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Teaching English Abroad: How to Get Started

March 20, 2019 | TeacherReady

Lady teaching english

Why people want to teach English abroad

Teaching abroad allows you to visit new places, experience different cultures, improve interpersonal skills, learn a foreign language, make a difference in the lives of others and enter a new career in a booming job market. English teachers in other countries are risk-takers who work hard, have an open mind and enjoy new adventures.

What are the requirements?

Teaching is a regulated occupation throughout the world, governed by laws, policies, rules and regulations. You can’t simply take your teaching license or college degree and go get a job in another country. First, think about 5 possible school settings when deciding where you want to teach.

  1. Public Schools/Government Programs   stable jobs with contracts, competitive
  2. Private Schools/Language Academies  English teaching immersion centers, higher salaries
  3. Tutoring one-on-one  intensive, focused program format, flexible schedule
  4. International Schools  usually private with American-oriented curriculum
  5. Online Teaching  done from anywhere in the world, requires a special certification

Because requirements vary widely between countries and schools, you will have to do a bit of research on each one you are considering. Requirements may or may not include a college degree, prior teaching experience, native versus non-native English speaker, visa and immigration limitations, age level range and specific training/certification in teaching English as a foreign language.

Does a college degree help?

Today, many areas in Latin America, Eastern Europe and parts of China do not require a college degree while many areas in Western Europe, parts of Asia and the Persian Gulf do require a college degree. Due to the number of people who want to learn English, the overseas teaching market is rapidly growing which creates greater competition among applicants. More qualified applicants are more likely to get hired. Therefore, people with a college degree have an edge in job opportunity, compensation and benefits.

Does specific training help?

Being specifically trained in teaching English as a foreign language greatly enhances your opportunities to get a job teaching English in other countries.

A TEFL certification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is the most widely recognized qualification in the world to teach English overseas. Although it is not a teaching license, it is a certification that many countries require and some countries recommend. TEFL is sometimes referred to as TEFL/TESOL, (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). This lifetime certification offers the following advantages:

  • Better job opportunities with higher salaries
  • Job placement services with lifetime access
  • Practicum experience with students learning English
  • Improved instruction for students learning English
  • Training provided by college level professionals with teaching experience
  • Contact with other TEFL students through discussion sessions and seminars
  • Available courses in-class, online or a combination of both

What type of TEFL course should you take?

There are many types of TEFL courses to choose from. In order to make sure that you receive the proper training that many countries require, look for a certification course that meets the following criteria.

  • Should include a minimum of 120 instructional hours
  • Should include a live practicum of at least 6-20 hours working with students
  • Should be accredited from a recognized independent body meeting specific standards
  • Should be taught by professionals in education
  • Should cost about $1500-$2500 for onsite courses and about $1000-$1500 for online courses
  • Should be taught by professionals in education

What questions should you ask before applying?

  • Can you take a TEFL certification course to get a good teaching position?
  • Have you researched the places where you want to work?
  • Have you contacted other people who are teaching abroad?
  • Do you know how long you want to stay in another country?
  • Have you discussed your decision with your family and friends?

What are some suggested websites about teaching English abroad?