Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different response about whether teaching English abroad is a legit job or not. I’m part of the ‘it’s legit’ camp because I’ve seen first hand how teaching abroad has impacted my life and career. Not only did it improve my family’s financial situation, but it also gave us time to plan for our future and gain transferable skills, like:
- economic, cultural and geographic knowledge (specialized knowledge),
- ability to adapt to a new environment,
- ability to live and work with people from different cultural backgrounds (practical experience),
- experience working in a multicultural team (practical experience),
- ability to communicate across cultures (practical experience),
- writing and analytical skills,
- business skills (especially if you work as a freelancer),
- management skills, and
- using leadership skills to conduct classes.
It seems like a daunting task to get from where you are at home to the classroom in your host where you’ll be teaching. But it’s not as complicated as you might think.
STEP 1 | Understand what it is and isn’t. Teaching English abroad is not a vacation. It’s not a job you can just blow off. It’s exactly that. A job. So be professional, enthusiastic about helping others and work at becoming competent (if you’re like me, you won’t be perfect at first, but with some effort you can quickly become quite effective in the classroom). By managing your expectation from the start, you will increase your chance of happiness and fulfillment exponentially.
STEP 2 | Decide your aims for the year you’ll be abroad. Do you want to gain practical experience? Do you want to learn the local language? Do you want to earn (and save) a lot of money? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down the multitude of options out there. By being strategic in where you go teach and why you’re exploring this opportunity, this career break could strengthen your skills for when you return to your job back home or even help you transition into a new career!
STEP 3 | Define your experience. Consider who you want to teach (adults vs kids), the environment in which you want to teach in (language school, public/private school, university, etc.) and the country you want to teach in. These things will help determine your pay, your quality of life, access to resources, working hours, etc.
STEP 4 | Get certified. Once you’ve decided you want to actually teach about, you’ll want to get certified. There are many TEFL certification course providers out there, but not all are created equal. Some things to consider when choosing a course provider:
- Course Options – Online / In-Person
- Course Length (the minimum standard for accreditation is 100 hours of academics and 6-20 hours of live practice teaching)
- Price (ex. $1,000.00 is reasonable for online courses)
- Pros/Cons of certification program (e.g., teaching methods, class size, instructor qualifications, job hunting support, alumni network/support, etc.)
BONUS #1: I absolutely adore my course provider, International TEFL Academy (ITA). Their website was super helpful in answering all 234,325,728,546,687 questions I had, as was their staff! And because the feeling is mutual, we want to offer you a discount when you enroll in any ITA certification course. Just tell them Pouneh Eftekhari from Longing to Travel sent you and they’ll hook you up!
BONUS #2: Once you enroll, send me your proof of enrollment, I’ll give you a FREE 30min TEFL Consultation!
STEP 5 | Apply for jobs. You’ve probably heard this before, but employers need you more than you want them (supply vs. demand). So don’t be desperate. In other words, don’t let nerves make you compromise your ‘must have’ list in fear of not getting a job. For example, you may not want to negotiate on who pays for your plane ticket, how many vacation days, your work schedule (days per week, hours), signing a contract before leaving home, etc.
STEP 6 | Accept an offer. This step is the most nerve wracking in my opinion, since it makes things official. I was equally worried that I’d sign a contract in the US, buy my ticket, arrive in my host country only to find that the company doesn’t exist (yes, I’m a pessimist, despite all the good people I’ve met during my travels). Luckily, my TEFL certificate provider offered to review my contract and tell me if it looked like other contracts they’d seen for the employer and country. This put my mind at ease that it wasn’t all a scam.
Once you’re happy with the contract, sign and then…celebrate! YOU’RE MOVING ABROAD TO TEACH ENGLISH!
If you want more help navigating this process, or simply want to talk to a real person about your questions, contact me for a TEFL consultation.