Traits You Need to Teach Abroad

Many people who decided to travel and live abroad found that it’s not the dream move they expected it would be. They may have pined for home or taken things too far without their parents’ watchful eye keeping them in check. Travelling abroad to teach English means you have to have a certain sense of responsibility as you are not there just to be a tourist but to work. You are being trusted by employers to teach children English while acting responsibly in your host country.

These are some of the essential traits you need to teach English abroad.

Be Flexible and Adaptable

If you’re going to teach English as a foreign language abroad then you have to be flexible and adaptable. That is something your TEFL course won’t be able to prepare you for. Unexpected situations occur often when you travel but these challenges will give you the opportunity to grow. Everything that you planned beforehand may go suddenly out of the window. You will realise that not everyone shares your view on matters and will have to accept other people’s perspectives. Even the teaching methods that you learned might have to be forgotten as you adopt new methods to adapt to your surroundings.

Read more > > About teaching abroad 

Be Open to Learning

English is the universal language. It is a skill that is heavily desired and that is why you’re considering becoming a TEFL teacher.

You’re there as a TEFL teacher to teach English as a foreign language, but you may find yourself being the one learning a new language. It’s a daunting challenge but it would make settling in much easier if you could speak the language. Even if you could pick up a few words, the locals will appreciate the effort.

You’re a Professional TEFL Teacher

Telling everyone that you’re going to travel the world teaching English might raise a few eyebrows back home. However, in the countries where knowing the English language is desired, the role as an ESL teacher commands respect. So, don’t tarnish it! Those who have too good of a time outside of the classroom can make life difficult for themselves in the classroom.

You Have Reasonable Expectations

That college degree hanging up on your wall means you’re entitled to that well-paying job you’ve been told you’ll get after college, right? In an ideal world, yes, but out in the real world, you’ll need to set the bar low when it comes to salary expectations. Not having unrealistic expectations is definitely one of the traits you need to teach abroad. While the cost of living in South East Asia is relatively low, most TEFL teaching jobs are also low paying. If you budget, set reasonable expectations and can live within your means, then you should be fine. If you want to travel or enjoy a certain lifestyle, you may have to dip into your savings or teach English online to make ends meet.

You can make money, a lot of it, as a TEFL teacher, so if filling that bank account is your aim, then check out our blog post on the most lucrative places to teach English abroad.

You’re Not a Creature of Comfort

You are in for a rude awakening if you’re used to your home comforts, unless you land yourself a plush teaching job in the UAE and have a luxury apartment to call home. Teaching abroad to travel might mean volunteering in exotic destinations in humid conditions. You may find you don’t have air-conditioning and that the WIFI you have at home is extremely weak and unreliable. Cute little lizards (geckos) are darting around your walls and there’s no public transportation in your area. Some countries simply aren’t quite as developed as the Western world. Taking up teaching positions in such places can be a struggle if you’re someone who hates to sweat, needs their cappuccino in the morning and Netflix at night.

You Can Accept Being the Foreigner

It can be awkwardly amusing and a little uncomfortable how much attention you might receive just for being a foreigner. You will have to accept early on that being the teacher who teaches English as a foreign language in a school will put you under scrutiny from the rest of the local staff. Don’t worry – they will want to help you adapt, make friends and bring you out to share with you their country’s ways. Just accept that you will be a topic of conversation for your strange foreign habits. And it won’t be just your colleagues you will receive attention from.

Strangers may stop you and ask for a selfie if your appearance is strikingly different. This is particularly true for attractive Caucasian females. Some of the locals may look to you as an opportunity to practice their English on. And others may want to get to know the foreigner simply because you are the foreigner. Whatever the reason, you have to accept that you won’t be able to just blend in if you’re coming from a foreign land.


You’re moving abroad and you’re going to quickly learn that you don’t know everything. In fact, in the early days, you may have a moment where you’re feeling quite at a loss. That’s okay, you’ll pick up the way of things quickly if you’re open to learning how things are done.

Adapting to life in other countries isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If you have any of these characteristics, then you have the necessary traits you need to teach abroad. You should be able to adapt to living abroad without any problems and be able to enjoy the fulfilling experience of teaching English abroad.

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