Teach English Abroad: 5 Tips for Getting Started

January 8, 2015

pink pangea foreign correspondent So, you’ve decided to teach English abroad in Europe, Asia, or South America and perhaps you don’t quite know where to start and what to do to prepare yourself for this new and exciting chapter in your life. Here are a few pointers to help you along the way:

Teach English Abroad: 5 Tips for Getting Started

1. Dust off those grammar books and freshen up on your English skills.

Seriously. As native speakers we don’t think about why we use certain verb tenses or why we use certain phrases in daily conversation – we just do it.

But, you’ll need to be prepared to answer questions like, “How do I use past perfect continuous?” or “Why do you use past simple for some things, but my British teacher uses present perfect?” Or, do we say “turn up” or “turn down” the air-conditioning when we want it colder? Be an English student again for a bit to avoid being caught off guard.

2. Do your research carefully and thoroughly and make sure you choose the best TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA program for you.

Know exactly what you’re paying for and what is included. Some companies will certify you online and that’s usually a cheaper and faster option. Others will have on-site training wherever you decide to teach. I personally thought this was a better option. You have time to get used to the culture, learn as you go, travel around to help you decide where you want to end up, and make friends while doing so.

There are a lot of bad companies out there that will, for example, forge a university degree and help you do somewhat illegal border runs. But, there are a lot of good companies out there as well. Research is key.

Teach English Abroad: 5 Tips for Getting Started

3. Figure out if you’re going to use an agency to help you find a job.

An agency can be very helpful in helping you find an apartment and a job when you first get started teaching abroad. But, be aware that when you use an agency some will commission more than 30-50 percent of your salary.

You’ll still live comfortably, but if you do the work on your own or do some networking on Facebook or on English teaching blogs, you’ll make way more. More money means more savings, which means more funds to travel. Or however you choose to spend your hard earned cash.

4. Know that you don’t have to take the first job offer you get.

English teachers are in high demand right now and quite frankly the turnover is pretty high, so don’t get scared that you won’t get another job. If you think the location is bad, the salary isn’t enough, or you just get an overall bad vibe about it just wait it out. You may have to pinch your pennies for a little while to make sure the job you take is worth your valuable time abroad.

5. Work on your flexibility, but be prepared to stand your ground.

Things will more often than not be very different than how things are done at home. Perhaps you’re waiting for a train that’s 30 minutes late and no one seems frustrated around you or you ordered chicken fried rice but they gave you pork instead. Little things like this are things you’ll have to just let go and do as the locals do.

But, let’s say your salary looks slightly lower this month or you’re forced to come into work when you’re sick. Something just doesn’t feel right to you about the situation. Don’t be afraid to speak up, but remember to be calm, professional, and most importantly polite about the manner at hand.

Your time abroad will undoubtably fly by, so make use of that time wisely in the best way you can. You’ll almost definitely find your own bumps along the road, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared where you can be.

About Kaitlin Kimont

Kaitlin is based in Bangkok, Thailand currently working as a freelance writer and English teacher. She’s making her way around Southeast Asia one country at a time, all the while gaining a subconscious, perhaps conscious, addiction to MSG and Thai milk tea.

Follow her on twitter @kaitlinkimont.

One thought on “Teach English Abroad: 5 Tips for Getting Started

  1. Kellie
    September 6, 2018

    Hey could you please recommend some great forums for finding jobs in Asia preferably on facebook? None were included in the article. Thank you so much

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