Updated: Aug 7, 2019
There is so much invested interest getting ESL teachers to live and work in another country. Unfortunately, there is no system set up to help ESL teachers transition out. That was the inspiration behind starting ESL Transition. Since, I started teaching in December 2015 there has always been the question nagging in my head of what to do next and what ESL teachers do after. The best business solves your own problem right? I never had the confidence to do something like this because I was currently teaching English; so how could I give advice when I haven't done transitioned out myself. Luckily, Mete, our leadership coach is our sage who can assist in the navigation process. Also, not to mention, I enjoy teaching English! So this isn't a problem for me right now, but a problem that may exist in the future for me.
There were so many conversations that led me to ramble in a rant with Mete over two years ago. We were speaking about a graduate program I was researching and this is how I was introduced to Mete. I reached out to his graduate school and I asked for a student that was in the program. The gave me the email to a stranger, Mete. Once Mete and I spoke over Skype in January 2018 we didn't speak until June 2018. It started with a survey and us creating an "ESL Workshop" and rolling out the framework of the program which constantly evolved. It is crazy to think that Mete was a stranger and to develop so much trust with each other over the time we have worked together.
We started connecting with those ESL teachers who transitioned back home successfully and asking them their pain points and things they wished they did better, if any. The top two were planning better and saving more money. Over time things became clear on how to help, but things are not clear on a cookie cutter or one size fits all method for everyone. With so many different backgrounds, countries, previous experience, skills, and wants it is impossible to give the answers on how to transition out of ESL perfectly. However, here is a starter list on something that will help you immensely start to plan.
Get out an old school notebook and take some notes, bookmark this page, and reach out to myself on Facebook or by email email@example.com
1. Plan Ahead
This can not be stressed enough. I have seen many teachers come and go. Those who planned ahead faired way better than those that were not ready for life back home. Reverse culture shock is the real deal and maybe it hits us harder because we aren't ready for it. However, when we are embarking on our expat life we are fully expecting things to be different. The reverse is true when we come back "home." We may falsely expect everything to be the same. While it maybe the case, you have had so many experiences and changes within, but at the same time you are still the same.
Make sure you plan for the future. Do not only plan the big things, but also plan time for yourself and the ability to take things slow. #6 will hopefully provide you with the ability to take it slow.
2. Deep Personal Work
While living in another country you had a lot of time for yourself. Hopefully you used that wisely because knowing yourself will pay huge dividends in what you are looking for. While living and working in another country you will develop yourself in ways you could of never imagined. Some ways you develop won't be visible until you are back home or in a new setting. Sometimes our brains aren't able to fully realize how far we have come until we go back to the places we came from and get back to old habits with old friends. This can serve as a proper checkin to see if you are on the correct path or if you want to redirect to something different.
3. Online Classes
Some masters programs are now fully online and some allow you to start online. Take a few online classes to see what interests you. Websites like Udemy, Masterclass, and many others will have paid courses. Also, many top universities are now offering their lectures online. This will equip you with the knowledge but you will have to get creative with networking and most won't leave you with the degree. Once you see if this interests you then you must check out the pay scales for your interests. There is no use in playing Battleground for your job, unless you plan to monetize your Twitch account of course.
4. Teach English Online
This is probably my last option I would give for advice if you are looking to transition out of ESL. If you are looking to continue your teaching career then it could be an extremely good option. If your goal is to get out of ESL and you don't like teaching then it this is an extremely bad option. If you enjoy teaching then it is definitely a viable option to consider bringing in some money.
Were you in a career before teaching English? Hopefully you were reaching out to that network periodically throughout your teaching English journey. If you could provide some value to them along the way then that is the way to do it extremely right. You never know what your old cubicle mate will become. If you didn't have a career before teaching English then reach out to family, friends, and old university acquaintances.
Do not just reach out to your network. Know what you want.
Are you just looking to connect and see how they are? Are you looking to see what a day in the the life is for your past co-worker? Are you looking for a job? Are you looking to see if there is value for a possible product/service?
6. Saving Money
I do not need to tell you that it is one of the most important ones. Hopefully you are able to take things slow with your reentry back into society. Paying rent or paying for a mortgage and all the little expenses our minds forget about when living abroad. For example, if you are from the States then little taxes and tips when going out to eat with friends. Also, a car and a place to live will be the big expenses that many of us don't have while living in another country teaching English. Hopefully you have money saved for these things or will be set up with friends and family so you don't have to shell out your whole savings right away.
This isn't my favorite advice, but the change of scenery does help for some people. This allows you to step back and view things from a different angle and allows you to interactive with a different environment. This may bring clarity, but be careful not to get lost in the travel and get too far removed from your goal. My assumption is your goal is the next step in life.
8. Go Backwards to Go Forwards
This isn't my favorite piece of advice either. We would love if life allowed us to exponentially get to where we want to go or we would even settle for the incrementally step by step evolution to our goal. However, it takes a strong person to release the strangle hold of our ego and go "backwards" to go forward. In this situation, I am talking about going home and taking an less than ideal job. Maybe it is part time or even a volunteer position. This will allow you to network and make sure that you are filling your time with job searching during the time you aren't working. Make all of these a priority. The perfect opportunity will come as long as you put yourself out there and stay vigilant. The perfect opportunity might not come today or next year, but an incremental position will surely come.