Retirement is a celebration. It’s when your working life has finished; you’ve put all the hours in, and now you’re ready to reap the rewards of a life of leisure. Congratulations! You’ve made it!
That said, retirement doesn’t mean you have to finish doing something exciting and challenging every day. Far from it, in fact, and that’s where TEFL could come in.
Many think that TEFL is a young person’s game. Teaching English abroad? That could only be for students or people in their 20s and 30s? While it’s true that many of our students and graduates are of that age bracket, TEFL is something you can do at any stage of life.
So, if you thought you’re too old to teach English abroad we’re here to tell you that that couldn’t be further from the truth!
The advantages of TEFL later in life
As a matter of fact, you might have a few advantages on those know-it-all youngsters who want to teach English abroad!
Your professional experience (whether teaching-related or not) is a real asset. Even if you’re new to teaching, you likely have a whole range of skills and experience you can use in the classroom.
If you have retired from teaching, you have double the advantage. Class time and lesson planning don’t need to be a thing of the past, and you can still connect with people of all ages who want to learn English.
Consider your work history – can you use that to specialise within the TEFL industry? Business English is a popular specialist area, for example, and finding your niche can help you to stand out and, potentially, earn a better wage. If you have direct experience in the same industry as prospective students then you’ll be a much more attractive hire.
The Best Places to TEFL When You Retire
So, what if you’d like to pack your bags and, in your retirement, try a completely new way of living, an entirely different culture and a chance to make extra income in your golden years?
The options are vast. Consider this; there are 1.5 billion English learners worldwide, according to a Washington Post study.
TEFL offers the opportunity travel to different corners of the world. Where, though, is the best place to go if you’re looking to take up something new in your retirement?
Thailand is a booming market for TEFL teachers, and it’s not really hard to see why.
It’s a beautiful nation with a decent standard of living and plenty of demand for EFL teachers. With Thai students looking to broaden their language skills, there are so many opportunities at language schools, universities and international schools.
The pay is more than enough for the Thai cost of living, especially if you have experience. For newer teachers, it’s a bit more of a challenge, but experienced teachers will enjoy the more laid-back teaching culture, and Thai schools love teachers who can also teach another subject at the same time – maths, science, whatever!
Asia isn’t always the easiest part of the world to teach in if you’re a little older. South Korea, Japan and Malaysia, for example, have upper age limits for TEFL teachers in line with the local retirement age. Thailand however, doesn’t, so that’s an obstacle removed.
Bangkok is, of course, the main attraction for tourists and TEFL teachers alike, but for those seeking a quieter life, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Sawan, Pathumthani, Udon Thani, and Ubon Ratchathani all deserve a look.
Check out our guide to Thailand!
Spain is a popular TEFL destination for a reason.
With beautiful weather, and several amazing cities from Barcelona in Catalonia, to Madrid, Valencia, San Sebastian and Salamanca, the rich history, diverse cultures and landscapes of Spain are truly magnificent.
No wonder, then, why it’s such a popular tourist destination, and its islands are often full of ex-pats who’ve taken up Spanish residence.
With no upper age limit on who can teach English as a foreign language, huge demand for teachers and very decent salaries on offer, Spain is a fantastic destination for retirees who are still looking to share their teaching experience, or to take up a brand new challenge.
View our guide to Spain.
You might not have thought of the Caribbean for teaching English as a foreign language. However, with sprawling cities like Santo Domingo, San Juan de la Maguana and Santiago, and a populace keen for language skills, the Dominican Republic is a great idea for retirement.
Due to the Dominican Republic’s finances, a lot of the TEFL jobs you find might be voluntary. So, while it’s perfect for the younger prospective teachers who want to gain some experience, a veteran presence would be massively helpful for any Dominican language school.
When you do land a permanent teaching job, salaries tend to reach 28,530 – 45,650 DOP (£350 – £570 / $500 – $800 USD) per month. Maybe it’s not megabucks, but it’s comfortable to live on.
Motorcycles and scooters are the most popular way to get about; so if you’re wanting to embrace something entirely new, grab a helmet and start teaching English in the Dominican Republic! You’ll be rewarded with an exuberant, passionate culture and beautiful views as far as the eye can see.
Take a look at our guide to teaching English in the Dominican Republic.
If you’re looking for colour, exuberance, limitless history and the best beaches the Pacific has to offer, look no further than Mexico.
The biggest Spanish-speaking country in the world, it’s a great place for a TEFL teacher who wants to brush up on their Espanol. However, it’s also a growing market for English teachers, especially those who don’t want to ever be bored.
If you’re looking for a busy retirement, full of music, dancing and wonderful food, Mexico is the place to be.
It couldn’t be easier to get started there, either. There are multiple programmes, including Cultural Relations and Ahpla that have TEFL jobs and opportunities constantly going.
It’s a vibrant, happening place, and it needs English teachers.
Read our guide to TEFL in Mexico.
Or, you could stay put.
Online TEFL teaching is a huge industry, and new TEFL teachers who are adaptable can work casual hours and have any sort of career experience are worth their weight in gold. All you need is TEFL certification, reliable internet access and plenty of enthusiasm!
Once you’ve done a TEFL course, you’ll find there are lots of great companies to get started with. Even if you don’t have a relevant degree, online TEFL companies are happy to speak to applicants with reliable WiFi, availability and career experience.
It doesn’t have to only be for ex-teachers either. If you’ve given presentations during your career, have mentored or trained colleagues, or even have childcare experience, you can use that in an interview.
In the US and UK particularly, there are loads of employers seeking new teachers. Our guide to teaching English online is a great resource – if you don’t mind us saying – and there are several companies listed that are constantly hiring.
You can work at your own pace; if you want to do a few hours a week, or something more akin to a 9-to-5, it’s really up to you.
The opportunities to TEFL in retirement are endless
Volunteering locally is also a fantastic endeavour. If you live in an area that’s helping to integrate new members of an English-speaking community, TEFL is a great way to assist. You can see, in real-time, new members of your community getting to grips with the native language, and forging their own paths in life.
Maybe you’ve got roots where you are, and the hustle and bustle of a Mexico City, Bangkok or Madrid aren’t for you. So what? That shouldn’t stop you from furthering your TEFL dreams.
You could even start your own TEFL business, being your own boss and managing your own hours. Working freelance can be hard at first, but once you’ve built a bank of clients, and you have everything you need to get going, you’ll be amazed how easy it can be.
When it comes to retirement, there’s no right or wrong way to live your life. You aren’t given a textbook and told what to do once you pass 65. There is, quite literally, a world of opportunity out there, especially in the world of TEFL.
If you want the noise, the colour and the passion of a metropolis, there are countless amazing cities to go and teach English in. Or, if you want to live more remotely, in the foothills of the Andes, or a Spanish island, TEFL teachers are needed there, too.
Or, if you want to gain a qualification and earn extra income in your retirement, TEFL is a great way to add some excitement and salary to your life.
With TEFL, the world’s your oyster, whether you want to pack your bags and move, or teach English from the comfort of your living room. It really is up to you.