Teaching English is one of the best and easiest ways to make money whilst travelling. If you’re thinking of doing it but aren’t really sure about the in’s and out’s then here’s everythign you need to know.
What is it?
Teaching English involves teaching children or adults in a foreign country. You don’t need to speak their language as you only speak in English throughout the lessons.
Native speakers are sought after as teachers in many popular travel destinations, and taking a teaching job is the ideal way to make a living in a new country.
It’s also a great way to get teaching experience before applying for a PGCE or another teaching qualification, or even just to add a new set of skills to your CV.
However, any kind of teaching job isn’t exactly a walk in the park. There are certain challenges associated with teaching ESL, such as obtaining a visa, making the big move to another country, and finding a work-life balance.
Teaching can be a stressful job, so it’s important to know what to expect as an English teacher abroad. Read on to find out all about getting a job, being awesome at it and staying happy!
How to get the job?
You don’t necessarily need a TEFL qualification/experience, but it helps. Not all schools and companies demand a certificate that qualifies you to teach ESL, but having one gives you a much bigger window of opportunities.
Before, or whilst you are applying, it’s worth studying for a TEFL certificate as they can be done completely online in your own time, or partially in a classroom.
You should find a job before you start planning your journey. Due to visa regulations and the necessity of a work permit, the most secure (and therefore, less stressful) way to travel and teach is to find a job online.
You will likely have email correspondence with the school or company that wants to employ you and go through a Skype interview before receiving a job offer.
Once you have been offered the job, the employer will start the application for your visa and will talk you through the process.
In your country, you will have to go to the embassy of the country you will work in in order to complete the process and pick up your visa and work permit.
It’s a little simpler if you already have permission to work in a different country. In that case, you can apply as you would for any other job!
What does the job actually involve?
There are different job options, depending on the kind of people you want to teach. I personally opted for a primary school, which was great fun for me, but may not be everybody’s cup of tea!
This involves teaching the English vocabulary to children in a classroom who can be any age group. You will have to plan and present lessons.
There is a lot of demand for teachers of Business English, which involves teaching adults working for different companies.
You could also choose whether you want to work in a school or for an agency, which will send you to different locations to give classes.
Alternatively, you can teach online, which tends to be much more flexible.
It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of each type of job; compare aspects like working hours, flexibility, how much planning, grading and following up you have to do and whether or not you have to find your own teaching materials.
Teaching is hard even when you know everyone understands what you’re saying, but it’s even harder to keep control over a class when you’re speaking a different language.
There will be more positive moments than negative, though; seeing students taking part, enjoying activities and making progress is rewarding and helps to keep you motivated. Your students might surprise you, too: sometimes the most difficult students are the sweetest people.
You might not have as much freedom as you’d think. Many ESL teaching jobs, particularly in schools, ask you to commit to at least a full academic year.
If you want to move more regularly and teach in more than one place, try searching for jobs that only ask for one semester or that will allow you to take long periods of time off (some agencies give up to six months of holiday without terminating your contract.)
Some employers offer housing and transport for foreign teachers, which makes moving, navigating and starting the job much easier.
There is also the issue of payment; some schools and companies pay much more than others, even if the work isn’t that different. Look into all your options to make sure you get the best deal.
If your contract includes housing and/or expensives you will be able to save a lot easier.
If you are properly qualified to teach ESL, you can also aim for higher positions (and higher wages.
Know your worth. There is high demand, on a worldwide scale, for English teachers. Ask your employer for what you want and make sure they give you what you deserve. Read your contract carefully, and don’t be pressured into agreeing to anything you’re not completely happy with.
You will have favourite students. We all know teachers aren’t supposed to have favourites, but you will. You will also have students who seem intent on making your life difficult, but you’ve got to maintain a good attitude and be consistent.
Teaching English abroad is definitely a worthwhile way to spend a year, or more. There is so much variation in the types of opportunities available, from gap year projects to long-term career plans.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD? CHECK OUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR MARY’S BLOG.