How Old Is Too Old to Teach English Abroad?

While most public and private schools abroad prefer their foreign English teachers to be at least 21 years old, the upper limit in many countries is 60 to 65 years old. Cases of people teaching English abroad into their 70s have also been reported. There is certainly no shortage of English teaching positions available abroad, and high demand for native English speakers means that even older teachers can find jobs, especially if they have prior teaching experience and advanced qualifications in education.If you’d love the opportunity to teach English abroad but worry that you’re too old because you’ve already been out of college for several years — or even a couple of decades — you’re not alone. Plenty of older people would jump at the opportunity to teach English abroad if they didn’t suffer from the common misconception that teaching English abroad is only for 22-year-old newly minted college graduates.

Native English Speakers Are in High Demand

The astoundingly high demand for English lessons around the world works in the favor of older individuals who want to teach English abroad. In any given year, there are more than 100,000 teaching positions offered around the world, with 20,000 new jobs listed each month.  Demand is highest in China, where the 100,000 foreign English teachers are nowhere near sufficient to meet the demands of the nation’s enormous population.

Private and public schools in many countries are willing to hire young, freshly graduated teachers with little to no professional experience, but that doesn’t mean that older, more experienced candidates aren’t desirable — it just means that most of the people interested in these positions are younger. Teaching is a profession, and schools in many countries appreciate the broader skill set that older teachers bring to the table. This is especially true if you have an advanced degree in education and have experience teaching at home.

Experienced Teachers Most Desirable

In countries where English teachers are in the highest demand, TEFL certification isn’t necessary to land a job. But if you have a degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, you’ll be able to land the best jobs and command the highest pay in the most desirable countries. Many universities offer online programs that can allow you to earn a TEFL degree in preparation for seeking teaching jobs abroad. If you want to teach English in some areas, like Europe, you will need this certification.

Countries Where Older Teachers Should Seek Jobs

If you’re an older person who wants to secure a teaching position in a school abroad, you’ll need to interview in person. That means you’ll have to travel to the country in advance and hand in your resumes in person. Younger job candidates are often asked to go through this same job process, but nevertheless, it’s important to choose your country carefully.

Teaching for the Corporate Environment

If you’re an older teacher – especially if you’re in your 40s, 50s or beyond – you’ll have the most success if you seek employment in countries that possess a deep cultural respect for older people. These regions include China and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. If you appear well-dressed, energetic and healthy, that will work in your favor. Many schools abroad worry that older teachers may not be up to the job physically or mentally, so it’s important to appear sharp and provide some assurance that you’re in good health.

In today’s global economy, many corporations abroad, especially in Asia, are offering business English classes to their employees. If you have a corporate background — in sales, management, human resources or accounting, for example — you may be able to land a job teaching adults in the corporate sphere. Employers for these positions often seek out older people, who will be better able to command the respect of their adult students and will be better suited to the task. In these positions, you will be expected to teach American business skills, like sales and management techniques, in addition to English.

If you’d like to teach English abroad but are afraid opportunity has passed you by because of your age, think again. Many private and public schools abroad, as well as corporate environments, are more than happy to hire English teachers aged 30 to 65. No matter what your age, teaching English abroad is a fulfilling experience.

How Old Is Too Old to Teach English Abroad?

Sweating the Big Stuff Staff

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