This page provides information and classification to help prospective international teachers understand the array of schools overseas at which to find international teaching jobs. The main types of international private schools fall into one of the following categories:
K-12 is a designation used to describe primary and secondary education. The expression is the shorthand for ‘Kindergarten to twelfth grade,’ which are the first and last grades of free education offered by the United States, Canada, and Australia. ‘K12’ is a term that is usually used in these countries, though occasionally in Australia ‘P-12’ is used as an alternative to describe the same range of grades. Foreign curriculum schools offer curriculum from countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
These schools are traditionally started in capital cities and US embassies around the world, but due to the similarity of curriculum to the local districts, these schools began attracting non-Americans as well. As of 2011 there are about 3.5 international students to every 1 US student enrolled at American schools in foreign countries. American international schools are designed to provide a core curriculum that prepares students to enter schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. However, Bambi Betts, CEO of the Academy for International School Heads, points out the following caveat: “In reality, there is no such thing as an ‘American’ curriculum since each state (and even district) in the US makes its own decisions and sets its own standards.” Despite the lack of uniformity, there are still common themes to be found the American international school curriculum, in particular its student-centered planning, which is an increasingly central tenet to many teaching jobs abroad.
Similar to American schools, Canadian schools offer the curriculum of one of the provinces in Canada to expatriates and their children living abroad, primarily for the purposes of preparing them for entrance into Canadian schools. Canadian curriculum also adheres to student-centered methodologies for learning. Education in Canada is regulated provincially and as such, each province decides how they will offer their curriculum in an international setting. In most cases, students who graduate from a true Canadian international school will receive a dual diploma from their home country as well as the Canadian province. For the student this allows easy entry into Canadian or American universities upon graduation. For the teacher this allows a unique opportunity in which to teach abroad using a local curriculum, but an international audience.
Similar to US, and Canadian international schools, Australian schools provide an Australian-centered curriculum in countries around the world. Australian international schools are particularly prominent in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UAE, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The influence of the British Empire is evidenced still today with over 2,000 British schools found in every corner of the globe. This can be confusing because not all of these schools are officially recognized, or receive formal support from Britain. As a result, there is a wide variance among the structure and quality of British schools. Some of these schools are completely private entities with no oversight from any governmental body. Many are funded by donations from local businesses or private international bodies. COBIS (Council of British International Schools) is a membership association of high-quality British schools worldwide, and belongs to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) of the United Kingdom.
Started in 1968, International Baccalaureate schools were originally built as part of a program to address a need for an internationally standardized curriculum for the children of national, or multinational diplomatic expatriates. The IB program has grown in size and popularity substantially since its inception—so much so, in fact, that it has become the "gold-standard" around the world for international education, even in the United States, which boasts more IB schools than any other country. A recent survey by ACS International Schools, a group of independent schools based in Britain, found that of universities in 141 countries that offer the credential, felt that the IB diploma is the "the top passport to international education." Teachers instructing an IB curriculum will benefit from the academic rigor of the program. All IB teachers are required to attend personal development training sessions before teaching in an IB class. This training provides lesson plans and illustrates the significance of international education.
Some schools offer both a locally-derived curriculum in conjunction with the IB curriculum to give students the advantage of choosing between an IB curriculum and any other kind that might better suit their education. This is ideal for students who have not yet determined their academic future and would like to leave their options open. Similarly, these types of schools are advantageous for teachers who are looking to gain exposure to multiple curriculums that blend local considerations with international trends in learning.
The IGCSE is the most popular internationally recognized qualification for students that typically fall between the ages of 14 and 16. It incorporates extremely high quality international education for learners at this level, and is regularly updated. Unlike some of the other certifications, the IGCSE is slightly different because it is awarded based on individual subjects of study, instead of collectively as a cross-discipline “certificate of education.” Another way that IGCSE is different is that it is it not a “course,” but rather a series of exams. Over 70 different subjects are available, which includes more than 30 different language courses.
While some of these teaching jobs abroad correspond to American, Canadian, or British curriculum, there are also other schools on the international stage that have incorporated multiple curriculum elements into their format and provide instruction with a global focus. It should be noted that while some do, not all international schools deliver the IB program; conversely, not all IB schools are international. International schools vary widely—as varied as the students they serve.
A private language school (often referred to as an ESL school in the context of English) is an institution concerned solely with teaching a specific language. Classes at a language school are primarily geared towards, but not limited to, achieving communicative competence. Generally language schools exist to teach the language of the country they are within, but this is not always the case. There are private language schools all around the world, but they are especially prominent in the Far East in countries like China (buxiban), Korea (hagwon), and Japan (eikaiwa).
Private tutoring occurs in every country, and represents a more intimate, one-on-one approach to (supplementing) classroom instruction. Teachers looking to entertain a tutoring position overseas will be assuming the role of an English teacher, and may work out of a school, but lesson plans and the overall learning approach will be tailored to an individual or relatively small audience.