6 Things to Know Before Short Term Teaching Abroad

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Lots of people want to teach abroad in the early adulthood, and it’s not hard to understand why. The prospect of leaving that first job behind and venturing out into the world, or taking a break from your own education to gather some perspective on that of others around the globe, is an opportunity that for many is just too good to pass up on.

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Have an adventure and build your resume / make some money, too!

But finding the time to actually do so—that’s a whole different ball game. Unless you’re focused specifically in education or in the international sector, a year spent teaching English abroad in a faraway country can prove somewhat disruptive to your career path. Many people daydream of teaching abroad as an exciting global adventure or welcomed reprieve from work, but never actually find the opportunity to do so because, well, life has a way of stacking up on you.

But luckily for those who can’t spare the time, there’s a way to compromise—by going abroad for the short term. Short term teaching abroad is a popular option in the fast-paced workspace of the 21st century, giving those who love the idea of teaching abroad, but can’t exactly afford to spend six months or a year doing so, an opportunity to dip their toes in the game. Many programs for short term teaching overseas last just a matter of weeks, fitting conveniently in between jobs, semesters, or even in a work vacation slot. 

So where to begin looking? There are many opportunities out there of all shapes and sizes for short term teaching overseas. It’s important that you spend the time on good, thorough research to make sure you land on just the right fit. Here then, for those who are inspired by international education but devoted to another path, we present the top things to know before short term teaching abroad.

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Short term teaching overseas FAQs

Let’s begin by exploring answers to a few big-picture questions about short term teaching abroad.

1. Where are popular places to find short term teaching jobs abroad?

The short answer is —anywhere and everywhere! But there are also some limiting factors that you should take into consideration while looking. (Here’s a list of the best places to teach English abroad in 2018 if you’re interested!).

Because English is today’s lingua franca, most short term teaching jobs abroad that you will come across will be for teaching English. This means that in regions of the world where English is not commonly spoken as a first language, native English speakers will be in especially high demand. Countries with developing economies that are bidding to increase their global prominence are also especially keen on recruiting native English speakers to this cause.

These factors contribute to South America, Southeast Asia, and China generally being considered the largest markets for short term teaching jobs abroad. Foreign English teachers are in highest demand in these places, and so you’ll typically also find them most willing to take on shorter term employments. This being said, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East also are host to a variety of short term English teaching jobs as well, so don’t be hasty to rule these regions out.

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2. When can I find the most short term work?

Generally speaking, summer and winter breaks will be the easiest time to find the most opportunities for short term English teaching abroad. Intensive language courses are commonly offered in between school semesters, as are short term language courses that last for several weeks.

There are ways, though, to find placements short term teaching English abroad during the academic semesters in fall or spring. Volunteer-based positions run year-round, for example, and are always looking to recruit eager individuals to countries that may not have the means to otherwise pay foreign teachers. Language schools, also, may look to hire for short-term specialist courses that don’t run on a standard academic schedule.

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Teach English at a summer camp and go wild.

3. How long are short term teaching abroad programs?

Short term teaching abroad programs can be found at as short as just one or two weeks, or as long as a few months, depending on the amount of time you have.

By definition, short term teaching abroad programs will last less than a full semester, which is generally four or five months. Some intensive language courses run as long as 10 weeks, making this one of the longer opportunities available for short term teaching overseas. Summer language courses at a university or lower school level can also last these long, but are generally more along the lines of six weeks or so. Short term volunteer projects teaching English abroad and teaching English at summer camps are even shorter, lasting for as little as just a week.

4. What are the requirements to participate in short term teaching overseas?

The requirements for short term teaching overseas will vary between program types, and most significantly on whether the opportunity is a paid job or not. In most countries around the world, in order to become a paid English teacher abroad, you will need to possess an undergraduate degree and have undergone a 120-hour TEFL training course to earn your ESL certificate. These certifications can be completed online or in-person, and are valid for a lifetime.

Less formal teaching opportunities, such as in a volunteer or summer camp setting, will often be less strict on these requirements for English teachers. A high school diploma and native English fluency are often enough to contribute in these ways. 

