By: Samantha Ng, College of Computing and Digital Media Admissions Officer and Former Career Center Grad Intern
Postgraduate planning involves a myriad of difficult decisions that will lead you down new and exciting paths; paths that may even take you abroad. One great opportunity to consider post-grad is teaching English abroad. When it comes to relocating to a different country, however, there are certain questions you should ask yourself to determine if you’re ready for this type of career path. Before you embark on this journey, here are a few questions you should ask yourself.
Am I up for the challenge?
You should first dig deep and ask yourself this: is teaching really your interest and passion, or is this really more about traveling and immersion, coupled with time to think more about what to do later? Also, keep in mind that moving to a new country comes with many challenges. Depending on the teaching program, you may receive minimal support when it comes to housing arrangements, adjusting to local culture, overcoming language barriers, etc. However, there are also many programs out there that will pick you up from the airport, provide an orientation for new teachers, set up housing, etc. The level of support desired or independence required is important to consider when applying for different jobs.
Am I willing to pay for a program?
There are generally two routes you can take: find a program that places you in a school, which sometimes requires a fee; or, find a teaching job on your own that provides compensation. Oftentimes, the programs that require a fee are non-profit organizations and sometimes include some sort of teaching certification. However, there are many teaching abroad programs that do not require fees or search sites that can help people find jobs abroad.
Can I afford to teach abroad?
There will most likely be some upfront costs when it comes to teaching abroad. This may include the flights, passports and visa(s) (if applicable), accommodations, health insurance, or a teaching certificate. When considering teaching abroad, do not forget to consider the initial costs you may have to pay.
Do I want to save money or am I willing to break even?
For programs that provide compensation, teachers will either earn savings or break even. In many countries, teachers will receive large compensations, and even housing and airfare. In Asian countries like Thailand, China, and Korea, where the cost of living is cheaper, teachers can earn some savings. However, some European countries like Paris, Spain and Turkey where the cost of living is much higher, teachers are more likely to break even in those locations.
Will I take a certification course?
Many schools and institutions look for their teachers to be qualified in TEFL/TESOL/CELTA. There are online and in-person options for these certifications. These courses will provide you with a better understanding and set of skills in teaching English as a foreign language. The certification can range from $1,000 USD (online) to $3,000 USD (in-person). While there are many programs/schools that do not require a certification, it can help position you as a more competitive candidate, especially if you do not have an education background.
How long do I want to live abroad?
Every teaching program has different placement commitments. Some programs require at least a one academic year contract, while others have weekly or monthly options. Consider different factors (i.e. family, finances, holidays, etc.) in deciding how long you want to live in a foreign country.
Where will I live if I go abroad?
Some schools and companies will provide housing for their teachers. These may be single apartments or shared. However, for some teaching jobs, you may be responsible for finding your own accommodations. Many countries have similar websites like Craigslist that may help with your apartment search.
What do I know about the destination?
Before embarking on a journey to a whole new country, it’s important that you do some research on the culture, food, local customs, laws, safety issues, etc. Since you will be immersing yourself into a new lifestyle, it’s essential that you become familiar with the surroundings in which you will live and work. Some initial research may even get you more excited for what’s to come.
I sat down with Career Advisor Ed Childs to talk teaching and moving abroad. Here are a few top questions he will often raise during advising appointments:
- Have you explored alumni with first-hand experiences in these target areas?
- Have you reviewed the skills developed from students and alumni who have worked abroad to help give you ideas for your own guidance?
- Have you considered augmenting your pay with private tutoring, tours, and restaurant work, or remote freelance work?
- Would you create a vlog/blog or utilize photo/film equipment while abroad as a potential independent study, or for credit in a grad program?
- Have you explored grad programs with working abroad built into the curriculum?
Navigating these questions can be tough, but remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Stop by the Study Abroad Office or schedule a chat with Ed at the Career Center to talk about teaching and exploring abroad!