How to Teach English Overseas
If you’re looking for a way to travel long term and even live in another country, one of the top ways to do this is to teach English as a Foreign Language in another country. This was one of the first ways I started traveling long term, and it has been one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences I’ve had to date.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, and you’ll be tired at the end of a teaching day, but the time I spent in Asia marks some of the best travels in my life. I met lifelong friends, learned a lot, saw places I would never have seen, and made incredible memories. You can find teaching positions in China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Poland, and many more places. It offers a great way to travel long term and experience other cultures.
So here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect from the process, the journey there, and the experience, and why you should do it. Think you’re cut out for a class full of children every day? Read on to find out.
This can be a long process, so you should start this first. Different countries require different documents, so research online first. Things you generally need are stamped college transcripts in a sealed envelope, a notarized copy of your degree, an FBI background check, and a copy of your passport.
Once you have all of these documents, or are most of the way done, start applying for teaching positions. Consider where you’d like to teach and what age you’d like to teach. Read each position very carefully, and ask for advice on websites such as Dave’s ESL Cafe, where people can give you good information on whether or not a school sounds like they’re asking for too much (which they sometimes do). The contracts are usually for a minimum of a year, so bare in mind if the conditions are insane, it’s no short term role.
If you’ve found one that sounds like a good fit, the next step is a phone interview. Speak with one of the foreign teachers if you can, so you can get an idea of what it’s like to work there. Ask questions you really want the answers to, and make sure you feel comfortable before accepting.
Once you’ve both agreed and signed the contract, send off your documents to the school for approval. When they’ve received them, you then send off your passport to receive a visa.
After you have your visa, it’s time to start planning. Either you or your school will book your flight. Start packing and deciding what to take with you, bearing in mind there are things you can always buy once you’re there, like kitchen items and small furnishings. Pack for the weather and climate, and check about cultural norms in terms of clothing.
It can be daunting when you arrive in the country, with so many new things. Not only will you be meeting a lot of people and learning a lot of new things, but you’ll likely be experiencing jet lag. Try to take in as much as you can, especially when sitting in on classes and learning about your school.
This is the scary part! Teaching is tiring and demanding, although it can be very rewarding. Not everyone is cut out for teaching, and it requires a lot of patience, open-mindedness, energy, and skill. Ask for as much advice and help as you need, and observe as many classes as you can. This will help you get to know the students and see the teaching styles of other teachers.
I want to emphasize that teaching is not simply a way to travel, and it is a difficult job in and of itself. Yes, it’s a great way to see the world and make money at the same time, but you must want to do both. Teaching is one of those professions where you can have really really good days and really really bad days, and believe me I’ve had both. But if it’s something you’re passionate about, it’ll no doubt be the best experience of your life.