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How to Become a Teacher Abroad – The 2023 Complete Guide

Learn how to become a teacher abroad with our comprehensive guide. Explore qualifications, opportunities, and expert tips for teaching overseas.

headshot Gemma Jackson

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Teaching abroad is a great way to travel the world and immerse yourself in new cultures without worrying about sticking to travel budgets.

But what steps must you take to make that dream a reality?

Only some teachers’ journeys will look the same.

In this 2023 complete guide on becoming a teacher abroad, you’ll learn valuable tips and, more importantly, your career path and destination options. 

In This Post:

Get TEFL Certified

Figure Out Your Niche

Decide on a Destination

Learn a Language

Get Experience

Get TEFL Certified

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If you’re fluent in English but don’t hold a teaching degree, or any degree for that matter, getting TEFL-certified opens a world of opportunities.

In 2023, English is the most spoken language worldwide and the global language of business.

This is a career path that continues to be very much in demand. 

Getting certified is also relatively straightforward.

The industry standard is a 120-hour course, and it can be taken online or in person if you’re based near a training center.

Moreover, the course can be completed at your own pace, around your schedule and commitments.  

You’ll have up to 6 months to complete all of your modules, which will span a variety of topics, including grammar, teaching methodology, and lesson observations so you can learn from experienced teachers.

If six months doesn’t sound like enough time, don’t fret.

There are lots of extension options to choose from should you need them. 

 

Figure Out Your Niche

To teach in any capacity, you’ll first need to understand what area of teaching you’d like to go into.

For those who would like to pursue a teaching degree, that begins with choosing whether you’d like to specialize in primary or secondary education.

With over 13,000 international schools across the globe, once you’re qualified, it’s just about narrowing down your choices. 

For English teachers, you’ll need to consider not only age groups but types of learning institutions.

Public schools typically offer more security and benefits, such as paid holidays.

You may also be supported by a TA throughout the year and get to follow a syllabus instead of having to prep everything yourself. 

Private language schools, on the other hand, generally offer more variety.

However, this often goes hand in hand with longer working hours.

Expect to teach a whole host of age groups, too.

You must be flexible and adept at managing different levels and needs.

Check out Blendtw’s guide for tips on good habits all of your students should learn. 

 

Related: What to Do When Bored in Class: 120+ Productive and Entertaining Ideas

Decide on a Destination

Knowing where to head first can be one of the trickier choices when you decide to teach abroad, but where you go will depend on your goals.

For example, Latin America is an ideal choice if you want to ease yourself into English teaching. Countries like Honduras promise a laid-back lifestyle and a rich culture to explore.

Don’t expect to make big bucks, though. 

The same goes for countries in Asia like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

While there is a lot of demand for teachers, with lots of entry-level positions, places like Hong Kong are where you’ll find the highest salaries.

The only catch is that you will need an employer to sponsor you. 

The Middle East promises lucrative salaries for more experienced and highly qualified teachers so that you can save a fair bit for future travel plans.

Many schools also offer free accommodation and flight reimbursement. With this in mind, competition for teaching positions is quite fierce. 

Learn a Language

Learning a language is helpful to teachers abroad for numerous reasons.

From a work perspective, it will allow you to understand better the culture you are working in and build stronger connections with your students and colleagues. 

If you’re a language teacher, learning the local language will also help you spot any direct translation mistakes, such as false friends, and correct them accordingly.

In addition, having gone through the experience yourself, you’ll be able to empathize more with your students and offer advice you found helpful when studying. 

On a day-to-day level, having at least a basic knowledge of the local language means independence.

It will help you navigate your daily life abroad more easily without relying on your employer or colleagues to do basic things like pay your bills or go to the doctor.

Remember that you don’t need to wait for a job offer to start learning – the earlier, the better. 

Related: 30 Effective Study Motivation Tips

Get Experience

Confidence grows with practice.

If you’re new to teaching and already thinking about heading abroad, why not make that transition a little easier by at least feeling sure in your ability as a teacher?

There’s no harm in your journey to teaching abroad, starting in your home country. 

Teachers with their eyes set on international schools across the globe can get experience by first landing a position in a local school and finessing their technique through class observations.

It will also allow you to familiarise yourself with the syllabus and put some money aside when you head abroad.

Meanwhile, before considering the advantages of teaching English abroad in entry-level positions, newly certified English teachers can gain experience in local language schools or through volunteering. Organizations like RefuNet are always looking for new volunteers to teach refugees of all ages online, and they even provide lesson plans to get you started. 

Overall, the steps to becoming a teacher abroad will differ depending on what teaching field you go into and the requirements of the destinations you have in mind.

Nonetheless, what is shared is the need to get qualified – a teaching degree or a TEFL certificate. Whatever you choose, once you’ve ticked that off your list, the rest is entirely up to you.

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