6 Ways to Become a Teacher Abroad

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How to become a teacher abroad. Teaching abroad is a great option for those who want to live and work overseas, and the demand for English teachers is growing in many countries. From teaching assistants and language tutors to TEFL programs and international schools, these days there is no single best way to teach English abroad. But with all of the options, you may be wondering exactly how to become a teacher abroad

young students in a classroom Tambon Mae La, Myanmar (Burma)

Teaching English abroad jobs are a’plenty, so hop to it!

The answer depends on your background and skill set, but the good news is that you don’t need any prior experience to get started. While experienced teachers may be on the hunt for teaching English abroad jobs, there are also teach abroad organizations that offer training and placement assistance. No matter which path you choose, teaching abroad has the ability to change your outlook on life while helping others learn pertinent skills for their future. 

6 of the best ways to teach abroad

Figuring out exactly how to teach internationally can be a challenge. How do you wade through all of the information about training courses, volunteer opportunities, and teachers abroad programs? Thankfully, GoAbroad has got your back. Most teaching options fall into one of several categories, and by breaking down the pros and cons of each, you can make an educated decision about how to successfully become a teacher abroad

PS: If you’re psyched to teach but aren’t quite sure where you want to go, check out GoAbroad’s list of best places to teach English in 2018 for some inspo!

1. With teaching English abroad programs

This may be the best way to teach English abroad for a new-ish teacher who would like assistance in finding a teaching placement. By going through a program, you’ll receive assistance with your job placement, which also means you’re much more likely to be placed in a reputable school. You’ll also have support throughout your time teaching, whether you have a question about lesson plans or need help with a landlord issue. There are a lot of teaching English abroad programs out there, but by doing some research you can easily find one that shows you how to become a teacher abroad. 

  • Pros: Most teachers abroad programs offer assistance finding a placement before you even arrive, so you can feel secure in knowing that a paycheck is forthcoming. They can also help with finding lodging, and some programs even offer language or teacher training materials. 
  • Cons: These programs are often time-bound, and they may not allow you to remain in your school or placement for more than the program length. While they offer a great taste of teaching abroad, they may not be ideal for long-term teaching placements. 
  • Recommended program provider: International TEFL Academy
  • More info: Find Teach English Abroad programs 

[Get Matched with 5 Teaching Abroad Programs for FREE]

woman tutoring child in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

You can work one-on-one with students or with a full classroom. 

2. By finding your own teaching English abroad jobs

Be the master of your own destiny! When figuring out how to teach internationally, you don’t necessarily need to go with a program. Teaching English is like any other job, and schools are constantly posting “help wanted” ads for new teachers. Some TEFL websites host job boards, which can be a great resource when searching from your home country. If you’re already located in the country where you want to teach, this can be the best way to teach English abroad because you can inquire directly with language schools about working there. This method can be great for independent-minded teachers but can also be challenging, so make sure you’re searching efficiently

  • Pros: By searching on your own for teaching English abroad jobs, you’re in control of where you work. Some programs may only place students in specific schools, leaving you without alternatives if you don’t think it’s a good fit. This option is also good for teachers who want to teach long-term. 
  • Cons: If you haven’t taught English abroad before, this method can be frustrating. Each country has different hiring practices, and it may be difficult to find a well-paid position in a reputable school on your own. This option does not offer any supportive services, so if something goes wrong, you won’t have a program to assist you. 
  • More info: Finding a Job in Another Country

3. Volunteering 

There are many people in the world who want to learn English but can’t afford expensive lessons. By offering your time to teach others, you can provide individuals with the skills to further their education and enhance their career path. Whether you’re looking for a short-term or long-term placement, there are many options for volunteer teaching abroad. Volunteer positions can sometimes be found in traditional schools, but more often volunteer teachers end up working in community centers, orphanages, or non-profit organizations. While it can be somewhat easier to teach as a volunteer than as a paid teacher, make sure you’re prepared for both its rewards and challenges. 

  • Pros: As a volunteer, you often don’t need to have a teaching certification in order to teach. For those who are trying to decide if teaching is right for them, volunteering can be a great way to get a taste of what life is like inside the classroom. Volunteering can also be more flexible than a traditional teaching position, as volunteers can often teach for a couple of weeks or up to a year or more. 
  • Cons: As the term implies, volunteering isn’t going to make you rich or pay the bills. While volunteering can be a great option for those who can afford it, if you need a paycheck coming in every month, this isn’t the best choice. 
  • Recommended volunteer teaching organization: The Real Uganda
  • More info: 9 Best Places for Volunteer Teaching Abroad

4. Through a government program 

Don’t forget to check out government-sponsored teaching programs when you’re trying to figure out the best way to teach English abroad. From France and Spain to Japan and South Korea, there are many countries that bring in English teachers to work in public schools. These programs are paid and competition can be fierce to get a spot. If you’re interested in teaching this way, it’s best to plan ahead, as many applications are due months (or even a year!) before the start of the program. Each program is different, so it’s best to research your specific program to determine if you’re eligible to apply. 

