Teach Your Way Around the World
You’re itching to hit the road, but can’t find the funds to do it. Still, you have some unexpected, maybe unwanted, free time on your hands and an urge to see the world. Now’s the time to check out the teaching abroad scene. Loads of jobs await in places near and far. From just across the border in Mexico to the furthest reaches of the Polynesian Islands, opportunities abound. All you have to do is get a few key elements in order and you can be off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Having a Bachelor’s degree is the first step to hitting the road as an English instructor. In fact, in many cases, whether you have one or not will determine if you are even eligible to teach in a particular country. Some places, such as South Korea and Japan, require only a Bachelor’s degree and no other ESL teaching certification. So once you polish off this degree, you’re well on your way. It doesn’t even matter what subject you study, although if you have a degree in Education or English Teaching, it could give you a boost in an employer’s eyes.
English Teaching Certification
Other countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, require additional training. For Vietnam, you have to have a TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, certification. While you may be able to find a job without one, it’s more difficult and you have less access to the higher paying gigs. Working your way through the maze of certification programs can be a true challenge. Best option? Choose the country or culture you’d like to immerse yourself in and research what you need to do to get there.
If you already know where you want to go, sweet! You can browse through programs for TEFL, CELTA, or TESOL certification programs and get to it. Go for the hands on, face-to-face courses and avoid the online ones, which employers don’t regard very highly. It shouldn’t take you more than a month or so part-time to polish off a course.
Once you’re all schooled up and certified, you can get straight to the job hunt. Excellent places to start are Dave’s ESL Café, especially if you’re interested in teaching in Korea, China and other parts of Asia. TEFL.com also offers a wealth of opportunities around the world, as does Transitions Abroad. And those are just a few of the sites around. Search around and see what else you can find.
For more formalized experiences and the support of an established organization, you can check out the Peace Corps, JET in Japan, Georgetown University’s English Language Fellow Program, or even some of the Fulbright programs.
Some countries, especially places like Taiwan or some places in Eastern Europe, don’t respond to applications from afar. It’s easier to fly out and make an appearance in person to apply for a job. You’re taking a bigger risk by doing that, but if you have the funds and the time for it, it’ll give you a chance to see if you like the country and to find an employer you really like.
A downside of finding an ESL teaching job in another country is that you never know what you’re going to get when you get there. Sure, the ad sounds great, the interview goes well, and the money looks solid. But be prepared for anything once you hit the ground. Sometimes the housing isn’t what was promised or the hours are more than expected.
To mediate these challenges, make sure to do as much research as possible beforehand. Hit some job forums like the ones that Dave’s ESL Café has, and see if anyone knows about the school you’re talking to. Ask the school for the names and email addresses or phone numbers of people who are currently working there or have worked there in the past. Do a few online searches to see what comes up. It never hurts to have more information. It may not change your decision or what happens when you get there, but at least you have a bigger picture idea of what’s going on.
If you can rustle up a few contacts – friends of friends of friends or acquaintances who know people in the spot where you’re going – even better. You can get some seriously authentic takes on what to expect and make a few new friends along the way.
So get researching and studying. Soon you’ll be off on a super adventure, work-cation style.