Teaching English Abroad for Older Adults: Things to Consider

Most people imagine young people when they think of adults going abroad to teach English, but many people who are middle-aged or older are doing so as well. While this lifestyle is open to adults of all ages, there are certain considerations you may need to keep in mind that might not be as much of a concern for a younger person.

Your Financial Obligations

It can be easy for twenty-somethings to take off and travel around the world because they have few obligations, least of all any serious financial ones they could not manage on an English teacher’s salary. However, as an older adult, you may have several obligations and debts. You can look at ways to pay these off before you go or to reduce them.

As a parent, you may have taken out a Parent PLUS Loan on behalf of your child to help pay for their education. If you refinance, you may be able to pay less each month. You can review a guide on how and why to refinance Parent PLUS Loans. Make sure that you are fully aware of all your financial obligations and that you have a plan for dealing with them while you are away.

Your Personal Obligations

Do you have a family? Do they live with you? How do they feel about you going off to teach English overseas? Keep in mind that some adult children may be very supportive while others might question your decision. This might also be true for others in your life. They might be concerned about your safety or otherwise coming from a place of caring, but it’s important to follow your own instincts when it comes to doing what you want.

You may be in a difficult situation where you need to care for elderly parents or where your children rely on you to look after your grandchildren. In some of these situations, it might be best to wait a few years until the circumstances change. In others, you may be able to find solutions that don’t involve having to give up your plans.

Country-Specific Attitudes

Another thing to consider is the attitude of various countries toward older teachers. In some places, your age will be seen as a mark of experience and maturity and will be welcome. Others prefer teachers in their twenties. Sometimes, this is down to the type of school or age group you’re teaching.

There are countries where younger people are particularly sought after to teach children of kindergarten age but where older people might have an easier time finding work teaching adults. Remember that age-related discrimination laws may not exist in other countries. It’s also important to understand that in a few places, your age may represent a hard limit in terms of obtaining a visa if mandatory retirement happens at a certain age, such as 60 or 70.

Your Belongings

The big possession many older adults have is a home. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to decide about whether you will rent it out, sell it or come up with another solution, such as letting family live in it. However, you probably have more belongings as well. You’ll need to decide what kind of person you are: Do you want to hang onto it all by putting it into storage? Or are you the kind of person who goes all in, and you want to sell it all and travel the world footloose and fancy free? There’s no one correct solution.

Training

Chances are you that you will need to get some training to land a job if you aren’t already an experienced teacher. In some cases, even if you are, schools want to see specific certification in teaching English as a foreign language or its equivalent. Sometimes, a TEFL certificate is required as support for work visa applications. Selecting a TEFL course that is recognized by both employers, and legal bodies is important.

If you prefer a traditional style of learning, in-person or hybrid TEFL courses cost more, but provide a classroom experience. This comes at a higher price and less flexibility but for some it is worth it. If you would like the convenience and flexibility of working on your course as it fits your schedule, then online courses are the way to go. The cost savings of an online TEFL is a side benefit.

Regardless of the training you choose, teaching abroad is an incredibly rewarding and life enriching experience that remains accessible to most people regardless of age.

*This is a guest post submitted on March 30, 2023.*

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