All over the world, English is the accepted language for many forms of international communication. From business transactions to air traffic control, English has taken over as the language of choice. Choosing to teach English abroad puts you into a fast-moving, high-demand job that can take you almost anywhere.
If you have a sense of adventure and love the idea of a job that takes you to another country, you should seriously consider this career path. It's sure to be a unique and enriching experience.
If you Want to Teach English...
If you're considering this as a future career, chances are you already know that you'll be away from home for awhile. Most schools will hire you on a contract, which will be at least a year long. Keep in mind that your students will need their teacher to be there for the entire term!
If you're teaching at a private school, or if you're hired by a corporation to teach business English to their executives, your contract may differ. Nonetheless, to make the entire trip lucrative you should plan on staying awhile. After all, it took you a lot of work to get there in the first place.
What to Expect
Your salary will largely depend on what country you decide to travel to. Obviously, some locales offer higher salaries than others, but that shouldn’t always be the determining factor for where you teach. For instance, Mexico—a country notorious for low salaries—offers a rich culture, low living expenses and students dedicated to learning. On the other hand, Japan—a country known for its higher salaries—has a cost of living higher than most. Remember, you won't always get rich doing this job, but you will almost always walk away rich in experiences!
The good news is, many schools and universities can and will supply you with free housing during the term of your employment. This can eliminate one of the hugest hassles about teaching abroad, which is finding an affordable place to live. Particularly if you're in a large metro area, rent can kill you (and kill your teacher's salary, too). If you get offered a job with free housing included, snap it up. The best part is that the housing they give you will likely be within walking range of where you teach. It's a good bargain.
Finding a Job
Giving general advice on finding a job teaching English is difficult. The reason for that is because your efforts are going to vary widely by country. In some areas, you'll need to be hired months in advance; other countries might need to meet you before they'll even consider hiring you.
Our best advice here is to prepare to do some legwork. Talk to your college (and any other college in the area) regarding sister school programs and other resources they may have to get you overseas. Don’t forget about the various job boards that list available teaching positions by country—this is perhaps the best way of finding a job because each listing will provide the exact requirements of that particular employer. If you're certified in TEFL or ESL, you'll find the road is paved a lot smoother for you.
Do keep in mind, regardless of where you're looking for a job, that you do have some choice in the matter. Don't assume that the first school that offers you a position is the one you should take. Qualified and enthusiastic teachers are in demand, so you should be as choosey about the position you take as they are about the teacher they hire!
Choosing to teach English abroad is a big decision. If you're sure it's the right choice for you, the sooner you start preparing the better off you will be. Competition can be stiff, but finding the right job- and the right country- for your future employment will make it all worthwhile. Trust us- it will be the experience of a lifetime.
By Michelle Simmons