My tefl Blog

5 ways to tell if someone’s been teaching English abroad

Teaching English abroad isn’t just a career direction, it’s a way of life. With the promise of adventure and exploration in new destinations across the globe, a whole new set of skills to master, and a host of different cultures and creeds to meet along the way, it’s bound to change you as a person. Here are just some things to look out for to see if the person you’re chatting with is a onetime master of the TEFL classroom just like you.


Teaching English abroad
Shanghai | © Abriga Media/Flickr


They’ve traveled extensively


Perhaps they’ve explored the green hills and temple-spotted towns of Northern Thailand. Perhaps they’ve been living close to the sparkling waters of Koh Samui. Perhaps they’ve been a city mouse amidst the soaring skyscrapers of Shanghai, a nomad in the far-flung villages of Patagonia, or an erstwhile local of Taiwan’s happening capital. Yes, all of the above could just herald a worldly traveler, but they are also things you’d expect of someone who’s been teaching English abroad. After all, the adventure is one of the greatest draws of the job, no?


They’re organized to a T


If someone’s loaded with more Filofaxes than you can shake a Poly Pocket at, has color-coded pens to keep their diary in order, won’t do anything without a list made first, loves to run the show, and enjoys managing their day-to-day life with help from hi-tech phone apps, it could just be an indication that they’re fresh from the TEFL classroom. Okay, it could also just mean they are uber-organized (in which case, they should think about English tutoring as a career if you don’t mind us saying so). But it’s also a possibility that they’ve had to deal with the ins and outs of school life, lesson prepping, school curriculum planning and the like.


Teaching English abroad
Organized | © Lisa Nottingham/Flickr


They mind their Ps and Qs


If there’s one thing that virtually all fresh-faced students in their first TEFL course will learn, it’s that no one really knows their grammar until they start training for teaching English abroad. Whether it’s past participles, modal verbs, mind-boggling parts of speech, technical jargon for ‘I’s, ‘you’s, and ‘them’s, or something else in the world of English theory entirely, a master of the art certainly has something that you’ll notice in past teachers: Their grammar is perfect…or at least we hope it’s perfect! 


They don’t stop talking about it


Okay, bias warning here folks but it’s true: Teaching English abroad is such a darn fantastic experience that you’re bound to be talking about it for years to come. And before you point out that we’re obviously going to say that, we’d direct you to the thousands of TEFL teachers who’ve been in touch with us to say that getting qualified was one of the best things they ever did. Oh, and then you’ve got the glimmering beaches of the Thai Gulf to get over, the soaring Andes Mountains, the rolling hills of Tuscany, the vibrant cities of China, the futuristic megalopolises of Taiwan and Korea – all things you’d expect someone to be keen to chinwag about once they’ve returned back home, no?


Teaching English abroad
Koh Samui | © Sarah Ackerman/Flickr


They are good at learning other languages


It’s not just English grammar, English vocab, and teaching skills that come part and parcel to a TEFL qualification. The nature of the course also means you typically get a good grounding in fundamental aspects of language learning per se. Ask anyone who’s ever learnt another language and they’ll tell you it’s true – once you understand the basic tenets of speech and writing, it’s easier to pick up a whole host of other lingos. You’ll get to grips with things like cases, tenses, word types, and syntax, all of which will help you when it comes to learning that second foreign tongue of your own.



Have you noticed something else about people who’ve been teaching English abroad? Can you think of anything that reveals them as a tutor of lingo? We’d love to hear your additions to this list in the comments below. Alternatively, if you think it’s time you got TEFL qualified, then be sure to check out our range of acclaimed courses.



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