What are the Advantages and the Disadvantages of Being an ESL Teacher?



Teaching ESL (English as a second language) provides you with opportunities for international travel and wonderful experiences.


Among the main advantages to getting TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certification is that you have the chance to then live and to work in a variety of different countries.


In fact, there are numerous advantages to being an ESL teacher. However, there are a few disadvantages, too.


What are they?


Let’s find out now.




Advantages of Being an ESL Teacher


1  You get to travel

For most people that train to be EFL teachers, the main advantage is being able to travel.


Opportunities arise for you to live and work in incredible places, and to meet some fascinating people along the way.



2  Sense of freedom

For many ESL teachers, a further job attraction is that you can meet your teaching objectives in whichever way suits your own teaching methods and style.


As a mainstream teacher, you don’t have nearly the same level of flexibility in the classroom.



3  Wages

There’s little chance that you’ll become rich as an EFL teacher (though you can do very well in the Middle East where remuneration is tax-free).


All the same, for many EFL jobs, you’ll receive enough compensation to be able to reside comfortably wherever you are.


For the most part, as an EFL teacher, you’ll be paid quite a lot more than the locals.



4  Job perks

When you teach EFL, there tends to be quite a lot of job-related perks. Perks such as being able to travel frequently and getting involved in local events which would never occur if you were working a “normal” job.



5  Short-term contracts

Many EFL teachers don’t wish to stay put in a particular place for too long.


As such, if you do stay put and you do serve a teaching contract for two or more years, there are benefits on offer for doing so.


Usually, those benefits can include a wage rise, additional financial bonuses, extra time off for traveling, and more besides.



6  You can learn other languages

I say “can” learn other languages, but, depending on where you’re teaching, you may be “forced” to learn other languages so you can communicate in English more effectively with your students. 


Not only that, but when you’re out and about in someplace like China, the vast majority of the locals speak little to no English. As such, you’re forced to communicate in their language.


Is that a good thing?


It certainly has its benefits to be multilingual. 




Disadvantages of Being an EFL Teacher


1  School owners aren’t always ideal business people

Very many TEFL schools are entirely legitimate affairs.


However, because there’s big money to be made, there are also many TEFL schools that are focused more on making money for the school owners.


In these schools, teaching standards and student satisfaction may be of little importance.


If you find yourself working in such a school, it’s wise policy to get out asap!



2  Thrown in at the deep end

You can find that when you join a new TEFL school you’re immediately thrown in at the deep end, so to speak.


In other words, there’s a lack of support for you as a new teacher, and a lack of support for you as someone that is completely new to that particular area – to that particular country.



3  By-the-hour contracts

Many TEFL schools employ their teaching staff based on a by-the-hour contract.


What this means is that if you’re unable to work for whatever reason, you’ll not be paid.



4  It’s not always about the teaching

I found when teaching in China that at one school in particular, I was treated more as an icon than as a teacher of English. An icon to attract more kids to join our school.


That’s not necessarily a bad thing (and it is good for your ego 🙂 ), but it’s certainly not what I signed up for in the first place.


It was all too often that I was asked by my employers to go around local schools trying to get new students for our EFL school, rather than actually spending time teaching my students.