For the place
You may not visit all the museums or tourist attractions in the place you’re teaching, but you will experience things that travelers miss. First of all, you will be living in a local flat, and you will not be surrounded by other travelers. You’ll also be pressed to communicate with locals about all sorts of strange things. You may need to find out how recycling works, where to buy the food you want, or what’s wrong with your oven. Challenging? For sure. But the experience is worth it. You’ll go shopping in local stores and find good local restaurants…as opposed to just the ones with English menus.
For the people
You will be working with local people nearly every day – your students and likely some of the other teachers.
Because of the emphasis on communication in many language schools nowadays (in contrast to straight grammar), teachers talk with students about all kinds of topics. I’ve had conversations about globalization, volcanoes, healthy eating habits, superstitions ,and teenage dilemmas. I’ve heard Hungarian students discuss their happy memories of May 1 parades, despite the fact that they were compelled to participate. I learned the game of Bosnian Rummy from locals and a magic trick from a French student in Chicago.
You may also make connections with other teachers that can continue even after you return home or move on to the next place.
There’s no question that moving to another country and standing up in front of a group of strangers day in and day out has its unique set of difficulties. Some people think it too overwhelming to even contemplate. But it can be done, and when you do it there is definitely a sense of achievement. Along with the fun and new friendships, there will be hard work, setbacks, and disappointments, but you will have done something that many people wish for but don’t ever do. Most importantly, you will have done something you wanted to do.
In short, there are lots of reasons to go into tefl, plenty of which I haven’t even mentioned here, and that is not to say they are not valid reasons. But these are things you can more or less count on and for that reason, regional or country differences aside, these are quite universal.