Interested in teaching English abroad but nervous to embark on such a big adventure? It can sound like a daunting transition, but here at Jakes Embassy Limited, we’ve got you covered with our Guide to Teaching English Abroad.
Do you have friends or classmates that have taught English in Japan, China, or Chile, and wondered to yourself, “How can I get paid to live in a foreign country?” The truth is that you can, but like any great endeavor in life, moving to a foreign country to teach English requires research, planning and initiative. Here are 7 basic tips to help you get started.
1. Know that virtually anybody can teach English abroad
With approximately 1 billion people learning English worldwide, the demand for native English-speaking teachers is insatiable and virtually any native or fluent English speaker can gain employment teaching English abroad. Remember this:
- A background in education or professional teaching experience is not required to teach English abroad.
- You do not need to speak a foreign language to teach English abroad.
- Prior international travel experience is not a prerequisite to teach English abroad.
- A college degree is not required to teach English abroad. In fact, even those without a college degree can realistically expect to gain employment teaching English abroad in up to 50 countries around the world from China and Cambodia to Russia, Argentina and Peru.
Remember that hiring standards will certainly vary from country to country, so remember to consider what countries you are qualified to teach in and how you can teach English abroad without a degree.
2. Do Your Research
If you plan to move halfway around the world to teach English, you owe it to yourself to research all aspects of your great international adventure to make it as rewarding and successful as possible.
When you’re ready to start diving into program options, be sure to read reviews and weigh all of the possibilities. Salary, livability, time commitments, and the potential for an incredible and positive experience will all play major factors in your decision.
3. Make sure to earn your TEFL certification
Even though you don’t need a degree or professional teaching experience, if you want to teach English abroad professionally, you need to take an accredited TEFL certification course especially if you have no background in teaching English as a foreign language.
TEFL certification will also provide you with a recognized qualification that most schools and language schools around the world seek when hiring new teachers. Remember, most schools around the world will not hire you off the street to teach English professionally simply because you are a native or fluent English speaker!
One of the biggest difficulties that new teachers face is the challenge of creating fun, engaging, and plenty of activities for the ESL classroom. TEFL courses will give you insight on the types of games and lessons that are successful with different age groups.
4. Remember: hiring and interview procedures vary from country to country
While there are always exceptions, in Europe most private sector language institutes interview and hire teachers in September and again in January. In South America, top seasons include February to March and July to August. Demand is so high in Asia that language schools hire year-around, as many do in the Middle East; in both regions many elementary and high schools recruit during the spring and summer for positions beginning in September.
It is also important to note that in Europe and Latin America, most schools interview and hire teachers face-to-face locally rather than recruiting them from their home country in advance. Exceptions include government assistantship programs in France and Spain, and many schools in Eastern Europe such as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
While there are exceptions, particularly in Thailand and Cambodia, most schools in Asia and the Persian Gulf will recruit and hire new teachers directly from their home country. This means that if you want the security of having a job waiting for you when you hop on a plane to your teaching destination, you should concentrate your efforts in these regions.
5. If you want to make more money, head to Asia or the Middle East
Most people don’t go into teaching for the money, but if you’re looking to make enough to save for extra travel or to make student loan payments, concentrate on opportunities in these two regions. In major Asian nations, even first-time English teachers typically make enough to save 30%-50% of their income after expenses, and often receive benefits like free airfare and housing. Monthly savings typically range from about $400 a month in a nation like Thailand up to $1000 or more in South Korea.
For even more lucrative contracts, consider Persian Gulf countries in the Middle East like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, many, though not all, of these positions require professional teaching experience, an advanced degree in education, or a teaching license.
6. Set a realistic timeline and plan ahead
While hiring cycles and procedures vary worldwide, you should usually plan on taking 3-6 months from the point when you begin your TEFL certification and job search to actually getting on a plane and taking off to go abroad and begin your teaching job. In some cases, as when applying for government public school programs like JET in Japan or the assistantship programs in Spain and France, the process of applying, interviewing and making travel arrangements may take 6-9 months or even longer.
7. Be open-minded and flexible
If you won’t even consider teaching anywhere but Paris or Dubai, you’re only cheating yourself. The fact that you may not get a job on the Champs Elysees should not stop you from experiencing the adventure of living and traveling abroad, whether it be in Turkey, Thailand, Argentina or anywhere else. Also, bear in mind that you are not limited to one destination you can always teach in one country or region and then move on to another and as in any field, the more experience you gain, the more opportunities will come your way.
Essentially the only way that you can’t teach English abroad is if you don’t have the initiative to make it happen – so let’s go! That means researching your options, getting a TEFL certification and putting together a timeline. Be realistic and organized, but don’t hesitate to broaden your horizons and take chances either.