I have been receiving a lot of emails and questions from readers about how to teach around the world since I wrote my last couple of posts about my experiences teaching overseas.
So in order to help our readers who are looking for ways to continually travel, here are some tips to help you know how to teach around the world.
Qualifications needed to teach around the world
This all depends on what sort of teaching you wish to do. You may think if you want to teach in Primary or High School you will need to have a teaching degree. Not necessarily.
Ireland and the USA do allow non-teachers to teach in their schools as substitute or casual teachers.
In the US, you first have to volunteer for a set number of hours before you can be accredited to then take a class on your own for the day while the normal teacher is absent.
In Ireland, you only need a degree in order to teach casually or take on long term teaching assignments.
Pay is obviously not going to be as great as what a teacher might get, but it could be better than other jobs.
If you do casual teaching you will only get paid for the days you work.
This means that for 12 weeks of the year and any other days non-teaching work days, you will not receive any money.
If you are thinking of teaching overseas, it is worth investigating each country to determine what their required qualifications are.
Qualified teachers have more options, not just for teaching in schools, but for teaching jobs like tutoring or language schools.
Just being a qualified teacher might not be enough to work in a particular country. You will need to ensure that you align with each country’s certification requirements.
You may have to sit a test, be under probation, or take further study. I could only teach in two states in America as I was only three year trained.
What about Teaching English Overseas?
Teaching English is a great way for non-qualified teachers to teach around the world. It’s pretty easy, fun, and gives you the opportunity to get to know the local culture more.
Do a TEFL or TESOL course.
This is basically a course that gives you the certification you need to Teach English Overseas. You must do at least 100 hours. You can do them online or at a venue.
I think it is better to do it on-campus for the practical teaching practice amongst your peers. This will benefit you when it comes time to stand up in front of class and do the real thing.
A lot of countries prefer teachers to have a degree as well, regardless of the TEFL certificate. Again, research each country’s requirement.
There are so many courses around that I can’t really make a recommendation. I did my course in Ireland at a school. Research and ask around for other people’s experiences and recommendations.
What other certifications will I need to teach overseas?
You will most often need to get police clearances from all areas you have taught, which makes it challenging to track down if you have taught in several countries or even states within your own country.
Before you leave each area it is probably a good idea if you can organize a police clearance to take with you just in case for future use.Get a police clearance from your own country before you leave.
Statement of Services
These are essential, which I did not realize and spent months chasing them up from around the world, to ensure that I was paid the correct amount for my years of experience.
Make sure the statement outlines dates you worked, your specific job hours per week, whether it was full or part time and if you took any leave without pay.
University Transcripts and degrees
Take copies of these as many places will ask for them during the certification process to allow you to teach.
These are really important to get from your principals as you leave each school. Also make sure you keep any observation records conducted on you in regards to your teaching practice.
If you have not taught before then make sure you have references from your previous work experiences.
Am I suited to Teaching Overseas?
Teaching overseas can be worthwhile, but not if you aren’t suited to it. Here are some things to consider about your personality.
- Do you love to learn? Can you pass that enthusiasm onto your students?
- Do you love children?
- Are you flexible?
- Are you a good student? Part of being a good teacher means you can learn well
- Are you adaptable?
- Can you think in different ways and cater to students who also think in different ways?
- Are you accepting of different cultures and different personalities?
- Are you patient and understanding?
- Are you a hard worker?
- Do you crave new experiences?
- Are you a good communicator?
- Are you willing to learn new ways and adapt to the local culture? are you prepared to learn some of their language and cultural traditions?
- Do you like wine? ha ha Yes there are some evenings you’ll need it.
How to get Teaching Jobs Overseas
Stack the odds in your favor
Research possible teaching options before you leave.
Organizing teaching jobs before you leave usually means you have a company assisting you in gaining the right visas and work permits.
You may even get special perks like free flights, accommodation, interest free relocation loans, sign on bonuses, subsidised health care, cheap insurance and assistance with relocating, all of which I have received through various teaching assignments organized before arriving in the country.
Do thorough research
Make sure you find reputable companies; if you do it right you could land a great job.
Teaching is so portable you do have the added flexibility of being able to show up in a country and have a good likelihood that you can find work teaching.
Search online, check ads in newspapers, teacher union magazines, and word of mouth. Any companies you discover do search the net to see how legit they are.
Ask for advice from others who have done the same, and contact the PR/human resource people. Ask as many questions as you need to until you feel comfortable with a decision.
Usually your own instincts are a good gauge as to whether a company is worth going with or not.
