Gap Years

All you need to know about Teaching Abroad

This guide should inspire you to teach abroad as well as help you achieve that goal.

Teaching abroad is something that appeals to many graduates. Whether it’s part of wider plans for taking a gap year, a stop gap while you decide what you really want to do, or something that you’re considering as a long term career option, there are a lot of things to consider.

But unfortunately you can’t just rock up to a school in China and start teaching a class of children. There’s a bit of planning and training involved and this guide is here to make that process as smooth as possible for you.

All you’ll need after reading this is a little bit of bravery and a plane ticket!

What are the benefits?

Improve your career prospects

Teaching abroad is a brilliant addition to any graduate CV. It shows the ability to adapt to other cultures, communicate in difficult situations, and the initiative to put yourself out of your comfort zone.

At the end of the experience, you’ll have countless examples of your experiences to talk about in job interviews. In addition to this, you might even pick up some foreign language skills.

In an increasingly global and competitive job market, these skills are always a good selling point.

Earn money while seeing the world

earn money abroadTravelling can be costly, so unless you’ve been a super saver in recent months, it could be an impossible option without any way to fund it.

When you’re teaching, you’ll be bringing in a regular income to cover your living expenses and little luxuries without having to worry about running out of money.

You may even have the chance to save some of your wage every month meaning that you can come home (if you ever do) with cash in the bank.

Learn about another culture

There’s no better way to learn about another country and culture than by immersing yourself in them.

Working in a new place will give you an insight that tourists rarely get, and working alongside the locals will teach you all about their customs and practices.

Become a better person

be a better personOk, this benefit may depend on a few things but if you are teaching English abroad then you will be changing people’s lives by passing on your knowledge.

On top of this obvious benefit you will also have a chance to “find yourself.” This may sound soppy and slightly over dramatic but the likelihood is that you will become more comfortable in your own skin and face lots of challenging situations which you have to overcome.

What kind of teaching can you do?

TEFL

earn money abroadTeaching English as a foreign language, or TEFL as it’s more commonly known, is a very popular option. You don’t need to be able to speak any other languages or have an previous experience, and this work is usually fairly readily available.

You could be teaching in a traditional school, or in a summer school or evening classes. Ages vary, and include adults and children.

One of the best things about TEFL is that you can do it almost anywhere in the world.

Your university specialism

Depending on what you studied at university and where it is that you want to travel to, you might be able to teach the subject that you graduated in.

Finding a job in which you’ll teach your subject in English is pretty rare, but not absolutely impossible. If you have some language skills, you could be in a great position for making this work.

If you choose to take this less common route then you may be more restricted on location as well as needing to have some prior experience of teaching.

What qualifications do you need?

The qualifications that you’ll need for teaching abroad vary between employers, subject specialisms, and the country that you want to teach in. If you have you heart set on a particular role, make sure that you do your research before planning to jet off.

TEFL, TESOL & CELTA

All of these courses can vary in length (just a weekend to a 6 month course) and cost (£100-£1000). You may also have the opportunity to do a course entirely online or even one that involves practice teaching.

You can study for a TEFL or Teach English as a Foreign Language qualification before you reach your destination, and these courses are offered online and in many local colleges. Though they’re often not essential, they can really boost your chances of securing a job.

TEFL courses are available from a large number of sources including i-to-i, LoveTEFLCactusTEFL.

tesolTESOL or Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages courses are very similar to TEFL courses but are less common and are sometimes used if you are wanting to teach English in an English speaking country.

TESOL courses are highly regarded by foreign employers. Find out more info on how to apply for a course here.

CELTA or The Cambridge English Language Teaching Award courses tend to be highly regarded but can be a little more advanced and expensive than TEFL and TESOL courses. See if it’s right for you here.

You can also do a weekend TEFL course or “TEFL Diploma” if you want to gain a quick qualification but be warned as this may not be regarded as highly as some of the other options.

Undergraduate Degree

You are not required to have a degree in s specific subject but if you have a degree in English or a language then this will definitely help your situation.

Some countries such as Japan and Korea state that any applicant that wants to teach abroad should hold an undergraduate degree qualification in order to get a visa.

Nothing?

There have been people in the past who have gone to teach abroad without any qualifications but it’s a lot harder to get a job and the pay may be very low.

It’s well worth doing a course to gain qualifications as even though it may seem like a large upfront cost you will most likely make the money back in no time!

It’s worth noting that in many countries, you won’t need to speak the native language. Learning a little bit of the lingo can really impress a potential employer though, so it’s worth knowing a few phrases before you go.

Where to look for teaching jobs?

searching for TEFL jobsOnce you have your qualification for teaching abroad there’s no doubt that you’ll be keen to look for a job.

Looking online is one of your best bets. There are several websites dedicated to matching budding teachers with available positions, so keep browsing to see if anything comes up.

Sites such as Teaching Abroad Direct and Teach Anywhere will let you search for opportunities based on location, sector and subject.

Sometimes though, the best option is to get out there and talk to potential employers face-to-face. If you’ve done your research and are sure that you have the necessary skills and experience, plus a little bit of cash to tide you over, you could find that the best roles aren’t splashed all over the internet.

Extra advice

Another important consideration is visa requirements. Depending on where you want to teach, you may need to apply for a working visa. If you don’t have the appropriate documents, you’ll find it impossible to find work and you could end up getting yourself into unnecessary hot water.

In short, do your research and plan well in advance. Cutting corners in this area is never a good idea.


We hope this helps you to make your decision about whether teaching abroad is something that you might want to do. Are you currently considering it?

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