How did you get to the point when you started to think about teaching overseas? You either have some experience teaching and the thought of living and working overseas popped up, or you thought about living and working overseas and wondered “What type of job can I get to do that?”
That is what happened to me. Teaching English as a second language is a huge industry that can be exciting, culturally enriching, and a lot of work with most companies, so here are some important considerations to take into account before opening a new door of opportunity.
what is most important for you? The location should be at the top of your list. There are opportunities in just about every country, so consider how far away from home you want to travel. If you get homesick, you may want to venture somewhere closer to home. If you seek adventure, then east Asia, the Middle East, and Africa may be your preference.Working farther away may also add to the initial set up costs.
make sure you are familiar with the country you are interested in. You can never compare how life is like back home because that is exactly what it is. Back home. Living, working, and teaching abroad is an opportunity to learn a whole new culture and language outside of work. Take that for what it is. A chance to explore and add to your resume. Diversity can open so many new doors. And remember, your main goal should be working since companies are looking for dedicated employees first and foremost.
do your research on the companies you are interested in. The longer a company has been in operation, the better. If the company has a long history, a good track record, and positive comments on blogs, you can probably trust that company. There are always going to be at least a few disgruntled people, but every person has a different situation, and therefore, a different experience. Make sure you do your research by checking the company website as well. There is nothing a recruiter likes less than someone who is ignorant about the company and can’t make any comments.
when doing your research, write a list of pros and cons for each company you are looking in to. Does the company offer subsidized accommodations? This can be a huge burden if you’re not familiar with the language or customs. Does the company offer transportation, either to the country or commuting expenses? How about health insurance? Paid training? If you add up all of these items you may find that working for one company that offers a lower salary and pays for everything else in the end out-weighs another company that has a higher salary and no benefits.
Of course there is also the matter of teaching only adults, only kids, or both. And where within the country you would like to live should you be offered a choice. In my years of experience, I have found the people who usually do the best are the ones who have fewer expectations and are flexible. The more rigid your demands are, the harder time a recruiter will have hiring you and the harder time you will have adapting. Of course, having some idea of what will make you happy is important – maybe the most important if you are going to stay for any length of time.
I am sure everyone that has taught abroad will have good memories and be thankful that they had the opportunity to experience a different part of the world. It is a big world, and it only becomes smaller once you get out there and travel. It will be an adventure of a lifetime, and who knows what doors it will open for you.
About the author
Lars Frank is a Senior Recruiter with AEON Corporation. He works out of the NYC Recruiting offie and has been with the company for 19 years, of which 13 were spent in Japan.