As the exhilaration of finally graduating fades, you’re going to be faced with some significant decisions.
For many graduates, the post-university months can be pretty terrifying. You’ve literally no clue what to do - and if you have to move back home while you figure it out - your parents’ house may feel smaller than ever before. There’s nothing quite as motivating as the claustrophobia of moving home after the freedom of college.
Your friends may well be full of plans involving post-graduate degrees, internships and office jobs, but perhaps you’re not sure what you want to do or even where you want to do it. And that’s okay.
Why teaching abroad after college could be the solution to your quarter-life crisis
The idea of doing anything that isn’t “temporary” gives many new graduates the jitters and the thought of staying put and waiting to see the world is not all that inspiring.
You’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what your next steps should be. And as it happens, teaching English abroad might be a great way to buy yourself time for some serious soul-searching.
Take the quiz: Is teaching English abroad right for you?
Perhaps everything has been mapped out for you until this point. And like many recent graduates, it isn’t something you can complain about. You’re one of the fortunate ones, you have a degree and options, but for some reason, all those options can feel crippling. From kindergarten to university…and then, in your twenties a great big question mark.
The worst part is, you won’t be the only one who can see the question mark. Parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors will all be wondering when you are going to move out and make some BIG decisions.
When I graduated, I didn’t think I had enough money to move abroad, so I found an office job at home and worked away quietly, saving up to take flight! Little did I know, there were tons of opportunities I could have taken advantage of right then. I just assumed I was too young, too poor and too underqualified.
But that’s not the case. There’s literally no reason to wait. New graduates are qualified to teach abroad all over the world, so why wait? Without further ado, let’s delve into the best teaching abroad programs for college graduates:
1. EPIK (The English Program in Korea)
If you’re a new graduate looking to teach English in South Korea, chances are you already know about the EPIK program.
EPIK recruits native English speaking teachers for Korea’s public schools and they are a firm favorite amongst recent graduates. Part of the reason for this is the amazing wages and benefits, but another crucial aspect is the presence of co-teachers.
Yep, that’s right - co-teachers. Recent graduates who are nervous about facing a classroom of bright-eyed students can take refuge in knowing that in the Korean public school system they will technically be an assistant teacher. This means you get the high wages and benefits, and travel experience with the added bonus of a helping hand in the classroom. You will technically run your own classes, but it’s always handy to have your co-teacher on-hand for tricky translations or even just to lend a hand when English speaking games get a bit too rowdy.
South Korea is also a great place to save money or pay off loans and if you’re interested in the financial benefits of choosing the peninsula - check out this blog on how much TEFL teachers make in South Korea for more on that very topic.
How hard is it to get into the EPIK Program?
Recent graduates looking to teach abroad with EPIK are going to need the minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. EPIK only accepts applicants from a small range of English speaking countries (the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia).
This blog explains what it takes to get accepted into the EPIK program in more detail.
If you don’t meet the EPIK program requirements these and still want to teach in South Korea - don’t despair! There are other options, EPIK is simply one of the better all-round options, but it’s not the only one.
2. JET (The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program)
Japan is one of those places which feature on most bucket lists. The majority of people will get to experience it for a couple of weeks (if they’re lucky) and have to cram all the culture in.
If you teach abroad with the JET program after graduation, though, you can spend an entire year soaking it all in. Just imagine moseying through Harajuku with rainbow colored candy floss, drinking matcha in an ancient temple or eating the honest-to-god BEST sushi in the world. If that sounds too good to be true, it’s really not.
The JET program places teachers in Japan’s public school system and also some private schools. It’s considered a cultural exchange and you’re viewed as an ambassador for your country who will share the wonders of Japan once you return home! And who wouldn’t? After a year in Japan, we’re betting you manage to work it into every conversation for the rest of your life.
The JET program also provides graduates with everything they need from housing (or a housing allocation) to a decent salary with healthcare. Oh! And the cherry on top is a two-day orientation in Tokyo (swoon!). Japan is similar to Korea and teachers will not be thrown into the deep end. You will be hired as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) which means those worried about teaching a class for the first time needn’t fret - you will have support from a Japanese teacher in the classroom.
How hard is it to get into the JET Program?
Candidates for the JET program will be required to have an undergraduate degree and excellent English speaking skills. A TEFL is not required but will help your application stand out. For the nitty-gritty details, check out the requirements for teaching English in Japan.
A lot of graduates put Japan front and center of their teach abroad list, so be as prepared as possible when it comes to applying. The program wants to see that you’re passionate about Japan and teaching, as well as willing to take responsibility as a teacher.
Recommended reading: Teaching English in Japan with the JET program
3. The Explore Program China
Saying you’re going to spend a year teaching English in China will draw a wow from even the most travel-worn souls. There’s something about this unique country that still feels shrouded in mystery. Even with globalization getting its claws into every corner of the globe, the Chinese culture, history and politics make it an intriguing option for those seeking adventure. As the demand for English grows, the need for recent graduates from native English speaking countries has increased.
