Teaching English Abroad

The romance of traveling abroad is exciting. It stimulates the senses. Those lucky few who teach English abroad are able to both work and travel to exotic destinations across the globe. Many schools believe that the only qualified person to teach English is a native speaker. They actively recruit teachers from the United States, Canada, England and other English speaking nations to teach in their schools. The demand for English teachers to work and teach overseas has grown exponentially over the years. There are literally thousands of new job opportunities posted every month in almost every country in the world.

There are many reasons to teach English abroad. For the adventurous ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, working abroad offers the perfect opportunity to be immersed in new and exciting cultures. Having the willingness to teach overseas provides the first-hand experience upon which international careers are made.

ESL teachers may prefer to settle in one country and develop a deep understanding of the culture. Some teachers even become windows into the foreign culture and through their research articles, share with the larger TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) community the teaching practices and techniques being used abroad.

The first step is to decide where you want to go. South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Thailand are just a few of the possibilities for those who wish to teach in Asia. Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Mexico are possibilities for those who wish to teach English to Spanish speakers. These are only a few of the possibilities available. By checking out the ESL and Higher Education websites, you will be able to begin your job search by researching serious teaching offers in virtually every corner of the globe.

Most countries require visas and have other contractual requirements with which the ESL teacher must comply. Teachers who wish to teach in the European Union (EU) must have EU passports for most ESL jobs. (Those candidates seeking experience in the United States should know that ESL jobs are highly regulated by state and local governments. This is typically not the case overseas.)

A careful ESL job candidate will ask questions both about the country and the institution itself. In researching the prospective job offer, the first thing you will want to know is in which country and city is the institution is located. Next, is it a public school, a private school or a university that is making the offer? Visit the website of the institution and peruse it thoroughly. What is the exchange rate and are the wages enough to live comfortably by local standards? Will the institution provide housing, transportation, medical insurance and a guaranteed round-trip plane ticket? Will you need to share housing with other teachers?

Other questions to ask include: Is the government stable or is it a country where political unrest is common? How are foreigners received: are they welcomed or frowned upon? What types of food and drink are available? Is the public water safe to drink? Are there sanitation facilities? Write down any other questions you have and ask them before you accept the job offer. Much of this information can be found by going online and studying information on the country, its economics and its history. Also, most importantly, ask your future co-workers for any information they may have about the school and country in general. Their candor is more valuable than written information which tries to remain neutral. If something is amiss, they will let you know.

Teaching English abroad is truly an enlightening experience. For those who love travel and a have a keen sense of adventure, I highly encourage you to expand your horizons and set out on the adventure of a lifetime. You won’t regret it.

Story by Shane Phair. Visit ESLHerald.com for more information on teaching English abroad [http://www.eslherald.com].