3 years ago I started an English teaching business. I loved English and wanted to help other people learn it the right way. I wrote a blog, started a Youtube channel, and taught both group and private lessons. It was going OK. However, somewhere along the way, I lost interest in the industry and quit about a year later. I’m now reflecting why the career wasn’t for me so that I can make a better decision in the future and hopefully it helps you choose your career.
I like teaching, but I realized that I don’t want to teach something that is static. By that, I mean there is only so much to learn about English. Unlike, say business or photography or cooking, there is not much room for improvement once you hit the certain point.
One reason for this is that there is no “professional English speaker”. You can’t make money by just being fluent in a language. Obviously every native English speaker already possesses the skill. No matter how much you teach and learn the subject, all you become is someone who is fluent in English. That realization made me feel this occupation is less significant.
Another reason that a foreign language is a static skill is that language doesn’t change very much over time. Yes, language is evolving, but not as fast as computing or marketing. Let’s say you moved to another country with your family and stopped using your first language except with your family. You return to your home country 10 years later, and I bet you you will have no problem speaking the language.
Of course teaching the subject requires a skill. Teaching also makes you a better public speaker. But that is not interesting enough for me. I want to keep learning and growing. Choosing the work that allows you to grow is really important, otherwise you will get bored pretty quickly. That’s why I think a career in foreign language teaching is potentially dangerous. But not everyone is like me. When I told this to my English teacher friend, she said she doesn’t think teaching English is boring, because she likes to find an effective teaching method. Good for her! Someone like her is meant to be a teacher.
More satisfying subjects to teach that are adjacent to foreign language would be writing and communication. They are much more challenging and diverse. In writing, there is copywriting, journalism, creative writing, blogging, technical writing, and more. How about communication? There are obvious fields such as public speaking, sales, coaching, management, and counseling. But learning effective communication is not just for the aforementioned professions. Everybody wants to become better at communication in some aspects of her life. Maybe you want to improve the relationship with your significant other, or you feel isolated in school and want to know how to make friends, or you get nervous when talking to girls and want to get over it. Each one of them is a big enough subfield that you can specialize in.
I’m not going to teach these subjects though, because they are language dependent. As a Japanese guy who lives in Japan and primarily speaks Japanese, there is no point in teaching writing or communication in English.
So if you are someone like me, you have to choose a field that is both challenging and constantly evolving. With that said, skills you aqcuired by teaching a foreign language are not useless, so it might be a decent first job right out of college. You can transition to a different job a couple years later.
On final note, I’m not againt learning a second lanauge at all. In fact, you should definitely learn at least one foregin language. It broadens your perspective and makes you a more logical thinker. It also improves your first language. There are countless articles about the beneft of learning a foreign language so I’m not going to repeat them here.