If you intend on teaching English, you are on a good path. My advice is that you learn from others who have gone before you.
Find out what they loved and loathed about teaching abroad, and what they wish they had done differently. If I was to go back and start all over again, I would do three main things differently.
1- Get Qualified
I started teaching with no experience or knowledge of classroom management or how to teach English.
I wish that I had taken the time to learn as much as I could before teaching in order to help me be the best teacher that I could be.
In this way, I would be able to better deal with students and to teach them.
There are situations that arise in classrooms and rules of the English language that most people have never thought of because they have never need to, and as with everything in life, preparation leads to better performance.
There is a huge range of TESOL courses and other such courses that help to prepare teachers for their job and I should have undertaken one of these
2- Take the Job More Seriously
As mentioned earlier, I taught largely as a way to see the world.
Whilst it is a great way to see the world and to live in a different culture, I wish I had put more effort into improving myself as a teacher for the sake of my own personal development.
I did improve and I am now more confident as a teacher, but I feel that I could have improved myself more if I had made more of a conscious effort to do so.
My life was lived in two parts – my time at work, as a teacher, and my time out of work, doing things that I enjoyed. A little bit of crossover would have been better for me and my performance.
3- Research the Job / School
Not every job is right for every person – if I hadn’t taken the job in Istanbul that I hated, I would be able to say that all of my teaching experiences had been positive.
Every school is different and it is important to consider what the school wants from you, the age of the students, the level of the students, the degree of freedom you will have in planning classes, the time you teach, the place you live, and anything else you can think of that will affect your day to day life.
It is impossible to know exactly what you want from life as an English teacher, and when I started I took the job I took based on very few factors, but it is important to try and put yourself in the optimum position that will lead to personal development and personal happiness as this will ultimately lead to you being a better teacher (and a more rounded person).
Teaching has been a huge part of my life and I am very grateful for the experiences.
I learned a lot (but not enough) and it shaped me as a person (as do all experiences in life), but for now, my time as a teacher is over.
Every so often though, I get an email from a recruiter saying they need teachers and I can’t help but have a little look, just in case it takes my fancy.
Once you’ve been a teacher, it really is part of you!