Teaching English abroad is a great opportunity for those who want to travel the world, learn a new language and integrate themselves into a new culture while also earning a livable wage. Today, many people — from recent college graduates to older couples looking for a rewarding adventure — are teaching English in foreign countries to do just that.
One of the great things about teaching in another country is that English teachers are always in high demand; contractual obligations usually run one to two years, so the job turnover is pretty quick. Often, all that’s needed is a degree and a TEFL certification, then you can be on your way.
Here are three things you should know before you embark on your journey:
1. Certification (TEFL & TESOL)
Many programs require that you become TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certified. You can either earn a certificate through an online course or you can sign up for an in-class program.
The online courses are cheaper, but as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” If you don’t have any teaching experience, most people will recommend taking an in-class course. Should you decide to go the online route, generally there needs to be at least 100 to 120 hours of training. Be weary of non-accredited certificates, because many schools won’t accept them. You can check a course’s accreditation at websites such as this one by clicking here.
2. Choosing a Country
Is there a foreign country you’ve always wanted to see, a culture you have always wanted to immerse yourself in? These are certainly important factors when choosing a country, but there are other questions to consider before jumping in, such as job flexibility and salary.
In countries such as Europe and Latin America, finding a job is much more difficult than in many areas of Asia. Southeast Asia and the Middle East might be the ideal choice if you’re looking to come away from the experience with a little extra money saved, because they have lower living costs and higher wages for teachers.
3. Finding a Job
Most good TEFL/TESOL courses will help you find a job once the course is completed, or sometimes even guarantee a placement. In other cases, you might need to do your own research, but don’t be concerned: There are plenty of jobs and resources available.
That being said, be sure to ask the questions you would ask before signing any job contract:
» How many hours of work is expected?
» How much and what are the times off? (You’ll probably want an opportunity to explore the surrounding area!)
» What kind of training is provided?
Also, ask for references from previous or current teachers at the school. They can provide the “real world” stories and tips to make your trip seamless, and your excitement soar to new heights.
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— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.