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“Dear Teach Away,
Hi! I’m currently enrolled in the OISE University of Toronto TEFL certification program. I live in the USA with my child, husband, and my husband’s parents. With me, that would make us a family of 5. Is there any way, once I complete my TEFL certification, that I could get a teaching job abroad where I can also take my family with me? Please let me know when you get a chance, thank you.”

Hi there,

We’re thrilled to hear you are enrolled in one of our TEFL courses, as this is an important step to take before beginning your teach abroad career!

Your question is one that we hear a lot. Many people want to teach abroad but just don’t know if schools will accept them with family in tow.

To be frank, if you want to teach internationally and bring 4 family members with you, nobody can stop you – as long as you do so at your own expense and you figure out the logistics by yourself. And that’s a pretty big undertaking, of course. We’re talking about arranging flights, visa applications, and accommodation.

If you’re bringing kids along, it’s also worth noting you may want to enroll them in an international school that provides a U.S. curriculum and/or teaches lessons in English so they can continue their education with minimal interruption after leaving the U.S. school system.

In regards to visas, many countries provide visas with a limited time frame on how long an individual can stay in the country if they are not working. Most teaching contracts last a year while tourist visas or tourist stays (if the country doesn’t require the U.S. citizen to have a visa) only last 3–6 months.

However, if you’re wondering if the school will be willing to offset some of your costs – it all depends on the individual school and the package they offer to teachers.

We have seen schools offer accommodation for families, along with airfare, health insurance, and school tuition covered by the school. They might cap some of these benefits – for example, providing additional airfare for up to one family member, which would leave you to pay for the airfare for other family members. Also, these benefits are typically extended to your spouse and children, but not any other family members.

So, it all depends on the school and its benefits package – however, you are more likely to find these benefits offered by schools in the Middle East. At the same time, schools in the Middle East also typically seek more highly qualified teachers – such as licensed teachers with at least 2 years of experience in their subject matter.

That’s where it can get tricky for a new TEFL graduate. You may not yet have the experience these schools – which offer the best benefits for families – are looking for. Because they’re eager to have the most qualified teachers, they provide the best benefits you’ll find in the teach abroad industry.
Schools that hire ESL teachers and don’t require much experience, typically angle toward young, college graduates who plan to travel solo. Due to this, they don’t offer any benefits that can be extended to family members, such as airfare, health insurance, or tuition. If they do offer accommodation, it might be shared with another teacher or a one-bedroom apartment that is only suitable for one individual to live in.

So, long story short: it is absolutely possible to bring family members along on your teach abroad adventure. It will be easier to bring your spouse and children, and trickier to bring other family members. Some schools can help you financially and others won’t offer any support.
Regardless of their level of support, definitely do tell your school about your plans to bring your family just so they’re aware!

We recommend heading to our job board and looking at job postings in the countries you want to teach in – and seeing which jobs you qualify for and what they offer in terms of family benefits. You may not be ready to apply for these jobs yet, but they will give you a realistic sense of what you may be offered with the education and experience you will have after completing your TEFL course.

We wish you the best of luck with your teach abroad journey!

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