Are You Too Old To Teach English Abroad?

Teach English Abroad

Teach English Abroad

Teaching English abroad is one of the best ways to move overseas and explore more of the world. With more mid-career professionals and early retirees choosing to follow their dreams and travel the world, it’s not surprising that there is more interest in teaching English from older age groups. Is it possible for more mature people to become English teachers? 

The over-whelming majority of English teachers are still in the just out of university age group. They are generally 23 to 26 years old when they start teaching. There is no shortage of older teachers, however, many of these have been teaching for years.

That doesn’t mean there are no teaching positions for older teachers. It’s just likely that the number of positions is going to be fewer.

The Perfect English Teacher

Many English schools, particularly in Asia, have an ideal view of the perfect teacher that has little to do with talent or experience. Young, blonde,  female teachers have always been the primary preference. That is the Asian ideal of an English teacher.

One of the most discriminated against groups are Asian looking English teachers. Apparently, looking like an American is still very important in finding employment.

Teaching Children

For positions teaching children, female teachers are typically preferred, and for good reasons. Poorer countries are popular destinations for sex tourism and that includes large numbers of pedophiles. Screening out older men from the selection process might not be fair to the vast majority of good male teachers out there, but it greatly reduces the risk of putting children in danger.

There are still plenty of opportunities for older female teachers to teach children, however, it’s likely that most schools will prefer younger teachers.

Adult English Classes

After children the two largest teaching markets will be young women and businessmen. As a young, single woman studying English, who would you most like your English teacher to be? Here the young male teachers would probably have the advantage.

For corporate classes focused on largely male businessmen, young female teachers are likely to be the primary preference. This is especially true if the students are forced into English classes by their companies.

There are serious professional males that need to learn English for their jobs. This is probably the only area where older male English teachers with some career experience will have the advantage. Fortunately, these tend to be the most lucrative positions.

High Demand Teaching Destinations

Some teaching markets like China and Taiwan are exploding so schools will be less discriminatory. In booming areas, with a shortage of teachers, schools are much more lenient with regards to age, race, experience and training. That’s not to say that those factors don’t matter. It’s just that candidates that don’t meet ideal requirements will have an easier time finding teaching positions.

Teacher Training and Experience

Formal education and training will always go a long way in improving job prospects. Most university positions require Masters level education, so age will be less of a factor.

For private conversation classes and teaching in public schools, a TEFL or CELTA certificate is becoming increasingly important to finding work. Many TEFL and CELTA schools provide assistance with job placement, so this might overcome some of the age barriers.

Ultimately, there are always teaching positions available, but the most lucrative and best jobs will typically go to the teacher with the best look and education for the job. It might not be fair, but that is the reality.