Teaching English Abroad

Almost everyone dreams about traveling and seeing the world. What better way to do it than with a rewarding career? If you're considering teaching English abroad, chances are good you've got the wanderlust... and little fear of being gone for a good period of time.

If you've already weighed the pros and cons and decided that this is the career for you, chances are good you know what the requirements are. You may even be working on your degree as you read this. Nonetheless, here's a basic run-down of what types of people are best suited for this job.

• You're free to travel. This one is obvious. But many overseas teaching jobs require a much bigger time commitment than you might be expecting. Be prepared to be overseas for at least one year at a time.
• You're certified to teach. Although it's not a requirement for every program, it'll be a huge advantage if you are certified in teaching English as a second language. Most colleges offer programs that will help you get the degrees you need. If you're not college-inclined, you can also get your certificate through various short-term programs.
• You know what you're looking for. Not all positions for teaching English abroad are based in schools. Although there are certainly plenty of jobs available if you want to teach children, there are also various programs aimed at businesses and corporate organizations. Lots of adults overseas want to learn English, too!

Finding a Job

When it comes time to begin applying for positions, you have a wide range of options available to you. If you're a certified teacher, the best place to begin is with a school search. Try to narrow the field to areas where you're interested in teaching, and then do an internet search for schools or organizations in that area. Most of them will specify on their website whether or not they accept applications from foreign locales. And don’t forget to frequently check job bank databases—perhaps the best way to stay informed about current job openings.

If you go through a teacher's certification program, chances are good they will offer a job placement service that can connect you to the right people and places. This is why being certified really is a huge benefit- it can get your foot in the door before you're even done with the program.

If, on the other hand, you're not certified to teach English abroad, there are still employers that may want to hire you. Consider joining the Peace Corps for a chance to teach overseas, as well as possible assistance with any continuing education of your own. Talk to your college regarding teacher exchange programs- some schools may offer you the chance to be an assistant teacher overseas for a semester or two while a foreign teacher visits your school.

These are all good ways to get your feet wet; however, if you plan on teaching English abroad as a career, you should plan on certification eventually. It's the only real way to ensure a job as well as a paycheck.

However you decide to go about it, be prepared for the fact that teaching English abroad is going to be a challenging experience. Chances are good it won't be what you're expecting, so do as much research as you can... and be sure to unpack your sense of adventure before you begin.

By Michelle Simmons