First of all, be aware that it’s a brilliant investment. Because there is no expiry date on a TEFL certificate, you will be qualified to teach English overseas for the rest of your life. Even if you only teach abroad for two years initially, you could find yourself wanting to work in a foreign country again multiple times later on in your life. A TEFL certificate is a passport to do just that. You should make your family aware of this, whether or not they are going to support you financially whilst you get qualified.
One thing to keep in mind is that you might be eligible for financial support from your local council or national government. Do some research and if you can apply for financial help then definitely go for it!
If you need to borrow money from friends or relatives to pay for your course, look at teaching destinations where the salary will allow you to save several hundred pounds or dollars every month. Many TEFL jobs are quite well-paid, especially when compared to the living costs. Therefore it is quite possible to pay back your loan in just 3 or 4 months.
International experience is of great value for most jobs and careers these days. If you do return, prospective employers will be impressed that you have adapted to a new culture and possibly learnt a new language or two. Make your parents or close family aware of the skills that you will develop during your time away and how you could return to your home country afterwards and be much more employable locally with all these new skills and experiences.
If your relatives are worried about you, emphasise that most countries actually have a lower crime rate than western nations! Of course we must all remain aware of our surroundings wherever we are, but there is no cause for worry in this regard so long as you aren’t going to work in a war-torn country.
Set up a Skype account for any relatives that would like to speak to you on a regular basis online. Some people are not comfortable with setting up and using things like Skype on their own. Therefore it is best to show them how it all works before you head off overseas. This can be done if you can use two computers in the same house or even the same room. Make sure they choose a password that they will remember and emphasise how normal it now is for distant family members to chat online like this all over the world. The same goes for Facebook and email accounts if family members do not have or use them.
When you are actually studying for your TEFL certificate, where will you be staying? If possible, stay with friends or relatives or, alternatively, study online, because that will keep costs down and leave you with some cash to use in the first few weeks of living abroad.
Remember that as with most jobs you normally won’t be paid until the end of the month. Therefore you need enough funds to last until payday. That includes money for rent, food, transport and getting to know your new environment. The exact sum will depend on the living costs of the country you are moving to. In addition, it is worth noting that some contracts, such as those with the British Council, include a ‘settling in allowance’ which is very generous and hugely helpful during those first few weeks away.
Will you have to pay storage facilities whilst you are overseas? If the answer is yes, you should think long and hard about what items you really need to keep and which items can be sold . This will help pay for your TEFL course. It will also reduce outgoings when you are abroad and you might be surprised how cheap it is to replace any items when you return.
Finally, once you have started the adventure of a lifetime, remember to contact your close family on a regular basis to let them know how it’s all going for you. You could even send a postcard every week or two to begin with.