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Teaching abroad: choose the best school for you

There’s no doubt about it: there are hundreds of great international schools with opportunities for teachers, but we know many of you have heard the odd horror story about teaching abroad. Though these stories are few and far between, we know it’s important to learn how to recognize which schools are reputable in order to make your international teaching experience a whole lot more enriching. Here are some things to pay special attention to:

Work visas

Any reputable international school knows that teachers they hire from other countries will need a visa. With this in mind, you should look for schools that will support you in acquiring your visa in order to work legally for them. Since it’s a requirement to work in another country, you want to make sure that you’re narrowing your search to schools that make mention of this requirement—for your own employment benefit.

Working without a valid visa means you lose your entitlement to health insurance, holiday pay, job security, and generally speaking, you’ll be offered lower pay, so you should shy away from these offers if they ever do crop up.  

A school’s involvement in your visa application often varies, but there should be a conversation about the process and they should carry out a check on your status at the least. Some schools may offer to cover the application costs and they should provide you information about the steps you’ll need to complete on your end in order to properly obtain a visa.

Qualifications are key

Another important clue is teacher requirements: you’ll want to make sure you’re going to work at a school that has set strict requirements for a teaching license or TEFL certification for its teachers. This demonstrates their genuine interest in delivering quality education to their students, which in turn means they’re likely to support their teachers and address their needs along the way.

Put plainly: reputable schools will take the necessary time to verify your teaching credentials. They should also ask you to demonstrate your capacity to teach by asking several situational questions in the interview.

Get answers to your questions

Don’t shy away from the opportunity to ask whatever questions are on your mind. Teach Away partners applicants with a Program Coordinator who will handle your application, so you can take this opportunity to ask any initial questions or when the most appropriate time for asking questions of your interviewer is.

Prepare some questions before your interview that address a variety of issues, including teacher support and student support. You might want to ask questions like:

  • Does the school hire only qualified teachers?

  • Does the school follow a specific curriculum?

  • How does the school encourage student success? Are there regular assessments?

  • Are there teacher assessments?

Resources for teachers and students

This one is a bit trickier because many newer schools won’t necessarily have the same library of resources (course books, exercises, games, or photocopiable materials) that older, more established schools have. This isn’t necessarily a sign that a school is disinterested in supporting its students or teachers. If you know that the school you’re looking to work for is a younger school, you should ask about their policy for acquiring resources for teachers and students and how they plan to grow their library.

What’s important is that there seems to be a resource support plan in place for teachers. Access to technology in the classroom is also a huge asset because you’ll be able to find a great number of classroom support materials online.

Choose a teacher recruitment agency

Applying through a teacher recruitment agency such as Teach Away is a good way to ensure that you’re applying to reputable schools that are safe, legal, and that follow good educational—and HR—practices. Our recruiters work hard to secure each of our candidates a fair deal when it comes to employment terms and benefits. We push for signed contracts before departure and take care of departure arrangements. The added advantages of applying for teaching jobs abroad through us is that we personally support you with the entire process, every step of the way, from the moment you hit the apply button, to the second you walk through the school gates into your new role, and beyond.

If you’re looking for a teach abroad experience that lives up to all your expectations, take the time to follow this advice and check in with your Program Coordinator or school about visas and qualifications. You can also take advantage of our Facebook or Twitter Q&A sessions on Thursdays to ask us whatever you’d like! Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions—you’re moving across the world for a teaching experience, so the only stupid questions are the ones that go unasked!

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