Teaching English Abroad: What You Need To Know

Written by Dan

Have you ever dreamed of teaching English in a far-off land? Educating international students in a foreign country is an experience like no other. The culture, the people, the sights & sounds—it’s all waiting for you when you take to the globe and make a difference. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that teaching abroad has so many benefits! So if you’re considering your next big adventure while helping others learn one of our most essential languages, read what you need to know about teaching English abroad .


1. Research The Country Where You Plan To Teach

Understanding the Culture

Before you pack your bags and embark on this journey, it’s crucial to research and understand the culture of the country where you plan to teach. Every country has its unique customs, traditions, and societal norms. For instance, if you’re considering teaching in Japan, you should familiarize yourself with their intricate etiquette rules, respect for hierarchy, and the importance they place on harmony and balance.

Learning the Language

While English might be the language you’ll be teaching, having a basic understanding of the local language can significantly enhance your experience. It helps you connect with the locals, navigate daily life more efficiently, and show respect for the country’s culture. Plenty of online resources and language-learning apps help you get started.

Familiarizing Yourself with Local Customs

Customs can vary significantly from one country to another. What might be commonplace in one region might be considered rude or inappropriate in another. For example, in Costa Rica, greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek is customary, while in South Korea, bowing is a common way to show respect.

Understanding the Laws

Being aware of the laws in the country where you plan to teach is crucial. These include immigration laws, employment laws, and general rules about behaviour and conduct. For example, some countries have strict laws about public behaviour, while others might have specific rules for foreign teachers. Always review these laws before your departure to avoid any legal issues.

Remember, doing your homework on these aspects will not only make your transition smoother. Still, it will also help you become a more effective teacher by understanding and respecting the cultural context in which you teach.

2. Choose The Best Teaching Program Or Your Needs and Budget 

Identifying Your Needs

Before choosing a teaching program, it’s crucial to identify what you’re looking for. Are you more interested in a specific region? Do you prefer teaching children or adults? Do you want a program that includes accommodation or leaves housing decisions up to you? Answering these questions can help narrow your options and find the best fit.

Evaluating Program Reputation

Not all programs are created equal. Some have been around for decades and have established a strong reputation for quality and support, while others may be newer and less proven. Look at reviews, ask for references, and do your due diligence to ensure you choose a reputable program.

Considering the Length of the Program

Programs can range from a few weeks to a year or more. Consider how long you’re willing to commit to living and working abroad. Shorter programs may offer less pay but can provide a taste of teaching abroad without a long-term commitment.

Understanding the Costs

Teaching abroad programs can vary significantly in cost. Some include housing and meals; others may require you to cover these expenses yourself. Be sure to understand what’s included in the program fee and what additional costs you may incur.

Exploring Financial Support and Benefits

Some programs may offer benefits like paid airfare, health insurance, or even a stipend on top of your salary. These can make a big difference in your overall budget, so consider them when comparing programs.

Choosing the right program is a personal decision that should be based on your individual needs, goals, and budget. Take your time to research and weigh your options before making this significant decision.

3. Get Certified As An English Teacher

Online TEFL Certificate

The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate is an excellent online program that provides comprehensive training for teaching English abroad or in your home country. The course covers key areas like lesson planning, classroom management, and language analysis.

TEFL Certificate in Teaching English Online

Many institutions offer a specialized TEFL Certificate in Teaching English Online. These courses are available in 60, 120, or 180-hour options, providing flexibility for students with different needs. They equip students with the skills needed for online teaching environments, such as leveraging technology and managing virtual classrooms.

Online English Teacher Bachelor’s Degree

There are online Bachelor’s degrees in English education for those looking for a more extensive course. These programs are designed to provide maximum flexibility and convenience, making it ideal for those juggling other commitments.

Online TESL Certification Program

Accredited online Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certificate programs exist. These courses combine theoretical knowledge with practical training, preparing students for various ESL teaching contexts.

Best Teaching English Courses & Certifications

Platforms like Coursera offer a wide range of Teaching English courses from top universities and industry leaders worldwide. These courses cater to learners at all levels, from beginners to advanced, and cover various aspects of English teaching.

Remember, choosing the right certification program depends on your career goals, budget, and availability.

