[BLOG] Not so obvious advantages of being an ESL teacher

Not sure if teaching English is for you? Read this blog post about the advantages of being an ESL teacher and find out!

2/15/2024

Please keep in mind that the opinions posted on this blog are my own.

Everybody might have a different experience and opinions, and that's OK.

Should I work in ESL?
Should I work in ESL?
Not so obvious pros of being an ESL teacher
Travelling the world, meeting new people, earning money doing something fun - sounds familiar? These are the most obvious reasons people are drawn to become ESL teachers. I must admit, it all sounds amazing, and they truly are important factors when deciding on one's future profession, however, over the years I found so many other pros of teaching English as a second language that it's hard to limit them to a “become an ESL teacher today!" brochure.

Cultural Odyssey

When discussing why it is cool to be an ESL teacher, a very important argument comes to mind - meeting and learning about new cultures. And there is nothing wrong with that! I will, though, point out that it's not only the teachers who get culture enriched but also the students - so it's a win-win situation!

No matter if you teach in your own country or travel the world - you are almost bound to meet people from a different cultural circle than your own - which means you will learn of their ways as much as they will learn of yours.

What is a better source of learning than from the locals?

As an ESL teacher who’s been an ESL student for over 30 years ( yes, I still consider myself one as teaching never ends) I must admit both sides of this journey were equally informative and life-changing.

You're actually making a difference

Not to take credit away from anyone else's profession, teaching results are usually more visible for us as well as our students. Helping with job interviews, breaking the language barrier, motivating to follow our students’ dreams, widening horizons, and watching our students thrive - these are just some examples of changes noticeable in the first few weeks or months of English lessons.

Nothing gives me a greater pleasure than hearing “I went to Turkey on holiday and ordered food by myself!" or “I finally gave a presentation in English at work!”.

As teachers of a language as widely used as English, we possess the power of not only opening people's minds but most importantly helping them through the tough process of becoming well-rounded parts of a modern, international society.

You never cease to learn

This is one of my favourite reasons why English teaching is a job for me and many other people. As a person constantly hungry for knowledge, and dying of boredom whenever I am faced with a repetitive task, teaching English provides me with a neverending list of possibilities. If you're hungry for knowledge, teaching ESL, especially if you're teaching English to teenagers and adults, can become the most fascinating task. Everyone has different passions, hobbies, goals, and professions.

In a few years, you are prone to become a real Renaissance man, with knowledge of history, culture, biology, geography, production, business, HR, real estate, science, literature, medicine, gaming, pop culture, and the list goes on. As tiring as going from teaching a lesson about history to medicine to construction is, I promise - you will never find yourself surrounded by dull topics. Provided, you are a curious individual, that is.

You are your own master

That opportunity usually comes with experience. As a new teacher, you will probably lack opportunities to teach whatever, whenever and whoever you want, but when you reach this point - boy, was it worth it!

Do you want to teach online? Done!

Do you prefer teaching kids? Done!

Do you love the curiosity of teens? Done!

Do you enjoy exchanging knowledge with your business clients? Done!

Done! Done! Done!

Finding your niche might not be easy as it might require self-consciousness but once you find it - you will never want to do anything else!

Your intelligence will keep soaring

I wish it sounded more modest, but the truth is, if you learn to take control over your teaching without falling into dull habits and keep learning new skills, which might (and will) facilitate your teaching journey, you will keep getting smarter.

Juggling your schedule, discovering new literature, speaking with fascinating people, and doing your own research - it'll feel like going to the brain gym four times per week.

The key to keeping your brain fresh and ready for new challenges is not to fall into the trap of getting overwhelmed and overstimulated. The knowledge of how to do this comes with experience - personally, it took me 15 years to reach this comfortable point but hopefully, new teachers will reach it much more quickly.

Independence and creativity become your best friends

Unless you end up in a school with its own curriculum (and there's nothing wrong with it) you are encouraged (or “forced” to sound more dramatic) to learn how to be independent and creative with the speed of light.

Following a basic curriculum still gives you lots of options, and you will quickly learn students are not fans of solely doing coursebook exercises and getting the same kind of homework after every lesson.

You will find yourself digging through materials, videos, newspapers, pictures, and online resources to make lessons as attractive as possible. Once you get comfortable with the plethora of options available in this modern age, making one-of-a-kind lessons will become a piece of cake. Even though some of your students just want to chat, you will always be ready to squeeze in some vocabulary, grammar or functional language in there without them noticing.

Teaching truly gives you a universe of possibilities. It's definitely not a job for everyone, the pros however, exceeded the expectations I had when I was a young ESL padawan, and still keep outweighing the cons.
Is it always a dream come true? No, it isn't.
But what job is?
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