Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English abroad has been an interest of many young people, and quite a few older people, for many years. While the great majority of those seeking to teach English abroad may be between 20 and 40, there are still a fair number up to the age of about 75 who venture abroad to achieve a long held ambition.
What sort of qualifications do people need to have if they want to teach English abroad?
- A degree is useful, but it is not a requirement in most countries; however, a few countries do require applicants to have a degree, for example, Thailand.
- A teaching qualification is essential. This is not simply because it makes it easier to find a teaching position; it is also because if you genuinely want to teach English then it is vital to be properly prepared. No-one wants a plumber in their house if they are not properly qualified and no students want an inadequately prepared English teacher fumbling around at the front of the class. So, be fair to yourself and your students and get properly qualified. Being a native speaker of English is not enough; to teach English abroad you need to be qualified.
- A TESOL or TESL or TEFL qualification are all fine. Whether you take a TESOL course (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or a TESL course (Teaching English as a Second Language) or a TEFL courses (Teaching English as Foreign Language) you will be able to get a teaching post in your home country or overseas. Essentially there is no difference between these qualifications. However, it’s worth noting that TESOL is becoming the most widely used acronym for courses focused on teaching English abroad.
- Initial training can be via a taught course or a distance-learning programme. As long as the people running your course are well trained and experienced themselves, then the training should be good. However, some ‘cowboys’ do advertise on the Internet so be discerning. Avoid sites that base their advertising on young people cavorting on beaches. Avoid absurd reductions (Train to be an English teacher for £50!!) and avoid weekend courses.
- It’s not necessary to be a native speaker, but it helps.
- Teaching experience helps as well, even if it is only a relatively short period.
There are a number different ways in which people can work abroad as a teacher of English.
- You can apply directly to a local school. If you do this, hunt around the Internet for any references to this school and the experience of others who have worked there.
- You can apply to a company which places teachers in local schools. Again, do your research and trawl the Internet to find the experiences of others who have worked for this company.
- You can work as a volunteer in a developing country in a primary or secondary school. However, be cautious because there are currently a number of purely commercial companies that present themselves as socially aware organisations providing volunteer support in developing countries when they are nothing of the sort. Many people going abroad through such an organisation have found themselves sorely let down when they arrive. Again, do your homework; look behind the façade presented by the company.
- You can work for a language school. As usual, before you sign a contract, trawl the Internet to find out what experiences others have had with that school.
What contract conditions can you expect when you teach English abroad?
Your employer should provide a guaranteed core monthly salary, though extra paid hours may also be available. This salary will vary depending on the local circumstance and could be anything between, for example, £750 a month in China or £2,500 in Saudi Arabia. However, don’t be led astray by a high salary because a low cost of living may enable a teacher in China to save quite a lot. Accommodation, or an accommodation allowance, will often be provided by a school or an organisation that places teachers of English in schools. You may have to pay for your own flight initially but this will generally be repaid if you teach English in the school for a year. Language classes may sometimes be provided, although these are an extra and your ability in the local language will have no impact on your ability to teach English abroad in a foreign country.
Teaching English abroad can be an interesting and fulfilling choice for many people, whatever their age. It could be the start of a new career, or a change of life style, or simply a year abroad in a developing country. However, whatever you do, get yourself properly trained so that you are prepared for the classroom and ready to provide your students with lively, interactive classes.
Teaching English Abroad: Country Guides
Opportunities and requirements vary in different countries, sometimes due to the diverse needs of schools and the availability of teachers, sometimes due to government policies regarding visas etc, these guides below should help:
Guide to teaching English in China
Guide to teaching English in France
Guide to teaching English in Italy
Guide to teaching English in Japan
Guide to teaching English in Korea
Guide to teaching English in Spain
Guide to teaching English in Thailand
Guide to teaching English in Turkey
Guide to teaching English in United Arab Emirates (UAE)