There’s a lot of opportunities in China so it can be difficult to choose which program to trust. So, we’ll make it easy - we wholeheartedly recommend the Explore Program. With a competitive salary, benefits, housing and flights all included, this program is making a name for itself with recent graduates and is catching up on tried-and-trusted teaching abroad programs for recent college graduates, like EPIK and JET.
(Warning: it may convince you to pack your bags and get on the next flight - and we recommend taking a little more time than that to get sorted!)
How hard is it to get into the Explore Program?
You’ll need your bachelor’s degree to teach in China and the Explore Program is no exception. Once you’ve got that bad boy under your arm, you’re all set to qualify for the program. If you want to have your pick of the jobs, we would suggest getting a TEFL certificate - just to give your application a little extra oomph!
Watch this: Requirements to teach English in China [Video]
4. CIEE teaching programs worldwide
This is among the most flexible of programs and is best suited to people who aren’t sure where they want to go in the world. With a lot of these teach abroad programs you will find yourself looking at a single country which is great for those graduates that know they want to experience KPOP in Seoul or rural life in China but is a little more daunting for teachers who aren’t sure yet.
CIEE is a great place to look for different sorts of options, positions span the globe and you might end up teaching in Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Spain, the Dominican Republic or the Czech Republic. Those aren’t even the only options and investigating the program will definitely pique the interest of your inner globe-trotter.
Positions are paid and come with 24/7 emergency assistance, iNext international insurance, pre-departure support and in-country orientation to get you up and running after landing. In some cases, there are also opportunities for language learning.
How hard is it to teach with CIEE?
Although a TEFL course will give you a distinct advantage, it’s not needed. CIEE hires will be expected to be passionate about teaching, but further training will be provided during orientation. If you’re interested in teaching English abroad after college with CIEE, we do advise signing up for a TEFL certificate first as it will increase your chances of getting the positions you end up applying for. It’s always better to go above and beyond!
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5. The North American Language and Culture Assistants Program in Spain
If you’re a graduate hailing from North America or the EU, aged 21 or over, with a love for tapas, sunshine and sangria, then Spain might be the country to consider for your teach abroad adventure.
Right now, there are a whole bunch of English teaching assistant jobs in Spain with the Spanish Ministry of Education, crying out for applications from bachelor degree holders. An English teaching assistant position with the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program (AKA the Auxiliar Program) is a low-stress gig that usually entails about 12 - 16 hours of teaching per week for a modest stipend ranging from €700 - 1,000 each month.
New graduates often use a teach abroad placement in Spain as a doorway to Europe. They make the most of it by booking cheap railway/plane tickets and heading to other European countries on the weekends. But Spain has a lot to offer too. Between the paella, the naps and the chilled out vibe, there’s no real reason to leave.
How hard is it to get a job as a language assistant in Spain?
New graduates without a TEFL certificate will be relieved to know that all that’s needed is their undergraduate degree to teach in Spain. It goes without saying that applicants should be native English speakers. Most likely they will prefer applicants with some experience teaching or working with kids (but it’s not a requirement).
6. Teach Taiwan
Public teaching school jobs in Taiwan give new education graduates the opportunity to experience something different while getting to explore Asia. Taiwan is often referred to as the “Heart of Asia” and for good reason. From the skyscrapers of Taipei to the trails surrounding Sun Moon Lake, there is something to satisfy every kind of traveler. New graduates looking to go off the beaten track might find a new home in this jewel of a country.
If you want to save money while teaching abroad then you will be happy to hear that new recruits make anything from $1,400 - 1,600 per month, with extra perks like housing and flights included in most packages.
How hard is it to land a teaching job with Teach Taiwan?
Getting hired by Teach Taiwan as a newly-minted teacher isn’t difficult but does require applicants to be native English speakers (a citizen of US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand).
7. TAPIF in France
Ooh la la! Can you imagine packing up your suitcase and letting everyone know that you will be living in France for the foreseeable future? How about a year nibbling on fresh baguettes, rolling your “R”s and sipping wine in a park with your new French friends?
Teaching in France is a perfect option for new graduates, requiring just 12 hours of assistant teaching per week. You will probably spend your spare time swooning…but hey, when in France...
How hard is it to teach abroad with TAPIF in France?
TAPIF (the Teaching Assistant Program in France) is open to US citizens with a BA or BSc. Applicants need to be between 20 and 35 years old.
France is a popular destination for wannabe English teachers, so a little TEFL training might go a long way towards helping you secure a position with TAPIF - and giving you some extra confidence in the classroom.
Teaching English abroad: A post-grad job you can travel the world with
If you’re looking to take a year out, see if you like teaching, travel the world, learn a new language, postpone major life decisions, make new friends, build a sweet Instagram account or any other number of goals (silly or otherwise), then teaching abroad after graduation is the right move for you.
Close your eyes for a minute and picture yourself poised on the top of a mountain in Southeast Asia with a lush forest stretching out beneath you, straddling a grumpy camel in a desert in the Middle East, slurping down Ramen at a Tokyo restaurant or ticking European cities off your bucket list.
All this is readily available to those willing to share their culture, be flexible and teach some English skills. And the best news is, that as a recent graduate with a shiny degree in hand, you already have the biggest part of the qualification puzzle sorted (who said your philosophy degree wasn’t useful, eh?)
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