Moving Abroad: Your Questions Answered!
Moving to a new country is a big decision and it takes courage, but if you want to discover new places, meet new people and experience new things, teaching abroad is one of the best ways to do just that. Maybe you’re not sure if you can save enough money to travel full-time for a period of time, or you want to explore a new country slowly. If you’re craving new experiences, or you’re just ready for a challenge. I’m here to answer all the most asked moving abroad questions.
Exploring the TEFL internship options or applying for a one-year job to teach in a foreign country can be just the thing for you. Living in a different country opens your eyes to new ways of life and allows you to experience things from a local’s perspective. You will meet new, interesting people from all parts of the world and immerse yourself in a completely different culture. It’s a huge learning curve, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life.
Do I have the right qualifications?
To get a teaching job, whether, in Europe or Asia, you must complete a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL training. There are various, accredited courses you can browse on the website that offer the best teacher training for you, and to boost your confidence, you can also enhance your qualification with an add-on specialist course. Many countries also require that you have a bachelor’s degree, but there are some exemptions. The Italy internship and the Cambodia placement require a high school diploma only, so these are good options if you have not completed higher education.
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Do I need to have teaching experience?
Of course, this would be helpful, but it is not necessary. If you go with an open mind and an eagerness to learn, you will develop your own style of teaching and grow your skills with experience. Completing 120 hours of TEFL training and some shorter specialist courses focusing on areas like teaching young learners, grammar or business English can help with picking up some ideas and techniques for teaching and managing behaviour in the classroom. As with anything, practice makes perfect. You will not know everything before you start, but once you are working as a teacher, you will build up your teaching skills and pick up some tips and tricks along the way. The rewards outweigh the challenges when you start seeing progress and building relationships with your students. It’s a great feeling!
Where do I want to go?
There are lots of options to consider both in Europe and Asia. Due to Covid, many placements have not been available, but as countries open their borders again, more teaching positions are becoming available. Some of the most popular destinations in Europe include Italy and Spain, and in Asia, many teaching placements are available in South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. Doing a little bit of research about each country can help you to get the best out of your experience.
Do I have to teach English?
It’s a common misconception that you must teach English when moving abroad for a teaching job, but the great news is that there’s a variety of options for a variety of personalities. For example, in Thailand, there are different English programmes in government schools, where foreign teachers can teach every subject to one primary school class or one specific subject like science, maths or social studies to several primary school classes. There are also varied roles in secondary schools and this completely depends on your skillset and the
school. You could also be teaching art, music or P.E. (through English of course). There are lots of options, especially if you have a skill in a particular area.
Do I have to commit to one year?
You don’t have to! A year is a long time, but it does fly when your days are filled with so many new experiences. Fortunately, there is a lot of choices. The TEFL internships are less than 6 months and can give you a great taste of teaching and living in a new country. You will most likely want to stay for longer.
What do I want to get from my experience?
This is completely personal to everyone, but you will end up learning so much more from the experience than you may expect. Moving country, becoming a teacher, especially if you have never taught before, and immersing yourself in a new culture comes with some nerves and challenges. For most people, it may feel like a completely new life and it can be difficult to adjust at first, but when you look back at how far you have come after your first month or year, it’s incredible. You learn so much – both from the students and from new friends. Go with a completely open mind, take a leap of faith and enjoy the journey, because it is a truly special experience.
Do I want to travel alone or with someone I know?
It’s completely okay to be nervous or scared about moving abroad and you’re not alone. The majority of new TEFL teachers feel nervous to take the leap into teaching somewhere new, but once you get to your new school and your new location, you will be welcomed with open arms. The teachers, students and locals will be happy to have you there. They’ll be eager to show you their country and way of life and they will always be there to help. Most teachers take this leap alone, but you also have the option to go with a friend or partner. It may be a little more difficult to secure a job together, but it’s possible for you both to live in the same town or city. You can talk to your TEFL advisor if this is something that you are planning and they will be happy to help.
I’m scared to travel alone. What should I do?
Write down the things that scare you. Is it the fear of not making new friends? The majority of people travel alone and also experience this fear. Everyone is eager to meet new people and make friends, so everyone is essentially in the same position. You can connect with other teachers on social media and speak about your fears or organise a meetup. When you get the chance, stay in hostels to meet new people. Having some easy conversation starters ready is a good idea. ‘Where are you from?’ is always a safe bet.
Is it the fear of not knowing the language? Learn some new words online and try to speak to the locals – ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way and they will appreciate that you are trying. Don’t forget that a smile breaks down all language barriers. For every fear, try to find a solution or a way to cope. This will make it less scary and more doable. Remember to breathe and enjoy the experience. Things will work out.
Should I go now or in a few years?
Just like setting up a new business, starting a new gym or joining a new club, there’s usually no better time than the present. If you are thinking about moving abroad you should start by browsing the available internships or jobs and check if you have the right qualifications. Then, write
down a list of advantages and disadvantages of going now or waiting for a while, and weigh these up to see what makes most sense to you. Only you will personally know if you can move away for a while and pursue a new life abroad or if your commitments at home are too important, but don’t talk yourself out of it because it seems too far out of your comfort zone or you are scared. You can feel the fear, but you should do it anyway because the best things happen outside your comfort zone.