fact that you're going to be gone. Write your landlord; find someone to take your pet cat. You're on the way!
By Michelle Simmons