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How to "TEFL" Abroad

Updated on October 29, 2015

You'll need a BA

Without a BA, it's going to be an uphill battle and basically none of the really good ESL teaching jobs will be available to you. Sure, it's still possible to get a TEFL job (try these countries where you can teach English without a BA: China, Russia, Spain, Mexico, South America), but someone with a Bachelor's degree will basically always have preference. Plus, the pay you get will not be great.

A brief thought about working illegally. Don't do it! If a school is willing to hire you illegally, they'll also be very likely to place you in substandard housing or not pay you in full and on time. You also won't receive national health insurance in whatever country you're teaching in which can leave you in a very precarious positions in case of illness or accident.

What are your Priorities in Teaching Abroad?

Teaching English abroad is possible in a large majority of the world's countries. The sky really is the limit so it can be kind of overwhelming to make a final decision about where to teach. But, think about what's important to you. Money and savings potential? Learning the local language? An awesome year of partying? Travel to neighboring countries? Somewhere that is completely different from your home country? Learning how to surf? Anything is possible.

Once you figure out your priorities, you'll be able to make a decision much more easily about where you want to teach English abroad.

Why do you want to Teach Abroad?

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Do your Research about Countries and Jobs

After you've figured out exactly why you want to teach English abroad, it's time to do extensive research. Google is going to become your new best friend and you should thank the universe that we live in a world where so much information is at your fingertips, for free!

It really is a big decision to head abroad to teach, so don't take it lightly and I strongly recommend that you hours of research number in the hundreds! You can get started by researching the top 2 or 3 countries you want to TEFL in and what kind of jobs they offer as well as how to get the one you want.

Once you have some job offers, research that particular school and make sure it'll be a good fit for you. The key is finding somewhere that has a good reputation for paying their teachers on time and in full. Remember-never feel pressured by a recruiter to take any certain job offer. There are so many out there that if you're patient, you'll find the one that's right for you.

For example, if you don't like children, don't take a job teaching children. There are jobs teaching adults so just be patient. Or maybe you only want a job in big city but a recruiter is trying to place you in the countryside. Don't take this job because you'll likely be unhappy with it.

Basic Requirements to Get a University Job in Korea

Save up Money for your Emergency Fund

It's foolish to head abroad with only a couple hundred dollars in your pocket and those days of people doing that in places like South Korea are certainly over.

People get sick. Jobs turn out to be terrible. Apartments are moldy or unfurnished. Teeth need root canals. You'll need at least $2000 USD available in case something goes wrong and I recommend more than this actually-closer to $5000 will put you in better stead.

But, $2000 is better than nothing and this amount will at least get you a plane ticket back home to your parent's basement from basically anywhere in the world. It'll hopefully provide a small cushion to tide you over until you can find some sort of employment elsewhere.

See this article from The Wealthy English Teacher: Why YOU Need an Emergency Fund.

Get Ready for Teaching Abroad

Tie up all your loose ends at home before you go abroad to teach English. This involves cancelling things like Netflix subscriptions, selling your car, or cancelling your health insurance. It's ALWAYS easier to do this stuff while living in your home country than while living abroad, or even worse, getting your parents to do it for you. It will only take you a few days, so make a list and plow through it in order to make your transition abroad as smooth as possible. The more you can just focus on getting settled in your new country, the better off you'll be.

Getting ready to go abroad also involves packing and preparing for your move to another country. Do your research so you know what you need, and what you don't need to bring. As a general rule, bring enough work clothes and shoes to last you the entire year because these may be quite difficult to find in some countries, particularly if you're larger than the average person in that country. Also bring a few toiletries and cosmetics to last you at least 3-4 months, by which point you'll hopefully have figured out where you can buy this stuff locally. Never forget Iherb! They ship to tons of countries and are awesome so check into that as soon as possible.

You can also go on some online forums and ask about where the expats shop and get what they need.

Advice on Returning to your Home Country After Teaching Abroad

Make Sure you Have a Positive Attitude

The last thing you need to do to prepare for teaching English abroad is to have a positive attitude about it. I'm sure you already have this if you're even considering this option but it's going to be an amazing year filled with tons of adventures.

However, you need to remember that things in your new country that you don't understand aren't necessarily better, or worse than your home country, they're just different. I tell myself that all the time actually and I've been in South Korea for 10 years. Not better or worse, just different!

Also try to refrain from saying this line, “In ______, we _______.” That gets really really old, really really quickly and the other expats and the locals will soon get annoyed with it. Remember:just different! The faster you can learn to accept this, the better your life teaching abroad will be.


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    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 2 years ago

      Thanks Jodah, I appreciate it!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very interesting and helpful hub for anyone considering travelling abroad to teach English as a foreign language. When I saw the title of the hub I had no idea what TEFL was, but I soon realised. Well written article.