First, I will assume that you have completed college or university and earned a degree. If you don’t have a degree and want to teach overseas, don’t be discouraged. Read my article “How to Teach Overseas Without a Degree”. You should however be at least 21 years old.
This article is intended for people who want to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in a country where English is not the first language.
First, let’s look at the different types of schools that hire foreign teachers:
Regular schools – These are sometimes referred to as government schools and usually teach primary and secondary grades… possibly Kindergarten as well (K-12). Some hire foreign teachers, some don’t.
Private school – These offer an alternative to government schools but essentially teach the same subjects. They are usually good candidates to hire foreign teachers.
Bilingual schools – Here some subjects are taught in the native language while others are taught in English. If you can teach Math or Science, you have an edge here. They are usually good candidates to hire foreign teachers.
International schools – These schools are usually accredited overseas (England, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand) and subjects are taught in English. Salaries are often much higher but the requirements are tougher as well. They often expect a teaching license from ‘back home’. If they follow a British Curriculum, that usually means the UK, though they may consider valid qualifications from other English countries.
Montessori school – These schools specialize in teaching to young children. They are usually good candidates to hire foreign teachers.
Language schools – These are private schools teaching English (sometimes other subjects, especially computer skills). If you are a computer whiz, you have an edge here. Many overseas teachers work at a regular school during the day and moonlight evenings or weekends at a local language school. There are a number of language school chains that operate in many countries. These schools definitely do hire foreign teachers.
In some countries, there are also Technical schools and Commercial schools. These may be private and offer a general curriculum in line with regular schools but geared towards trades (technical) or business education.
Universities – There are usually government run universities and private ones. Before applying, you need to find out if they hire foreign teachers. Some do; some don’t. An email to the Dean will usually get you an answer.
Now, the big question…How do you find a teaching position?
Step one – Whether you have a degree or not, you should get TESOL Certification. TESOL is an acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. More and more schools are asking for this qualification. The want to know that you have training in the specific area you are applying for. You may see some schools asking for CELTA. This is a British qualification, similar to TESOL but it focuses on teaching adults. You need a wider qualification to start. You can earn this in as little as a week, though a 100-120 hour course is recommended. Some immigration departments, schools or school boards require this.
Step Two – Decide where you would like to teach. China and South Korea have the greatest need and so there are many, many positions available and offer full package deals. If there is an embassy or consulate near you, they may have a list of schools looking for teachers. They will also be able to tell you what you need in order to go to that country for an extended period. Most teaching contract are for one-year. Get to know as much as you can about the country in which you want to teach. If you can, talk to or correspond with someone who has ‘been there, done that’. There is nothing like personal experience.
Step three – Post your resume on as many ESL job sites as you can. Search Yahoo or Google for “ESL Job sites”. That will keep you busy for some time! There are lots of them. For a good, all-round look at what is available out there, go to Dave’s ESL Café at http://www.eslcafe.com.
To summarize, 1) Get qualified, 2) Look at your options. 3) Get your name out there where recruiters and schools can find you. It can happen quickly so be ready. If you would like a copy of my eBook “Introduction to Teaching Overseas”, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Robert Taylor