[Check out all of the first-time teach abroad tips you'll need]

5. What is a reasonable expectation regarding pay?

Salaries for teaching English abroad vary across the world, according to demand and cost of living in your host country. The same goes for short term English teaching jobs abroad—expect to make more money in countries with more advanced economies, but expect the demand to be less and the costs of living higher as well. Naming an average salary amount is self-defeating, because pay is so variable depending on region.

For short term positions especially, you may also trade some of your salary for perks such as room and board, as you won’t be staying long enough to settle into your own apartment. In countries such as China, where demand for native English speaking teachers is high enough, these and other perks such as flight allowance and visa assistance will be provided to you regardless.

Some forms of short term English teaching overseas will also actually cost you more money than you should expect to make—volunteer based projects fall into this category, as may some summer camps and exchange programs during which you’ll teach English. At large, you can expect to make more as a credentialed teacher in a formal educational setting.

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It’s relatively easy to find short term English teaching jobs abroad during winter breaks.

6. What are the most common kinds of short term English teaching jobs abroad

Getting more specific now, let’s move on to some of the concrete opportunities you’ll come across while looking for short term opportunities teaching abroad.

English summer camps

For those who will never forget their experiences at camp growing up, and want to experience the other side as a camp counselor, programs to teach English at a summer camp will stand out as a great hybrid opportunity for work and play. Parents around the world keen on getting their kids a head start learning the English language can send them to summer camps focused on making an anglophone of them—while ensuring no shortage of fun along the way.

These camps are offered for students as young as elementary school and as old as high school, so you will likely have exposure to learners at all different stages of the language acquisition process. Living in a home stay or at a campsite for these short-term English teaching jobs are the most common options, while programs will last as short as one week and as long as a whole summer.

Intensive language schools

More experienced educators may also consider intensive language schools as a rewarding opportunity for short term teaching English abroad. While the scheduling at these schools will be more rigorous than some other short term teaching abroad jobs, the payoff can also be proportionally greater as you facilitate rapid language development in your students. 

Intensive language programs usually aim to knock out an academic level of ESL within just a few weeks, so how long these placements last will depending on how many leve you will be covering. Intensive language courses usually, but not necessarily, run over the summer between academic semesters. Only serious language students will be applying to these programs, so you can expect your classes to move at a brisk pace with all on board to maximize their English output in a short amount of time.

University summer language course

Short term teaching English abroad at a university is another opportunity for experienced or certified educators to test their mettle. One benefit of teaching at a university is the diversity of classes that you can teach as a certified ESL teacher—while at language schools you may be expected to stick to the traditional reading, writing, speaking, and listening lessons, at universities abroad you can fill a variety of educational roles such as teaching courses in literature, culture, and history in English as well.

Short term summer teaching jobs abroad at universities will depend in length and timing on your host school’s academic calendar. You should expect these employment opportunities to last several weeks at least.

Volunteer-based

Volunteer-based short term teaching abroad is a popular option, like English summer camps, for would-be educators that don’t necessarily have the qualified experience of credentials to teach in a more formal classroom environment. Volunteer English teachers are valued all over the world, especially in developing countries that lack the resources to otherwise pay foreign teachers for their service.

Volunteer placements are largely left up to the individual to decide how long they will stay. Longer tenures are mostly preferred so that teachers can develop a repertoire with their students, but short term placements are nonetheless valued highly as well. Volunteer placements run year-round, so another convenient aspect is that you can slip away to teach overseas in this way whenever you have the time.

Short term teaching abroad can leave a lasting impression

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There’s a LOT you can accomplish in a short amount of time.

Short term teaching abroad is the perfect compromise for adventurous individuals that want the experience of teaching abroad, but can’t find it in their professional schedules to go the whole way. Regardless of whether you can spare just one week to short term teach at an English camp or as a volunteer, or whether you’re a more experienced educator that can devote a part of your summer to teaching at a university or language school, the right opportunity is out there if you commit yourself to finding it. Now good luck on your search!

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