“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” - Dalai Lama XIV
This is an important quote that underlines the incredible work that teachers do every day. It also succinctly explains just how rewarding teaching can be. Recent figures show that the number of teachers and the UK is at its lowest since 2013. Have you ever considered taking your teaching abroad? Which countries can you go to? What kind of teachers can go? Who do you need to speak to about moving abroad? In this article, we’re going to have a look at a few answers to this question. Teaching overseas can be a rewarding career choice. However, before you move to Thailand, South Korea, Spain, or Vietnam, for example, you should think about the different teaching jobs and the steps you'll need to take in order to get them and see the world.
Moving Abroad: An Interesting Option for Teachers
While a lot of teachers may have considered moving abroad, leaving your life in the UK behind isn't always as easy as it seems. So exactly how can you do it? Many teachers moving abroad will probably want to retain all the benefits they have from working in the UK as a teacher.
As a teacher in a foreign country, you may not enjoy all the benefits you have as a teacher in the UK. However, in some cases, you enjoy even more benefits. That said, there are a number of different options teachers have or working abroad:
- In a British school abroad
- In a private establishment or local schooling
- In an overseas territory
Also in terms of your stay:
- Short term
In some cases, you may even move abroad, back to the UK, and then back to the same foreign country or a different one. There's nothing stopping you from getting jobs overseas and travelling around the world. However, if you move between several countries in a short space of time, it's unlikely that you'll gain the status of a permanent resident and enjoy all the benefits that come with the status. Similarly, a recruiter may be hesitant to hire someone to teach a TEFL course if they constantly travel abroad, go back home, or then move onto somewhere else. Of course, if you're a certified ESL teacher (either with a CELTA or a TEFL qualification, for example) with a lot of experience, it'll be hard for your potential employer to reject your application. There are also a number of steps you have to take in order to enjoy these kinds of statuses and all were different benefits that come with them. In fact, teaching abroad is sometimes a compromise between escaping the British educational system while also losing any benefits that come with being a part of it. When it comes to applying to jobs in other countries, the application processes can be very different from what you're used to in the UK. For example, in some educational systems, you can't apply directly to the school where you want to work and are instead sent to schools where teachers are needed. While this might be an interesting prospect for more adventurous teachers, it's not ideal for those who have their hearts set on a particular place for establishments. Thus, some teachers have absolutely no say in where they teach.
Step One: Creating Your Application for a Given Position
There are two main ways to do this:
- Apply to job offers
- Apply directly to establishments you’d be interested in working for.
In both cases, you'll be expected to prove your qualifications and your experience with copies of said qualifications and references from previous or current employers. If you want to become a teacher abroad, it can help to already be a teacher in the UK. Having language qualifications can also be very useful. The teacher looking to work abroad should make sure that they prepare their application well in advance and not at the very last moment. Candidates will have to follow the application procedure, which can vary wildly depending on where you are applying to. For example, applying to state schools in certain countries has a stringent application procedure that requires almost two years of training and tests. Additionally, you will need to prove your experience and your qualifications. You should know that the PGCE is rarely accepted outside of the UK, except in British schools. Generally speaking, you will see job adverts appear before the summer holidays as schools and educational establishments look for teachers for the upcoming year. That said, there are also positions advertised at short notice. These are usually when a teacher falls ill or goes on maternity leave. The application will usually include:
- A covering letter and your CV.
- A number of documents such as a copy of your degree certificates or any other teaching qualifications, your language qualifications, copies of your passport or ID, for example.
While we live in the digital age, many institutions and establishments still required paper copies of applications. A lot of those teaching overseas choose to teach English. This is because teaching English is something you can do without a PGCE. When it comes to teaching English abroad as a foreign language (commonly known as TEFL), being a native English speaker is sometimes the only qualification you need. However, a language school with such low requirements probably won't be very good. A good school will probably require a TEFL certification or that their teachers be qualified teachers in the UK. When it comes to these types of jobs abroad, be them in Asia, Africa, Europe, or the Americas, the more requirements the school has for the teacher, the better the teaching jobs tend to be. Once you've sent your application, what's next? What should you do?
Step Two: Accepting a Position Outside of the UK
In most cases, you will know well in advance of your start date whether or not your application has been successful. There are two possible outcomes:
- They reject your application
- Or you will be called to an interview or given the job.
It's very likely that during your application your language level will be tested. While this isn't very common if you teach English as a foreign language because you're expected to always teach in English, it's a fairly common part of the recruitment process for teaching opportunities in regions and countries where there are very few English speakers. Following the interview procedure, establishments usually select candidates. In some cases, candidates will be shortlisted before being chosen, which can make the application and selection process take more time. Unsuccessful candidates are usually informed that they have not been chosen. As we said, teachers are usually chosen before the start of the new school year. Usually, foreign teachers are told well enough in advance to prepare their move to their new country. Since this step is usually the hardest, you'll have to put a lot of effort into preparing your application. Keep in mind that even really good applications are sometimes rejected. You mightn't always get your first choice. If your application is accepted, it'll be time to move on to the third step, the administration.
Step Three: The Administrative Steps
In terms of administration, you'll be expected to provide a lot of documents and, in some cases, official translations of said documents when you apply to different teaching positions. Then, you'll have to start preparing for your life abroad by are looking for accommodation and getting a visa, if necessary. If you're not sure of about where you're going, your new job, the work you have to do, or anything else about living abroad, there are plenty of places where you can get help and information on how to teach abroad.
One of the advantages of working abroad is the possibility of joining interesting and multicultural teams. As with everything, there'll be paperwork. While English teaching is the most common path teachers take, you could always teach other subjects in an international school. Admittedly, it's easier to find a teaching job abroad if you're an English teacher willing to teach TEFL courses but it's not the only route when it comes to international teaching. If you speak a second language, there are plenty of ways to earn money as a private tutor. You could teach English to students privately to bolster your earnings while you find a job or enjoy a gap year in a country that you're fascinated by. The only real downside to working for yourself is that you'll have no employer to sponsor a work visa for you if it's required. If you do an internship or work as a language assistant in a foreign classroom, you often are given visas and helped with the paperwork to enter the country legally. Universities are often recruiting native English speakers to teach as language assistants as well. Since these programmes are designed for foreign students, getting the paperwork done tends to be a little easier. However, these programmes are usually for a single academic year and you'll have to find other work once your placement is over. Whether you're teaching in a state school, a religious school, a private school, or an independent academy, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to teaching abroad. You can discover a different type of educational system while learning about new cultures and languages at the same time. If teaching in the UK is getting you down, teaching abroad could be the ideal solution.