Is the Golden Age of Teaching English Finished?

Teach English Abroad

The End of Teaching English Abroad

With the exception of China and possibly a couple of other high growth countries, English teaching jobs seem much harder to come by. The demand is still there, but there has been a massive increase in the supply of teachers around the world. Combined with opportunities to learn languages with online applications and even inexpensive Skype lessons, the future doesn’t look good for English teachers.

The Teaching Boom

Just over two decades ago, teaching English in Japan was very lucrative. A booming economy, wealthy consumers and a shortage of native English speaking teachers all combined to create some of the most lucrative English teaching jobs in the world.

Fast forward to our current global economy, and the opportunities to earn generous salaries and benefits seem much more scarce.

The New Global Economy

There is no questioning that the internet has ushered in more opportunities and global awareness than anyone could have imagined.

People of all ages are traveling more, there is a burgeoning digital nomad movement of entrepreneurs moving to low cost countries to work and start businesses. Opportunities to work online through freelancing or startups have facilitated endless global citizens free to live and work anywhere in the world.

It’s cheaper and easier to travel, start a business or do whatever you can imagine, than ever before.

With Abundance Comes Competition

When it’s cheap and easy to travel and work online, it comes as no surprise that there are far more people exploring every corner of the world.

Many of those people are looking to teach English. Despite all the opportunities to work online, teaching English is still one of the cheapest and fastest ways to move abroad.

English Teaching Positions are Getting more Competitive

Gone are the days when any English speaker could get a high paying teaching position. Now, TEFL or CELTA courses are increasingly becoming necessities. Teaching experience also goes a long way to finding those positions.

Lucrative university positions are also becoming more scarce. Tenured, full-time positions are almost non-existent. Universities are cutting costs and paying lower salaries just like other businesses around the globe.

Is Teaching English Dead?

There will always be demand for English teachers, so the profession is far from finished. Like all industries around the world, expect the English teaching profession to become more competitive.

I believe the number of teaching positions is still growing around the world, however the number of interested teachers is probably increasing faster. That means teachers will need to invest more in ongoing training and masters degrees will likely become more critical to stand out among other teachers.

As English teachers, we’ll probably have to lower our salary expectations and invest more into our own professional development. Teaching English is far from dead, but it’s definitely getting more competitive.