Teaching English in a foreign country is extremely rewarding and enjoyable work. With positions available in Europe, Asia, South East Asia, South America, Central America, Africa and even Australia there is no shortage of places to choose from. The location you choose will depend entirely on what you want to gain from your experience.
ESL Teaching FAQ’s
- What qualifications do I need?
Qualifications vary from country to country. Some countries, for example Korea and Japan require you to have a Bachelors Degree (in any discipline) while others like Thailand don’t require you to have degree. Some countries require that you have a TEFL/ESL/TESOL/CELTA certificate to teach while in other countries it is not required. Many people will take a TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) course to gain some introduction to teaching. Having a qualification like this will have prospective employer treat you more seriously and will often result in an increased wage.
- How do I get a TEFL certificate?
TEFL certificates are usually completed online and can vary in length from 20hours to 120hours. Some courses also incorporate some class time for practical demonstration of teaching methods. We completed the 120hour TEFL certificate with a U.K based company, i-to-i and found them excellent.
- Do I need teaching experience?
In short, no. Teaching experience is not a requirement but prospective employers will look more favourably on applicants with some experience working with children. If you can help out at a local creche, get involved with a local youth club or sports team or even volunteer at a children’s event day, this will help increase your chances of employment.
- What country pays the best?
The best paying ESL opportunities are in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. ESL work in these countries can afford you a great lifestyle while living in the country, good holidays, free housing (depending on your contract) and a good wage of which you can save money each month to pay off debts, travel or save up for a rainy day.
- What ages will I be teaching?
Positions are available for kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, university, adult learners and learners of business English.
- Private vs. Public
In our opinion public school jobs are by far the better option. There are a number of reasons for this. You will get everything you are entitled to, the government is paying your wage, so it should never be late, you get twice as much holidays as private schools and you have more regular working hours with all weekends off. At the end of the day, private schools/private language institutes are businesses and you are another cog in the wheel helping to drive the machine. Therefore you will be worked harder with longer hours and less holidays and because it is a business you rely on that private business to pay you and on top of all that you will be working more unsociable hours, possibly split shifts and sometimes even Saturday mornings. Not all private schools are bad however, there are some really good ones out there who treat their employees very well and we know people who are very happy working in private school jobs. The evening hours suit some people better, you have smaller class sizes and you get to know your students on a much more personal level. With all that said, if you are going down the private school route just make sure you’re happy with the school and your contract. It’s often a good idea to ask to speak to the outgoing teacher to ask them how did they like working for the school to get another perspective.
- What if I don’t know the local language?
Not knowing the local language should not be a problem for you. You will pick up a few key phrases while living abroad, there will most likely be a community of foreign teachers to help you out and you will have a coordinator who will assist you also. If you are interested in learning the local language you can take a class or enter into a language exchange. Some employers will actually prefer that you don’t know the local language so that students have no choice but to interact with you through English!
- What are the contract lengths?
Contract lengths vary from country to country. If you are part of a volunteer program in Honduras for example you may only have a two week contract. In China it’s possible to sign a three month contract, Thailand offer six month contracts to teachers and Japan and South Korea expect a one year commitment.
- What if I hate it and want to go home?
Contracts will determine the answer to this question.Usually your contract will stipulate what happens if you break the contract, a fee may be incurred for finding a new teacher at short notice to replace you and you’ll sacrifice any contract completion bonus. It happens that people get sick, a family member passes away or you simply don’t want to stay and nobody’s going to lock you in an office and never let you leave now are they!?
Job Seekers Websites
Here we have listed some websites which may assist you in finding teaching work overseas.