Sometimes, teaching English abroad sounds too good to be true. Travel the world, you say, while getting paid and enhancing career prospects? When something sounds too good to be true, we will always think there are strings attached, or that it simply isn’t possible. And as a result, we get many people asking things such as am I too old/young to teach English abroad? or are there any age limits or restrictions for teaching overseas?
So, how old do you need to be to teach English abroad? The answer is always it depends. Many people are always worried that they may be too old to do something when it is not the case. However, the question might be yes in one school and country, and no in another.
There are many requirements when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that typically, age doesn’t factor into these requirements. Despite this, age can sometimes be a factor in whether a teacher is hired or not, or whether teachers meet the requirements to work in a specific foreign country. In this article, we’re going to answer the following questions;
- Am I Too Young to Teach English Abroad?
- Can Older People Teach Abroad?
- How Old Do You Need to be TEFL Certified?
- Am I Too Old to Teach English Abroad? (Visa and work permit restrictions)
Am I Too Young to Teach English Abroad?
First of all, let’s take a look at how old you need to be to teach English abroad. To teach English abroad, you would need to be at least 21 years old, in most cases. To work for particular schools or enroll onto a TEFL internship will often require that you have a Bachelor’s Degree, which of course requires a minimum of three years of study. This means that in most cases, English teachers need to be 21 years old.
Not all teaching positions require a Bachelor’s Degree, however. But, they may still be inclined to hire someone who is at least 21 years old. Hiring someone who is too young and too inexperienced may lead to significant culture shock, underperformance at work, and so on. It depends on the employer.
However, many younger adults have taken the leap to volunteer and work abroad. Some do this as a gap year, others do it because why not? Volunteer opportunities are rife all over the world, and because they are volunteer positions, the requirements are far less demanding. As long as they have a native English speaker who is responsible, why should it matter if they’re 18 or 21?
While at Premier TEFL we offer paid positions for our teachers, there are websites that offer volunteer opportunities. GoAbroad, for example, offers volunteer opportunities for aspiring teachers and travel enthusiasts. Whether you want to teach children in Peru, Monks in Laos, or people of all ages in the communities of Zambia, you have plenty to choose from.
Can Older People Teach Abroad?
Of course? Why on earth not? Teaching English as a Foreign Language sometimes has a misconception that it is only for young graduates who want to travel before they settle into a different career. While many young graduates do take the leap, teaching English abroad attracts many older people as well. This is whether they want a career break, a full on career change, or just spontaneously decide to teach abroad. Speaking from experience, I have met plenty of older people who aren’t only working but thriving in their teaching jobs.
In fact, some employers may actively seek older teachers to lead their classroom. The reason for this is that it is more likely that they will take their jobs more seriously than some younger teachers.
While some schools employ younger and energetic English teachers, they also know that a big reason that younger teachers teach English abroad is to see the world, and not necessarily develop a teaching career. In turn, there is a possibility that they hire a teacher who loves traveling, but isn’t committed to their teaching position.
With an older teacher, there is far less of a chance that they will fail to turn up to class due to being homesick, hungover, and so on. Not to say that most young TEFL teachers spend too much time partying, but the connotation might be there for some employers. An older teacher typically exudes more responsibility and experience whether it is related to teaching or not.
There are some cases where someone might be too old to teach English in a specific country. This is largely due to the teacher being older than the local retirement age. However, we’ll discuss that further on in the article.
Is 35 Too Old to Teach English Abroad?
At 35 years young you still have the entire world at your feet, and you’re certainly not too old to teach English abroad. As we previously discussed, many employers and schools across the globe will be happy to hire a teacher who they think offers plenty of experience, responsibility, and reliability to their school.
While some of our Paid TEFL Internships require that teachers be from 21 to 35 years old, this is not a reflection of all jobs. This is also because Paid TEFL Internships offer a great introduction to teachers who lack direct teaching experience and may find it difficult to find work independently. However, if you are older and want to enroll into one of our Paid TEFL Internships, you can speak to an advisor who can assist you with placement options!
