Published 25th September 2017
Becoming a TEFL teacher and deciding to teach English abroad is a big life decision. Make no mistake, packing your bags and relocating a thousand miles from home is not the same as taking a holiday. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, to be sure, but it can also be challenging. The rewards more than make up for it but it pays to be prepared.
How exactly can you prepare to teach abroad?
Funny you should ask!
Top Tips for how to prepare to each English abroad
Here are our top tips for how to prepare to teach English abroad: follow these and you’ll be good to go!
Get a TEFL qualification
The first thing is to get qualified. Find an internationally recognised 120-hour TEFL course and learn how to be the best TEFL teacher you can be. Getting a TEFL certificate is a must for any wannabe TEFL teacher because you won’t be able to find a job without one. Though it is useful to have a degree as well (note we say useful, not essential – there are places you can find a job without a degree), a TEFL certificate is a non-negotiable.
Do your homework
Next you need to decide where you want to go. While it may be tempting to throw a dart at a map of the world and see where it lands, you should also spend some time researching your destination. Will you be happy living there? Will the lifestyle suit you? Will you be able to have the adventure you are looking for?
Save some pounds
Now the boring part. Even though you will be going somewhere to work, which means you’ll be getting a salary, you’ll still need some savings to get you started. Besides the cost of your ticket, you need to consider your accommodation costs and living expenses until your first paycheck. Plus, there are hidden costs to think about as well – a landlord may require a month’s rent in advance as deposit, or you may need to buy clothes to suit the dress code at work. Basically, make sure you have some cash to take with you to tide you over until you get paid.
Prepare for job interviews
Once you’ve secured yourself a job interview, make sure you are prepared. Interviews for TEFL jobs are usually done over Skype because employer and employee are often in different countries and teaching interviews over the phone can be tricky. You are not able to demonstrate your teaching skills but you will still need to show you have an understanding of learning theory and teaching methodologies.
Bear in mind, too, that the interview is just as much for your benefit. Ask any questions you may have about the school and the destination to make sure you will fit in. You don’t want to arrive at a faraway destination only to find that you don’t like your school.
Teaching English abroad means not only working in a foreign environment but living in a foreign culture. You may need to deal with people in ways you are not used to and you may come across situations you may not feel comfortable with. As you are the guest in the country you will need to keep an open mind when it comes to other cultures.
Consider culture shock
As much as you can be open-minded, though, culture shock is a very real possibility. In the beginning, you will enjoy being somewhere totally different, but you will find you go through a number of stages in trying to deal with this new culture.
Don’t be put off by this long list! Preparing to teach English abroad is an exciting time and if you put in the time and dedication now, it will pay off when you find yourself exactly where you want to be.