Should I major in teaching English?

“It’s a good idea, but make sure it’s a good fit for you.”

Yes, if you have a desire and passion to teach English. Yes, if you know that the country is requesting English teachers. Teaching English provides you with a very credible role and platform. The host people will recognize you as an English teacher. Your role as a teacher will not be confusing to them. Furthermore, if you demonstrate proficiency as a teacher and a godly life style, you will probably be a respected person in the community.

Before you major in English, I would strongly encourage you to volunteer at a local literacy center in the United States so that you can gain some firsthand experience teaching English. This experience should help you decide whether or not to major in teaching English.

Answer from Ed Klotz, who served for 22 years with SIM in Nigeria, Liberia, and Eritrea.

“Yes. It gives you opportunities others do not get.”

In Japan, you can’t lose as an English teacher! The nature of working in Japan may make time for ministry limited. On the other hand, depending on where you work, it may give you opportunities to witness in places many traditional missionaries seldom get into. If you’re bi-lingual, there are opportunities in the business world. Teaching English is a great way into the lives of Japanese children and women (and to men in company classes or established English-teaching schools). 

Requirements vary depending on who and where you teach. Many come with little or no credentials except that they are native English speakers. Some teach private classes, while others come with the JET program, for college grads (with any major) to come and assist English teachers in junior and senior high schools for a year or two. (Opportunities for ministry in that program are somewhat restricted.)

If you want to come on a work or missionary visa, you need to have qualifications to do what you say you are coming to do in order to get your certificate of eligibility. Our own mission has required a bachelor’s degree in something as well as the equivalent of thirty credit hours in Bible.

Answer from John, who has served in Japan for eight years with TTW (Touch the World Ministries) and Hi-BA.

“Consider these perspectives on teaching overseas and what training you will need to do that.”

There are a couple of related questions that may interest you as well, and they’re found in our Professional Skills section under English and Education. Take a look! 

1. How could I use an education degree in missions?
2. I want to teach English (TESL). I am fluent but I am not a native speaker. What training do I need?
3. To teach English overseas should I get a master’s degree or a certificate?

Answer from the staff.

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