It’s graduation day; there’s a smile on your face and a diploma in your hand, but you’re sweating underneath your cap and gown. You’re anxious to see what the world has to offer outside of the classroom, but let’s face it; the economy has seen better days, those student loans aren’t going anywhere soon, and you’ve completed your degree just in time to realise that maybe it’s not what you fancy doing after all.
Never fear; the world can still be your oyster. More and more university grads in the same position are finding that teaching English abroad can be a fine way to put their degree to use. It’s easy to see why; you can experience living abroad, gain some real-world experience and bring in a decent salary – it doesn’t look too shabby on your CV, either.
So where do I start?
First off, you must be a native speaker of English and have at least completed an undergraduate degree. Surprisingly enough, you don’t need to have studied teaching or even a foreign language, although preference can be given to individuals with teaching qualifications.
Second, while experience is not a necessity, it will definitely serve as an advantage. So when you dust off your CV, be sure to highlight any experience (paid or unpaid) in teaching or working with people, both children and adults alike. Dig deep and think outside the box; while it’s important to be honest, bear in mind that there is quite a lot that can count as teaching experience, depending on how you choose to present it (for example, leadership and customer service roles draw upon the same skill sets as teaching).
Undertaking this kind of experience is best done by those with an open mind, a certain amount of flexibility and a sense of adventure. – Laura Liszewski
Now it’s time to do your homework and start applying. There is a wealth of information about teaching English abroad on the web. Do a few Google searches, read some blogs, peruse a few forums, and if you have specific questions about certain countries, schools or companies, then don’t be shy to join the conversation and start asking.
Once you have developed an idea of what to expect in way of salary and working conditions, you will be able to weed out the good positions from the bad (and the downright dodgy).
Most jobs teaching English abroad can be found on the internet. In fact, your entire application process will most likely be conducted purely via the web; even interviews are often via Skype. Expect to spend anywhere from 1-6 months on this process, from the initial research, to the applications, interviews, acceptance and the time it takes to sort out any final details like a work visa, contract and your flight.
You’re stepping out into the world; you’re doing something new and out of your comfort zone, and still managing to put that hard-earned degree to use. Teaching can be very rewarding, and the experience you gain will be valuable no matter what path you choose to take in the future. You can earn a comfortable salary and possibly even save some money for future endeavours – or pay off endeavours of the past!
Things to consider before choosing a career in Teaching
While teaching can be extremely rewarding, you will probably find out very quickly that it can also be extremely frustrating. You will have a newfound respect for all of your teachers of the past, even the ones you used to hate. You may also find it hard to acclimate yourself to your new environment, with different rules, expectations, food and even different smells. More than anything, no matter how much research you do, taking a job as an English teacher overseas will always be a bit of a blind leap.
Just remember; going abroad isn’t for everyone, and neither is teaching. Undertaking this kind of experience is best done by those with an open mind, a certain amount of flexibility and a sense of adventure. If you do your research, use your head and trust your gut, all will be well.