Teaching English Abroad
Do you love adventure? Do you love teaching? Do you long to strike out on your own and see the world? And do you want to be paid while doing it? If so, teaching English abroad may be for you!
What will I need?
At the very least you will need a four year Bachelors Degree (BA). Your degree can be in anything from art history to zoology, but obviously a degree in English, education, or linguistics will provide you an edge.
With just a BA you will have a handful of options available to you including, but not limited to, teaching in Japan, South Korea, China, and parts of Eastern Europe and South America. With additional courses and training, more options in more countries with better income, perks and stability become available. What is better is that many of these courses offer help finding positions, with some even guaranteeing to help you find one – or your money back!
Aside from that you will need citizenship from an English-speaking country, a passport valid for at least one year, a clean bill of health, and no criminal background.
Is teaching overseas for me?
Teaching isn’t for everyone and teaching English in a foreign country is doubly so. Unless you have a Master of Arts in English Language Teaching, chances are you will not be prepared for what awaits you. However, you shouldn’t despair as no employer will be expecting an amazing performance from day one.
The three most important qualities a teacher can possess are: strong communication skills, adaptability and patience. Communication skills may seem like a given, but you must keep in mind that your students, co-workers and boss will not speak English as their first language (and some not at all). This means that you can’t always depend on others simply understanding your words; sometimes it will be necessary to simplify your expressions or approach what you are trying to communicate from another direction. Sometimes it may require the use of body language or even drawing abilities!
Adaptability is also crucial as you must adjust everything about what you expect. In most cases the people you will encounter overseas will not only speak a different language then yourself, they will also have a different culture, set of ethics, and expectations for you. You must be able to “go with the flow” and learn to understand and appreciate their differences, not judge them as being wrong or worse than what you might be used to.
Finally, patience is important because, as mentioned above, you will be working with individuals who may speak little to no English. This means a lot of repeating yourself and a lot of asking them to repeat themselves, too. Remember that they are learningEnglish, meaning they will need to first translate what you say into their language, then translate what they need to say back into English. Take your time and never take out your frustration on your students; remember – they are there to learn and you are there to teach!
It goes without saying that an aptitude for teaching is crucial! You can volunteer at any elementary school to see if teaching is for you and, if it is, the experience will look very good to prospective employers. Good luck and bon voyage!