Excuses that shouldn’t hold you back from Teaching English Abroad

“I won’t understand anyone!” 

“I don’t have the time right now.” 

“I can’t quit my job!”  

Sound familiar? It’s all too easy to think up excuses not to make the change you so desperately crave. Not to say they aren’t totally rational or sensible objections, but the truth is your dream of upping sticks and seeing the world is unachievable without a leap of faith. That’s faith in yourself, by the way. 

Teaching English overseas might add another level of uncertainty to the whole globetrotting thing. Yet, it shouldn’t – if anything, it adds direction to your plans. The excuses will keep coming unless you actually stop to analyze them – you might come to realize that there’s nothing stopping you but yourself. 

Below are some common excuses and reasons why they shouldn’t stop you from going abroad. 


  • A major factor stopping people from traveling is a lack of funds. That’s where teaching comes in. You can teach online, privately, or in a classroom; in Asia, Europe, Latin America and more. The likelihood is that no matter where you want to go, there is an opportunity to teach English and earn money. 
  • Of course, there’s still the matter of cash prior to travels. If you save up, even just for a month’s living expenses and traveling, then you can afford to travel. In fact, if you find a job before you head off then there’s a good chance the employer will offer accommodation assistance, sometimes to the point of providing shelter themselves, and other benefits to soften the financial blow. 
  • Sure, money is a valid reason, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of your dreams. 

No experience 

  • Beginning a completely different career is obviously a scary prospect. Starting off as an EFL teacher is no different. The best way to prepare yourself is to complete a TEFL course and gain a qualification. Doing so will not only improve your employability but will allow you to acquire some experience and knowledge, giving you a much-needed confidence boost. 

Culture shock/scare 

  • (Em)brace! Moving to another country likely means a different language, cuisine, and customs. Understandably, the thought of living in an alien culture where people might as well be speaking gibberish for all you know is enough to put you off. But it shouldn’t. Sure, they might do things differently over there, but you might just learn to love it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to experience reverse culture shock: the phenomenon of feeling alienated from one’s own culture after spending time abroad. Or, more likely, you’ll learn to adapt and overcome the initial shock. 
  • Whether it’s the late dinners in Spain, lack of alcohol in the Gulf states, or the seemingly cold personalities of Russians (which you’d soon find to be an unfair assessment), there’s plenty that can shock you. Adapting and integrating isn’t as difficult as it seems and you will come out the other side a better person for it.

No friends

  • A lack of a social group to anchor onto is a big no-no for many would-be teachers. Unless you’re lucky and have a friend out there already, you will be entering this new world alone. Or so you think. In reality, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet new people and fellow expats in the same boat as you. Whether it’s at your school or a new town, you will undoubtedly make friends – possibly for life! 
  • Don’t be a stranger. Make sure to attend social events near you, maybe join a club, take up a hobby – you’ll soon find yourself with more friends than you can count! Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. 
  • If you’ve somehow managed to avoid using social media all your life, it’s recommended that you make use of it to expand your network and stay in the loop. 


  • One thing you can’t really take with you, or find more of when you’re away, is your family. You might dread the idea of leaving loved ones behind – or maybe you can’t wait to getaway! – either way, you’ll likely miss them when you’re gone. However, don’t let that stop you. These days, it’s super easy to keep in touch with people back home thanks to social media and video calling. You’ll not be able to get rid of them!


  • Homesickness can affect even the most seasoned of travelers. Just when you think you’re okay, a sudden pang of sadness catches you unaware. This can happen a day, week, or month after settling in. It can be brought on by a fleeting flashback, allowing your mind just enough time to reminisce on the good old days spent with friends and family back home. Or maybe you watched a Snapchat story of all your friends enjoying time together while your stuck, all alone in a foreign land. 
  • There’s no point in preemptively worrying about homesickness. As I said, it can happen to anyone, but nearly always passes. More than likely, you’ll be too busy making new friends, planning lessons, and having the time of your life to really be sad for too long.

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4 thoughts on “Excuses that shouldn’t hold you back from Teaching English Abroad”

  1. Thank you very much for your post. This will help language teachers to start teaching again. For those interested, you may also want to consider checking TUTOROO and be a private language tutor to students near your location.


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