Although some people grow to love the lifestyle of an ESL teacher so much that they never return to work in their home country, the majority will head home at some stage. In many cases this can be an unsettling experience as you are no longer the same person that left home in the first place. So many things can feel strange, from the everyday language and time zone, to the climate and cuisine. One way to tackle this reverse culture shock is to find a job that allows you to use the new skills and knowledge that teaching English abroad has given you.
Can I carry on teaching English in my home country?
The obvious answer might be to simply carry on working as an ESL teacher. Most cities will have language schools and community colleges that provide English lessons to a range of clients, whether it is foreign students, immigrants, or refugees etc. TESOL qualified teachers with overseas classroom experience should be in a good position to find a suitable job in many areas. Another option is to take advantage of the recent boom in online language learning. By teaching English online you can work from home and teach students from countries all over the world. If you are really ambitious you might even be in a position to set up your own language school or online teaching business.
Can I join a non-profit or volunteer organization?
Many teachers experience working in underprivileged environments during their time overseas. This can be a good background for finding a job with a variety of different organizations that work in developing nations across the world. If your teaching adventure involved working in a diverse, multicultural environment and you like the idea of helping out people in need, then this could be something to seriously consider. Many of the basic skills an ESL teacher learns during their initial training and subsequent teaching career can be applied across many different sectors in this field.
Can I work in the travel industry?
For many teachers it is the travel and adventure that was the highlight of their time abroad rather than the actual teaching. If this applies to you, maybe working in the travel industry is a good option. If writing a blog was part of your travels, perhaps some form of travel writing might suit you. Initially you might need to do some work for free, but with a bit of patience and hard work, it could lead to a full time career. High street or online travel agencies are another possibility as experienced travellers are often in demand in these environments.
Will my cultural awareness & language skills help me find a job?
If your overseas teaching was concentrated in one particular country, you might find opportunities with organizations that have a connection to it. Employers such as embassies, consulates and international companies are regularly on the lookout for people with a good understanding of a specific culture and what it means to live within it. If you also managed to learn the local language while you were teaching, your potential options will be even better. Jobs related to translation and interpretation, foreign language instruction, or support roles for international students are just some of the possible options in this field.
Should I go back to school?
Living and working away from home for a long time can certainly alter the way you see your future options. Returning to higher education in order to give yourself more opportunities is a common occurrence among former ESL teachers. If you want to stay within the teaching field, a Masters or Phd in TESOL, linguistics, or something similar will pathe the way to well paid jobs in your home country or overseas. Alternatively, there are countless other paths you can take within higher education that will benefit from your international experience.
Can teaching English abroad be a long term career?
Another all too familiar scenario among ESL teachers who return home is an immediate u-turn that ends with them heading back to teach overseas. Once you have gained experience teaching English abroad, you should have no trouble finding a good position in the country of your choosing. The easy option would be to return to your previous place of work, however, a new country might be a better way to carry on the adventure and to broaden your work experience. Many people decide that a long-term career in overseas teaching is the right route for them, although taking a higher level teaching qualification such as a Diploma in TESOL might be advisable if you want access to the best paid jobs.