Getting Started: Everything you need to know about teaching abroad

So, you’ve just finished university and you’re thinking about taking a gap year. Maybe you’ve been doing the 9 am – 5 pm corporate life for far too long and you really can’t take another meeting or boardroom drama. Then the thought strikes: why not teach abroad. You’ve heard about it… maybe even read about it a few times but wasn’t really brave enough to send that application. Yes, it can be a bit intimidating at first and you most likely have tons of questions…

Where will I go?

How do I actually secure a job?

What will I teach?

How much will I earn?

Is it even possible to teach abroad, save money and travel?

Yes, it is. Take it from someone who spent two and a half years teaching English in China – it is possible. You could literally go anywhere in the world. In fact, in just a few months you could find yourself in a place that you’ve probably never even imagined, sitting around a dinner table with people you don’t even know exist right now. Sounds pretty epic right? It really is.

Teaching abroad, Asia, Japan, teaching abroad programs, jobs

All it takes is a little effort, doing some good research and making sure you know all the facts. Many of the Teach English abroad programs allow you to have a secure job with a paycheck at the end of every month as well as support on hand to help navigate setting up your new life in a new county. The best programs help smooth out the transition and ease the admin process, which can be quite daunting if you don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Here are the essentials you need to know about teaching abroad.

The Great Wall of China, Badaling, teaching abroad

How to get accepted into a teach abroad program?

Let’s start with how to get accepted into a teach abroad program – it’s actually pretty easy. Depending on your country of choice, the requirements can differ but the general basic entrance criteria usually stays the same regardless. There are three main things that most teach abroad programs require, regardless of the country. These include:

  1. A bachelor’s degree

One of the most generic requests for new English language teachers is a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the program and country, your major is not as important as actually just having a bachelor’s degree. Some international schools may ask for licensed teachers with teaching degrees specifically but don’t stress if you don’t have these. There are tons of programs that don’t require this. 

2. A TEFL qualification

Most teach abroad programs will ask for new teachers to have a TEFL (Teach English as Foreign Language) qualification. Some programs may also pay for you to complete one before arriving (this is rare) but this differs from program to program. If you don’t have a TEFL certificate and want to get one, it’s a good idea to do some research. There are a lot of TEFL course providers that are just out to get a quick buck or two. A good TEFL course should give you basic teaching tips and techniques to use when you get in the classroom. Completing a TEFL course is a great way to boost your confidence as a teacher.  

3. Excellent English language skills and ability to have fun

English speaking comes naturally to native speakers so that’s often a bonus. But what counts even more is your ability to have fun and create exciting lessons for the kids you’ll be teaching.

Teaching abroad, china

 Which is the best teach abroad program to choose?

There are so many tech abroad programs out there that it really can get confusing. Choosing the best teach abroad program for you will depend on what you want to get out of your overall experience. There are many factors to take into consideration and you’ll have to sit back and really think what is it you want to get out the teaching program and overall experience. Some things to take into consideration include location, style of living, culture, language barriers, weather, age group of kids you’d like to teach, salary and benefits.

Teaching abroad, japan, takoyaki

What kind of English teaching do you want to do?

It’s a good idea to sit back and think about the kind of teaching you want to do as this is going to occupy a lot of your time. Its important to remember that choosing a teach abroad program often means committing to at least one full school year abroad which is a long time. Think about the type of school environment you’d like to be placed in, if you’d be okay with a rigid schooling structure or if you’d prefer working for a public vs private school. Also take some time to think about what age group you’d like to teach and if lesson plans will be provided or if you will need to create and submit your own plans.

Teaching in china, Guangdong

What kind of salary can you make while teaching abroad?

The truth is when teaching abroad you really can make a great deal of money. Salaries differ from country to country but usually Asia and the Middle East are known for having some of the highest salaries. Specifically look at China, the UAE, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

Many of these programs also offer benefits in addition to your salary such as free housing or a housing allowance, health insurance, travel bonus and pension fund.

What are some programs you should look at?

The highest demand for English teachers often arises in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. These countries often some great programs that pay well so it will make living, adventuring and saving while abroad a lot easier. Here are some of the most well-known programs:

Japan: The Jet Program

The Japanese JET Program is a government funded teaching program that has been running for decades. Multiple positions are available in public schools all over the country. Benefits for JET program teachers include affordable accommodation, 5-6 weeks of holiday plus national holidays, round-trip flights and Japanese lessons. Click here to learn more about the JET Program.

South Korea – The EPIK Program

EPIK (English Program in Korea) is a teaching program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education, aimed at improving the level of English of Korean students and teachers. Teachers are placed in public schools (either elementary, middle or high schools) across Korea for one year with the opportunity for renewal. Benefits for EPIK English teachers include a settlement allowance, housing, subsidized health insurance. Click here to learn more about the EPIK Program.

China: Teach Aways Explore Program

Positions are available all over the country from Beijing to Shanghai to Suzhou to Shenzhen. The benefits will differ depending on the program you choose, but these can include health insurance, housing, return airfare and Mandarin lessons.

United Arab Emirates – UAE Government Schools

UAE Government Schools is also a great teaching program for couples, with or without kids. English teachers on the UAE Government Schools program are required to have a teaching license or CELTA and two years of teaching experience. Benefits for teachers typically include a tax-free salary, round-trip flights, health insurance and housing.

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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