10 Things To Know About Teaching English Abroad
If you are looking for a complete guide that can help you succeed in teaching English abroad, this article can be very helpful. Exotic locations from all over the world are waiting for you. However, it can be very frustrating to figure out on your own little questions that arise in your mind.
These tips and suggestions can help you better prepare yourself while applying for your dream job. There are some major issues and problems that you are going to face while teaching English abroad. Here are 10 things you should know to avail the best opportunity.
1. Make Sure To Earn The Required Qualification
Teaching English abroad also requires specific qualifications like any other job out there. To be an English teacher abroad, you may be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, as well as an ESL teaching certification such as TEFL or TESOL. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification or the advanced program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) verify that you’ve completed training to teach English to non-native speakers. TEFL requires at least 100 hours of commitment. Both can be done in person, online or a combination of both.
While some ESL companies don’t require any degrees or certifications, such qualification will be beneficial to make your job search easier and open more doors for you. Using English as a native speaker is far from knowing how to teach English to a foreign student. You may be naturally good at it, or you will find the first time teaching English abroad surprisingly challenging. You’ll need some training and experience to get better at it.
2. Get The Right Visa For Teaching English Abroad
Getting accurate information about your visa requirements can be a difficult task. There are various type of Visa that you need to understand and apply for the correct one, like the one to teach in China
To teach English abroad in foreign countries, you will likely need a work permit and work visa. Typically, you can get this work visa after completing the legal visa process. Your selected destination for teaching English abroad and the worth of your passport are two main factors that decide the expenses of your visa. Ask your recruiter for more details.
3. Understand Your Job And The Signed Contract
Like any other job on the planet, teaching English abroad also comes with some responsibilities and compensations. Before accepting the position as an English teacher with an organized program, you must fully understand your contract and package.
Make sure you have an answer to these questions: Are they going to pay for your flight ticket? What is your salary after taxes? Be sure to factor in the cost of housing if you’re not provided free accommodation or a housing stipend. What are your holiday allowance and the number of vacation days? Is there any time limit for leaving the position? In simple words, every little detail of your contract matters.
Research your tail off! Read online articles about teaching English abroad in your preferred destination. Read the reviews and weigh all of your available opportunities.
4. Engage Your Students
Let us suppose you are a student who is sitting in a classroom where a teacher is from another country with a different cultural background. It can be intimidating to feel comfortable in such a situation. Now, you can understand the feelings of your students for you.
The first step to create a bond with your students is to address them by name. Always make a genuine effort to know them better. If the students don’t like you, they are not going to learn from you. Try to be their friend!
Remember that just like you, there is more to the students’ lives than how they behave in a class that particular day. Try spending the first few minutes of each class to engage students in casual conversation about their day, any exciting plans they have, their interests and hobbies. That way, you can get to know them, create a relaxing and personal learning environment, while collecting ideas for discussion activities. It’s definitely easier and more fun for the students to speak in English if they get to talk about what they love.
Open yourself up to the students! Let them know that you’re available to help outside of the classroom as well. You can set up regular office hours or tell them the best way to reach out to you whenever they need to chat. While this practice requires investing a bit more of your time, you’d be surprised by its rewards such as the personal connections you gain and ideas to improve your teaching methods.
5. Create A Friendly Learning Environment And Routine
Students must feel comfortable and secure while expressing their ideas and thoughts. Create a free, non-judgemental space and encourage them to practice English with you and their classmates. Correct their mistakes and errors in a friendly tone. However, try to limit your corrections while they are speaking to reduce distracting interruptions. You can make notes of the important ones and let them know later on. Students should not be afraid of making mistakes because that’s how they improve.
Give proper time to the students to translate your question in their mind. In the beginning, the learning process may be slow. Ask your students to take part in class activities and lessons. Use friendly and clear instructions to convey your message. Divide the class time for hands-on activities, questions, and group discussions. Overall, limit your Teacher Talking Time (TTT) and create more opportunities for the students to talk in English.
Your lessons are brand new for the students and they are definitely going to ask questions. Prepare yourself to face the irrelevant questions too. Never criticize them for their questions even if they are not relevant to the topic. Be flexible and answer their questions with patience.
