I have only one regret about my time teaching abroad – I wish I’d started earlier!
I spent four years teaching in Canada before accepting my first job teaching abroad in Japan. While I did learn a lot in those four years, in hindsight, I feel a couple of years of teaching experience would have given me a strong enough foundation to start teaching internationally.
However, teaching abroad is a big decision and not to be taken lightly. How do you know if it’s really for you? There are some serious questions you need to ask yourself before before embarking on what could be the greatest adventure in your life.
Is your current job challenging you?
Often we will settle into a routine and a job that becomes comfortable. Comfort is great, but it is also important to challenge yourself and grow as an educator. Teaching abroad is a great way to ensure that you will be consistently pushed. You will also be exposed to new theories, classroom management styles and student-teacher relations.
Are you qualified for the positions you would like to apply for?
This requires a little research. Check out the Teach Away job board. Take a look at some of the positions available. Each posting will state the requirements for the position. Based on the region and position type, you will see some common trends emerging. Do you meet the qualification and experience requirements for your desired positions?
Do you have the finances to consider a major move?
Of course, you will be paid, often very well, during your time teaching abroad. However, it is still important that you have some funds available for start-up costs. Your contract may not cover flights up front. You might need to use some of your savings for a deposit for accommodation. Each contract is different. It is also important to bear in mind that you are not paid on arrival. You will be paid at the end of your first or second month – depending on your start date.
Do you have the time to apply and secure a visa?
Once you have decided to look at teaching jobs abroad, the process can be quite lengthy. It’s worth doing some research into typical application and visa processing times. Your Placement Coordinator at Teach Away will be there to help you with this. There could be some documents that you can have on hand to speed up the process.
It (almost) goes without saying that the earlier you start the application process, the better. However, we do often have short notice opportunities as the school year approaches – remember to ask your Coordinator!
What are your responsibilities right now?
Who is depending on you right now? How would they be affected by this move? Your family are a major consideration, but also think of the advantages for them. Having a year or more living abroad can be a transformative experience for them too.
Will you be more, or less likely to do this in the future?
We tend to accumulate responsibilities as we grow older. This can make a life-changing move more challenging. ‘Next year’ may sound more feasible and may give you more time to plan, but there is always the chance that ‘next year’ never rolls around. So if you feel ready to teach abroad now, get going! Fantastic opportunities and experiences await you.