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woman carrying a suit case going abroad

If you’re itching to pack a suitcase and teach English overseas, you are not alone.

Although the health crisis has grounded many travel plans in the past eighteen months, many ESL teachers still want to go abroad to teach.

A study of the impact of COVID-19 on teachers found that 92% of teachers who are not yet teaching abroad plan to do so in the future. 

And 59% of ESL teachers are ready to move abroad to teach right now, despite the health crisis.

If this is you, matching your aspirations up with the international job market, and travel regulations, might feel especially complicated at the moment. 

But it is still possible and safe for ESL teachers to go abroad and teach, health crisis or not. 

Here’s how:

  1. Is it still possible to teach abroad during the health crisis?
  2. How should I prepare to move abroad to teach ESL?
  3. Where can I teach ESL abroad in 2021?
  4. Can I teach abroad in 2021 or should I wait until next year?

woman wearing a mask at an airport kiosk

1. Is it still possible to teach abroad during the health crisis?

In a word, yes.

The ESL market has changed during the health crisis, obviously. 

For the most part, this has meant an increase in online teaching positions and more complications for schools that want to hire international teachers due to travel restrictions and health regulations.

As an ESL teacher going abroad, the health crisis may have changed your priorities too. Perhaps you don’t want to live in a big city anymore, or maybe it is important for you to stay closer to home now.

One thing that hasn’t changed is demand. 

Schools around the world are still in need of English teachers and are hiring when they are in a position to. 

And English teachers still want to teach overseas!

With a little bit of forward planning, moving abroad to teach ESL is still a real possibility. 

2. How should I prepare to move abroad to teach ESL?

Many of the steps stayed the same way they were before the health crisis. 

The surest route to finding a great ESL job abroad is to get TEFL certified and start your job hunt online. 

Then, once you’ve interviewed with a few schools, and got a job offer you want to accept, there are some extra things to think about.

First, let’s discuss the administrative side. 

Sorting out paperwork such as visas can take time and dedication in the best of circumstances. 

At the moment, it is best to leave extra time for these steps in case of work backlogs caused by the health crisis in your destination country or where you currently live.

You’ll also want to take some extra steps to protect your health:

  1. You may not need to get vaccinated in order to teach abroad, but doing so could be simpler than organizing a vaccine when you arrive, and make traveling easier.
  2. Make sure you talk to your future employer about health insurance, and what kind of support they can provide if you do fall ill while overseas, such as translators to go to the doctor with you.
  3. If you can, it’s worth saving money before you move abroad. Having an emergency fund will help you cover unexpected health costs like traveling home suddenly if a family member is sick, paying for things like quarantine hotels or even for your own health care. 

Finally, you’ll want to do some health crisis-related research. 

Normally, before you move to a new country, you want to find out more about the local culture and start learning the language. 

At the moment, you’ll also want to find out how the country has previously handled lockdowns, social distancing and other health regulations to make sure that you can live by any rules that come into place while you’re living there. 

For a first-hand perspective of life on the ground, ask your school if you can speak to other language teachers who already live in the location.

woman teacher wearing a mask in a classroom

3. Where can I get a job teaching ESL abroad in 2021?

There is less choice than usual for ESL teachers who want to teach abroad, but there are still jobs available all over the world. 

These are some of the biggest employers, currently hiring ESL teachers:

China

Teachers need to be fully vaccinated before travel, and to present two negative COVID tests, taken within 48 hours of scheduled flight departure. 
Teachers will also have to quarantine upon arrival in Mainland China. The length of time varies between regions, but a 14-day minimum is to be expected. 

Spain

Once again, teachers need to be fully vaccinated before travel, or present a negative COVID test, taken within 48 hours of scheduled flight departure. 
There are currently no quarantine rules.

The UAE

Teachers need to present a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of scheduled flight departure, and may have to take a second test at the airport upon arrival.

There are currently no quarantine rules but face masks are required in all public spaces and while on public transport.

Additional health measures may be required in each country. Be sure to check the latest information on travel rules and restrictions between different countries.

4. Can I move abroad to teach ESL in 2021 or should I wait until next year?

The answer to this question depends on your teaching experience, where you are in your job search and where you want to travel.

If you are TEFL qualified and already doing interviews, it is possible that you could be teaching abroad within the next four months.

If not, it may take a little longer. 

And if you want to teach in a very specific country you may have to patiently wait for the right moment when your job search, travel regulations and the health situation align to allow you to travel there.

Whatever your circumstances, it is best to take your time. 

Moving abroad to teach ESL during the health crisis can be done safely, but it is not a decision to take lightly. 

Your safety should come first in any decision, so make sure that wherever you move to you are personally prepared and feel like you’ll be well supported by your school.

woman wearing a backpack looking out at a mountain view for article on what to know as an esl teacher going abroad

Travel safe!

Moving abroad to teach ESL is always an adventure but now more than ever, travelers need to be ready for the unexpected. 

As we all know, the health situation can change quickly wherever you are in the world. 

Part of teaching overseas in 2021 or 2022 might be accepting that plans can change and you will have to change with them.

But, that doesn’t mean that the door to living and teaching overseas is closed, far from it! 

With planning, preparation and a little bit of good luck, this could be the year that you move abroad to teach ESL.

Apply for ESL teaching jobs abroad with Teach Away today.

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