How to Conquer Your Fears and Teach English Abroad (Guest Post by Mark Johnson)

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Does the thought of jetting to a foreign land to start a new life fill you with excitement, or dread? If you’d love to travel the world, or try a new career, but just thinking about the prospect gives you the jitters, then this post is for you.

You shouldn’t let your fears get the best of you – and thankfully, you don’t have to! With a little inspiration, a touch of bravery, and the support of a fantastic online community, you can venture into the world with a smile on your face and enjoy a brand new experience – even if you’re the world’s biggest scaredy-cat. Here’s how…

Step 1: Realise everyone is scared

Even the most confident people get nervous every once in a while – some people are just better at hiding it than others. You can bet your bottom dollar that even that friend of yours who constantly posts photos of their skydiving experiences on Facebook gets a little scared of certain things. The point is that they do those things anyway. Once you’ve understood that everyone – and I mean everyone – gets a little scared now and again, it will help you to put your own fears in perspective and realise that they’re just emotions, and they’re nothing to be frightened of. And you can totally get a handle on them.

Step 2: Write down a list of the worst possible scenarios

This might seem counter intuitive, but one way to deal with fears is to face them. Are you worried that you’ll find it hard to make friends? Or that you won’t be able to speak the language of the country you’re staying in?

When you’ve identified exactly what it is that you’re frightened of, you can take steps to prevent that particular thing from happening, and figure out how you might deal with problems if they do arise. Why not take a night class in Spanish if you’ll be going to a Spanish-speaking country; or take some time to remember how easy it was to make friends with your existing chums?

And sometimes, just properly identifying your fears makes them less scary. So what if you aren’t totally fluent in the lingo straight away? You’ll pick it up. What’s scarier is the prospect that you might miss out on a fantastic experience because of a few nerves, and regret it later on… Step 3: Get inspired Now that you’ve dealt with the particular issues you’re worried about, it’s time to look on the bright side. There is a multitude of reasons why teaching English abroad is fantastic, and the internet is full of brilliant blogs about the experience that are a joy to read. Once you’ve spent a few minutes (which can easily turn into a good hour or two… trust me) browsing the gorgeous photos and reading the wonderful stories that TEFL teachers have to share, you’ll feel so inspired that you might even forget that you were ever scared in the first place. TeacherAisling has some stunning photographs on her blog, and TeachingJack’s enthusiasm for travelling and teaching really shines through in his posts. There are hundreds of blogs to look through, though – type TEFL blog into your search engine and take a look. There’s bound to be someone teaching in your dream country who has written about their experiences online. Step 4: Know you’re not alone Thanks to the internet, you will always be able to get in touch with someone that can offer support, whether you need teaching resources or a listening ear. And even offline, you’ll have a support network in the form of your school, which many TEFL teachers say becomes like a second family. Step 5: Bite the bullet Generally, you’re only really scared of something until you go ahead and do it. So be brave! Once you’ve got that first TEFL lesson under your belt, you’ll feel so proud of your achievements that your fears will be a distant memory, and you can get on with enjoying your TEFL experience. So, how should you go about starting your TEFL adventure?
  • Get qualified. You’ll need a TEFL certification course to be able to teach English abroad.

  • Decide on your country of choice. Do some research to find your dream destination – EssentialTravel, ICAL TEFL and Lonely Planet are good places to start.

  • Find a job. There are lots of resources online to help with this – Dave’s ESL Café is famous in the TEFL community for its job boards and teaching resources.

  • Get out there! With your TEFL training and a job lined up, all that’s left is for you to do is enjoy your travels!


Completing a TEFL and venturing abroad to begin a teaching career is a truly life changing experience, which – apart from creating some fantastic memories and enabling you to explore the world – will help to build your confidence. And with your newfound confidence, the world really is your oyster. Once you’ve beaten your fears once, you’ll be able to do it again and again.

One thought on “How to Conquer Your Fears and Teach English Abroad (Guest Post by Mark Johnson)

  1. It would be an amazing opportunity to go to a different country and teach English. So if I were to see about doing that, would I have to know how to speak the native language of the country? I would assume yes since it would help but I’m not one hundred percent sure on that. With the TEFL certifications, do you have any good blogs that you could recommend as resources?

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