We all dream of traveling the world, but it takes a certain kind of person to be interested in a lifelong career in a foreign country. If you've decided to teach English overseas, you should be proud of yourself--you've chosen an extremely challenging and rewarding-
Of course, choosing to do it is just the beginning. A lot of questions are going to crop up during the course of preparing for the job, and the number one question will most likely be: Where will you teach?
Some people go into this job with a country already chosen, and some don't. Whatever your point of view is, it’s important to try and keep an open mind. Because requirements in every country are often radically different, you might have some trouble if you insist on teaching in one area.
The truth is, there will be some limits on where you'll be able to go. Some countries have great need of native speaking English teachers, and getting a job there will be incredibly easy. Other countries have more restrictions- and some countries don't need you at all.
For Americans looking to teach English, the main areas open to you will be Asia and Latin America. The reason for this is because these areas are tied closely to the United States- Asia through economics, and Latin America through geography. These countries are intent on learning English, and they much prefer the "American" English that you'll be able to teach. Jobs for Americans are plentiful, and chances are good that your college or TEFL program will have multiple job listings and connections to help get you there smoothly. If you choose to teach in one of these popular areas, the good news is you
won't be going through the process alone.
If, on the other hand, you're an American who dreams of teaching in Europe, it is possible- it just won't be so simple. European schools and language centers tend to lean towards hiring British teachers for the same reasons that Asia and Latin America hire Americans. That isn't to say that Americans can't get teaching jobs in Italy or France-
it's just a lot more complicated.
If you're determined to try, keep in mind that you'll be required to go through the lengthy process of applying for work visas, which British teachers don't have to face. Members of the European Union can more or less travel back and forth freely, making it much more simple- and cost effective- for them to hire British teachers. This also works the other way around- if you're British and you dream of teaching in Mexico, you might be facing an uphill battle.
Some other areas are open to hiring native English speakers from any and all areas. If you're hoping to teach in Russia, the Czech Republic, or surrounding countries, congratulations- they can use you, regardless of your accent.
Of course, we don't mean to suggest that finding a job in your dream country is an impossibility. Just keep in mind that some areas are more prone to hiring you than others. It's also possible that a few years of experience will put you ahead of the pack no matter where you're from. So teaching in a country that isn't your first choice for a year or two might be the best way to earn yourself a ticket to another position.
If you're open to new experiences and you're careful not to get your heart set on one particular part of the world, teaching English overseas can be a fantastic experience. Even if you're not sure how you feel about where you're headed, chances are that once you get there- and become a real, honest-to-goodness working citizen- the situation will quickly win you over. After all, it's an adventure like no other- and not many people can say they've done what you're about to do!
By Michelle Simmons