Get Experience before Leaving home
A great idea is to get some experience teaching in school before you leave. You can easily do this by volunteering if you can’t find any paid teaching work.
Ask your local schools. Let them know you are going to teach overseas and would like some experience. Teachers will love the extra help and you can get to know what teaching in a classroom is really like and learn some great insider tips.
Be prepared for interviews, maybe even more than one.These could be done over the phone, one on one in person, or in front of a panel.
Learn a little about the school before you attend the interview. Be clear on why you want to work at that school and have a teaching job overseas.
Be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses as well.
Dress the part of a teacher. This means making sure you have professional attire in your suitcase.
What is teaching like in another country?
Teaching in another country has its rewards, but can be incredibly challenging.
You have to learn how to think on your feet and adapt quickly. If you are not a qualified teacher you are going to find this just that little bit extra challenging as you won’t have those skills already used in the classroom to transfer over.
There really isn’t much difference, albeit a few cultural ones, in how children or adults learn. Have a firm understanding of these basics and then you should be able to adapt as you learn the new system, and curriculum.
As the owner of VIF, the company who I taught in US with said,
“You are all teachers here; you know what you are doing. It’s just a different system you need to adapt to, but the fundamentals will be the same.”
Make sure you become aware of any cultural sensitivities you need to know.
We had a week’s orientation before teaching in Thailand, which helped me know what to expect and what to avoid.
Again do your research. You don’t want to lose the children’s respect on the first day–that is some catch up for you.
Do all you can to make your teaching experience a cultural one as well. Learn about the local culture, which you can do through creative lessons having the students teach you.
Create lessons that allow you to share your culture with your students as well. They will love this and will make your teaching experience all that more rewarding for you.
Teaching is time consuming.
You don’t start and finish with the school bells, there is planning, preparing, marking and many other extracurricular activities you may be asked to participate in, not to forget meetings and general administration duties.
It is not an easy job, be prepared for this. Plus your adjustment period will mean a lot of extra work.
And then you get into the classroom and are faced with having to teach to multiple different levels, learning styles and personalities.
Not only this, but you will have behaviour challenges and highly unmotivated students. All of this can lead to several glasses of wine of an evening for you!
Rely on your teaching team and others at the school to help you.
Some countries are easier than others to teach in, it all depends on your teaching role as well.
My teaching experience in Ireland was a breeze, in the US there was a lot of performance pressure, in Thailand the students were so respectful, but it was difficult to teach them anything due to lack of resources and wide gaps within the class, and Australia has challenging aspects with lack of student respect for learning and for authority.
Despite all the challenges, each has its good points as well, so focus on that.
My advice is always if you need a mental health day take it.
What about the first day?
Lay the Foundation
It doesn’t matter where I teach in the world or what type of job it is my first day is always spent laying the foundation. If you get this wrong you are screwed.
First thing to understand you are not their friend, you are their teacher.
Lay down your expectations, lay down the rules – but at the same time allow the children to have input into this.
- “What do you expect from a teacher or yourself?
- How do you think this classroom should look, sound, feel in order for you to learn optimally?
- How should we arrange our classroom in order for that to happen?
- What should our consequences be if these expectations/rules are not being followed?”
Allow them to see that the rules are there for the betterment of all.
Get to Know Each Other
Spend the rest of the day getting to know the students and allow them to get to know you. You are going to be their teacher and role model.
In order to trust you and respect you they need to know who you are.
I usually start with a slide show of my life or a guessing game, or something interesting. Let them know what you hope to achieve with them throughout your time with them and what you are going to do to do your job properly.
A lot of teachers have sayings like
“You don’t smile until Easter, or a few months into the teaching contract.”
I don’t agree. I think you have to be firm, but you also have to let them know that you are a pleasant person to be around.
How much money will you make teaching overseas?
The question everyone wants to know and the most difficult to answer as every country is different and it all depends on the job.
Usually you will find teaching work is relatively well paid compared to other possible options (although I firmly stand by the fact that teachers are severely underpaid)
You are usually going to get paid more in private schools rather than public, business English or private tuition.
Teaching will generally pay you enough to live off with some left over for travel. But, it depends on what you are like for saving and spending of course!!
Teaching does allow you plenty of holiday time to go travelling. Just bear in mind you may have to do a lot of after hours throughout the year in order for you to be able to take all that time for travel and be up-to date with your programming, planning and marking.
Teaching around the world is a fantastic way to travel long term. It has gotten me around the world for 14 years.
Want more tips about working holidays?