Article Contributed By Roy Duffield
Teaching abroad is a great way to fund a love of travel, plus it’s great fun if you enjoy getting people excited about learning. But, with so many options, places, and courses to choose from, it can be daunting getting started on your job hunt, particularly if you are looking to work on the other side of the world. To help make the process stress-free for you, here are some useful pointers to consider before you begin your teaching abroad adventure.
For many, TEFL courses provide the perfect opportunity to combine wanderlust with a love of teaching, and courses are relative cheap and easy to come by. Usually, they run for about four weeks, during which time you will attend lectures, carry out assignments, and undertake a minimum of six hours observed teaching practice. This is the most sought after course because it provides students with practical experience which is hugely desirable by many language school employers, plus you can do a TEFL course in numerous different locations all over the world.
However, whilst many institutes require some practical experience, others will happily take those with only an online TEFL course and a degree. This largely depends on where in the world you are looking to teach; many places in Asia willingly accept applicants with no prior teaching experience, as long as they are native-English speakers as a lot of schools simply want to immerse their students in English, which you can help do without any specific qualifications. Other places are more difficult to get jobs, particularly English schools in the USA, such as GEOS, or in certain European countries where the competition between applicants is very high. Because employers can afford to be more selective, they are more likely to choose teachers who have relevant experience over those who don’t.
Deciding Where To Teach Abroad
Once you have completed a TEFL course, it’s time to decide where in the world you want to go. This should partly be based on your qualifications and experience, but you should also consider your passions and interests, too. You are going to be spending an extended amount of time in the place you choose, so it’s worth picking somewhere that you are really excited about visiting, whether it’s because of the culture, the landscape, or simply the food. Popular places for English teachers abroad include Asia, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Once you’ve decided on a destination, it’s time for the nerve wracking application process. Applying online is the most popular option as there are so many TEFL job sites floating around. Be careful when using this method, though, as many sites don’t have the time to moderate their listings so they are prone to scam offers and jobs in low quality institutions. Make sure you do in-depth research into any institution before even considering applying for a job there.
Alternatively, you can apply for a job through a TEFL recruitment agency which offers a bit more security. These agencies are often the first port of call for institutions who are looking for teachers, so you are likely to find out about jobs that are hot off the press if you are signed up to a couple. Many schools also use recruitment sites to hire their staff because it is less work for them, so there is more likely to be a higher number of positions available via this route. It’s easier for you, too, because the agencies will offer you support every step of the way by helping out with interviews, contracts, and travel arrangements. In addition, agencies tend to keep all applications on file, so if you aren’t successful in the first instance, they may well contact you again once something more suitable arises.
Types of Schools
Not only do you have to decide where you want to teach, what course you want to take to be able to teach, and how you are going to apply, you also have to consider what options you have in terms of schools. Each type of school offers different benefits to its staff, and the pay varies considerably from institution to institution, so it’s worth knowing what options are available.
- Government schools – Run by the government, these schools tend to be the most reliable for teachers because funding isn’t likely to cease without notice and there is usually some kind of support available for staff. On the flip side, these are usually the worst paying gigs, so it’s worth weighing up your priorities.
- Private schools – Private schools pay better than government schools and the students are usually of a higher standard, but you might find you have less flexibility in the classroom. Like any type of school, there are good and bad, so remember to do some research before applying.
- Language schools – Pay at a language school is considerably higher than at a government school and there will be a large amount of flexibility for you, both in the classroom and outside of it. On the other hand, teachers at these types of school find their jobs aren’t always secure. Sprachcaffe’s English language schools in the UK can be a great place to get a foot on the English teaching ladder.
- International schools – These tend to be the Top Dog of the language school world, where students are the children of expatriates or well-off locals. Pay at an international school is the best you can get in the industry and the schools are of a very high quality. However, competition for these jobs is high and you usually have to be extremely qualified to even get a look in. In addition, most of these institutions only consider two year contracts which may scupper you plans for working on the move.
While it might seem like you have a lot to do before embarking on your teaching abroad adventure, there are lots of resources out there to help you out along the way. Remember to research the institutions you want to apply for thoroughly before making any decisions, and find out about other teachers’ experiences there, too. The hard work will pay off, though, when you are doing something you love in a fascinating place.
So you’ve finished your TEFL Course, applied for jobs and are finally in the process of interviewing! Imagine an interview where you’re not in the same room as the interviewer. What about the same building? What about the same country?
