As with any job, it is important to tick off the requirements to teach English abroad.
Teaching abroad gives you the opportunity to live in an exotic foreign country and make money doing what you love.
It does seem way too good to be true but fortunately for us teachers, this is an actual opportunity available to people of all backgrounds and all countries. Teaching abroad is an unparalleled experience that allows you to dive into a whole new culture, learn the language of the country, explore the world, and make friends in the unlikeliest places. Additionally, over a billion people are learning the English language today so there is a strong demand for good qualified English teachers.
So how do you do it?
The influx of varying information and opinion can make it quite confusing for a newcomer. Let us make life easier for you.
Here are the basic requirements to teach English abroad
Is a degree necessary?
The necessity of a college degree differs in the continent; in some countries like UAE, China, and South Korea, a four-year degree in education or any degree related to the subject you are teaching is officially needed as part of the government visa regulation.
On the other hand, several countries don’t need a four-year degree to teach English; countries like Cambodia fall into this category. Rarely, a school might have its own specific requirements when looking for an English teacher. However, this depends on whether it is a public school, private school or an institute that follows a specific teaching methodology.
Is a TEFL Certificate necessary for teaching abroad?
Yes and no.
The TEFL Certificate confirms that you have completed the required training and are certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
There are cases where you might be able to get a job without the TEFL Certificate such as when you possess a four-year degree in education, but possessing it will certainly make it easier to land a job and will open more doors in a wider range of countries in Asia. Without a TEFL Certificate, you will have to narrow down your search to a specific handful of countries.
Protip: If you lack a TEFL Certificate you can consider taking up a role as a volunteer.
In simple terms, it is best that you arm yourself with a TEFL Certificate. If you are at the early stages of your teaching career, you will have had hardly any experience as a teacher so the TEFL course can give you the skills needed to teach the language efficiently and clearly.
Certain schools make the certificate mandatory while in some countries it is legally requirement. As one of the most common requirements to teach English abroad, TEFL Certificate also has another rarely spoken about benefit: many of the TEFL centers will assist you in landing a job that revolves around your interests and background.
How important is teaching experience?
Many schools are willing to look past the lack of experience, as evident by the fact that thousands of first-time teachers (with no experience) find a job every year as a language teacher.
This is where having a TEFL Certificate helps. Not only does it make your resume more attractive, but it also gives you the edge over other candidates.
Countries like Turkey and Kazakhstan are generally more open to hiring TEFL qualified teachers with no experience but countries that offer the best pays such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia are insistent on such matters. However, these countries are certainly in the minority.
Can a non-native speaker teach English abroad?
This is easily one of the most unfair things in the profession but teachers from native speaking countries certainly have an edge over nonnative speakers simply due to their geographical location.
Anyway, the native English speaker requirement depends on the country you are applying. There are numerous Asian countries that look past the silly requirement but countries like Japan, China, Vietnam and S. Korea tend to prefer native English teachers.
Is there an age limit to teaching abroad?
Some countries like South Korea look for teachers of a certain age group but other than that, there are plenty of opportunities for people of all ages!
But, if you are younger than twenty, you might face some difficulties in landing a full-time teaching job but you can instead choose to volunteer abroad or work at a summer camp to gain the experience that will help you later on.
On the other side of the scale, you will be able to find work as long as you have sufficient work experience. Asian countries in the South East (read Vietnam, Cambodia etc.) are recommended options for those above fifty years.
Will I need startup money?
There is no way you will have to pay to teach – if anyone says so, get out of there because that is a certainly scam!
You will, however, need to have enough savings to pay for your initial flight ticket and the living expenses for the first few months. Some packages offer to pay for your flight as well as the initial cost of settling down – especially countries in the Middle East – but it is always a good idea to have an emergency fund of your own. Things always go wrong and you will wish you were prepared when they do!
The exact amount you have to take depends on where you are going and the cost of living in the said country but on average, a sum between thousand to two thousand US dollars should do.
If you have enrolled in a volunteer program, chances are that you will need to pay for the tuition to cover the cost of housing and the programme. Organizations like CIEE can make life easier for you by securing your visa, finding you a job and a place to live for a reasonable fee.