It is common to witness a typical profile of a TEFL/TESOL teacher to be someone who is in his/her twenties, fresh out of college, or maybe taking a gap year abroad. Do you think that it means that the profession of teaching English abroad is reserved only for the young? Commonly speaking, there are no strict age limits to teach English abroad, however, every country or school has their own set of requirements and/or restrictions that often varies from one another. Hence, even if you’re a mid-age career changer or a retiree who has hit 60, you’re never too old to teach English abroad or for that matter even online. Profession like teaching requires the teacher to handle a classroom full of diverse learners; therefore, many schools look for a certain level of proven maturity and both life and professional experience (necessarily not in the field of teaching) when they hire English teachers. It has been found that as many as 50% or more of English classes held around the world each year are classes for adults, often in the business and corporate realm, therefore, making the demand for experienced adult educators higher.
Teaching aspirants with fluent English-speaking skills can also teach English abroad even if they are under 21, but such opportunities are rare. For instance, in some countries, it has been found that most English schools especially Latin American countries, want their teachers to be at least 21 years old; however qualified teachers of 18, 19, and 20 years have also been able to successfully find employment provided that they are sufficiently prepared to behave in a professional and mature manner, when they appear for interview for such positions to teach English abroad, as well as when they actually begin their job. These younger teachers are also more likely to find opportunities teaching with volunteer programs, summer camps, and possibly as a nanny, baby-sitter or au pair that also tutors children in English. However, one thing remains constant - ESL teachers under 21 will only be able to teach children and not adults, no matter which country they are in.Advantages of being an older teacher
As a senior teacher with good amount of experience, quite expectedly you bring a goldmine of experience into the classroom. Through teaching English, you have a chance to showcase the wisdom you have gained over the years, which will certainly be respected and valued by your learners and co-workers.
You will also have a wealth of class conversation topics in-hand and invaluable insights to share with your students, based on your life experience. Whether it’s about your family, trips in foreign lands, or your past careers – you will bring a range of TEFL discussion topics to the table.
Furthermore, if you are coming from a different professional background, you can use your knowledge from your last professional field to your benefit by specializing in teaching English related to that field. Along with a certified TEFL certification , you develop a niche in the field of TEFL/TESOL, you can expand your job prospects and stand out as an applicant with the requisite in-demand skills.
However, there are a number of factors that contribute to age limitations when teaching English abroad, the primary problem being a visa issue. Some countries cannot permit visas to teachers above the age of 60 or 65 due to the compulsory retirement ages followed in that country. In other cases, employers may be apprehensive about older teachers who may not be suitable for the job physically or that they may not be able to adjust to living in a new country and culture at such a mature age. Other instances may involve the policy of the school management deciding that younger teachers in their 20s and 30s are more marketable.
We have here shared some tips for more mature teachers as they prepare to teach English abroad:
Be flexible & consider different regions: For educators with aspirations of teaching English abroad, who are well into their sixties, teaching in most non-native English-speaking countries throughout the world will be their best bet. You will find the fewest (if any) age restrictions for older English teachers in Latin American nations like Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Panama, Chile, etc. tend to have. We highly recommend that you consider Latin America as an option for your teaching career, not only due to fewer age restrictions, but also because these countries offer sufficient opportunities to you to have a great international teaching experience, apart from being quite welcoming to retirees and other prospective English teachers from around the world. On the other hand, you can also look for opportunities in Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand.
Be prepared to attend in-person interview: Don’t just rely on your online application and interview. Schools in places where more senior English teachers can find opportunities typically require teachers to appear for in-person interviews. More than half of the world’s English teaching jobs require candidates to appear for interviews regardless of age or citizenship. One specific reason why school may find it hard to hire older teachers is that they don’t have as much confidence in their physical health/abilities. Whether you are teaching in the Middle-east, Thailand, or Ecuador, teaching any subject can be physically and mentally demanding. In-person interviews show that you are in good health enhances your employability. On the other side, with many online teaching options nowadays, you can also look for teaching English online if you are not comfortable with travelling.
Plan on breaking even financially: Unless you have a really good amount of experience as a teacher while moving to the Middle East, most senior English teachers with English teaching jobs abroad should not count on saving any significant amount of money. Although, there are instances where many teachers abroad in their 50s and 60s are earning and saving substantial amounts of money, nevertheless, do not go into teaching English overseas with the assumption that you are going to be saving a great deal of your pay check, or else you will be in for a lot of let-downs. Moreover, don’t think of supporting other family members financially much while teaching English abroad, particularly if you do not have a professional background in education.