So, you want to be an international English teacher?
You’ve made the decision that becoming an international English teacher is the right career choice for you. The dream of travelling the world and living in some exotic country on the other side of the world is top on your bucket list. Well, you're in luck, we’ve put together some do’s and don’ts to help you take that huge step to be an international English Teacher.
Make the decision
Believe it or not, this is the most important thing you are going to have to think about. How will moving to a different country affect your current life? What about family you leave behind? Your current security? These are not easy choices, but if you seriously want to be an international English teacher, travel the world and teach English then consider the following advice.
- Be sure that this is right for you. Teaching is a great job, and can be rewarding, but not for everyone and you have to be outgoing, creative and resilient!
- Once you have made the decision to go, set a date and stick to it. If you dither and your enthusiasm wanes, you will never take that first step to be an international English teacher. Go for it!
- Decide where you want to start your journey – There are many countries to chose from, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Do your research on Google, ESL job boards & Facebook Groups to get an overview of what would suit you.
- Be prepared. For, as sure as eggs are eggs, the country you chose to begin your new English teaching career in will not be anything like living back at home.
- Be prepared, in many countries you will experience culture shock, as well as some very different ways of doing things. Be accepting and recognize that many cultures do things differently.
Get some training
It goes without saying, but it always amazes us how many people expect to have the abilities needed to stand in front of 30, or more, expectant students without any kind of formal training. If you want to succeed, get trained. Our 120 hour in-class TESOL / TEFL Certification course will stand you in good stead and allow you to hit the road running.
- Confidence comes from experience, if you want to be an international English teacher, make sure you do a comprehensive TEFL / TESOL course with at least 6 hours of mentored, real teaching practice.
- You should only take a TESOL / TEFL course from a provider that is fully accredited and can provide certification that will be recognized worldwide by employers.
- Make sure you do the right course for you, there are many choices out there. Do your research, find out what prospective employers want and be guided accordingly. In general in-class courses are the minimum requirement, but if you can’t spare the time to commit to them, online courses are available. Be cautious though, as many DO NOT offer you a way of fulfilling the 6 hours teaching experience that our ‘Open TESOL’ course does.
- Be unprepared, if you ‘make it up’ as you go along, your students will surely know! They have previously met many English teachers, some good, some bad, don’t be a bad one.
- Just take any TEFL / TESOL course! There are many course providers, but not all are created equal. Choose a TEFL / TESOL course provider that has been established for a long time and one that has a good track record. There are many so called ‘Discount’ certificate mills out there, they are only interested in separating you from your money, and offer no real value. They will have no interest in you or your future and the certificate they issue will likely not be worth the paper it’s printed on.
Find your dream job
It’s not always easy to find your dream job, especially in the beginning. But, part of becoming that international English teacher you have dreamt of is gaining the experience necessary to land your dream job in the end. Our tips below will set you on the right path to be an international English teacher.
- Think about taking either a paid or unpaid internship. They’re a great way to get your foot in the door in a new country, especially if you have no previous experience teaching English. Many internships not only offer you training, a short placement and in-country support, but also accommodation and language classes in their own language.
- Approach your TEFL / TESOL course provider to help you find work. All graduated TESOL / TEFL English teachers from TESOL Training International have lifetime job placement support and advice.
- Join TEFL communities like Dave’s ESL Cafe or TEFL.net and, or course, Facebook to network with other teachers, ask for advice and exchange tip ‘n tricks.
- Get out and pound the pavement (side-walk). Look for a job when you get there. Employers are often on the lookout for likely candidates. Grab a copy of the local English language newspaper, as there are often either situation vacant adverts, or school details in them. And go knock on a few doors.
- Ask for advice, social networking is great for this, from anyone who has previously worked for the school you are thinking of applying to. There are some terrible schools out there, so don’t let your inexperience land you in a job where they over work you and then don’t pay you on time!
- Jump in with both feet. When you have chosen to become an English teacher take the time to research schools properly and don’t just accept a teaching position because it is offered. There are lot of opportunities out there, so make sure you choose the right one for you.
- Think finding a job will be quick. Although there is a huge demand for TEFL Certified English teachers in many countries, finding a good job in the more popular cities can take time.
- Sign an employment contract without checking thoroughly first. Don’t feel pressured into signing your contract if your interviewer hands you one, take it home and read it properly. It is likely to be written in the host countries language, so make friends early on, ask for help in translating it. Things like expected working hours, standard of accommodation offered, holidays and the amount of classroom time vs preparation time could make or break your experience abroad.
Apply and sell yourself
It’s not always easy to ‘big yourself up’, but it is a worthwhile skill to have in your arsenal of job seeking abilities. If you are serious about getting TESOL Certified and becoming an international English teacher, travelling the world and never looking back, you’ll have to overcome your shyness.
The following do’s and dont’s will point you in the right direction.
- Make your job application specific. You may well be a newly qualified TEFL teacher with no experience but, you do have many other skills that you can highlight to achieve similar results. Make the most of these skills and use them to give specific examples of how you achieved your goals.
