I travelled to China and taught English for 12 months in a primary school and it was an amazing experience and one I encourage many of you to try.If you are thinking about teaching English abroad, then I advise you to follow some of these basic steps.
“I urge you to travel. As far and as much as possible. Work ridiculous shifts to save your money. Go without the latest iPhone. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Find out how other people live & realise that the world is a much bigger place than the town you live in. And when you come home, home may still be the same, & yes you may go back to the same old job, but something in your mind will have changed. And trust me, that changes everything.”
I know this may seem obvious but I advise you to do as much research as you possibly can on the company that is hiring you. If they are a recruiter for another company then make sure you get both names and look them up. There are many forums that are dedicated to ESL jobs so go and talk to people. When I looked there was somebody who had complained on every site about a personal grievance with the company but it proved their existence.
As many of these adverts express you don’t need a teaching qualification to teach in most countries just your subject degree. No matter what training the company provides make sure you do your own training. Look for free online courses (The Open University) that help you with classroom management and teaching English as a Foreign Language, just to give you that foundation.
How would you spend a gap year? ✈️🌴💼 #GapYear
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No matter what money they are paying you, you need to make sure you are financially able to support yourself for at least a month in advance. You may not get paid until four weeks into your job so you need to be aware of the expenses you are going to face. Make sure that you arrive with currency from that country don’t rely on banks or airports. Also make sure you know visa and flight costs and if your company are reimbursing you and when.
Be prepared! I can’t express how important it I to be prepared. Take supplies with you or at least research places you can get supplies from. There are so many websites that offer lesson plans, presentations and resources for ESL/EFL lessons, so make use of them. For more professional resources sites like Twinkl exist and you do have to pay to access them but you can create a group account that a few of you and your friends could share.
5. Reach out
I mentioned forums before for checking validity but also you can use them to talk to people and get advice. Check for expat sites for your city or country, they all have them. People are happy to help with your transition so just ask them. Luckily, we have so many social media links now that people are happy to communicate all over the world.
6. Research the country
This may seem like a patronising point but I witnessed so many people who came to China who had not done their research. Consider traditions and taboos of the country. Research food, retail, housing, education and services and make yourself familiar with this knowledge. Make sure you know what plugs you need, what currency you need, what amenities you may have to go without. Last but not least, learn some basic words in the native language, it goes a long way if you try.
This experience will be nothing like you’ve ever done before, so enjoy yourself. You’re going to face some difficulties and it will test you as a person and a professional but it will be so worth it. Explore, make new friends and immerse yourself in a whole new culture.