Teaching ESL will make you stand out on your next job application
A good chunk of this blog’s foundation is teaching English abroad. For good reason, I’ve been teaching English around Asia for nearly two years now. It maintains a large chunk of my resume up to this point. While most days I do enjoy it, it’s not overly demanding and boasts a whole whack of other benefits I’ve written about previously, it’s not something I plan to do forever.
I did a guest post a little while ago outlining how I could reach the 7 figure club within 10 years if I kept grinding at my current pace and continued teaching. More recently I’ve been considering my personal purpose. And while there are plenty of perks to teaching esl, it’s definitely not my purpose in life to educate children. I have fun in class, and most of the time it reflects positively on the children. But I know there’s more for me. More I’m capable of.
I’ll admit I think about my future quite often, and what’s next. Maybe it’ll be my own business, more likely than not I’ll probably pursue a professional career. Thinking about this also has me a bit worried. It’s been a number of years since I maintained a typical job that many professional positions might require to be included on the work experience portion of a resume.
ESL teachers develop a unique set of skills
How can teaching esl compare to someone who has management experience or put in years into a large business experiencing with many different roles. Have I blacklisted myself in the name of adventure and fast cash?
Initially I had that concern. But the more I thought about it, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine before I left for China. He – who is one of those people who has been paying dues and working his way up the corporate ladder – stated to me “well that’s cool man, but definitely not something I think I would be capable of. Just up and moving across the world to live in this totally foreign land.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize there really are many, many skills and experiences I am gaining that have changed my life. And would boost the quality of my resume. Here are a few skills that you learn while teaching esl that can boost your resume game.
You learn to work with different cultures
The world is more interconnected than ever, and many large companies do business in multiple countries and continents. Not only that, but if you work in a medium to large sized company there’s a good chance you will either have colleagues or customers from different countries and cultures. The deep understanding you acquire from living abroad while teaching English as a foreign language is much more than you could ever read on the internet or in a book.
The chinese find the number 4 to be extremely unlucky and having that number in your phone number or email can affect business relations. South Koreans avoid direct confrontation and rather tell people what they like to hear as opposed to the truth message. In most Asian countries it is impolite to pass items with only one hand, both hands are best to pass objects.
These and many more are subtle but important etiquette that is picked up while living and teaching abroad. Beyond this, you will become immersed in the culture and current events, enabling you to relate on a more personal level to individuals from other cultures and countries. This can be very advantageous to the next company that you work for.
Teaching ESL develops your patience and ability to remain calm under pressure
There will be times in the classroom when it takes the patience and discipline of a zen monk to refrain from hitting a child. There are times when they can get completely out of control even if you have sound classroom management skills. You will be tested many, many times and must remain collected and with a smile on your face. The capacity to keep your cool under pressure is an attribute that will serve you in any industry or position in the future.
Also, since living in a foreign country while teaching ESL the mother language is not English, everything becomes a lot harder. Even the simplest of tasks. People will frequently misunderstand you, and getting your needs met becomes a hauntingly complex ordeal. Remaining level headed in these tries times, and finding unique ways to solve your problem are yet another life skill you’ll acquire while teaching English abroad.
A second language is a strong asset on your resume
It takes effort and discipline to learn a second language, even if you are immersed in it daily. While not everyone will take advantage of learning the official language in the country they reside while teaching English abroad. I picked up next to nothing of the Korean language during my time in South Korea. This cannot be stressed enough; make a conscious effort to learn the language. I am putting much more time and attention into learning Chinese while teaching English in China.
Learning a second language is arguably the important skill you can pick up during your time teaching ESL in a foreign country. The ability to communicate with other cultures and people in their native language is such a competitive advantage for any person in any industry. Even despite how advanced technology is getting. You build trust and are able to form relationships much quicker when you can speak to people directly.
I cannot emphasize enough how important learning a second language is.
Teaching ESL is great management experience
I believe the most important skill for a teacher to possess is strong classroom management abilities. Without the ability to control your students, learning does not take place, and its a painful uphill battle. When the teacher is the competent captain of the ship, the students are much more able to pick up the information, they have more fun and it’s much easier to deal with the class. Making teaching more enjoyable for you.
Classroom management is really about staying in control and maintaining the frame. In social interactions between two or more people there is always one person who is holding the frame which the other person(s) enter. That person holding the frame is in control. Whether you are managing 50 primary school students, or 20 adults. The person in control is holding the frame.
Learning to maintain the frame and control the situation are priceless skills. They will continue to serve you throughout your life professionally and personally. Teaching ESL is a great way to learn management skills and perfect how to maintain frame.
Teaching English abroad seriously develops your adaptation and flexibility skills
You are living in a completely foreign continent, country and city in most cases while teaching ESL. The food is different, the culture is different, the weather is different. There are all these subtle to strikingly different aspects of everyday life. Overtime you will probably come to find people around the world all have similar motivations and desires in life. But to function in this new country you learn to develop new habits and processes for going about everyday life.
You need to create a completely new bubble. While this is usually uncomfortable at first, the more and more you do this, the easier it gets every time. It’s very akin to starting a new job or adding responsibilities to an existing job. You need to rebuild yourself in a sort of way. The more you do this, the better you become at it.
I’ve also found Asia counties to have less organization and more surprises as to the way the do business. While working in my schools, the foreign teachers are usually the last to find out what is happening. And even less so why. The ability to function on the fly, make the best of the situation or actively push to get more information is another way you progress into a very supple worker.
How can I start teaching English as a foreign language abroad?
If you find yourself spinning your wheels at a current job, give teaching ESL a thought. I have many friends from around the world who treat it as a gap year to travel. But also make money and develop themselves as a person. Many people think of teaching EFL as a travelers way to make a quick buck. While the money can be great, there are a lot of indirect benefits and skills to reap from this unique experience.
Give it a try, what are you waiting for? Contact me for more information on positions in China and South Korea.