Stan Lee created his first successful comic at the age of 39. Colonel Sanders created KFC at the age of 65, and Mandela became president at 75. I’m not saying that you are Colonel Sanders or Nelson Mandela. But, 35 is still far too young to be worrying about whether you’re too old to teach English abroad.
How Old Do You Need to Become TEFL Certified?
TEFL course providers will vary in their requirements, but for the most part, they’re pretty lenient and don’t require anything for aspiring teachers to complete their courses. That is especially the case here at Premier TEFL.
Am I Too Young to Become TEFL Certified?
Most TEFL providers will allow you to complete a TEFL course however young you are. Some may require that you are 18, on the other hand. It just depends on which provider you go for. At Premier TEFL, we have a range of courses such as the 120-hour and the 180-hour Ofqual Regulated Level 5 TEFL Course. Our only requirement are that you are a native or advanced English speaker! Happy days.
While you may not be able to secure a high paid TEFL job if you’re under 21 years old, you can get a head start. By becoming TEFL certified while you wait to become old enough to teach English abroad, you’re showing your employers just how proactive you are and your willingness to teach English abroad. Additionally, once you are TEFL certified, you are certified for life. That means you won’t have to take a refresher course ten years down the line if you decide you want to reignite your TEFL career.
If teaching English abroad is for you, it is a great idea to become TEFL-certified early. You can then even look for volunteer opportunities that will enhance your resume. By gaining valuable teaching experience beforehand, you will maximize your future salary potential. Additionally, you’ll get to see whether or not teaching English abroad is for you.
Am I Too Old To Become TEFL Certified?
Absolutely not! As we previously mentioned, our only TEFL Course requirement at Premier TEFL is that you are a native or advanced speaker of English! It doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 years old or 60 years old. Becoming TEFL certified at an older age is a great way to diversify your skills and explore new opportunities.
Am I Too Old to Teach English Abroad?
While your age is a mystery to me, it is likely that you are not too old to teach English abroad. That is as long as you are under the local retirement age, that is. As long as you display great enthusiasm, and communication skills, and are TEFL-certified, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to teach English abroad.
However, from a logistical standpoint, there may be issues if you are over the local retirement age. This is because to obtain a work permit from your employers, you will need to be under the local retirement age. Some countries have laws in place that forbid companies from hiring people over the age of 65, for example. This is because, in their country, this is the compulsory retirement age.
Some countries such as South Korea or Japan, for example, do enforce these age restrictions. This isn’t only in regards to English teachers, it applies to most foreigners applying for work who are older than the local retirement age.
International Schools Review is a useful website in which you can compare the work visa and age restrictions between different countries. The website also offers insight and personal experiences from other English teachers abroad. As long as you reach the requirements in order to obtain a working visa, you shouldn’t have any problems finding a teaching job in that country.
Ageism in the Workplace
While you can certainly find a job abroad even as an older teacher, ageism sadly does exist. Some employers may be grateful to have your presence and wisdom in the classroom, whereas others may be reluctant to hire older teachers.
There have been cases where certain schools reject applicants who have teaching qualifications from home and plenty of experience. Instead, they decided to teach a younger teacher.
There are many reasons for this. In Kindergarten, for example, employers will require high-energy teachers who can excite their students. Older teachers can of course be energetic, but the consensus that many employers have is that only a younger teacher will meet these expectations.
Some schools even have a preference for having younger teachers because the parents of the students request it. Some private schools, for example, may be superficial and rely on how their school looks. Younger teachers can sometimes be more marketable for schools. Additionally, it can also be the case that an older person appears to be overqualified.
However, there are many schools and employers that do not consider age to be a big factor in the hiring process. This is particularly the case with older students in primary schools and high schools. It depends on each employer, as no two are the same. You shouldn’t be disheartened if you are turned down due to your age. There are plenty of schools out there with requirements that are far more flexible requirements.