The concept of a career break is nothing new. Academics have been going on sabbatical for decades, and 20th-century labor reforms introduced a range of leave options for employees, including maternity and (more recently) paternity leave. Today’s professionals are more likely than ever to take time off from their career to travel and expand their horizons. Among the many opportunities available to them is the chance to enroll in a 4-week TEFL course in Thailand through SEE TEFL.
Benefits of Taking a Career Break
The benefits of career breaks are many and varied. Stepping back from their career gives professionals the opportunity re-evaluate their priorities and even set new professional goals. This is part of what makes a SEE TEFL course particularly attractive. Not only are those who enroll spending time overseas at one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, they also earn new and valuable credentials.
Upon returning from a career break in Asia, SEE TEFL graduates are equipped with a new set of skills and internationally recognized TEFL certification that allows them to teach English as a foreign language anywhere in the world. The time that they spent away from their ordinary professional life leaves them feeling refreshed. It’s a practical line of defense against burnout and can even lead to a new career direction upon return. For an extended career break, a 4-5 month teaching contract is available as a paid internship option TEFL course.
How to Afford a Career Break
When faced with the possibility of a career break or sabbatical, many people are concerned that they simply would not be able to afford stepping away from their job for an extended period of time. To be fair, this is a big decision and certainly is not something to be taken lightly. The decision to set out an extended career break should only be made after careful budgeting and consideration.
There are plenty of websites offering tips on how to finance a career break. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Know the essential expenses so one can accurately predict what it will cost to purchase airfare, rent a room and pay for meals each day.
- If planning on leaving a career for a year or more, consider renting or subletting.
- Eliminate unnecessary bills while away, as there’s no need to pay for creature comforts that one won’t be using
- Find a job while abroad to help subsidize the cost of the trip.
The latter relates to one of the major benefits of taking a TEFL certification course in Thailand. As long as proper arrangements have been made back and home, and savings are sufficient to cover mortgage payments and other essentials, getting a job as a teacher in Thailand can help support financial needs on the ground.
Thailand and much of Southeast Asia is excellent value-for-money destination, and that works to the advantage of a person on sabbatical. Accommodation costs a fraction of what it does in the West, and food purchased from local street vendors is fresh, delicious and downright cheap. Chiang Mai’s cost of living index is even more favorable than Bangkok’s.
Finding Teaching Jobs during a Career Break
SEE TEFL offers two different types of teacher training courses in Thailand. Graduates receive guaranteed job placements, and that’s an important consideration for those on an extended career break. After all, stepping away from a profession for a few months or longer is much more feasible when there is a guaranteed job waiting overseas. Not only that, working as a teacher while on leave helps to resolve the problems of having a gaping hole on a person’s resume.
Four-Week TEFL Course in Thailand
The standard SEE TEFL program is a four-week program that is offered several times throughout the year. The curriculum covers 120 hours of intensive training in Chiang Mai, which include six hours of practical, on-the-job training with real students. Visa support, Thai language instruction and cultural awareness training are also included. This program results in an accredited, internationally recognized TEFL certification.
Graduates then enjoy ongoing job support. The company guarantees a job placement within two months of completing the training, though most graduates are already on the job within two weeks. In Thailand, TEFL-certified English teachers have many options. Most teachers work in one of the following three capacities:
- Salaried position with formal school in Thailand; position includes paid holidays, and the contract usually lasts for a full year.
- Hourly position at a language institute, which requires working evenings and is more flexible in terms of duration.
- Tutoring (or freelance teaching), which is arranged privately between student and teacher; this position offers the most freedom, but fewer guarantees about ongoing job security.
English Teacher Training with Paid Internship
SEE TEFL also offers solutions for those who would rather not spend their entire career break working for another employer. In this case, students complete a two-week training program that is followed by a four- to five-month paid internship. This program is offered twice per year in either Chiang Mai or Koh Samui to coincide with the start of the autumn and spring semesters. Graduates complete their training and immediately go on to a paid position at a local (often rural) Thai school.
Interns will receive full SEE TEFL Certification if they submit 3 lesson plans with teaching materials plus a 2,000 word essay reflecting on their teaching experience to SEE TEFL at the conclusion of their Internship. The teacher training is a particularly attractive option for anyone taking a shorter career break. There is less of a time commitment in terms of training, and graduates quickly find themselves on the job and earning money that they can use to help finance their time abroad.
A Life-Changing Career Break in Thailand
A career break takes a person out of their standard nine-to-five routine and places them in new and exciting situations. That alone is enough to motivate many to explore the possibility of taking time off. However, career breaks that involve spending time overseas and engaging with a foreign culture do more than simply refresh the person and allow them to reflect. They stretch them and provide valuable cross-cultural skills that are still of value when the sabbatical ends.
There are certainly risks involved. Some employers are simply not open to the prospect of keeping a seat warm while an employee strikes out into the world for a few months. Likewise, some recruiters shy away from applicants who have taken an extended period away from work. Even so, gaining secondary employment while abroad allows one to frame the experience more attractively on a resume.
Regardless of the risks, many people who have chosen to take a career break and travel to Asia have found the experience nothing short of life-changing. Everyone has their own reason for taking leave and striking out. Some cite burnout with their current position; others are eager to take on new challenges or to reinvent themselves. And in some cases, a simple change of scenery is the goal.
Regardless of the motivation, a TEFL course is a powerful tool for anyone considering a career break. It could even be a catalyst for a new chapter in life. Teaching English in Thailand provides one-of-a-kind access to Thai culture. Regular tourists tend to shuttle past the major attractions—snapping photos of Buddhist temples and sampling authentic cuisine that has been adjusted to suit the Western palate. TEFL-certified teachers are engaging with local people day-to-day, sharing lunch with Thai teachers and possibly getting to know their students’ parents. It’s easy to see why so many paid English teachers in Thailand end up considering longer careers in education, or extending their stay in Asia.
Graduates of SEE TEFL are much better equipped to engage with the local culture than other visitors. The organization’s Thai language and cultural awareness training are invaluable and result from many years of living and working Thailand. With that in mind, students and trainees learn much more than effective teaching and classroom management strategies. They learn how to thrive as a contributing member of Thai society.
Returning from a Career Break in Thailand
After such a rewarding experience teaching in Thailand, some people find the transition back home challenging. Thai culture is warm and hospitable, and teachers are held in particularly high regard. Stepping back into a career in the West may even sound less inviting than originally anticipated.
However, that sort of big-picture insight is exactly what many SEE TEFL graduates were after in the first place. Some end up staying much longer than they originally anticipated—and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
With an internationally recognized TEFL credential, one can also consider teaching in other parts of the world, earning along the way through contract teaching and informal tutoring. TEFL certification is a powerful qualification that opens doors to employment across Asia, South America or even back at home, for that matter.