6. Use Effective Visuals In Your Classroom
Students can learn better from graphics and visuals. Try to show them cartoons or animations with helpful English content. Vocabulary is always a major issue for such students in English classes. If you are trying to succeed in teaching English abroad, make sure you have a strong grip over this art of visuals. Add English labels to daily use items like chairs and doors of the classes. It will help the students to absorb the vocabulary in a more effective way.
Overall, visuals help students understand and remember concepts more easily. While your Teacher Talking Time will actually be reduced, the class will be more dynamic and fun while the students can get more engaged. Options for visual aids in an ESL class range from objects, photos, drawings, charts and graphs, videos, movies, maps, posters, to anything else relevant to teaching a specific lesson or topic.
7. Dress Accordingly
Your attire is very important in many cultures. In some countries such as Japan, teachers are preferred to dress in conservative clothes like business attire (suit and tie for men, pantsuit or skirt and dress shirt for women). The dress code tends to be more formal in big metropolitan areas and later in rural areas or remote parts of the country. In countries like India or Nepal, you’re supposed to hide your knees and shoulders, thus long sleeve shirts and long pants are your best friends. In Islamic societies that are more conservative such as Saudi Arabia, female teachers are expected to cover their hair in addition to their arms and legs.
A clean-cut look is typically preferred in East Asian countries like China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam. You may consider removing facial piercings and covering up tattoo if that’s required by the school. Lastly, in many countries, especially Japan, you should cover up your exposed tattoos due to their bad cultural associations that still exist.
Overall, it varies by country and school. The society, in general, is constantly changing and getting more open. Thus, just make sure that you do your due diligence and dress according to the expectations of that specific culture and school. You may speak to other staff members at the school to ask about their appearance and dressing expectations before coming to the class.
8. Ask For Advice
When you are preparing to teach abroad, nothing can be better than taking advice from the teachers who already taught or are teaching in that country. They are in the best position to guide you through the entire process of teaching in a foreign land. You can connect with them through various social media groups and online forums. They will also help you get in touch with the alumni of the institution so that you get better prepared. Ask about the dos and don’ts when you are teaching there. They should be aware of the basics and will make sure that you get it right.
When you are new in a country, you may take time in building stronger friendships with your colleagues there. Don’t just hang out with the foreigners, this is your chance to befriend the locals too! There will be cultural differences you encounter in class or in your daily life. You’ll understand them better from a local’s perspective. Do not rush to conclusions about others and give them sufficient time to adjust and adapt to you. With time, people will open up, and you will make better friends.
9. Absorb The New Culture
Culture shock can be stressful for anyone who is shifting from one country to another. It’s completely normal to feel out of place at first and things won’t always make sense, depending on how different your destination’s and home country’s cultures are from each other. However, it’s also exciting to meet so many new people and learn new things. It’s your rare chance to embrace another culture, see the world from a different perspective, get more involved and make a difference!
Try to learn the cultural background of your destination country in advance. Make friends with the locals and other ESL teachers. Such knowledge can help you in teaching English abroad. Use your understanding of the local culture to create a suitable learning environment in your classroom.
10. Be Patient
Learning a new language is not an easy task. Students may feel lost in the beginning but patience is the key here. Follow your plan and teach the lessons accordingly. After a while, the students will get more familiar and comfortable.
The whole class is never going to improve their English skills at the same pace. Some students may find it easier while others struggle. The best way to increase the vocabulary of your students is to create a list of words that you are going to use in your next lessons. Discuss a few words daily before starting your lesson plan. Make them understand the true meaning and use of these words.
The ways local students learn and the methods local teachers employ to teach may be very different from what you know. Therefore, you need to be flexible and open-minded enough to embrace new teaching systems. If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else! The key is to be able to adjust and adapt quickly. Not only your students are learning, but you are also learning every day as well.
Many people go abroad to teach English and stay longer than they had planned because it actually gets harder to leave and we can help you find one via Oakary! Teaching English abroad can be a life-changing experience and you won’t come back to the same person. Remember these 10 tips, have fun and good luck!