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Have you ever wanted to teach English or work as a teacher in another country but didn't know where to start?
I worked as an English Language Teacher in Thailand and Cambodia and I have put together some of what I learnt in my years working abroad to share with you.
According to the International TEFL Academy, it is estimated that there are over 250,000 native English speakers working in over 40,000 schools around the world.
The present global pandemic situation has meant an increase in online teaching jobs, so if you can't travel, consider working from home and helping students around the world to improve their English! Working remotely can offer you a wonderful opportunity to establish yourself as a digital nomad, and once travel re-opens, you can take your work with you anywhere you chose to go.
Teaching offers a great work-life balance! You can choose to work a standard weekday schedule at an International or Public School, tutor in the evenings and have your days off at a Language Centre, or work an intensive season at a School Summer Camp. There is a lot of hard work to be done in the field of education, but many ex-pats love the freedom it brings to stay in their destination of choice and travel in their spare time.
Looking For Work
If you are unsure if teaching is for you, don't give up just yet, you have many options. This largely depends on your location, the type of school you are seeking to work for, and the time of year you apply. If you are searching for a teaching job, here are a few suggestions for starting your search.
Search reputable job search engines online for upcoming offers. You can start by searching for schools online and visiting their website directly - check the 'career' section for available positions.
Apply for jobs that suit your credentials and level of experience. Do you have a Bachelor Degree in the field of Education? Do you have any additional certifications that support the education role? Consider your previous work experience and references. If you receive a response and are out of the country, the faculty should then offer a virtual interview via phone or Skype to talk to you and discuss the role and communicate their expected start date. It is commonly said that finding a job is easier done when you have already arrived though I think all things are possible with research.
If successful, a contract should be emailed out for you to consider the position with a time frame for commencement, salary, working hours and expectations. If you are willing to accept the contract, return it to the faculty and make arrangements to commence your new teaching job! Do your background research on the school and the location including the cost of living, transport etc and make sure you are comfortable to relocate to this area before you sign a contract. If the contract states that visa fees are covered be sure to read the fine print as many schools will request this payment be refunded if you exit the contract prior to the end date.
APPLY IN PERSON
If you are already in the location you would like to work in, you can ask around for reputable schools or start to apply for places directly via their website or email. Most major cities have a well known English tutorial school or International School which is popular. If you have travelled and fallen in love with a particular location, then directly applying for schools should yield results. Many schools will offer a trial period or probationary period for the job of roughly 1-3 months.
Talk to other travellers and join online social groups for teaching jobs abroad or meet up with other ex-pats in the area. There are many online groups on Facebook for Teachers and English Teachers.
Apply to complete a TEFL course online or in-country and allow the company to assist you with job opportunities once you are certified. TESOL, TEFL, CELTA courses are often available in-country and provide you with confidence, skills and training. This will help you when you need to do demonstration lessons, plan lessons and manage a classroom. Preparation and time management are crucial for teaching no matter what age level. Courses can equip you with vital skills for your classroom. Remember, you can always change the direction you take with teaching, you can learn to adapt to your new environment until you find what works best for you. Students need to be the priority so don't accept a job in a panic, take your time.
Cost Of Living
Salary is usually paid monthly across Southeast Asia and is banked at the end of every month. This is why budgeting local costs per month will be the easiest way to keep track of spending and will help you to plan ahead so you don't end up running out of money before payday. It can take some adjusting to if you are not used to monthly expenses, but setting up your accounts to pay bills on the 1st day of the month means you can use what is left without worrying and save what you can for travel.
The purpose of many teachers is to find a destination where they get the most out of their teaching salary. This is why you need to confirm your salary before you relocate as you may be surprised to find that living in megacities like Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta are expensive and a teachers wage might not cover your lifestyle.
If you are signing a rental contract then you will likely need a deposit and an upfront payment to secure the contract (4 weeks bond plus 2 weeks in advance) most accommodation will come furnished but this is not always the case.
It is always a valuable idea to invest in Health Insurance of your own, as the insurance provided by the school may not cover all costs of medical evacuation expenses, if in an emergency situation. Travel Insurance is often required to be purchased in your home country prior to departure though this depends on your policy. Make sure your insurance covers you for the basics such as dental care, lost or stolen goods (electronics/luggage) and emergency evacuation to your home country.
Research the visa situation; will you be required to pay for the visa? Check the cost of transferring from a tourist to a work visa such as the flights and accommodation needed to travel out of the country to process the visa in a neighbouring country. For example, I held a tourist visa for Thailand and had to pay the costs of travel out from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, the hotel for two nights all expenses and return flight, however, my company paid the fee for the work permit for one year.
