Moving to the Middle East: TESOL/TEFL/TESL and the Anxieties of Self-Examination

Next month I will certify to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). My certification will come through Oxford Seminars. After meeting the instructor and feeling great chemistry with her, I was incredibly excited about undertaking the course. The certification is 100 hours, 60 in the classroom and 40 online, with an additional 20 hours available to specialize in childhood, business English, or TOEFL.

My plan is to move to the Middle East (Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Kuwait) or North Africa (Morocco) after obtaining my Bachelors in Political Science this year. I’m becoming increasingly aware that my options for employment in this part of the world may be either contingent on my level of experience (many countries in the region want teachers with years of experience), or geopolitical conditions in the Middle East (determinant of the volume of teacher’s willing to move to the region).

Traveling, working freelance, obtaining a Master’s from the region are all dreams of mine, but to quote Flannery O’Connor…

To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.

I would love to get in contact with anyone currently living in the Middle East, pursuing similar paths, and especially new teachers in the region. This is a journey I hope to continue sharing with the WordPress community. It’s not the career path I saw for myself a year ago. Indeed constant reevaluation of my hopes, ethics, and capabilities hasn’t made this life stuff any easier, only more difficult, there’s no clear paths, or clean sweeps from point A to point B. To know this and to live by it, are two very different things.

8 thoughts on “Moving to the Middle East: TESOL/TEFL/TESL and the Anxieties of Self-Examination

  1. Great to hear you are taking on this profession. It not only can take you all over the world, but also you can seriously change peoples lives with it. Going to the Middle East is a good idea particularly if you want to go to Oman or Yemen. Yemen seriously needs ESL. In Oman, many can already speak some English…but still there are jobs. Oman is very expensive but you get paid well. Saudi Arabia is an experience within itself, but I would recommend you go to other Middle East countries first just to get some experience.

    All the best.


    • This is exactly the type of real, informed advice I’m seeking right now. Thank you for your comment! I think the English language is very liberating and I want to ensure my first destination is in need of it, a learning experience for myself, and can offer enough to fund necessities


        • I haven’t had the pleasure of traveling often overseas yet. I spent the summer studying in Morocco. There I met students who were volunteering as English teachers. That’s where the idea to certify came from.

          I chose the Middle East because I speak some Arabic, but very much want to improve and become fluent. Besides loving the language and culture (I’m Syrian and Lebanese), I want to obtain my Master’s concentrating in Mideast studies, and to teach Political Science in the region eventually at universities instructed in English.

          So teaching in the region feels like a great way to live there long-term, be in touch with the locals, and enjoy what I’m doing while also pursuing other initiatives (freelance and academia).


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