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Teach English Abroad the Contract

Updated on June 22, 2011

Teaching English abroad as a second language is a rewarding ESL job but if you want to work abroad then the contract discussions become more complex than taking a job at home. Here’s some advice to help you make that transition to a English teaching overseas job hassle free.

Because of the difficulty of meeting face to face, often the ESL jobs interviews are conducted via SKYPE. This presents some challenges to both parties because you are unable to use the usual cues such as surroundings, body language and the environment etc.

If the interviewer is satisfied that you can do the teaching English abroad job and they have answered your questions satisfactorily you will be offered a contract.

Contract Details - Tips and Traps

Here are some tips and traps in reading the fine print for a contract teaching ESL overseas. You need to read the contract thoroughly and match up the terms with the verbal discussions you’ve had via the telephone.

The Job Conditions

a) Check the teaching hours carefully. Has minimum and maximum been confused. It can make a big difference to your workload!

b) How are you to be reimbursed for additional hours taught.

c) What arrangements are expected to cover – this occurs when a teacher who is scheduled to teach is unable to work at short notice and you have to step into the role.

d) Is there sick leave? Is it in addition to your holidays. If you take sick leave does it reduce your final bonus? If you are on sick leave, are you expected to “make-up” the time you were off? (Strange to mention, but this exact thing happened to me!)

e) Are you paid holiday pay? Are there restrictions on when can you take these holidays?

f) Are you expected to be on site during certain hours?

g) Are you expected to work split shifts? Split shifts occur when you teach early in the morning, have a long break during the day and then work again late afternoon or early evening?

h) Is the work on school/university premises or are you expected to travel?

i) Will you be based in one city/town or can you be posted anywhere? The latter is a fairly normal clause in teacher contracts.

j) What is the probation period and the term on the contract?


Sometimes accommodation is provided for English teachers abroad and it is included in the package. If accommodation is provided you might want to consider the following:

a) Is accommodation shared or will you have exclusive use?

b) Are the utilities included? You usually have to pay these costs yourself.

c) Do you have any choice about the type of accommodation or location? You might want to ensure its close to the school or has good access to public transportation.

d) If, for any reason, it proves unsuitable, are you able to find something else and use the allowance towards it?

If accommodation is not included, then you may want to enquire about the following:

a) What assistance, if any, is given to helping you find accommodation?

b) Is accommodation provided for you on arrival? Many places arrange free temporary accommodation for a week or two to new teachers. But the time disappears very quickly in a difficult housing market where you are unfamiliar with areas and the language.

c) Check ball park accommodation prices with your employers. They know (or should know) the prices and the area.

The legalities - A working Visa

 Does your employer cover the cost of the visa? 

What happens if you arrive on a temporary visa (which is reasonably common) and you are unable to get a permanent one? 

Some countries routinely allow workers in and out of the country on three month visas which are renewed each time the worker arrives back.  

Airfare Reimbursement

It is quite common to be expected to pay for your airfares to your new country.  If you are going to be reimbursed, ask:

when and how you will get your money. 

Is it taxed?  If so at what rate?

Some more great resources

Teaching English Abroad Guide is a very valuable resource. If you are thinking about a job to teach English abroad, then I highly recommend making a (small) investment in these guides.

They are jam packed with helpful tips and a lot of advice.

The teachenglishabroadguide is published on Click bank.

You will also find some great hubs on the topic by Travelespresso.

Some rewarding experiences, tips on the CELTA certificate, and summer camp ESL jobs are just a few of them.

Medical Insurance

Good medical insurance with a cover for ex-patriate (where transport is paid for to return sick workers to their home country) is expensive. Many contracts offer cover. It’s a good idea to check the following:

  • When is cover effective? This is particularly important if you expect to arrive on a temporary visa.
  • What type of cover is it? Does it cover hospital visits only?
  • Do you need to pass a medical test before the cover is effective?
  • Does it cover repatriation? That is, if you need to be flown home after a serious accident is this covered?

Professional Organisations will expect questions

These ideas are by no means an exhaustive list. There is no substitute for doing your own checking.

Tens of thousands of people teach English abroad every year with contracts where they experience few problems. However, there are also some unscrupulous operators in this industry so do as much homework as you can before you pack your toothbrush and fly half way around the world.

Of course, if you asked an employer all of these questions, you’d scare them off!

However, a professional ESL organization will provide you with an information pack with many of the questions already answered. If they’ve been employing teachers for sometime, then they will have been asked just about every question you could fire at them. But then again, maybe not. I’ve been amazed that some big employers couldn’t answer some of the basic medical insurance questions I posed.

I suggest just picking out the key questions – those important to you.

And finally......

This article is copyright Travelespresso.  Do not copy.

Writers love feedback so please feel free to leave comments, rate the article and/or pass it on if you think it will be helpful to others.  Thank you.


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    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      You were young, brave and optimistic wordscribe. I'm glad it worked out for you. Skype, wireless and cellphones have certainly helped ease the loneliness which occurs sometimes when away from home for a long time.

      The industry has changed a lot - sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

      Thanks for commenting and rating this.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      I taught English in Japan in the 90's after I graduated from college. Boy, technology sure has changed this process, Skype would have been fabulous. I just went without a job (something I still marvel at now- oh to be young and brave), and crossed my fingers I'd land something. Anyway, these are great tips, things I didn't bother to check out... Thumbs up! Happy new year, travelespresso.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      It sounds like you aren't doing it anymore jcales. I like that I can live a little like the locals and experience there culture more than I can as a tourist. But I'll only do it for a limited time.

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

    • jcales profile image


      7 years ago

      It was a fun experience except for odd hours but that was my decision. I taught in Sao Paulo for a while.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      There are a massive number of teacher doing this type of work so I hope this information will be helpful.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Steph.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great advice for teaching English abroad! I don't have the credentials, but I'm sure plenty of your readers do. Best, Steph

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Not only been there and done that dallas, have the war wounds to show for it! But every ESL teacher seems to have had an experience with an unsatisfactory contract which is why I thought this was an important hub to write.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Good advice from someone has been there and done that... Thanks for sharing.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      This type of life certainly has its rewards.

      As always, thank you for stopping by PD and your copyright words. It's much appreciated.

    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 

      7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      Thanks for this TE.. well written hub and certainly a great opportunity for those who wish to see the world in such a cool way at local level..

      If You Copy this - You can use it for all your work...

      © Copyright 2010 Travelespresso with all rights reserved.

      Have a great Xmas etc.


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