Get job trained in the classroom
Why teaching English as a foreign language may be the perfect job for you
by Chevonne Harris
After graduating from Ohio State University, Nathan Goings needed a break — in another country. For the past two months he’s taught English in Chile, an experience he says has changed his career and life goals.
“Before coming overseas, I had never considered teaching as a career path,” says Goings, who majored in business. “But after being here, I think some type of career in education is something I’ll pursue when I return to the States. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world.”
Brian Kruk, an advisor with the TEFL Institute, a Chicago-based certification and training program for people wishing to teach English abroad, says there are a number of teaching and career opportunities available for students looking to experience other cultures.
“Finding a job overseas is attractive to students because it gives them more time to explore their interests in travel, culture and language while getting paid for it,” Kruk says. “When you’re working abroad you don’t just observe the culture—you’re part of the culture.”
With job opportunities in nearly every part of the world, flexible job lengths and more than 300,000 English teachers worldwide, teaching English overseas is an ideal job for recent college graduates looking to gain work experience or work internationally, says Emily Moser, a coordinator with the Council on International Educational Exchange.
Goings agrees. “I’ve picked up so many new skills in the short time I’ve been here,” he says. “I’m more organized, focused and articulate, and my communication skills have improved a lot. I’ve also learned to appreciate other cultures and not be afraid to try new things.”
But teaching abroad isn’t limited to recent college graduates, Moser says. It’s also a practical option for young travelers not quite ready to return home, searching for a way to pay for their abroad experience or who just need a break before beginning graduate school.
Pay: Salary depends on the cost of living in each country. In popular TEFL countries like South Korea, English teachers earn between $1,600 to $1,800 USD a month compared to $600-$800 USD in countries like China. Nevertheless, though the salary may be higher in some countries, the cost of living might be, too. Many teaching positions also offer free or subsidized housing, living stipends and travel vouchers.
Requirements: Most employers require a work permit, a Bachelor’s degree in any subject and a TEFL certification, though some countries do not require a Bachelor’s degree. Organizations like the TEFL Institute require a minimum of 20 hours of ESL training in the classroom and a 150-hour certification course.
Keep in mind
Work permits: All countries require special permission for foreigners to either work or reside abroad, but the guidelines vary by country and the duration of trip. Work visas are normally available only by the employer who has offered you a job or a third-party job placement program. However, parts of Europe and Latin America do not issue work visas, Kruk says. These countries include Portugal, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.
International Health Insurance: Most international teaching positions do not offer benefits, so check with your insurance provider to see what type of coverage is available while you are overseas. Nevertheless, CIEE offers a travel healthcare plan, some schools provide insurance, and Europe and Asia have some countries that will place you on their national healthcare plans.
Notify your Bank: Most positions pay in local currency, so be sure to notify your bank that international transactions will occur with your account.