The tired cliche of “It’s whatever you make of it” stands true for english teachers abroad. Some teachers relish the relaxing lifestyle of living on a tropical southeast asian island, chilling on beaches drinking banana shakes and teaching English three to four hours a day in the afternoons. If you meet teachers working in downtown Shanghai or Tokyo, they will tell you about a very different experience of long working hours and real responsibility aside from teaching that might include teaching demo classes to recruit new students, interviewing new teachers, and writing curriculum.
Depending on your ambitions and your career plans, one kind of teaching lifestyle can open the doors to sales, consulting, business development, or marketing jobs all over Asia and even back home in the West. As for the guys and girls taking it easy on beach towns in Thailand, many of them grow restless and start e-commerce websites, charity groups, or open successful bars. Teaching English can really take you down so many roads depending on what motivates you.
Sometimes teaching English abroad places you in the right place at the right time. I’ve heard of a teacher in Shanghai who frequented a pricey lounge bar. He happened to chat up the gentleman next to him, who turned out to be a high powered finance professional and it led to a job offer for a six-figure finance job based in Shanghai. Then there’s a third group of teachers who perpetually enjoy the relaxed lifestyle and become “lifers”, chilling out in Asian beach towns for ten, twenty years or more.
If you are ambitious, you can make teaching your avenue to all kinds of career opportunities. There has never been a better time to be a native English speaker in Asia for your career. Vietnam, China, Thailand are booming economies. They don’t only need hundreds of teachers to meet the demand of their growing middle class, but they also need dozens of native speaking marketing, sales, and finance professionals to open new markets for locally made products in the West. Choose which side of the career spectrum you want to be part of because opportunities to both chill hard and hustle hard are plentiful.