Some people who go abroad to teach English fall in love with their new life overseas and never return to their home country. The majority, however, will return home at some point, whether after a single year or much longer. It can be a difficult experience for some because you are no longer the person you were when you first left home. Everything, from the everyday language to the time zone, the climate to the cuisine, can feel different. Reverse culture shock can be frightening.
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For many teachers the obvious next step is to continue working as an English language tutor. If you live in or near a relatively large city you are likely to come across language schools and community colleges that provide English lessons to international students, immigrants, and refugees, among others.
With international experience and a TEFL qualification your chances of landing a suitable job are excellent. The demand for online English lessons has increased dramatically in recent years, allowing you to work from home and teach students from all over the world. Some teachers even go on to open their own language school or online teaching company.
Depending on where your overseas teaching took you, you may have lived in less affluent environments than your home country. This personal insight is highly valued by a wide range of organizations working in developing countries around the world. If you have previous experience working in a diverse, multicultural environment and want to give back to society, this could be a very rewarding option for you. Many of the skills gained while teaching abroad are highly transferable, opening up a plethora of opportunities in this field.
If you discovered that your favorite aspect of your teaching adventure was the adventure rather than the teaching, you might want to consider a career in the travel industry.
If you kept a blog while traveling or simply have a way with words, travel writing is a career that can take many forms. You may have to start by doing free work at first, but with hard work and a little patience, you could find the perfect job.
Another possibility is to work in a travel agency. There are numerous high-street and online travel agencies looking for experienced travelers to fill a variety of positions.
If you have spent a significant amount of time in one country, you may be able to find work with organizations that have a connection to it. Embassies, consulates, and international companies are frequently looking for people who understand their culture and have lived in it.
If you picked up a good command of the local language during your stay, your options in this field will be even more diverse. Translation and interpretation, foreign language instruction, support roles for international students, recruitment, and many other possibilities exist.
Returning to school to obtain higher qualifications that will allow you to broaden your job opportunities is a viable option. If teaching is now in your blood, obtaining a Masters or Ph.D. in TESOL, linguistics, or a related field will open the door to higher-paying education jobs both at home and abroad. If you have had enough of teaching, there are plenty of other educational opportunities where your international experience will come in handy.
It is not uncommon for returning teachers to quickly reconsider and decide that they are not ready to retire just yet. Every qualified teacher with previous overseas teaching experience has an excellent chance of finding another job in the country of their choice.
You could return to your previous location, or you could try somewhere new that will broaden your experience and provide a whole new set of adventures. A long-term career in overseas teaching is entirely possible, especially if you invest in higher level teaching qualifications such as a TESOL diploma or a DELTA certification course.
Another viable option is to apply your experience and move into teacher training or writing teaching materials, among other things.