Feed the Wanderlust With a TEFL

Loading the plane, bag in hand I could hear my heart beating louder as I inched closer to my seat. My hands trembled as I struggled to put away my luggage. I couldn’t tell if this feeling was excitement, fear, or both. Why did I wait so long to ride an airplane? Better yet, who decides to travel by their lonesome the first time? This was happening. It could no longer wait. I was heading to Costa Rica to get my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification. At this time, I had never thought about teaching but somehow my friend Meg had convinced me to go on this adventure. I desperately wanted to see the unknown and this was my chance. This was the beginning of something new, and little did I know this would be the catalyst to my wanderlust.

One of the questions I get asked the most about teaching abroad is how do you get into something like that? It’s easy, really. If you have the drive to experience other cultures, see the world, and live among the locals..you WILL figure out a way to make it happen. The easiest and most available option is teaching. Depending on the country you choose to go to, the only requirement is to speak English proficiently and have a Bachelors degree. However, it is preferred and wise to have a CELTA or TEFL certification. Having a certification will give you a refresher on basic English skills, learning styles, and how to teach effectively using best practices. There are certification programs online as well as some pretty spectacular countries. Think Thailand, Italy, Spain, and Argentina.

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I received my TEFL certification in 2009 in the land of coffee and chocolate,..Costa Rica! I cherish the time I spent in that little beach town, living among the Ticos . I gained valuable experience at Costa Rica TEFL through teaching the locals and even learned a little about myself. Some of my fondest memories to date are from my month there. Sharing a house with a bunch of strangers who turned into friends for life. Dancing till the wee hours of the morning, at Tabanuco. Enjoying multiple bocas. Befriending the kind hearted locals. The long but hilarious hours spent in class. Lastly, finding my independence.

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The great thing about getting a certification is that your program directors will help assist you in your job search, making the transition into expat life quick and painless. I took the difficult route and decided to wait a few years before I obtained a job abroad. A few of the recruitment sites I utilize for searching for teaching gigs abroad are Dave’s ESL, Teachaway, and jobsdb.com (asia). I suggest really thinking about the country you would like to live in. It’s a year..or more of your life and you need to decide if it’s a place that you could easily adapt to. Do your research and try to talk to someone who has previously worked at the school you are interested in. They can give you a clear insight into what to expect: salary, housing, curriculum, environment, and work culture.

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Teaching is a fantastic way to feed the wanderlust beast while earning an income. The hardest part is choosing where to go! Go forth my fellow wanderers and explore!