You’ve just graduated from college and are looking for a new adventure. Working in a faraway country is a big and ambitious move, one that could have a very positive impact on your future. Whether you are going for a year or have decided to move permanently, a job teaching English is a good bet for starting a new life in a new country.
Here are our top five things to do before you go abroad to teach English.
First of all, you need to decide where you would like to go. At this phase feel free to be as creative as possible. The world is full of possibilities, don’t look only at continents and countries, but also check specific cities. Write down every city that interests you and then compare them.
There are many different factors that are important and some of them are quite general, while others can be very personal. Look at the atmosphere of the city, way of life, climate, architecture, average wages and living expenses, opportunities offered and anything else that is important to you. Make a list assessing the cities against the criteria and see how they compare. Finally, choose the city you like best. Then you can start to really think about moving.
This is not a small decision. Although you can always come back, moving to another country is expensive. Be sure that this is what you want and that you can handle it. Write list of pros and cons. For example, it can get very lonely without your friends and family there, but you will also find many new friends in your new country.
Similarly, while you might feel lost living surrounded by a language you don’t fully understand and customs to which you can’t relate, moving to a foreign country will be a chance to learn about a new culture, new life philosophy, new cuisine: new everything. It is an experience that will most certainly enrich your life. Don’t hurry the decision, but try not to let the fear get the best of you. Chances are, the risk will be worth it.
Since you are reading this article, you’re most likely considering teaching English once you move. If you are native speaker, you’ll have a great advantage in finding teaching jobs, but don’t let that fool you into thinking your English is good enough to teach. Teaching is not only about using correct grammar, but also about knowing how to explain why something is correct. The best thing to do is to get a TESOL or TEFL certificate – these are the certificates meant for individuals, native or not, who teach English as a foreign language.
While you won’t necessarily need it for private lessons, most schools will ask for a proof of your teaching competence. It will also make you more credible when offering tutoring services online. Finally, if you can, take the TESOL/TEFL before you start with intense and detailed preparations to move, so you have enough time and concentration to fully dedicate yourself. Even if you decide against the move, these certificates could open many, many doors even in your own country.
To begin with, make sure you have enough resources to live without working for a couple of months. The first few months can be difficult and you need to count on the possibility of not finding a job right away. Research in detail the job opportunities for teaching English in the city that interest you. You can easily do it online. Get in contact with employers and find out what the requirements are and what would be the pay.
This is important because you’ll have to compare that with the average living expenses for the city. Talk to people who worked there, if you can find any – maybe some other ambitious graduate had had the same idea as you. Check out how medical insurance would look if you move. Check what visas you will need and start working on them. If everything looks good and promising, start working on finding a place to live. Sorting out living arrangements can be quite difficult when not yet physically in the country, but at the very least familiarize yourself with how the process goes. It would be best to fully arrange it, though.
Of course, you will pack the regulars: clothes, shoes, toiletries, your laptop… as if you were going on any other trip. However, when moving countries, we often think we need more things than we do and we bring our entire home with us. Chances are, you can buy most things when you get there.
Take only those things you can’t leave behind – a family photo, a gift of high personal value, etc. Maybe, take some of your favourite food – a special chocolate or a homemade spice. Food that reminds us of home can be very welcome when we feel down. But, finally, remember, moving to another country should be an exciting opportunity to try out new things.
Surely, there will be a lot for you to do once you reach your destination, but from now, you’re good. Buy your ticket and good luck!
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Annabelle is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond.