You might have romantic notions about using a teaching or English degree (or both) to get a job teaching English overseas. And there are plenty of reasons to do so, not least of which are your potential to find gainful employment, to get in some long-term travel, and of course, to immerse yourself in a new place and a different culture. But before you hop a plane with designs of touring the world and teaching English as you go, there are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration. Here are some concerns to address if you want to teach English abroad.
- Education. It’s not enough to grow up speaking English; you need the right type of education in order to get a teaching job overseas. Most schools require at least a bachelor’s degree in English, as well as a teaching certificate. Although you are more than qualified to speak English and perhaps even correct others in usage, teaching your native language is another matter entirely. You must be able to create lesson plans and teach people how to speak conversationally, as well as conjugate verbs, read and write, use proper grammar, memorize vocabulary and use it correctly, and so on. There’s a lot more to it than simply speaking English with your class. You actually have to know how to teach, and you need the right education to back up your claims that you are qualified to do so.
- Documentation. Before you book a flight to your country of choice, it’s important to have all your legal ducks in a row. This not only means you have to get your passport in order, but you also need to apply for a work Visa and potentially even have a job lined up before you go. You may also want to order an international driver’s license, depending on where you’re going. And you should probably consider figuring out where you’re going to live once you arrive, amongst making other necessary arrangements. But that’s more or less secondary to getting your legal documents in order.
- Culture shock. Any time you move to another country you’re going to face some amount of culture shock. At the very least you’ll have to deal with the language barrier, which is why you might want to learn the language of the country you plan to teach in. But you’ll also have to acclimate to a new place, unknown laws, and strange customs. However, it can be an adventure and an invaluable learning experience, depending on your outlook and attitude.
- Teaching in an English-speaking country. Who ever said you had to teach English is a country where it’s not the first language? If you decide you want to teach English in Europe, for example, who’s to say you can’t teach in England instead of immersing yourself in a culture where English is the second language?
- Opportunity. So long as you are well-prepared for your time overseas, you’ll no doubt find that the experience provides you with opportunities to enhance your resume, expand your horizons, and grow as a person. Your time spent teaching will also give you the chance to learn. And ultimately, it will change you in ways you never could have imagined.