There may be any number of reasons why teaching overseas has crossed your mind. Maybe you've always had a sense of adventure, a desire to travel the world, or just hope to learn something for yourself. Whatever your reasons may be, chances are you're not sure whether you should take the plunge and get certified--the idea of diving headfirst into a new culture with the responsibility of teaching others can be daunting even to the steeliest of adventurers. But there are hundreds of reasons why you should take the chance and get yourself TEFL certified--here are five that convinced me.
1. Traveling is awesome
There's a reason it's a cliche to put "traveling" under the likes section of your dating profile. Just about everyone loves the idea of traveling, but far too few actually have the chance to do it. Many people like myself can't afford a gap year (I couldn't even afford college!) but getting yourself TEFL certified gives you the opportunity to essentially be paid to travel. This, I've found, is probably the biggest reason that people think of teaching abroad, and it's no surprise why, but there is so much more to the experience than just taking vacation photos.
2. Teaching is fulfilling
Not all TEFL teaching jobs are paid. Some are volunteer work; you might stay at a camp or hostel and teach in exchange for room and board. You could also find work as a private tutor, teaching families in their own home. This profession is a versatile one, and it certainly isn't all about money. Then why do it, the more fiscal among you might ask? Teaching can be extremely fulfilling--and no, that isn't just propaganda from an underpaid educator. Sharing what you know with those who really strive to learn what you have to offer is akin to parenthood; it's one of those things you have to experience in order to fully appreciate.
3. You get to learn stuff, too
Don't think your students will be the only ones learning. As they say, the best way to learn is by doing, and that is no truer than in teaching abroad. If you have any interest in a foreign language or culture, traveling overseas is the only way you can truly learn from a native's perspective. One of the greatest attractions for me is the idea of trying new cuisine and learning how to cook with new and exciting flavors. Trying sticky rice from a street vendor in Thailand is going to be much different than at your local restaurant!
4. Your certificate isn't just a piece of paper
When I first started looking into TEFL certification, the options were daunting. Some schools were little more than diploma mills that would send you a piece of tagboard with your name on it. Others were four year college courses that would put a $100,000 dent in your wallet. I began to wonder why I should even bother getting this certificate, especially as many people seem to get teaching jobs overseas without one. But whatever I expected before ultimately deciding to get my certificate was completely blown out of the water. The course was intensive, challenging, and a little intimidating at times, but by the end of it I felt as if I had truly learned what it means to be a teacher, and completely prepared for everything ahead of me. My certificate isn't just a piece of paper with my name on it, it's a physical reminder of the hard work I put in, the fruits of my labor, and something that will ultimately help me find my footing anywhere in the world.
5. It pays for itself
I'd be lying to you if I said money wasn't part of the equation--that's just the society we live in--but the great thing about getting a TEFL certification is that it practically pays for itself. A four-year university degree takes a long time to pay off (some of you who are thinking about getting TEFL certified to supplement your bachelor's degree will already know this), nut my certification will have paid itself off by my second paycheck. That means that I won't be sending checks to cover my school debt while traveling around the world, and all of my money will go directly into living and experiencing the cultures around me.
There are plenty more reasons I could list for going ahead and teaching English abroad, but these are ultimately what helped me make my decision. I hope that if you were on the fence about this for some time, that these five points will convince you to get out there and show the world what you've got to offer. After all, what have you got to lose?