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Teaching English Abroad: A Simple Life

Published by David G. Elliott, Writer

Country: South Korea

The Experience

Thinking of teaching English abroad but finding yourself with various unanswered questions? Well, I can tell you in three words that teaching abroad is a great and popular experience... it's 'a simple life.'

There are various reasons why people decide to pick up and leave the comforts of their homes in order to experience working in a different country. First, many individuals see teaching English abroad as a win-win situation. You have the opportunity to leave home while experiencing a new culture. Some may simply just need a change of scenery. Others will use this opportunity to try and save money to travel or pay off debt. Finally, numerous people will decide to teach English abroad simply because it is new, exciting and different from the everyday norm.

There are also many questions that go along with researching options for teaching English abroad. What skills do I need? Where should I go? How do I get there? When should I be looking for a job? Who should I contact to apply? And lastly, why should I experience teaching abroad?

The most obvious skill that one must possess is that you are fluent in the specific language the school is specializing in. For English, an applicant must be from a country where English is the native language. For example, to teach English abroad you must be from Canada, America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. In many countries, another main qualification schools are looking for is a university degree. Both three and four year degrees are accepted. If you have a college diploma, you must inquire with specific schools in regards to whether or not that is acceptable. Some schools will accept a college diploma and others will not. Additional skills that schools approve of include previous teaching experience, a Test of English as a Foreign Language Certificate (TOEFL) and a major discipline in English as part of your university education. Working with kids at a summer camp or whatnot can also give you the inside edge over other applicants.

Looking for English teaching jobs abroad is easy-peezy, lemon-squeezy. There are many online websites that have hundreds of jobs available, as well as recruiters on these same websites where you can send your resume and preferences (hours, salary, location, etc.) and they will find a job for you. The schools, or your recruiter, will review your resume and photos and then contact you. Questions that you will be asked vary but usually consist of why you want to teach English abroad and your personal experiences with children. Any volunteer work with students, summer camp work with youngsters or even babysitting experience should be made known during the interview. Also, express your passion for children and excitement regarding living in a foreign country and learning about a new culture. These can all be very helpful in securing a position teaching English abroad.

Now, you must decide where it is exactly that you want to teach. The lifestyle, culture, scenery, money, living conditions, etc., will all be factors in deciding where you want to teach English. Among English teachers around the world, it is generally known that South Korea is where you can SAVE the most money. You may be able to make more money in say Japan, but it costs a lot more for general expenses such as food, entertainment and nightlife.

Look into a few specific factors when deciding where to teach English abroad. First, you must look into the safety of the country. This does not mean reading newspaper articles to determine the safety of the nation, but rather get in touch with people who have been or are currently stationed in that country. Second, you need to find out what the pay is like in comparison to the living expenses. Next, find out what perks will be given to you in each country. The number of vacation days, working hours, overtime pay, apartment fees and flight compensation should all be looked into. In South Korea, they pay for your flight there and upon the completion of a year contract they will also pay to fly you home. They will also give you a full month's salary bonus at the end of the year, as well as pay for your apartment for the entire year. You may be required to pay utilities but that is generally only around US$100 per month. Take all of these aspects of your contract into consideration when making your decision on where to teach English.

Each country is clearly different but many places have a couple of dates on the calendar that are the best times to find a job. February and August are usually very popular times to find work, but there are always jobs available at any time of the year. It will just depend on the demand of the country at that particular time.

Teaching English abroad takes a special person. There are three things you will have to do while teaching English abroad:

1 - Embrace and engage in the culture of your chosen country.
2 - Be open to meeting people from all over the globe.
3 - HAVE FUN! You're in control of your experience. If you want to have fun, you will come home with the greatest things to convey to friends and family. If you don't, it will be a long and annoying time in your country of choice.

Hopefully this helps give you some insight into teaching abroad and more importantly the inside track to joining many others who enjoy 'a simple life' teaching English abroad.

When to Go to Teach English Abroad

The best time of year to find a job teaching English abroad would be February and August. Of course this will vary depending on the country, but this seems like a standard change in school semesters. Because teaching abroad is, so, well, um...broad, it is hard to discuss any threats. You can check your home country's government website and see what countries are under "travel advisory" to make sure your country of choice is a safe place to visit and live.

Odds n' Ends

The currency will vary but there are almost always money exchange places that will accept many major foreign currencies. Rules and regulations also depend on the country you visit. Make sure to visit the country's website to find out what type of clothing to wear, body parts to cover (customs), rules to abide by, etc. The one tip I would give anyone thinking about teaching abroad would be: ENJOY YOURSELF! This may be a once in a lifetime experience so make the most of it.


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