A desk job isn’t for everyone. Indeed, if you’ve worked in an office environment for an extended period of time, it’s likely you’ve felt the desire to get out of your workspace and explore the world at large at least once or twice.
But traditional jobs usually only offer 2-4 weeks of leave, and you can’t exactly ‘see the world’ in that amount of time. While we might dream of just taking off and leaving our boss behind, the one thing that usually prevents us from doing so is the money side.
The answer? Live and work abroad!
One of the most common ways to live and work abroad is to find an overseas job teaching English as a second language (ESL). It’s the chance to experience different countries, meet new people, and make a lot of money.
Considering teaching English abroad? The following are a couple of things you ought to know.
Things to Know About Teaching English Abroad
Countries With the Most Teaching Jobs
There are opportunities to teach English abroad in almost any country you’ve been dreaming of – China, Japan, Chile, the Czech Republic – basically, any country that doesn’t speak English will have a demand for English teachers.
The most popular countries to teach English, with the most teaching jobs, include South Korea, Japan, the Middle East (countries like the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have really high salary packages), Thailand, China, Spain, and Taiwan.
English in countries like South Korea, a country which is wonderfully safe and developed, but also home to a deep and rich culture, are a great way to combine your passion for travel with the opportunity to make money.
The buzz you feel might not remain at the same level of intensity as it was when you landed, but you can teach English in Korea in places like Seoul, Daegu, Inchan, Songdo, Geoje Island and Ilsan without exhausting the culture, even if you had a lifetime there.
Image: Adam Patterson / Panos / DFID / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr
You Need a Recruiting Company with Experience
Teaching ESL in a foreign country is a rewarding job that will allow you to see and experience things in your life you’d otherwise never encounter. But it’s important to connect with the right recruiting company.
A recruiting company will help make the transition easy for you, handle your logistics in a way that is professional and suits your needs, and support you as a teacher in the new locale. Because not every part of the travel process is as fun as the travelling itself.
Much of the time, this company will help secure you a work visa and rent you a clean and convenient place to live. Once you arrive, they should be there to ease your transition, help get you acclimatized, and get you prepared to teach ESL classes.
They should also check in on you periodically even after you’ve been settled for a bit, just to ensure the adjustment has been smooth. In other words, you need to rely on this company to handle various important things for you, so the more experience and resources they have will only work in your favour.
Hiring Standards Vary From Country to Country
While there are a huge range of countries to choose from when teaching English abroad, hiring standards will vary from country to country, so this might actually dictate which countries you’re eligible for.
For the most part, any native English speaker can teach English abroad, and you don’t have to have teaching experience, speak the local language, or have even traveled before. But you will have to meet the qualification requirements of your chosen country.
Throughout Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, you’ll typically (not always) be required to have a college degree or equivalent to be hired as a teacher. Though there are 50 + countries who don’t require this, including Cambodia, China, Russia, Peru, and Argentina.
Did you know, you don't have to have ANY teaching experience to get a job teaching English abroad! Click To Tweet
The most common qualification for teaching abroad is a TEFL certificate, which verifies that you have completed training to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). This is a standardized qualification that most schools around the world are going to look for.
TEFL can be completed online, or in person, and the course usually costs around $1,000 – $2,500 USD. You’re looking at around 100 hours of coursework as a minimum, over a period of 3 – 6 months.
There are countries where not even this required (though the opportunities are very limited), and some teach abroad programs that allow you to get this certification while you’re actually teaching. A good recruiting company will inform you of all your options.
Have You Considered Teaching Online?
While teaching English abroad typically means you’ll travel to the country, and physically teach in a classroom, these days there are also ample opportunities to teach English online, meaning you can travel as you work from your laptop.
If you’re not particularly good in a classroom environment, many full-time travelers are able to support their lifestyle by teaching English online. And, whether or not you knew it, this is actually a booming market.
Specifically, in China, where there are tons of different companies seeking to find native US English speakers to teach Chinese children. You can make a pretty nice $25 and up for each hour, too.
You’ll have to stay on top of things like potential tech issues, planning out your own lesson plans (as opposed to relying on a pre set school curriculum), coordinating timezones, and you’ll probably still have to get a TEFL, but this can be a great option to consider too.
Immerse Yourself Beyond School Life
Class time is important, but you’re living and working abroad, so make the most of your time and really try to immerse yourself in the local culture, beyond school life.
Expect to be invited to social and cultural events by the other teachers, and perhaps even by parents of your students. While you’re there to teach English, don’t limit yourself by not attempting to learn the local language in your time outside the classroom.
Showing a genuine interest in their culture is one of the best ways to make friends with the other teachers, and making an effort to learn their language is one of the quickest ways to earn their respect.
But it’s also about taking the opportunity to really live as a local, and dig deeper into the destination you’re living to get a greater sense of why it’s special than if you were visiting as an everyday, average tourist.
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