All great adventures must come to an end, and for most TEFL teachers this means packing up your suitcases, saying goodbyes and heading back home. If you haven’t been in your home country for a few months or years, whether you’re thrilled to be back or longing for the place you just left, transitioning to life at home can be a challenge. After teaching English abroad, you’ll be full of new ways to look at the world and working out how to combine your international experiences with your old, familiar routines can be confusing at first.
However, the good news is your TEFL experience overseas can set you up for some great new opportunities back at home. From transitioning your international English teaching experience into a longterm career in education to complete career changes, there are plenty of career paths open for TEFL teachers newly back on home soil. We’ve rounded up a few suggestions for a smooth transition. Let's start with a quick summary and then dive in deeper.
What can you do after returning home from teaching English abroad?
1. Teach English online.
2. Earn a higher degree in education (B.Ed. or M.Ed.).
3. Do an alternative teaching certification.
4. Apply your skills towards a new career path.
5. Find another teaching job abroad!
1. Work from home by teaching English online
If you want (or need!) to get back to work ASAP when you arrive home, it's super-easy to transition from the classroom to English online. You can put all the skills you’ve just learned to use and since most online teaching jobs allow you to choose your own work hours, you still have plenty of time to prepare for your next step. You can have the time to plan your next move, go to interviews, start house hunting or stay on top of whatever other life decisions you need to make. When planning your schedule, just make sure to consider the peak online teaching hours in your timezone. In addition to the convenience of being able to work from anywhere and the flexibility to set your own schedule, you'll find that another perk of teaching English online is good pay.
As for any teachers still suffering from a serious case of wanderlust when they get home, teaching online can also be a great way to stay connected to the wider world and keep discovering new cultures. There are a number of great companies that let you teach English online from home.
2. Go back to university to get an education degree
Many TEFL teachers discover a passion for teaching while they’re in the classroom abroad. We all know it takes time and experience to become a good teacher and by the time your overseas experience is coming to an end, you might feel like you’re just starting to become really good at your job. If this is the case for you, it might be worth considering going into a life-long career in teaching by going back to school to get a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) or Master of Education (M.Ed.).
TEFL teachers are often top candidates for university degrees in education, and going on to become licensed teachers, as they already have a practical understanding of teaching methodology and plenty of classroom experience.
The experts at Times Higher Education (THE) have recently released a list of the best universities for education degrees in 2020, which can be very handy in choosing the best program for you. Those of you who completed the TEFL Certification from International House UC Berkeley to prepare for teaching abroad, may not be surprised to see that THE ranked University of California (UC), Berkeley’s department of education as the fifth-best in the world. Its Graduate School of Education offers advanced degrees in education that can even lead to a career outside of the classroom as an educational leader, scholar or researcher.
Meanwhile, those of you who completed the University of Toronto (U of T) OISE TEFL course may notice that THE ranked U of T as the top school for education degrees in Canada (and 14th best in the world). The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) offers a Master of Teaching degree program for those who’d like to become licensed teachers.
3. Get an alternative teaching certification to become a licensed teacher
Going back to university to get an education degree might sound great, but unfortunately, it’s not a realistic option for many (if not most) people due to the high cost and time commitment involved. So what if you don’t want to commit to a long and expensive B.Ed. or M.Ed. program, but still want to become a licensed teacher? Well, we have good news: if you already have a bachelor’s degree, some countries now offer faster and more affordable alternative teaching certification options.
For example, US citizens and people who can legally work in the US can become licensed teachers through the Teacher Certification Program. This is a great option because you can get classroom-ready in as little as six months by completing the coursework online, on a part-time basis, from anywhere in the world. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of scratching any lingering travel itches you may have by doing your clinical placement and teaching in Hawaii.
If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can take an alternative route to earning a Master of Teaching degree with the Teach for Australia Leadership Development Program. You’ll get to complete the program on an assisted scholarship while teaching for two years in a low socioeconomic community with full salary and benefits! UK citizens (and those who have the right to work in the UK) have a similar opportunity through the Teach First Training Programme.
4. Use your transferable skills to start a new career path
On the other hand, for many TEFL teachers returning home means putting down the board markers and saying goodbye to grading homework for good. If you decide to end your teaching career and set out on a new career path, you can still use your classroom experience to your advantage. Your time abroad adds something memorable to your resume that will stand out to potential employers.
While updating your resume after teaching abroad, make sure to highlight all of the transferable skills you’ve gained abroad: coaching, public speaking, organization, thinking on your feet, communication, cross-cultural and foreign language skills. So make sure to put teaching abroad on your resume. It’ll give you many great things to talk about in job interviews. Don’t forget to mention the independence and perseverance you showed by moving to a new country on your own!
If your career change requires going back to school or retraining, your teaching experience may also work in your favor. TEFL teachers who decide to transition by pursuing Master’s degrees or postgraduate certificates often find that their deeper understanding of teaching and learning methodologies not only makes them great teachers, but also outstanding students.
5. Find a new teaching job abroad and get ready to hit the road again
Some teachers who return home simply find they’ve found a lifestyle they prefer overseas. Maybe you miss a particular country and culture or, more generally, the thrill of discovering somewhere new and the experience of living in a foreign land. Don’t forget that it’s certainly possible to turn teaching abroad into a life-long career!
So if after a few months at home you start seriously dreaming of teaching in China, Korea or Dubai, it might be time to create a free Teach Away profile (if you don't already have one) and check out the job board to see what opportunities are out there. TEFL certifications last for life, and once you know it’s possible to set up anywhere in the world with your teaching skills, you might find the place you feel most at home is actually far, far away.
Look at the world from a new perspective
In some ways, moving back home can be as big of a transition as moving overseas. Things that were familiar become different, you could be far away from friends you’ve come to see as family, and you might spend a few days (or weeks!) feeling like a fish out of water. Remember how it felt when you first moved abroad? Moving back home, you‘ll probably have to go through some of the same processes to help you acclimatize such as being proactive about your social life, getting to know your hometown all over again and, of course, getting used to a new workplace or school.
When making choices about what to do next, think about the things you found most satisfying or interesting during your time overseas. You’ll be sure to have challenged yourself in new ways and have a new concept of what you’re capable of than before you left. What do you know about yourself now that you didn’t before? And what kind of challenges are you looking for in your next adventure? Because moving home can be an adventure in its own right. Choosing where to study next or which jobs to apply for might not have the same thrill as setting off overseas, but making the right choice about what to do after teaching abroad can set your life off on an equally exciting new path back home.