teaching english abroad

After Graduation: Tips for Teaching English Abroad

By Ingle International

Congratulations, you’ve graduated! So… what’s next? How about you try teaching English?

You’ve completed your four years of post-secondary education – big sigh of relief – no more heavy textbooks or endless course readings! No more exams to study for! But wait, with all of this newfound free time, what’s next? (You’ve probably noticed many of your older relatives have started asking you this stress-inducing question.)

Unfortunately, the job hunt after graduation can be quite demotivating initially. The “needs 3-5 years of experience” requirement is every graduate’s biggest headache. How do you get a job without experience and how do you get experience without a job? It’s enough to make an A student feel like a failure.

Before you give in to those feelings of despair – there are other options! Nobody said you had to graduate today and join the working world tomorrow. (Well, maybe your grandfather did.) But guess what! There are ways to hold on to your youth a little longer, feel like a success, and make money at the same time! Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Why not consider teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) abroad?

If the thought of living in another country, immersing yourself in a different language, and experiencing a whole new way of life doesn’t send you running in the other direction, keep reading! This article will help you get started if you’re seriously considering overseas employment. Read the tips below to figure out what steps you should take to get the ball rolling.

1. Get certified.

And I don’t mean enrolling in a two-year teaching program. I’m talking about a six-week intensive Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certification program. Although packing six months of learning into six very short weeks can be a lot of work, when you’re eating fresh sushi on the Sea of Japan or lying on the beach mid-winter in Thailand, you’ll agree it was well worth it in the end.

Be wary of online courses or those offering certification in a few short days. Also, try to sign up for a course that offers a teaching practicum at the end. Not only will you have some of that experience potential employers are looking for, you’ll also feel much more prepared that first day you walk into your classroom.

2. Seek out reputable ESL schools.

Remember, you are heading overseas – far away from friends and family. You want to make sure that you are going to a real school in a safe location. Seeking out the help of a Canadian recruitment company you can trust means you know you’re signing up for the real thing. Not only that, a recruiter’s job is to help you along the way – from deciding which country is for you to setting up your interview with the overseas school to lending an ear if you’re feeling homesick once you’re there.

Also, the more reputable the school, the more resources and support will be available to you – a definite plus for newbie teachers!

3. Learn the language.

Although most overseas schools will tell you that you don’t need the language to get the job (in fact, in many cases they would prefer you don’t know the local language for fear you may use it in the classroom), I highly recommend that you learn some phrases before heading over. Imagine not being able to ask where the washroom or the local Starbuck’s is! And picture how much easier your life would be if you knew how to say “no” or “good job” to your students.

Heading overseas without any knowledge of the language can be pretty scary. Take it from me; I did just that when I first moved to Japan. It’s no surprise that my second, third, and fourth years teaching were much more rewarding; I could understand what my students were saying, and I could use Japanese to communicate if I deemed it absolutely necessary.

4. Get the right travel insurance before you go.

Spending a year (or more) living overseas is not the same as going on a trip for a couple of weeks. If you are making another country your home away from home, your regular travel health insurance just won’t cut it. You need to consider both the possibility of medical emergencies and your everyday health needs. Travel insurance may cover you for an unexpected illness or injury, but you’ll need more comprehensive coverage for routine check-ups, visits to the dentist, mental health concerns, and more!

Finding the insurance you need to cover your ESL stint will be trickier than buying the regular stuff. Call the experts at Ingle International to find out what product you’ll need for your extended stay abroad. Or, if your future employer provides health coverage (some do!), you’ll still need travel insurance to cover you for the initial waiting period. Believe me, this is not the time to be cheap! You want to be as healthy as can be while living away from your English-speaking doctor and your mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup.

5. Prepare for the effects of Culture Shock.

Once you get the job offer, you’ll probably be totally stoked to make the big move. And that’s great! Remember, as wonderful as teaching English will be, there will also be some challenges to overcome. And, after the Honeymoon Phase wears off, you will have to deal with a nasty little thing called Culture Shock. Don’t assume it won’t happen to you – it’s a five-stage process that most travellers cannot avoid, and it’s unlikely to pass you by. Learn about it before you go, and come up with a plan for when those blues hit!

So you’ve graduated and it’s time to join the real world. And when reality hits, it can be anxiety-provoking or downright scary. But now that you have an ultra-cool plan in place, the next time someone asks you, “What’s next?” you’ll have the perfect answer: “I’m heading overseas to teach ESL.”

This article, written by Kathleen O’Hagan, is provided by Ingle International, specializing in travel insurance since 1946.  Ingle International has partnered with Studentawards to provide students with the best travel health solutions for their overseas adventures. For more information, visit our partner site at http://inglestudents.com/studentawards/.