Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Teaching Abroad? The 4 Essentials To Make It Happen

If you have a passion for teaching while also having a passion for learning about new cultures, then teaching English abroad is likely to be just your ticket. Imagine standing in front of a classroom in Spain, Thailand, or Brazil, sharing your knowledge with eager students while soaking in a new culture outside of work hours. This isn’t a dream for many, it’s a reality.

If you’d also like to experience this adventure for yourself, you’ll need to start putting some pieces into place. Making the leap to live and work in another country requires careful planning and preparation. The better prepared you are ahead of time, the more likely you are to land your dream TEFL job in the country of your choice. In this article, we will go over several things to be aware of so you can get started. 

1. Get all the right documents in order

Before you set about making sure you have all the right qualifications, you will need to understand the legalities of traveling and living abroad. This way, you can gather all the necessary documents when the time comes for a smooth transition to your new life. 

For starters, you need to have the necessary work visas and permits. The process for obtaining these varies from country to country, and it is important to start early since it can take many months to get everything together and wait for the application process to conclude. 

Research the requirements for the country you’re interested in, and reach out to the nearest embassy or consulate for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Some countries will require you to have international medical insurance to get the visa. Others may not allow somebody with a criminal record to enter. Knowing the requirements ahead of time will save you a lot of headaches and disappointment later. 

2. Get your qualifications

To teach abroad, having the right qualifications is one of the most important things you can do ahead of time. One of the most common credentials required is a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification. These programs equip you with the skills and techniques necessary to teach English effectively, and they are widely recognized by schools around the world. 

You don’t necessarily need to have one as some schools have different requirements. However, when you show that you know how to teach and are not just somebody who speaks English you will have a better chance at getting hired.

Some countries have strict regulations regarding teachers’ qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree in teaching. It’s essential to know these details early on, as they may influence your choice of certification program or additional training.

3. Prepare for the new culture

Preparing to teach in a different country is about more than just packing your bags and securing a job. You’re also going to have to adapt to the new culture you find yourself in. 

The biggest barrier to adapting to the new culture will be the language. Even a basic understanding of the language can go a long way in helping you navigate your new environment and connect with your students and colleagues. Take some classes or use some apps before you leave so you have something to build on when you arrive. It shows respect for the country you’re moving to and can make your daily life significantly smoother.

Understanding the customs and etiquette of your new home is also important. Research common practices, social norms, and traditions. For example, in some cultures, it is customary to remove shoes when entering a home, while in others, certain gestures or forms of address might be considered rude or overly familiar.

Adapting to a new culture almost assuredly leads to culture shock. It is common to feel frustrated by the fact that things are done so differently than you are used to. Everyday events seem like battles and that can end up causing some fatigue. The more quickly you adapt to the way things are done the less frustration you will feel.

4. Do some networking

Teaching in a different country can provide numerous unique opportunities for expanding your skills and your professional network. Being proactive in seeking out these opportunities can make your experience abroad not just a memorable adventure, but also a significant step forward in your career.

Networking is a huge aspect of professional development, and teaching abroad offers a unique landscape for making connections. Take the time to get to know other teachers at your school and in your community. They can provide local insights that are invaluable, from the best places to shop for classroom supplies to advice on handling cultural differences in the classroom.

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