“Teaching isn’t a career choice, it’s a life choice.” - François Mitterand
The former French president is right. When you decide to teach, it’s because you want to transfer your passion for a given subject to other students. Currently, the number of teachers in the UK is at its lowest since 2013.
However, a teacher doesn’t necessarily have to teach in a state school in the UK, they could also consider taking their teaching elsewhere in the world. If you’re interested in teaching in another country, you should have a look at this article.
What Language Level Do You Need to Teach Abroad?
Whether you’re looking to teach English, history, geography, physics, or chemistry, you need to know that teaching in a foreign language isn’t for everyone. The most popular subjects taught by foreign teachers are:
- English as a foreign language (TEFL/ESL)
- Foreign languages
- Hard sciences
However, some subjects are much easier to teach than others because they don’t require you to have learnt a foreign language as well. For example, you’d probably be better off teaching Spanish in Miami rather than German, for example.
The subject you’re teaching may also help you decide which country you’re going to go to: for foreign languages, you’ll want to go somewhere where the language is commonly taught or spoken. If you're teaching English as a foreign language, it's a good idea to get a teaching job in a country where English is a foreign language or in a language school specialising in English teaching.
Similarly, this is why a lot of teachers from the UK decide to go to other English-speaking countries. When it comes to foreign language skills, you should be aware of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):
- A1: Breakthrough or beginner
- A2: Waystage or elementary
- B1: Threshold or intermediate
- B2: Vantage or upper intermediate
- C1: Effective operational proficiency or advanced
- C2: Mastery or proficiency
In general, you’ll need between a B1 and B2 level in order to teach in the target language and will probably require proof your abilities. The necessary qualifications vary by language.
However, with a TEFL certificate, you don't necessarily need to speak a second language as most teaching opportunities around the world only expect teachers to speak English to students.
Of course, you'll learn all this on TEFL courses before you start teaching English overseas. However, foreign language skills are always useful for your everyday life.
So what steps do you need to take in order to start teaching abroad?
What Are the Administrative Steps You Need to Start Teaching Abroad?
The first thing you’ll need to know is how to get a teaching status abroad.
PGCEs aren't usually accepted abroad. If they are, they usually need to be translated. There are four main ways to work abroad as a teacher:
- Working abroad temporarily.
- Living abroad permanently.
- Being recruited in the UK and working abroad.
- Finding a job abroad.
However, if you want to start working abroad, there are two things you should do.
- Gain a recognized teaching qualification or TEFL certification.
- Get some experience teaching.
There are also language skills to consider. Of course, this will depend on the job that you are applying for. You'll need to check which CEFR level is required.
It's important to respect the application procedure for the job that you are applying for:
- Complete the application forms as instructed.
- Remember to include your qualifications.
In order to command a higher salary, make sure to include your past experience.
Don't forget to attach any proof of your language skills and your CEFR level.
If requested, you may need to attach copies of your qualifications (or translations of them). You may also need to attach copies of all other documents requested such as a TEFL certification if you're looking to become an English teacher abroad.
Remember that the application procedure can vary wildly depending on the job you're applying for. Keep in mind that the procedure for applying to British schools abroad will be very different from applying to private educational establishments or state schools abroad.
TEFL teaching or ESL teaching in different countries will also have different procedures. A school in Vietnam may not have the same procedure as a school in Thailand, Korea, or Spain. Similarly, certain establishments may not accept an online TEFL and may request a CELTA instead.
Finally, don't forget all the other steps to working abroad, such as visas and passports, as well as :
- Finding accommodation, contracting water, electricity, and gas, for example.
- Opening a bank account and using it.
- And getting an international driver's licence, if you're going to need to drive.
- For researchers, you may have a different visa to complete.
- In some cases, you will also be expected to register upon your arrival in the country.
Are you still considering working abroad?
We've got 10 tips for you for those wanting to teach English abroad or any other subject for that matter!
10 Tips for Teaching Abroad
Our advice for teaching abroad is very simple.
You first need to think about whether you want to teach in the public school systems or teach privately when you teach abroad. Then you’ll need to think about a number of factors:
- Facility: What can I currently teach according to my qualifications?
- Feasibility: Do I have the skills to apply for tutoring jobs?
- Readiness: Am I ready to start teaching with this experience or take new steps?
There are establishments that take on teachers from the UK. Ideally, you should be looking at:
- The ERASMUS programme, for countries in the European Union
- European schools
You should start planning your move as early as possible before leaving. It’s also a good idea to tell your current employers about your plans. You don't want to start teaching English abroad the day after you tell your current employer about it.
Because you might want a good reference from your employer for the teaching positions you're applying to, for example. It’s better to get them on your side before you leave.
Also, make sure that you’re aware of different statuses of teachers in the places you’re interested in so that you know exactly what you should be earning, what your working conditions should be, etc. Learning to put together a good application is a good idea for when it comes to looking for work as a teacher as well as your language skills.
Finally, don’t give up and make sure you’re flexible and set yourself a broad range of goals.
If you’re set on moving abroad, don’t forget about applying for jobs abroad.
How to Apply for Work Abroad
Are you interested in working abroad?
You just have to apply! A teacher can work in a number of different institutions:
- In a British school abroad
- In a private establishment or local schooling
- In an overseas territory
When you travel abroad to start teaching overseas, you need to think about whether you're going to stay for the short-term or long term.
Firstly, you should look at the jobs available. There are two main ways to do this:
- Apply to job offers
- Apply directly to establishments you’d be interested in working for
You’ll just have to prove your experience and your credentials. After you’ve applied to the job, the powers that be will start looking at your application. There are two possible outcomes:
- They reject your application
- Or you will be called to an interview or given the job
Following the interview procedure, establishments usually select candidates
After that there is one final stage, signing your contract and starting work. One of the advantages of working abroad is the possibility of joining interesting and multicultural teams.
In both cases, there'll be paperwork.
While an international school is probably more used to hiring teachers internationally and sorting out a work visa for a certified teacher, there are international teaching institutions that can help qualified teachers find their way into a classroom abroad.
Are you interested in working abroad and having a new and interesting professional experience?
Where would you like to go?
Whether you're wanting to teach inside China, do a gap year in Taiwan, move to South Korea, get an ESL job somewhere in Asia, or become an educator anywhere else in the world, you can get a job placement with a TESOL certification if you're a native English speaker or learn a foreign language and teach another subject in schools, universities, or other academic institutions.