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How to get a job abroad teaching English


So you’ve heard about teaching English abroad and you want to know how to do it…

There are a number of ways to do it.  First, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions.

1.  Where would you like to go?  Each country and region is different.

2.  How long would you like to stay abroad?

3.  What kind of qualifications, training, and experience do you have?

For those just starting out, the usual route is to take an intensive TEFL or TESOL course.  You’ll find courses that last anywhere from a single weekend to several months of part-time study, but the most common are two or four-week courses, found both in English-speaking countries and countries you’ll be job-seeking in.

For example, here is the webpage for Teachers Latin America, where I work as a TEFL course instructor.  This course is focused on Latin America, but you’ll also find course providers in Thailand, France, Italy, and dozens of other places.

Should I take such a course at home or abroad?

There are benefits and drawbacks to both.  Katie at the TEFL Logue wrote a small piece on the question.

My opinion?  A course at home is usually more comfortable, and it’s more common to be able to do one part time if you haven’t a lot of time.  The drawbacks are that courses at home are often much more expensive, and frequently, you’ll be teaching your peers as opposed to real EFL students.

A course abroad is often much cheaper, particularly in developing countries.  Here’s a sampling of TEFL course prices.

TEFL International, Thailand, $1690 usd

Teachers Latin America, Mexico, $1190 usd

Via Lingua, Turkey, $1595 usd

Taking a course abroad also allows you to immerse yourself in a new language and culture, giving you time to become accustomed to your new surroundings, especially if you plan to work in same country or region.

TEFL course providers abroad often offer additional services, such as language courses, travel help, and job placement assistance.

How long do I need to commit to a job abroad?

There are many types of jobs out there.  Many new teachers will find themselves offered positions working with children in places like Korea and Japan, so you need to sign on for a full school year.  There are also many teaching positions in language schools, in every country in the world.  You have a little more flexibility in length of stay.  Many prefer that you stay 6 months to one year, but you will find positions for as short a time as 3 months, particularly in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Chile.

What about volunteering or interning?

There are a number of volunteer organizations around the world with connections to teaching English.  I’ve found that most are expensive, though if you find a good program, such as through the costs come back to you through a good experience and benefits such as language courses, housing, and meals.

Internships are ordinarily more training-oriented than volunteering, and will see you in a professional environment.  Internships vary in length from a few weeks to a full year.  I haven’t seen too many EFL internships out there.  Teachers Latin America offers them in a variety of settings in Mexico and Latin America, and TEFL International offers some in South East Asia.

What if I already have training and am qualified as a teacher?

In your case, it’s best to search online for jobs offered abroad, such as through international schools or job fairs, often in your home country.  Sometimes, simply showing up in a country and using the yellow pages is enough.  You’ll also find recruiters online, who represent schools in hiring.  This is common practice in China and Korea.

Some Resources

The BootsnAll travel forums have country and topic specific forums discussing teaching abroad.

TEFL Logue is a blog dedicated to teaching abroad.

Dave’s ESL Cafe is the premier site for those seeking info on ESL and EFL

ELT World has a forum that features TEFL experts around the world

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One response to “How to get a job abroad teaching English”

  1. David V. says:

    A very nice introduction to all new English teachers Guy. Looking forward to meeting those seeking jobs over at ELT World.

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