4. Prepare A Resume And Cover Letter Specifically For Teaching Abroad 

Tailoring Your Resume for International Teaching Jobs

When preparing your resume for teaching abroad, it’s essential to highlight your relevant skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for an international teaching job. Here are some tips:

  • Highlight any experience you have with teaching or tutoring, especially if it involves English or ESL instruction.
  • Include any language skills you possess. Even if you’re not fluent, basic proficiency in a foreign language can be a vital asset.
  • Mention any international or cross-cultural experiences, such as studying or volunteering abroad. These experiences demonstrate adaptability and cultural sensitivity.

Writing a Cover Letter for International Teaching Positions

Your cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your passion for teaching and your interest in the culture of the country where you’re applying to teach. Here’s what to include:

  • Explain why you’re interested in teaching abroad and chose this specific country.
  • Discuss your teaching philosophy and how you adapt your teaching style to accommodate different learning needs.
  • Highlight any relevant achievements or experiences from your resume and explain how they prepare you for this role.
  • Show enthusiasm and willingness to immerse yourself in a new culture and contribute positively to the school community.

Remember, your resume and cover letter should be tailored to each job application. Doing so demonstrates to potential employers that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in their position.

5. Find A Place To Stay

Based on my recent search, here are some of the most reputable apartment rental and property management companies in 2023:

  1. Greystar: Known for its extensive portfolio, Greystar is considered one of the best overall property management companies.
  2. Lincoln Property Company: This company is recognized for excellent client support and a wide range of property options.
  3. Cushman & Wakefield: A global firm that manages a vast array of properties and is known for their professionalism.
  4. BH Management Services: Specializing in residential properties, BH Management Services has a strong reputation for good service.
  5. Colliers International: Best known for managing commercial properties, they also have a strong presence in the residential sector.
  6. Bozzuto: Noted for managing luxury apartments in select communities, Bozzuto is a full-service company with a strong reputation.
  7. WinnCompanies: With a diverse portfolio, WinnCompanies is recognized for their quality services.
  8. AvalonBay Communities: Known for managing multifamily properties, AvalonBay has a strong reputation in the industry.
  9. Morgan Properties: One of the country’s largest and fastest-growing apartment owners, Morgan Properties is well-regarded in the industry.

Remember to read local reviews and consult with local real estate professionals in your target area to ensure the company’s reputation holds in that specific location.

6. Have An Emergency Plan In Case Of Illness Or Other Unexpected Events

An emergency plan is crucial, especially when you are in a foreign country and away from your usual support systems. Here’s how to prepare:

Health and Safety

  1. Insurance: Ensure comprehensive health insurance covering medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
  2. Local Doctors: Identify local healthcare providers who speak your language. Keep their contact details handy.
  3. Medication: If you take any regular medication, bring enough to last for your stay or know how to get it locally.
  4. Emergency Services: Know the local emergency numbers for immediate assistance.

Travel Documents

  1. Copies of Documents: Keep digital and physical copies of your passport, visa, insurance policy, and other vital documents if the originals are lost or stolen.
  2. Emergency Contact Information: Have the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in the country you’re teaching.

Financial Backup Plan

  1. Emergency Fund: Have access to emergency funds. This could be through savings, a credit card, or family members who can wire money if needed.
  2. Bank Details: Keep your bank’s contact details in case you need to contact them about your account or if your card is lost or stolen.

Emergency Contacts

  1. In-Country Contacts: Make sure to have the contact details of a few trusted individuals in your teaching country.
  2. Home Contacts: Share your travel details and contact information with friends and family back home. Check-in regularly.

Contingency Plans

  1. Alternative Accommodation: Have a backup plan in case your accommodation falls through.
  2. Travel Options: Know your options for getting home quickly in an emergency.

Remember, while it’s impossible to predict every situation that might arise, having a comprehensive emergency plan can provide peace of mind and help you navigate unexpected events more effectively.

Teaching English abroad is an enriching experience that offers the opportunity to explore new cultures, meet diverse people, and make a meaningful impact through education. By getting certified as an English teacher, tailoring your resume and cover letter for international teaching positions, finding suitable accommodation, and preparing a thorough emergency plan, you’re setting the foundation for a successful teaching stint abroad. Remember, preparation is key, and every step taken towards this ensures a smoother journey ahead. Here’s to your exciting new adventure in teaching English abroad!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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