eslinsider5 logo


Over the years teaching ESL I have encountered a few different types of people who teach English abroad. This isn't based on science, but it is based on some of the characters I have met and stuff I made up... hopefully you will find some humor in it.

1. The backpacker teacher

The backpacker teacher is just passing through. He or she is in it for the traveling. They will take any job they can get granted they don't have to sign a contract. But even if they do have to sign a contract they'll quit within a few months as they have plans for Kathmandu. They make good substitute teachers since they can't commit or stay in any one place for too long.

2. The otaku teacher

This teacher has a strong interest in some part of the culture of the country they are in. If they are in Korea they may love K-POP, some boy band or even Taekwondo. If they are in Japan it might be manga, cosplay or Judo. They are passionate about something going on wherever they are located. They tend to get along with backpacker teachers, bohemian and party teachers.

3. The party teacher

This teacher likes to drink and party. They are sociable and they love the weekends. They partied hard in Koh Phangnon for the full moon party and they can outdrink most Koreans. They tend to get along with their students despite the hangover since they are sociable and likable. They are compatible with backpacker, bohemian and otaku teachers.

4. The ethnocentric teacher

This is the maladjusted teacher. They are not really cut out for teaching abroad as they are not really that open minded or worldly. They tend to have a local mindset. They can be found in expat bars all over Asia complaining about the culture and reminiscing about the good ol' days back home.

5. The $ecurity teacher

This teacher got into it for the money and benefits. Either they have future plans for a house, car, etc. or they have debt to wipe away. They'll go where the most money and benefits are such as in Korea. If they can last a couple of years then they might make it to the Middle East to rake in more dough. Or they'll work 2, 3 or 4 jobs and long hours wherever they are to save lots of money. They are future minded and only in it for the money.

6. The unhappy teacher

This teacher is just unhappy. They may have problems with their job and/or they may have problems with their new found home and country. They tend to be compatible with ethnocentric teachers and escapist teachers.

7. The happy teacher

This teacher is just happy where there are and they enjoy teaching.

8. The "teacher" teacher

This is the teacher who is actually a teacher in his or her home country or in the process of becoming one. They are not usually "English" teachers, but teaching abroad is all part of their plan to become a better teacher. You can usually find them teaching in public schools in Taiwan, international schools or even occasionally in private schools.

9. The bohemian teacher

This teacher is in it for the adventure and the chance to do something new and different. They ate silkworms in Korea and grasshoppers in Thailand. They enjoy the carefree lifestyle that comes with teaching abroad. You can sometimes see them showing up to class without their shoes on. They get along well with backpacker and otaku teachers.

10. The career teacher

This teacher is in it for the long run. Some of them can be rather snobby and uptight. They can often be found teaching in universities and putting down people on the internet for their lack of qualifications and poor English. In their eyes if you do not have a CELTA and/or an MA in TESOL you're just not a teacher. Most stick with their own kind.

11. The "language" teacher

This teacher or should we say "student" is interested in learning Chinese, Japanese, Korean or whatever language the locals speak where he or she is teaching. They can be found in classrooms across Asia secretly getting lessons from their students when they are supposed to be teaching them English.

12. The "career break" teacher

This teacher can also be called the "gap year teacher" as well. This teacher is only in it for a year at the most until they either figure out what is next or they go back to what they refer to as the "real world". They can look down on other ESL teachers and be a bit snobby.

13. The escapist teacher

This person got into teaching to run away from their problems. At one time teaching abroad sounded like the perfect antidote to their symptoms. However, they may have found out that their problems followed them or they may still be hiding out somewhere. They could have problems with the law, their husband, alcohol or who knows.

14. The branded teacher

This teacher is a very proud supporter of whatever private school (or possibly TEFL course provider) they are working for. They are business like and have a corporate mindset. You can find them working across Asia in large chain schools. They often greet you with a "Welcome to (insert brand name)" and ask questions in interviews such as "What can you offer (insert brand name)?" The branded teacher tends to get along well with the missionary teacher.

15. The missionary teacher

The missionary teacher is quite similar to the branded teacher. In fact, did you know that your brain can't tell the difference between your favorite brand and your religion? Well, probably not if you're a missionary teacher since the only books you tend to read are fiction. You can find these teachers in Taiwan sporting white button-up shirts, ties and peddle bikes. You can also find them in various parts of Asia offering "free" English classes at their church. They are compatible with branded teachers.

16. The hybrid teacher

This teacher combines any two or more of the above mentioned types.

Again this isn't based on any scientific studies, but just maybe you know an ESL teacher who has something in common with one or more of these types. And if I forgot someone please mention them below.

How about you? What kind of teacher are you?