The five types of TEFL teacher – which one are you?


Teaching English abroad is an opportunity that’s attractive to all sorts of people, for all sorts of different reasons – here are just a few! 

The Eat Pray Lovers 

Usually searching for the meaning of life, these misty-eyed teachers are on a transformative journey and teaching English is a way of paying their bills. They turn up for work in a kaftan and their favourite kind of classes are conversation-based, where they can share experiences and learn from their students’ personal philosophies. They spend their weekends doing yoga and going to tarot workshops. They are most likely to be found giving you a gentle lecture on the benefits of veganism which they recently discovered. In five years time they will be immersed in the cut and thrust of a competitive corporate environment, and loving every minute of it. 

The Party Animals 

Their parents are unwilling or unable to pay for their year abroad, so these teachers decided to fund their experience by teaching English. Needless to say, their focus is not on improving their students’ English, but on getting through the week with as little lesson prep as possible. They are most likely to be found nursing a hangover in the staffroom. They are fun and energetic, but you’ll have less and less patience for them after covering one too many of their classes because they were “sick” after a big weekend. In five years time they’ll be planning a trip back to their TEFL partying grounds for old times sake.  

The Career Changers 

These teachers are usually upwards of forty, and after years ascending the career ladder, realised that they were ultimately unfulfilled by their previous job and decided to try their hand at teaching. They’re full of enthusiasm for their new career choice for about six months, until they realise that teaching involves just as much hard graft as their previous jobs but with less security and a smaller salary. They are most likely to be found trying to figure out how to operate the classroom smartboard. In five years time they’ll look ten years younger, having figured out a better work-life balance! 

The Professionals 

They take their jobs extremely seriously, and you should too – don’t ever refer to a schoolteacher as a ‘real teacher’ in their presence! They are excellent teachers, always fully prepared and with a professional attitude. They’ll pick up on their friends’ grammar mistakes, and hold etymological debates over Friday night drinks when everyone else is trying to relax. They’re most likely to be found tutting at a hungover Party Animal in the staffroom on Monday mornings, and in five years time they’ll be running their own language school. 

Everyone else

If you’re not one of these categories, then you’re probably someone who happened upon teaching English and realised you really enjoy it! You love living abroad, you’re curious about other cultures and languages, and you appreciate the daily variety and the work-life balance that English teaching offers. You’ve built up a solid timetable of classes and you’re a diligent and conscientious teacher who really cares about your students – but you also love having two months off over the summer to travel, explore new places and learn new skills. In five years time you’ll be thinking about going back to university/moving home/getting a different job just because you feel like you should, but teaching is where your heart truly lies! 

Which category do you fall into?

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