DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Teaching English Abroad: Myths Debunked

By: Samantha Ng, College of Computing and Digital Media admissions officer and former Career Center grad intern

Teaching abroad is a great opportunity to learn more about you as an educator, while also making an impact on communities abroad. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about teaching abroad and the challenges that come along with it. It’s time to put those myths to rest! Check out our list of common misconceptions about teaching abroad.

“Teaching is easy—it’s just English!”

Teaching is one of the hardest jobs out there. Throw in environmental factors and cultural differences and it is anything but easy. Teachers abroad are expected to be able to articulate their own philosophy on how learners best absorb information, and understand what teaching styles work for their own personal approach. Teachers should also be able to implement their knowledge, skills and abilities to help all types of learners. Think of it this way, just because English is your native language, doesn’t mean you’re automatically capable of explaining grammatical nuances to a foreign learner on the spot. Talk to a current teacher to learn more about their pedagogical philosophy to inform your own ways of teaching and learning before making the jump to teaching abroad.

“I have to know the local language of the country to teach.”

Many countries do not require teachers to know the native language. Especially in Asian countries, not knowing the native tongue can be seen as an advantage. However, Spanish-speaking countries, for example, require working knowledge of the language.

“I need to have an education background.”

Not necessarily! Many programs and schools only require that you have completed at least your bachelor’s degree and that you are a native English speaker. A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification can definitely be advantageous if you do not have an education background.

“If I teach English abroad, I have to teach grade-level students.”

While it is true that schools are the main market for English teachers, there are many universities and English centers that need teachers. There is also a high demand for business English teaching, especially for individuals with business degrees.

Myths like these often convey the wrong kind of reputation to potential teaching abroad candidates. A great way to determine whether or not a program is the right fit for you is by doing your research. Don’t know where to start? Stop by the Study Abroad Office to talk with others about teaching and moving abroad.

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