This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.

What You Need to Become
An English Teacher Abroad

See also: Transferable Skills

English continues to be the dominant language of international trade, and this creates a demand for English teachers throughout the world. This demand provides an interesting and fascinating career opportunity that will allow you to live and work abroad.

Teaching English as a foreign language abroad can be a complicated field in which to work. There is the ever-present language barrier to contend with, as well as cultural and monetary differences. Teaching English as a foreign language abroad requires that you put aside any stereotypes that you might have about people whose language, diet, faith, and culture are different from your own, but, and this may be the best part, it gives you the chance to travel on someone else's dime.


Travel to a foreign land is probably on everyone's bucket list. To travel and teach English is probably the desire of almost every language teacher sitting in an overcrowded classroom with twenty or more unruly or disinterested young people.

Traveling and teaching English abroad introduces you to a different type of student. English language students are usually the children of diplomats, expatriates, or wealthy business people. Those who don't fit into these categories are usually well-read, multilingual, and eager to learn about English-speaking countries such as the UK and America and the language. The idea of working with students who see learning as a valuable part of life makes the changes that will need to be made seem worthwhile.

Teaching abroad is a very flexible way to make a living. You can work only during the summer months, or you can teach for just one semester, or teach for a full academic year. You can also volunteer to live with a host family, teaching conversational English while living in their home like a local.

Preparing to Teach Abroad

How to become an English teacher in a foreign country is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, a person with a moderate command of the language might be hired for a job if what they lack in their command of English is coupled with a love for children and a desire to make a difference in the life of others.

The impression that a teacher makes in the life of a young person is indelible because it imprints in the heart of the student. The student takes that imprint whereever they go, and it will always influence what they do. Teaching abroad helps you inspire another nation's youth.

There are, however, requirements that need to be met when looking into how to become an English teacher abroad. As in all things, the better qualified you are the more money you are likely to earn. Becoming an English teacher abroad usually requires you to have a bachelor's degree (in any subject/major) and certification as an English as a second language instructor. The recent demand for language instructors has fueled the development of training centers to help prepare those interested in teaching abroad. There are numerous different training programs available around the world and they may be listed under different titles. The most common English language teacher training programs are:

  1. TEFL - Teaching English as a foreign language
  2. ESL - English as a second language
  3. TESOL - Teaching English as a second or other language
  4. CELTA - Certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages

The TEFL program is known throughout the world. ESL certification is used predominantly in North America, while TESOL is popular in Australia, and CELTA is a global brand. All these training courses provide practical hands-on experience of teaching English to students who are not native speakers. The courses require 120 hours of instruction and are taught in a classroom setting by competent and experienced instructors using an established curriculum. The classroom-based programs observe teaching practices in real schools with a mixture of student ages, class sizes, and abilities. The training programs also provide exposure to the culture and the language of the country where you will serve, provide guidance and advice in your job search, and ultimately help you find placement.


The Importance of TEFL Certification

You cannot underestimate the importance of TEFL certification. It is not a series of unnecessary hoops to jump through but is designed to make sure that the prospective teacher is ready to teach abroad.

TEFL training ensures a comfortable transition and a successful teaching and learning experience. Completion of a TEFL course will provide the following skills;

  1. A complete knowledge of English grammar
  2. The ability to plan lessons that include appropriate grammar and phonology
  3. The ability to assess the language needs of your student
  4. An understanding of teaching methods and their applications
  5. Practical skills needed to succeed in cross cultural environments
  6. Classroom management skills
  7. Strategies for evaluating and reporting student performance
  8. An experience in learning an unknown language to help understand the student's point of view

How to Teach in a Foreign Classroom

Once you have completed training, received certification, and have a job assignment, do you know how to teach English in a foreign country?

Yes, you do. Whether your assignment abroad is in a classroom, or one-on-one in the home of a host, the same techniques you learnt when training will be used aboard. Your TEFL training will make you knowledgeable and comfortable with the four linguistic skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. You will understand from the beginning that repetition will be a major part of your teaching style. You will know how to develop and use a variety of short thematic units that center around social situations, and the common words and expressions used within them. Pictures will be helpful in providing visuals, as will be role-playing and group assignments. These are the teaching strategies that you will be trained to use in the classroom.

Benefits of Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad comes with many benefits.

First, it is one way to satisfy our natural wanderlust, that desire to travel the world and see and experience new places and new things. It places you in a global classroom where you learn as you are teaching. Flexible hours and good pay are the most obvious benefits, but traveling abroad as a teacher helps makes what many see as impossible possible. It gives you a greater appreciation for the gift of learning, and its ability to change a life and humankind for the better.


About the Author


Riya is an inspired writer. She has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business, and majored in organization management and marketing. She is now delighted to work with many aspiring small business owners. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya.

TOP