- Make sure your CV or resume up to date and to the point. Remember a potential employer in Thailand is not going to be interested in your swimming medals or what high school you attended. List all of your major achievements, your qualifications and of course your TESOL / TEFL certification. If you studied for a young learners, or business English module while doing your TEFL course, include that as well. In many countries it is normal to include a recent photograph in the resume or CV, make sure it is of good quality and shows your ‘bright side’. In many countries the school or university you attended is equally as important as the actual qualification achieved. So, when you sign-up to a TESOL / TEFL course provider, make sure the certificates offered are both internationally accredited and recognised.
- Use photographs that are old or show you as a ‘party animal’, keep it professional. Remember a lot of ESL schools, especially in Asia require a teacher to be someone the students can look up to and admire, thongs and flip flops just don’t cut it.
- Keep it simple. Remember, the person reading all about your achievements may well not speak English well themselves. Avoid complicated words and phrases, don’t use slang expressions or idioms. Keep it direct and professional.
Impress your interviewer
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But, you would be surprised at just how many job applicants are unsuccessful because of the way they conducted themselves at interview. In your quest to be an international English teacher you will need to master the advice below to ensure your success.
- Be cheerful and polite. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, show the interviewer some of the traits that are associated with the desirable qualities of a good teacher. Remember, you could be hired to teach to young learners, so demonstrate to the interviewer how your bubbly personality would be a great fit for the school.
- Make yourself understood, speak slowly but clearly. Don’t speak so slowly that you patronise the interviewer, but demonstrate you have the skills needed to communicate in a meaningful manner. Remember, a lot of interviews are conducted using Skype these days, if your speech is not clear they may misunderstand you.
- Be honest during your interview. The interviewer has likely seen many job applicants before you, and is probably skilled at spotting lies. If you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say so, but show a sense of imagination and explain that you know where to find out the answer, or that you have a desire to learn and improve yourself at the same time.
- Dress to impress. An Armani suit may be too excessive, but you must dress smartly and appropriately. You may be in a hot climate, but you will be expected to be business like. A shirt and tie along with a well pressed pair of trousers is a must. Or, for a woman a skirt that covers the knee and a blouse covering the shoulders is a minimum. Remember some countries have specific dress codes, so do your research well.
- Be interested in both their school and country. It will demonstrate to the interviewer that your are serious about the job and living in that country.
- Be prepared to give a demo lesson. Always go prepared with a lesson plan you are very familiar with. Take with you any resources you may need. A good quality TESOL / TEFL course such as our 120 hour in-class TESOL certification course will prepare you for this.
- Arrive for the interview looking like something the cat dragged in. Go to sleep early the night before and wake refreshed. Turning up for an interview looking tired and dishevelled shows a lack of respect to the interviewer.
- Accept the offer of a job right there on the spot. Take some time to mull it over and seek advice from previous or current employees. Don’t be pressured into signing a contract there and then, there are many other jobs available in this busy marketplace.
Get out there
You’ve finished your TEFL / TESOL course, followed the previous advice and are now well on the way to becoming an international English teacher. But, there are just a few last things to consider. Read on to find out what’s left.
- Take a cheap laptop computer with you. There is a plethora of learning materials available on the internet. Before you leave home invest some time compiling resources, and take them with you. You will also find it invaluable when you are having to make lesson plans or write student reports. Don’t rely on computers being available at the school. A laptop will, of course, make keeping in touch with friends and family back home a lot easier.
- Take some smart clothes for teaching. Smart casual usually fits the bill, but be prepared for more formal attire in specific situations. It’s important that your clothes fit the situation, business English = shirt and tie, young learners = bright and friendly. Teachers are looked up to and respected in most schools, so it’s important to look presentable.
- Take with you original certificates, including your TEFL certificate TEFL YL or TEFL BE certificates and, of course, your degree certificate if you have one.
- Arrange visas and work permits in advance, if possible. Be wary of applying for jobs with just a tourist visa. In most countries this is illegal, you could end up in jail. Your school should help you with the visa application process, but be wary if they’re asking you to work only on a tourist visa.
- Take some resources with you so you are prepared from the offset. Puppets and soft toys work great with youngsters, while subtitled movies or music videos are often appreciated by older students. A good business dictionary is also worth investing in.
- Raise a smile from the people you say ‘good morning’ to. Learn some basic phrases of the language spoken in your destination country of choice. Don’t worry about your pronunciation, it will obviously be terrible, but it will be appreciated, and will break the ice on many occasions.
- Arrive at the airport looking like a hobo! If someone is due to meet you at the airport, take some time to freshen up and change your shirt on arrival. Dress to impress.
- Expect everything to be as it is back home. Things will inevitably be different, frustrating and annoying, just take it at face value and chill. Enjoy the difference and go with the flow!
Well, that’s it, if you follow our advice your journey to be an international English teacher should be a smooth and uneventful one.
Live the dream, travel and teach!