In our years of working in the teacher training industry, we’re always being asked this question: Should I train where I want to teach English, or stay at home? We weigh up the two options, and help you come to a decision.
It always starts with a small idea. For some, it’s the curiosity that comes with living in a different country. For others, it’s a career change. For many, it’s the chance to break out of the same, old routine.
There’s no career path quite like English teaching; one that’s so easy to fall into, yet offers so many opportunities for travel and for change.
But where to begin? The simple answer is with a recognised teacher training course. But read between the lines of the question; whereto begin?
Should you take the teacher training course wherever in the world you’re currently based, or should you take it in the country where you want to teach?
Using our years of experience in the English teacher training industry, we look at some of the advantages and opportunities in each, and help you make the right decision for your future.
Overseas: Form connections for future benefit. Should I train where I want to teach English?
This is the one, main reason why taking a recognised English teacher training course, such as Cambridge CELTA or Cert TESOL, in the country where you want to teach can be so beneficial. Many teacher training centres are connected to long-standing language schools, or have developed strong connections to others in the local area.
Because these courses are so highly sought-after by language academies, many actually look to directly employ graduates from the teacher training centres. Occasionally, trainees who particularly stand out on a course are offered work at the training centre itself.
But work opportunities aren’t the only thing that come from training in-country; it’s a chance to form social bonds, as well.
If you’re moving far away from home to teach English, it can be hard to find friends, and loneliness sets in quickly. Courses like the CELTA are intense, four-week trials-by-fire, and your colleagues become more like battle partners than classmates.
For many people who make the move overseas, those early friendships are often what gets them through homesickness and culture shock.
At home: It’s all about the timing
We’ve mentioned that taking a course in the country where you want to teach is helpful in finding work afterwards, but the catch is that most schools aren’t hiring all year-round.
Not everyone can get trained up in-country just before hiring season (late August in the northern hemisphere, January in the south), meaning that rather than a barrage of job offers, they may be faced by a barren desert with the occasionally private class blowing by (until hiring season begins again, of course).
That’s why, for many, it’s better to take the course at home, prepare for a few months, then take the big leap smack-bang in the middle of hiring time.
Which brings us to our next point…
At home: Money
Making the move overseas can cost quite a bit; there’s the flights, initial accommodation, and pesky bureaucratic fees. It’s safe to say that for the first few months, you’ll be living in the red until your teaching pay cheques start to add up. Throw a teacher training course into the mix, and it can be financially daunting. Perhaps in this case you would not want to train where you want to teach English.
That’s why, for many, taking a teacher training course at home is a healthier option for the hip pocket; you’ve got no large, added bills (except for the course itself!), and can save up for your eventual relocation.
Plus, many courses, like the CELTA, offer part-time and online blended options, meaning you can even work your day job as you moonlight as a teacher-in-training.
Overseas: A small taste of a big change
Ok, but before you get too comfortable at home, remember that moving abroad to work isn’t without its big adjustments. In that vein, training to teach English in the country where you want to work could actually help you to adapt; it’s like dipping your toe in to test the waters, before taking the plunge.
Taking a month-long TEFL course abroad is a fantastic opportunity to sample a little piece of day-to-day life. Sure, it’s fairly impossible to completely adjust to and understand a new culture in 30 days – but it’s more than enough time to form a fairly solid first impression.
Many course providers, such as centres who run the CELTA, offer accommodation and package deals to trainees, meaning that with somewhere to sleep every night (and somewhere to be every day), you get a pretty good idea of what your life will be like if you land a job in the same place. This is one of the reason why many candidates train where they want to teach English.
So, what’s the best option for me?
That’s really the crux of it: should I stay, or should I go? Well, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have enough savings to support myself for a few months, without working?
Do I need to make connections in my target country, to be able to find work?
Do I want a taste of a place, before I decide to move there?
Am I free to take a training course in over summer?
If you answered ‘yes’, to most of the above, you’re probably best off taking a course where you want to teach, and if you answered ‘no’, then stick to your home base, and save the move for a prime time.