The How-To Guide to Prepare for Your Teaching Job Abroad
So, you have been thinking about going abroad and are trying to figure out a way to support yourself while traveling and seeing the world? Teaching English as a second language is certainly a solid financial option for native and non-native English speakers, as well as a career that is high in demand around the world. Anyone that has a love for travel and wants to learn about other cultures, while also helping people, should seriously consider teaching English as it can fulfill all these desires.
Here's a helpful how-to guide to preparing for your teaching job abroad written by our TEFL alumni Jen who documented her journey from TEFL certificate to receiving her job offer in Spain.
1. Choose Your Desired Location
The first step on your teaching English journey is to find out where in the world you want to go. If your heart is itching to go to Europe, South America, or Asia, it is very important to do the necessary research on your desired location. You never know, based on your research, you might change your mind and end up going somewhere else instead!
2. Does the Country You Want to Teach in Require a Bachelor’s Degree?
Some countries, but certainly not all, require teachers to have a BA degree, while for others the minimum requirement is simply a TEFL certificate. To work in many Asian countries, as well as some in Europe, you will need a degree but do not worry as there are plenty of great places where you will not need one. Popular European destinations with no official degree requirement include the Czech Republic, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. In Latin America there are also many options, such as Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua. It is important that you research the exact requirements of your chosen destination before you make too many plans.
Also read: 5 Great Places to Teach English Abroad Without a Degree
3. Research the Hiring Seasons and Contract Lengths of Your Desired Location
In some cases the time of year that you start planning to teach abroad might determine where you end up teaching. In many European countries the main hiring season is from September to October. Most teaching contracts in Europe also include a minimum of 6 months to a year. In South American countries the hiring season generally starts in January. In contrast, many Asian countries like China will be looking to hire English teachers all year round. While researching, you can also figure out the typical salaries that different countries offer to help you decide where you would like to go.
Also read: The Top Hiring Seasons for Teaching English Abroad
4. Now Get that TEFL Certification and Enroll in Your TEFL Course!
There are plenty of schools out there that offer TEFL courses for your certification. Definitely do your research and make sure that they are an accredited school that will make the teaching process informative and easy to follow. International TEFL and TESOL Training offers affordable courses, where you can either go to your desired country and get certified there within a month or take their online courses where you are able to get certified in about 3 months.
5. Visa Requirements and Interview Process
In some countries you are able to travel around freely on a tourist visa and work, particularly in South America. However, working in Europe, you will usually need a specific work visa or you can apply for a student visa to be able to work legally in some countries. In many Asian countries, you can start work on a tourist visa and then obtain a work visa later. Applying for visas can be a long process and it often requires a lot of paperwork, like background checks, proof of funds, proof of your enrollment at a school, required signatures and translations for the country you are applying to. You might also need to provide proof of financial stability, like paying for your studies in full, paying for your accommodation while studying abroad, and proof of a legitimate amount of savings in order to survive in that country. All of these requirements will need to be researched in advance, and you will probably be mailing a lot of documents out and waiting for them to come back.
The good news is that when applying for a visa, you should get all the information that you need in order to provide the necessary documents. Each country should have a consulate near where you live, where you can go to apply and provide all your documents. I would recommend starting to gather your visa paperwork at least 4 to 5 months in advance of your departure date because you will want to apply for your visa at least 3 months ahead of departure. It might take a month or more just to get all your documents in order!
It is also important to do your research for the interview process. A lot of countries in Europe and South America like to do interviews in person. While other countries are OK with doing interviews via Skype. When you start applying for jobs it is important to pay attention to the hiring seasons, so you know when to start sending out resumes, or when to arrive in the country with enough time to have interviews in person.
Congratulations on your journey to becoming an English Teacher! Safe Travels x
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