After completion of your certification to teach abroad (whether that TEFL, TESL, or TESOL course), what do you do next? If you’ve got aspirations to teach abroad, which you should considering you just shelled out a few hundred bucks to receive certification, you have to first decide a general timeline for when you want to teach. If you aren’t in a hurry to get into a different country to begin your international teaching career or if you’re eager to get out of North America as soon as possible and embark upon your next adventure, the steps getting there are identical.
Where do you want to teach?
Depending on your interests, goals, and desires, there are many different opportunities to teach abroad. For me, national histories and cultures were the main draw. For others it may be the geographical location, weather, landmarks/tourist sites, surrounding countries, language spoken, and a bevy of other items that may grab the attention of the aspiring teacher. Would you like to experience the nightlife of Rio de Janeiro, or would you care to experience the Chinese New Year, or feature the Kremlin in your backyard. While the last may have been an exaggeration, the point remains that the world is your playground to pick and choose where you desire to study.
Crafting your Resume
Tailor your resume to fit the position, like any other job you would apply for. Emphasize that you hold an international teaching certification along with any and all teaching experience in the United States. Even by substituting a few times at the local high school shows potential employers that you are not alien to the teaching process. And while the school system will certainly not be identical wherever you choose to teach, at least you have experienced standing in the front of a class and presenting a lesson plan.
As with any interview, you’ll want to dress for success. Suit and tie, dress, and slacks should be fashioned regardless of the interview type. Some schools may be able to meet with you in person, talk to you on the phone, or conduct the interview via Skype. Speak clearly and concisely while demonstrating your desire to teach abroad and why you are qualified for the position over any possible competition. Be aware that your interviewer may be ESL themselves.
Dealing with legal issues that may arise from improper documentation can be an absolute damper on an otherwise wonderful adventure. Filing claims at an embassy, away from home, and out of your comfort zone is nerve-wracking and an absolute mess. Any and all of your plans can be put on hold for several weeks at a time until the matter is settled.
Teaching English abroad can be a wonderful experience, but I’ve known many unprepared individuals going overseas to teach or travel who have not had such a positive experience. First and foremost, make sure your all travel documentation, visa, and passport are up-to-date and in proper order. After getting all the kinks ironed out in regards to deciding where you want to teach and completing your interview process, leave ample time to prepare your mind for traveling abroad. While teaching English in another country can be great, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It isn’t easy – the students you will be in control of pose a unique challenge for the simple fact that they do not speak the language you are most comfortable with. Oftentimes you could feel lost and sometimes alone out there, so try to make some contacts before heading over. Other than these minor qualms, enjoy your stay teaching abroad and be sure to share your experiences with others interested in the program!