Thinking of teaching abroad? Here's 5 things to consider

Stuart Cooke

Stuart Cooke is the Digital Marketing Manager at My Baggage, a luggage delivery service that specialises in helping students send their belongings to and from university.

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If given the opportunity, most of us would jump at the chance of teaching English in another country. Living and working abroad gives you the chance to open your mind and immerse yourself in a culture that you are not used to. Teaching English abroad offers this and so much more. It is an experience like no other, and there are so many benefits to be considered, too. That said, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you fulfil your dreams. We’re discussing some important things to know before setting off to teach English.

1. You will need your TEFL

In order to teach English abroad, you are required to have a TEFL qualification, on top of your bachelor’s degree in any subject. The TEFL can take as little as three months to complete, and can be completed online or in class. A TEFL certification is the minimum qualification normally required for a teaching job with language schools around the world and it’s a great way to gain an understanding of what will be required of you when you do land a teaching role in a foreign country.

2. Understand what you’re getting yourself into
Setting off to teach English abroad is not a decision that should be made lightheartedly. It is a big commitment, and you will have to sign a contract of employment. Do go through your teaching contract with a fine tooth comb before signing, as you will be in a different country with different laws, and so it is important to be aware of what you are agreeing to. If you’re unsure, seek advice and it’s always a good idea to have a solicitor or teacher with a similar background to take a look over it just to make sure everything being asked of you is in order. It’s also a good idea to do some research on the country or area you will be living in. Familiarise yourself with the culture, politics and customs of the society so that you can immerse yourself within it as much as possible.

3. Dealing with culture shock
When moving to a country that is new and unfamiliar to live and work in, experiencing a culture shock is inevitable. Preparing for the change should help you to settle in more easily. To do this you should do plenty of research before you leave and, on arrival, try to take some time to yourself to explore the area and to gain a better perspective on the cultural differences. Learning the country’s official language can also set you in good stead. One important thing to keep in mind is that you should teach, but also allow yourself to be taught. This is an opportunity to learn as much as you can about another country and to develop yourself as a person, you might not get a better opportunity for personal growth again in your career.

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4. Patience is necessary
Patience is key when teaching anywhere in the world, no matter who your students are. You will inevitably have a range of students who will each have their own specific needs, wants and preferred style of learning. Remain calm at all times and remind yourself of why you are doing this. If it is for the right reasons, your struggles will soon seem miniscule when weighed up against the value of the knowledge you are imparting and the relationships you will develop with your class.

5. Leaving home won’t be easy
Regardless of how long you wish to spend working abroad, when the time comes for you to leave your homeland, it certainly won’t be easy. There’s no sugarcoating it. However, do keep in mind that you can easily keep in touch with your loved ones back home via Skype and Facetime, and that you will create new, long-lasting relationships with like-minded people during your time abroad. Homesickness is something that most of us experience at some time during our lives but it’s all a matter of perspective, remember to be grateful everyday to have the opportunity to live and teach in another country as that’s something that is only a dream for many.

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