Life After Graduation: So You Want to Teach English Abroad?

teach english abroadBy Noah Greenberg

The cliché, unfortunately, is true: Graduation day comes and goes in the blink of an eye.

One minute you’re all cap and gown; the next, you’ve either occupied the basement couch at your parents’ house, or you’re cinching up a tie for that coveted ‘job’ that everyone seems to be after these days.

Not everyone can land one of the top job prospects in the country, and unless you’re absolutely committed to a graduate program, you probably won’t be one of the 6.25% of applicants that gets into some of the top law school programs in the country either.

The outcomes look pretty bleak. Fortunately, there’s another option.

While your recently graduated classmates are setting new records in World of Warcraft or refining their corporate pencil sharpening skills, there’s a far more adventurous and rewarding path: travel.

But I’m not proposing any ordinary travel. This is travel with a highly specific purpose. That purpose is to teach elementary school English in a foreign country.

The popularity of English teaching programs in foreign countries has exploded in recent years.

Due in part to a small job market in the United States, and increasing demand for English speakers around the world, these programs have become the thing to do after graduation for you, your career, and the little kids you’ll be teaching.

Don’t just do it because everyone else is.

Do it to explore another country, learn a language, and immerse yourself in a foreign culture. Not to mention you’ll earn a competitive salary and still get plenty of time off to explore.

You can find English teaching programs in almost every country.

Both governments and private companies manage these English teaching programs. Whether it’s the former or latter will depend on which country you’re interested in.

To get started with the process, you’ll need to do some research:

1.  Find a Program: If a teaching program is run by a government or an embassy, it will be listed on a government website. Explore several government sites to see what programs are available. If there are none, search for private companies that manage teaching programs through schools. All programs require applications. You may need to write an essay and get a recommendation from an employer or teacher.

2.  Get a Visa: Check the travel requirements for the country where you’ve decided to teach. The teaching program should provide guidance for paperwork and forms you need to apply for a visa. The visa application process for each country is different. Make sure you understand what the travel requirements are for that specific country well before you leave.

3.  Sort Out Your Finances: Moving to a new country for a year can feel daunting, especially when thinking about money. Make sure that you’ll have access to your checking account when you move, and look into credit cards that are accepted where you’ll be teaching.

4.  Book a Ticket: Booking your travel plan in advance is always a good idea. Not only will it save you money, by you’ll be able to survey your options of how to get to that country, then how to travel locally once you arrive. Since airplane tickets can get expensive, don’t risk flying with a shoddy airline; book with the best on time performance airlines.

5.  Pre-departure checklist: Start preparing for your trip early. First, brush up on your etiquette and local customs of the country where you want to teach. Then, refresh your knowledge of the language by reviewing that language’s common words translated into English. As a teacher, you’ll need to learn quickly how to communicate with your students.

Photo:  WAVA Limited

Noah Greenberg is a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studying Sociology and Technology Management.  He is President of the Santa Barbara Media Group, and interning at Santa Barbara startup FindTheBest.  Santa Barbara Media Group is a student run advertising agency helping local businesses reach out to their target audience.  FindTheBest is a comparison engine helping people to make quicker, more informed decisions.  


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