It is good to budget extra allowances for food, even though it is considered to be cheap. This is because after a short time you might want to purchase your food and cook at home which can actually cost you more than eating on the street (the cost of stocking up on kitchen basics, baking ingredients, spices etc). Health food, vegan food, gluten-free food and fresh produce will often come at a higher price especially if it is imported from outside the country.
The changing weather seasons means you might have added expenses for clothing and shoes when in destinations that experience a monsoon rain season or perhaps you are visiting the mountain areas or somewhere that is cold (not often in Asia) and you need to purchase winter clothing; this is usually expensive. Consider the cost of a work uniform, shoes, bag etc and find out if you are provided with a uniform. It may be easier to purchase clothing (business attire etc) in your home country prior to departure. A rain cover for your backpack is a must-have when you are working and commuting around the city!
Research the cost of international banking fee's and transactions, ask the faculty if you will be paid in cash or if they will set up a local bank account for you. Having your monthly income go directly into a bank account is usually the safest and cheapest option as you won't pay withdrawal fees each time you go to the ATM.
If you need to send money overseas I can recommend using Transferwise. Learn more about their currency exchange rates and how to send money abroad by clicking the link below.
Updating electronics and the basic cost of any repairs or maintenance (laptop, chargers, camera, phone). Travel insurance may cover stolen or damaged electronics depending on your policy. Check some of my favourite electronics for travel and work here!
Southeast Asia is considered a great place to live and work plus you can enjoy the low cost of living and save a good part of your annual salary. Certain job offers will provide housing, return flight allowance and second year signing bonus so it is worthwhile doing your research and finding what will best suit your needs and lifestyle.
In Country Information
Do you have at least one year remaining on your passport? If not, you may want to renew or add pages at the embassy to reduce costs or problems associated with an expired passport mid-contract. Visas and passports are your responsibility and work permits may not be accepted if you have less than a year remaining on your current passport.
Spend time investing in learning the local language and check out some of the language schools in your area. Language schools often have evening classes to take after work and run monthly programs.
Make the most of the paid holidays and travel around the country or to nearby countries. Try to book flights ahead for the peak holiday season and check the dates for local holidays such as the New Year. Looking for a weekend getaway close to where you live? Air BnB offers great weekend stay options, group tours and classes.
Sign up with Air BnB today and you will get $22 AUD off your first booking! That can mean a free nights accommodation across many Southeast Asian destinations! A beach bungalow, a night away in a cosy apartment with a city view? The choice is yours!
To maintain your work contract it will be important to arrange a way to commute to and from work on time. It is a good idea to trial the different forms of transport to compare the time frame and the costs involved. Meet up and share the costs of transport with other teachers. Staying close by will help you to form a community.
Find out what it is on offer in your area prior to signing a rental contract so that you can be sure you are happy with the location. Check for a local market, mall, gym, restaurants, cafes, train and bus station, health clinic, pharmacy and make sure you have enough food options close to home for nights when you work late.
Consider the working hours and what you think you can manage, for example, full-time hours at one school is the most common choice though there are alternatives such as tutoring or working for multiple schools though this takes a lot more research and balance. Staying with the one school has its advantages so long as they are able to provide you with suitable pay, housing and visa.
Volunteer work in the community can provide you with valuable insight into what type of work you might want to do. Be sure to check out responsible volunteer projects only.
Teaching From Home
If you are searching for online teaching jobs search for helpful Facebook Groups where you can chat with other teachers, watch Youtube for teaching demo ideas and prepare your at-home workspace and electronics. Working from home is more accessible now than ever!
A virtual classroom will require you to have all of your teaching components set up for online lessons. Make sure you have the following points organised for your job interview:
Everyone who works online will have to submit their internet speed in their application so check your upload and download speed meets the specifications for the programs unique teaching platform. You can test your speed via Speed Test for free.
You can work from any laptop you choose but you must have functioning audio and video camera applications to teach your students within the virtual classroom.
Online teaching requires you to wear a headset.
Make sure you enough charging ports and universal adaptors.
Suitable lighting to help make your lessons run smoothly!
In summary, teaching will be an incredible life experience which is really rewarding. When it comes to finding a job, have a reasonable timeline and be open-minded. Try to research as much as you can about the destination of your choice and consider if you prefer to work for one school on a fixed contract or if you prefer to tutor and work across multiple language centres. Either way, you will need to have the appropriate papers in order and have some cash aside for the initial in-country costs.
Once you have your job, immerse yourself in the role, meet other travellers who are just as passionate about education as you are and make some really awesome memories! It may seem overwhelming at first to relocate to another country for work, but one thing is certain, you will find a great and supportive community of individuals who have also taken the journey to teach abroad!
Have you worked as a teacher? I would love to hear about your experience!
Pin For Later!