Top ten things to consider when thinking of teaching abroad
If you have a sense of adventure, and an openness to embrace new cultures, then there’s no better way to gain some fantastic work and life experience. If you decide to return to work in the UK, you’ll be showing potential employers that you are flexible, driven and capable of adapting to different situations, while creating memories you will keep for a lifetime.
So where in the world should you begin? The possibilities are endless, so to help get you started we have prepared this special guide to the top things to consider if you’re thinking of teaching abroad.
1. Speak easy
A good place to start when considering where to undertake a teaching position abroad is the language of the country concerned. For some, knowing that the country is English speaking will be a huge plus. But for others, the chance to become completely immersed in a different language will be an appealing challenge. The good news, however, is that the majority of posts advertised at international schools through Eteach will use English as the main language for teaching, so chances are you’ll be able to communicate with pupils and colleagues in school time at least.
2. Closer to home
While there are now very few places in the world which are more than a day’s travel away, you may wish to take some time to decide how far away from home you feel comfortable to go. Do you want to take the opportunity to completely escape, or would you feel more comfortable knowing you can easily catch a flight home?
3. Little or large
When the world is your oyster and the choices are endless, a major part of your decision-making process may be deciding how big or small to go! Do you favour an adventure teaching in a very remote or rural location? Or does the hustle and bustle of a town or the bright lights of a major city have you raring to go? Think about the type of experiences you hope to have, as your choice of location will have a big impact on this. And remember that the minimum contract for many posts is a year or two, so you’re not just choosing a holiday; you’re choosing a place to live.
4. Culture and customs
Whichever teaching post you plan to take, you will soon find yourself completely absorbed in a different culture and way of life. However the scale of cultural difference will vary greatly depending on your choice of country. It’s important for anyone living in another country to respect the traditions and cultures of the region they are joining, so do your research before you apply, whether through books, online or by talking to contacts, and make sure the culture won’t come as a complete shock! We regularly include articles about specific schools and countries on the Eteach blog pages, so you could also try using the search tool on this site to find out more.
5. Cost of living
Investigate the cost of living for any country you plan to work in, and compare this with salaries being offered, taking into account other benefits that might be on offer, such as accommodation. Then ask yourself why you’re making the move. Is it mainly for the experience itself, because you want to move away from the UK forever, or are you perhaps hoping to return after a certain amount of time having built up a nest egg for the future? You can read more detailed information about financial planning for expat teachers in a recent article for Eteach by Tim Cox, Director of Star Capital Finance, here.
6. Leisure opportunities
It won’t be all work and no play, so think about what you would like to get out of your time spent teaching abroad. Are there any activities you would love to try, or places you really want to see? This may play a part in where you choose to live and work. Do you want to soak up the culture of ancient civilisations and historical sites? Are breathtaking scenery and amazing natural phenomena more your thing? Are white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters your dream? Or perhaps you’d prefer the buzz of a major metropolis. How you like to spend your leisure time may well play one of the most significant parts in your choice of location.
You may be one of those people who love the chance to try out new culinary delights, or you may be rather more conservative in your tastes. In the case of very remote and rural locations, you may find your food choices are more limited, so a willingness to ‘give it a go’ will be vital. It may sound obvious, but for some people, availability of fairly familiar food is more important than for others. So give food the thought you feel it deserves!
8. Get connected
Make use of any contacts and connections you already have. Ask friends and family if they have contacts in the country you may be moving to, and let them know your plans. It can be reassuring to know there is a friendly face nearby when you head off to foreign shores – not just for you but for family members you are leaving behind in the UK! There again, running into someone you know may be your idea of a nightmare…
Once you have chosen where you will be going, make sure you visit your GP for advice on health issues and travel inoculations you may need. For some injections you may need to begin a course of treatment weeks before you fly, so you need to allow enough time to make sure you are fully prepared. Some countries will require proof of inoculations, such as yellow fever, before you can enter, so a top tip would be to keep these attached to your passport.
10. The paperwork – passport
Last, but by no means least, find out what paperwork you’ll need for your new job and life. Your school should be able to give you all the information you need. And don’t forget to check when your passport expires or your plans may go seriously awry! There’s more information about passport and entry requirements for different countries on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website here.