To avoid forking out for a plane ticket to Thailand every time they spot a potential candidate, many TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) employers will interview you over Skype. Here at i-to-i, we’ve compiled a little list to help you know what to do and what definitely not to do!
Get a quality internet connection. If your interview connection is likely to be hacked mid-call by your housemate downloading 55 episodes of their favourite show then go somewhere else! Your local coffee shop will do, or even a quiet corner of a public library.
Make some notes. Use the fact that you’re not in the same room to your advantage. Make a list of the interview questions that employers are likely to ask and write down 2 cue words or hints for each. Common TEFL interview questions tend to be about your previous teaching experience, what your goals are (as a teacher) and how well you’d adapt to living in another culture!
Look into the camera. It may feel more natural to look straight at the employers face, however when on Skype the best route to take is looking at the camera. This will help to give your potential employer the feeling of direct eye contact, always a plus at a job interview!
Suit jacket on top, pyjamas on bottom. Don’t fall foul to this Skype interview disaster! Consider what you’ll do if the doorbell rings, or you have to perform an impromptu lesson demo.
Spring clean your surroundings. Make the effort to give whatever room you’re interviewing in a good once over! When you’re in the interview it’ll make you seem much more organized than if there’s a spare pair of underpants hanging off your monitor.
Don’t check yourself out! When interviewing on Skype it’s tempting to watch yourself in your little video box to make sure you’re looking your best. You wouldn’t look in a mirror at a regular interview so try your very best to avoid this. To an employer this can make you seem shy, or even worse, disinterested!
And finally, remember that even though the interview’s online, it is still an interview. Good Luck!
There are so many great job opportunities abroad, and a large part of the work comes before you even find the right position. Combing through job sites can be a full-time job in and of itself, along with perfecting your resume and networking to make sure that your name makes it to the top of the pile.
If you put in the work and find the right fit, you’ll be moved into the interview phase. Interviews for jobs abroad can be different from other job interviews, and it is important to put in a little extra prep work to make sure that you are fully prepared.
People who hire from outside of a host country to fill positions are generally looking for two things: someone who can be successful in the job, and someone who will be comfortable in a foreign culture, and is willing to be pushed outside of their comfort zone. To that end, most interview questions will fall into one of three categories: skills assessment, personality fit/drive, ability to work abroad.
Keep these three categories in mind while you are preparing for the job interview, and look online for practice interviews and sample questions to help you get started (there are some great resources below). Another element of the interview to keep in mind, which is especially important if you are interviewing over the phone or Skype, is small talk.
Why does small talk matter? Let’s face it – phone and video interviews can be a bit awkward. Without visual cues from your interviewer, you can expect to have a few moments where there is either silence, or people start talking at the same time. It’s ok! Most people who conduct business via the Internet experience this, but as the interviewee, there are ways to make the first moments of the phone interview set the stage for a smooth conversation.
First of all, make sure that you know a little bit about the person interviewing you. That way once you get on the phone and say hello, you are also ready to dive into another conversation about the person’s history with the organization, hobbies or anything else that might be appropriate. This is especially important during conference calls – with many people calling in, you might have a few minutes at the beginning to fill before everyone has had a chance to call in.
Another important element of a job interview for an overseas job is knowing as much as possible about your potential host country. Make sure that you have done research, subscribed to relevant blogs and read newspapers from that country, so that you can engage your interviewer in thoughtful discussion about current events. Imagine interviewing someone who wasn’t aware of a recent bank holiday, religious observance or long weekend? Current events can also serve as a resource for small talk topics!
If you’re looking for more resources to prepare for your work abroad job interview, check out these websites to help you with practice questions and tips for success:
- Quint Careers offers some more practical advice, for everything from the international job search to securing the interview. If you have already landed a phone interview and are looking for ways to maximize your effectiveness on a long-distance call, check out their article on phone interview etiquette.
- Working Overseas gives a comprehensive view of all elements of landing the interview, from who your interviewer might be, tactics for answering questions, and examples of “situational” interview questions.
- If you are considering including a recruitment fair in your job search, check out these tips for teach abroad fair interview etiquette at Overseas Digest. While many of the questions are teaching-specific, the information can be easily applied to recruitment fairs of any type!
Finally, the best resource for preparing for job interview is speaking directly with a hiring manager. If you know anyone who has been in charge of a job search, make a point to talk to them about what they were looking for, and candidates who impressed (or didn’t impress) them during their interview. Whether that interview was for a job abroad or not, you gain very useful insight about the interview process from someone who has experienced it from the other side.