  • Pros: Oftentimes, employment issues are a bit easier to sort through when you teach for a government program. You’ll receive assistance on applying for a visa and work permit, and there is a support network in place to help if you run into problems at your school. However, keep in mind that the level of support varies from country to country, and you will be expected to be fairly autonomous throughout the duration of your contract. 
  • Cons: If you have a specific location in mind, applying to teach through a government program may lead to disappointment. Most government programs assign you to a school, and you could end up in the capital city or in a rural village on the other side of the country. You don’t get any say in where you’re placed, so you must be prepared to live anywhere and go into the experience with an open mind. 
  • More info: What to look for in government programs to teach English abroad

5. Through your TEFL program

A man and a woman looking at posters on a white wall

All roads to teaching start with some kind of TEFL or other teaching certification.

If you’re wondering exactly how to become a teacher abroad and don’t have any teaching experience, a TEFL program is a great way to improve your skills and get a jump on landing a great teaching gig. There are a lot of TEFL programs out there that offer certifications, and choosing one can feel overwhelming. If your aim is to teach abroad after you finish your course, let that factor into your decision, as some programs offer better job placement assistance than others. 

  • Pros: If you’re new to teaching, taking the time to get certified and learning how to teach English is invaluable. Not only will it make you a better teacher, it’ll make you more comfortable in the classroom and provide you with tips and tricks for teaching tricky grammar rules and handling difficult students. 
  • Cons: While TEFL programs may advertise that they offer job placement assistance after you receive a certificate, you should do your research and verify exactly what kind of help they provide to avoid disappointment. Talking to others who’ve completed the program and reading program reviews can be helpful to set your expectations. 
  • Recommended TEFL + teach abroad program: Premier TEFL
  • More info: 5 TEFL programs that basically guarantee job placement 

6. While doing another travel program

Teaching is the perfect side gig, and it’s often possible to teach English while you’re already abroad. Whether you’re studying abroad, interning abroad, or living overseas for some other reason, teaching English abroad jobs can often fit into your schedule (and provide some much needed extra cash for your weekend travel!). However, keep in mind that not all visa types allow you to work, so be sure to find out if it’s actually legal for you to teach. If not, you may still be able to volunteer your time. 

  • Pros: Teaching while you’re abroad is a great way to interact with locals in your community. Whether you’re tutoring high school students or teaching a class at a local nonprofit organization, teaching English abroad jobs allow you to meet people you may not have otherwise come into contact with as a student or intern. 
  • Cons: Be realistic about your schedule and don’t try to do too much! If you’re already working 40 hours a week as an intern or are spending your days trying to make sense of lectures in a foreign language, you may not have time for a teaching commitment. Making your way in a new country can take a lot of energy, so keep this in mind as you consider if teaching is right for you. 
  • More info: Is Teaching English Abroad a Good Idea? 

Next steps to figuring out ways to teach abroad

If you’ve read this far and you’re still psyched to start teaching abroad, there are many ways for you to give it a try! Perhaps one of the above ideas sparked your interest and you want to know more, or maybe you’re still not sure how to become a teacher abroad. Check out the steps below to pinpoint the best way to teach English abroad: 

  • Take some time to ponder the possibilities and figure out which one really speaks to you. If you’re interested in teaching in a specific country, look at the options for that specific place. 
  • Have an Online Advisor set you up with program suggestions based on your preferences. After answering some questions about yourself, you’ll receive a list of programs to consider.
  • Consider how serious you are about making teaching your career. If you just want to get a taste of teaching, perhaps a short-term volunteer opportunity is right for you. If you know you want to spend the next ten years teaching, research ways to get a TEFL certificate. Not only will it help you obtain jobs, but it’ll also give you the skills to be successful in your career. 
  • Talk to others who’ve taught abroad and read program reviews. This is the best way to evaluate a program and determine the pros and cons of participating in specific teachers abroad programs. 

Figuring out how to teach internationally can take some time, but once you’ve found the right fit, teaching abroad can be a rewarding and valuable cultural and professional experience.

Decide the best way to teach English abroad for YOU 

GIF, Ryan Gosling as a teacher, Oh no you didnt

Uhhhm. Ry, I think I just did. 🎤⬇️

If you’ve ever had a hankering to share the wonders of phrasal verbs or simply want to make some extra cash while living abroad, there are many different ways to share the English language with others. Whether you end up teaching primary school children in a rural village in Cambodia or spend your days teaching business English in Buenos Aires, teaching English abroad programs are a great way to experience life in a new country while helping others learn one of the world’s most popular languages. 

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