A few months ago, I was debating the direction my life would take. It sounds momentous, and it was. I swear. I didn’t know if I’d make it to the internship I was supposed to do for teaching (I did) and had to find a back-up. Quickly.
Photo: Ivan Shilov on Unsplash
So, I chose teaching English abroad. I’m sure you’ve heard or read about it, because it’s very popular and advertised everywhere. However, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye, so I’d liked to explain the general process and some other useful information about it. Trust me, you’re going to be sold after reading.
First thing’s first. You’re going to want to figure out what country and program you’d like. Seeing as though there’s a million and one programs out there, find one that matches your beliefs. Many of them have different missions, and some of them have different religious affiliations. Maybe you’ll do some service work with it, or you’ll work in a private school as opposed to a public one.
Don’t forget that each program offers different lengths, but I haven’t found any that are shorter than a semester. So, yes, you’ll be living in another country for a while! Most programs offered are a year long.
Housing also varies depending on the program. Some places will give you housing with a host family or in a dormitory with other people who are doing the same thing, while others require you to find your own place to live.
Also, keep in mind that you can basically go anywhere in the world. Countries love it when they can get genuine English speakers to teach their students English. It’s like if you were learning Spanish and had a native Spanish speaker. You’re a hot commodity, and wanted everywhere.
My advice? Research the options like crazy. You’ll find your perfect match.
I personally chose a program that was Catholic and located in Spain. So, I could teach English in a private, Catholic school while practicing my second language. It was a win-win. Yes, it took some digging, but I found the gold.
Secondly, you’ll want to apply early. Many programs fill up fast (like ones to Thailand or many places in Europe). For example, if I wanted to do a program next summer or fall (a year away!), I’d apply starting around this Christmas. Don’t forget that you should apply to many programs, which will only help your chances and options in the end.
Some applications require you to put down a small payment (like 50 dollars) and need you to send proof a Bachelor’s degree (although that isn’t necessary for all programs) or a letter of recommendation. Others, though, are less tedious and only require you to fill out one of their applications and answer a few essay questions. Fill everything out well, because it’ll be the main determiner on if you get to move forward or not.
Some programs will then require you to complete an interview. They may ask you if you speak the language of the country you’ll be living in, explain past teaching experience you have, why you want this position, and will give you time for any questions you have. Come prepared for every section. Before my interview, I researched what other ones were like, for that specific company, and I knew what I’d be asked. That will only help you.
Once you’re accepted, look closely into what you need to do next. Some programs need you to complete a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course before you leave, while others offer it while you’re overseas. They may require you to pay for this, or they may offer it free. It all depends.
You’ll also need to look into what legal documents you need to have ready.
Although it seems like a lot of work (and definitely can be), it’s a life-changing experience. You get to live in a new culture for a long period of time, and learn their lifestyle and language. Plus, you’ll be able to share yours to people who are excited to hear about it.
When you get back from the trip, it’s going to be an amazing resume-booster and great talking point in future interviews, no matter the position. Not many people can say that they’ve packed up their belongings and moved across the world to teach, but you’ll be able to.
My name is Amanda Rossol. I'm 21 years old and majoring in Spanish and Secondary Education, with a minor in English. I'm currently heading into my internship year, where I'm placed in a high-school, Spanish classroom. Something interesting about me is that I LOVE country music!