Find a Teaching Job Abroad in Summer 2016

by Mary Ellen Dingley

Teaching abroad is a fantastic way to see the world and immerse yourself in a new culture. What better way to spend a free summer? Whether you are trying out teaching as a career or using it as a vehicle to learn and explore, there is a program out there that is a great fit for you! Teaching abroad, which primarily comes in the form of teaching English as a second language, can be a great option for your next summer job. However, it can be difficult to navigate through the different options and information that float around out there.

A teacher and his pupils in Africa

Get started by reading up online, and find out what you need to know before teaching abroad as well as what misconceptions you should throw out the window. Remember, a summer job will be shorter than most teaching contracts, so keep in mind that some of the advice may need to be tweaked. But, don’t fear that your shorter time is going to mean you’ll miss out on too much, short term teaching jobs abroad can be a great way to see if the classroom is a good fit for you.

Check out some of the top teaching jobs abroad here on GoAbroad to start your search for the perfect position! BUT, before you dig deeper into the hunt for a summer teaching job, ask yourself two big questions: where do you want to go and what type of teaching position do you want?

Where do you want to go?

There is demand for English teachers all across the globe, but each location has its own pros and cons. Think about why you want to teach abroad: for the adventure, to train for a future career, to learn another language, to make money? If the pay rate is important to you, you will want to check out countries in Asia or the Middle East, where the salaries are higher.

In South America salaries tend to be lower, but are usually in line with the cost of living (relative to North American costs). In Africa, salaries and cost of living can vary widely depending on the country, city, or town. However, on both continents, there tend to be more teaching positions geared toward volunteers.

For summer positions, you might be interested in teaching at an English summer camp, which are most common in Western Europe. In these positions, pay and hours of work will depend on what camp you work for. However, overall, some salaries are low, but being in Europe does offer easy and relatively inexpensive travel opportunities! 

If you’re more interested in learning a new language, focus on teaching positions in your target language area. For example, Arabic is in very high demand in the job market, so perhaps think about a teaching job in Morocco. If you want to brush up on your Spanish, teaching in Argentina might be a great option, and it happens to be a very popular destination for ESL teachers. Keep in mind, however, that South American semesters usually run from February to December, with a short break in July, so a “summer” position might be more difficult for you to find.

If you’re thinking more about exploration and adventure than salaries, maybe concentrate your research on out of the way places or just insanely beautiful countries that will wipe away the stress of even the most chaotic classroom. Also consider volunteer teaching positions that have small stipends or other perks; you won’t be able to save, but the experience will be worth it!

Students in Asia having a discussion

What type of teaching job do you want?

There are all sorts of ways to teach abroad, though almost all center around teaching English. You can teach via government program at a public school, independently at a private or international school, for a corporation, or even for individual families. The most common way to find a position is through a recruiter or an ESL program that helps you with all the details of visas, certification, and placement. Alternatively, you can also contact schools or organizations directly.

For a summer teaching job, the search narrows a bit; as mentioned, you will likely be focusing on summer camp type positions in countries like Italy, France, and Germany, which you can apply to directly. Summer camps will of course mean working with children, and if you were more interested in teaching college age students or adults, your search for a summer teaching job may be more difficult. There are teaching programs with summer placement options outside of summer camps too, whether teaching or tutoring. However, for short term contracts, language camps are some of the most common.

Think about job requirements when hunting for a teaching position abroad as well. If you are only interested in a summer job, paying for a TEFL or TESOL certification might not be the best investment. Again, as stated above, there are many summer volunteer teaching positions available around the work if that’s a viable option for you.

Once you’ve narrowed down where you want to teach and what type of position you want, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of the job hunt.

Get ready for the job hunt.

Finding the right teaching job abroad for you can take a bit of work, but it’s totally doable! Use some of these tips and you’ll surely have a successful search:

Research, research, research! Find blogs of people who have gone through this program or taught at the same school or camp; there is nothing better than to hear from someone who has gone before you. When you apply for a position, ask to be put in touch with a former teacher for an email or Skype chat. Find reviews of the program, and most importantly, ask a lot of questions when interviewing.

Not all international teaching positions are created equal. That “comfortable” accommodation they promised you might be the size of a broom closet, and those 30 hours of work a week might start to look like 40 after all your duties are done. Does the program have someone on call if your job isn’t going to plan? What sort of support do they offer? Do they offer any short term health or travel insurance?

Consider requirements and benefits. Visas and travel plans can take a while, and you also might want time to compare and contrast offers. The fact that you are reading this article now bodes well for your summer job search already!

Apply early if you can. This will give you more time to suss out the organization, make appropriate travel plans, and prepare less haphazardly for your international job stint!

Have a Plan B. Visas might not come through or the teaching position might start to sound more like a hard labor camp than an exciting adventure. Make sure you have a few positions you are looking at, and maybe some at home backup jobs as well. There are jobs a-plenty around the planet; if you can’t find one that meets your standards in your original country of choice, expand your comfort zone and be willing to search for similar posts in other regions of the world.

If you’re feeling extra brave, you might play teach-abroad roulette and spin a globe with your eyes closed!

Keep these things to keep in mind.

The preparation to set off for an international teaching job placement is a whirlwind, so keep these tips handy during the flurry of pre-departure for a more peaceful experience once on the ground!

  • Gain some teaching experience. If you have not had any sort of teaching experience, and don’t have a degree in teaching, try to get some experience, or at least some knowledge, before you go! Volunteer to teach locally, perhaps for recent immigrants or refugees, read up on teaching tips online, and interview teacher friends.
  • Navigate classroom culture. Remember that even if you have taught before, a classroom in a different culture can be an entirely new ballgame. There are cultures that still use physical punishment in the classroom, rely on rote memorization rather than interactive games, and might have different ideas of what respecting authority looks like. There will be a myriad of new rules and social norms for you to navigate. While some social norms are obviously not ones you wish to acquiesce to (physical punishment is not ok), do make sure to take a step back before immediately judging the different classroom rules.
  • Manage expectations. Sometimes going off to teach young, impressionable minds can make you feel full of idealism and enthusiasm to change their worlds, which is great, but don’t get carried away. Remember, you are the guest in their country, not their savior. Do your absolute best to teach well, but don’t put undue expectations on yourself! Keep the expectations during the job hunt at the realistic level, not the Hollywood teaching movie level.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Job hunting of any kind can feel like a slog through the swamps of the internet, but keep your chin up! Thousands of people are able to teach abroad each year, and you can definitely be one of them.

Take some time to reflect on your motivations for teaching abroad and then use those motivations to fuel your job search. Adventure awaits you! Armed with these tips and online resources, your quest to find a teaching job for summer 2016 is well on its way!