Obviously, this article isn’t about moving from UK to the US or Canada, or the other way around. In such cases, given the characteristics of these countries, moving abroad for work is fairly simple. The challenges appear when you move to other countries. The job market for English teachers abroad is booming and most abundant in Asian countries. Some places in South America or Africa are also increasing their demand for native English speakers to work as teachers but Asia is by far the place one can find a job as an English teacher easier and faster than in other regions. But even before moving to your new country, if you’re thinking of working as an English teacher abroad, there are a few things you should know in order to be prepared.
First, it’s important to have a very good grasp of the English language. Not only you should be able to speak English fluently, but it’s important to know all aspects of the English language – from grammar and spelling, to slang and idioms, and your accent shouldn’t be a barrier to communication with your new students as they’re probably used to at least hearing some basic neutral English while watching TV series or children stations, streaming movies or going to the cinema.
Next you need to know how to teach English effectively and a professional certification is mandatory to help you securing a job in a foreign country. TEFL is such a platform where you can get qualified to become and work as a teacher, with courses typically lasting several weeks and including both classroom instruction and hands-on teaching experience. Recognized worldwide, you can use such a TEFL qualification to teach English not only abroad but also online if time allows you to get more students to teach them. It’s also important to be patient and understand that not everyone will learn at the same pace so be prepared to adjust your expectations while teaching a group of students.
Then, you’ll need to be familiar with the culture of the country you’re teaching in. Many countries have different customs and traditions, and it’s important to be respectful of these differences. So when you decide to move abroad take your time to study the specificities of the country or population you’re going to live for a significant amount of time onward. Now that the time factor just got into this discussion, many people dream of traveling the world while getting paid to do something they love – teaching English. But when you embark on such a journey, you must consider your job as a teacher in a specific place will have to last for at least one year, most of the cases much more than that to make things relevant for your students and to let them feel they really have a teacher, not someone passing by.
Depending on the country you are teaching in, the work schedule may be different than what you’re used to. For example, in Japan the school year runs from April to March, with summers off, while in Korea schools operate on a trimester system with breaks in between each term. It’s important to be aware of these differences so you can plan your time off accordingly. And the teaching methods and materials used in other countries may also be unfamiliar to you. For instance, in China teachers often use video and audio materials to supplement their classes, whereas in some European countries teachers may rely more heavily on textbooks. It’s important to do some research on the teaching methods used in your country of choice so that you can be prepared for your classes.
Work, work, work but let’s also talk a bit about the benefits of teaching English abroad. For starters, you get to experience a new culture and way of life. Aside from the fact that you are working in a country you might never have had the chance to visit otherwise, you’ll also get to meet some great people from all walks of life. You’ll learn about new customs, traditions and perhaps even pick up a new language yourself! Then, teaching English abroad can be extremely rewarding and soul touching. You get to help others learn a new language and watch them progress – something that can be very satisfying. Teaching English abroad can also open up doors for your future career. Many employers value international experience, so it’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking to boost your CV.
Let’s not forget the challenges as there are some that come with teaching English abroad. One of the biggest challenges is the language barrier. Many countries that you could potentially teach in don’t have a large English-speaking population. This can make it difficult to find resources and support when you are trying to teach your students. But with the help of your new co-workers, that’s not something that cannot be overcome. Another challenge is an aspect already touched above, the cultural differences. When you are teaching in a foreign country, you will be exposed to different customs and traditions. It is important to be respectful of these differences, but it can also be difficult to know what is appropriate and what is not. Finally, there is the challenge of living in a new country. This can be a big adjustment, especially if you are not used to living in a developing country. There are often infrastructure issues, such as power outages and lack of reliable transportation you have to adapt to.
But teaching English abroad can be a fantastic experience. You get to travel the world and explore new cultures, it’s a great way to help others learn a foreign language, you’ll meet interesting people and make friends around the globe. While requirements for working as an English teacher abroad vary depending on the country, there are a few requirements that are universal. A college degree is required, as well as a clean criminal record and most countries also require a TEFL certification. The pay can by high in some places, low in others, the hours long, and the work itself can be challenging. But if you’re prepared for these things, working as an English teacher abroad can be a great experience you shouldn’t miss.