Thinking about teaching abroad?

No.3 Zhongguncun Primary School, Beijing. The 600 pupils of the school were practicing a choreographed kung fu display in preparation for their performance at the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympic games! It was an amazing experience to watch and listen to the powerful music which accompanied this fantastic spectacle... School Principal and pupils had just presented our group with gifts including the official olympic mascots which I am holding...Teaching abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life… It gave me the opportunity to explore a variety of cultures, meet new people, learn new skills and languages, try new foods and of course develop as an educational professional. I engaged first hand with pupils, teachers and wider school communities in environments which culturally and physically which were very different to that found in the UK. It also informed my cultural understanding and it has allowed me to gain a global perspective on life… Before you enteer into the wonderful world of teaching overseas here are my top ten tips to this truly fantastic experience.

1. Do your homework! Before you decide to teach abroad, research the country’s customs, culture, religion, languages and laws. Being prepared and able to embrace cross cultural diversity will make your integration to your new life easier and it will help you to become a better teacher abroad.

2. Before you apply check you have the right qualifications and skills. You may also be considered based on the level of experience you have in the teaching profession.

3. At the interview stage always prepare!! Be clear why you have applied for the post, why you were attracted to the school and how your experience and attitude will contribute to school improvement. Prepare any questions you might have in relation to professional development, the curriculum taught at the school and any extra curricular activities that you could get involved with…

4. Surviving on your salary… will you have enough money? It’s important that your salary covers the necessary essentials and costs relating to having a life away from work. It’s important that you understand your conditions of service eg) Does the school cover the cost of your flights? Do they provide accommodation and medical insurance?

5. Protect yourself. Check if you need travel insurance and whether your membership of a professional union will cover you whilst teaching in an International school. Do you need to join another professional union. Every country operates differently. Again, always ask these questions at the interview and when researching destinations.

6. Talk to fellow teachers who have taught abroad. They will give you firsthand knowledge. There are number of social networks online for those in a similar boat. I’m happy to answer any questions about teaching abroad.

7. Prepare to become independent. Don’t expect your employer to settle you in entirely. Plan how you will meet locals and fellow teachers. You may wish to meet more locals to improve your foreign language skills…

8. Do you have the right teaching resources? Before you head off, it’s always best to prepare a basic resource bank of teaching activities. In addition to online teaching materials and lesson plans, your USB memory sticks and laptops can carry a whole host of information.

9. During your research check you have the appropriate legal status to work in your chosen destinations. For example you will need documents such as your passport, birth certificate and reputable schools will always support you with visa and work permit applications where necessary..

10. And last but not least…. relax and enjoy your teaching experience abroad. Once you’ve found your new job teaching in an International School let us know how you’re getting on. We’d love to hear from you! Best of luck!

If you have any more tips, please share them with our fellow readers. Also, if you’re thinking of teaching abroad, take a look at our international teaching vacancies, register to receive regular updates and apply today!

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