Teaching abroad isn’t just something you do on your gap year. Many people decide to take their talent for teaching overseas in pursuit of a permanent career!
The majority of people who teach abroad teach English as a foreign language. However, if you have the relevant expertise and language skills, you can also teach a range of other subjects.
Teaching abroad is pretty similar to teaching in the UK. It involves preparing lesson plans and teaching pupils in accordance with their country’s national curriculum.
As a teacher abroad, you will also be responsible for marking students’ work and providing them with necessary feedback, criticism, encouragement and support. Another requirement will be to help students prepare for crucial tests and examinations.
Teaching English in a foreign language will give you the opportunity to use creative, interactive and engaging teaching methods, such as games and role-play.
Your life as a teacher abroad won’t only involve classroom work – you will also get the opportunity to supervise children during events and projects outside of the classroom, such as cultural outings, field trips and excursions.
Many teachers who work abroad supplement their earnings by offering private tuition to young children, adults or business professionals.
If you’re teaching English as a foreign language, you will most likely teach your lessons in English. However, if you’re teaching another subject, such as maths or science, you may be required to teach in the native language of the country you are working in.
Salary & benefits
Salaries for teachers working abroad vary from country to country.
Typically, though, jobs in the EU and Japan tend to pay higher salaries. For instance, if you join the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (a.k.a. the JET Programme), you will earn between £25,000 and £30,000 per annum.
Some companies may also pay for your flights and accommodation.
Working hours also vary from country to country. You may even be required to work in the evenings and at weekends from time to time, especially if you decide to supplement your earnings by offering private tuition.
Teachers in other countries may not enjoy the same extended holiday periods as teachers in the UK. However, holiday allowance is understandably different in different countries.
To enter this line of work, you will need an undergraduate degree in any discipline. However, studying a subject such as English language, English literature, linguistics or education may boost your chances of securing a position.
It is possible for people without a degree to find teaching work abroad, but, unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly uncommon. What’s more, candidates with degrees tend to secure the jobs with the highest salaries.
Some schools will also require you to have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. You may also need a TEFL qualification to secure a working visa in certain countries.
Organisations in some countries may even require you to have Qualified Teacher Status. There are various ways you can obtain this:
You could study an undergraduate degree which automatically gives you QTS, such as a BA in Education.
If your undergraduate degree does not grant you QTS, you could do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), or a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) if you study in Scotland.
Alternatively, you could pursue one of four other postgraduate routes into teaching: School-centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), the Registered Teacher Programme (RTP), the Graduate Teacher Programme, or the Overseas Teacher Training Programme (OTTP).
Finally, it goes without saying that you will need fantastic communication skills in English and/or the language of the country where you wish to teach.
Training & progression
Experienced teachers who are working abroad may wish to improve their credentials by completing extra qualifications, such as the Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA).
As you progress and gain more experience, you may move into a teaching position with more administrative and managerial responsibilities. Alternatively, you might decide to go freelance and focus your efforts on private tuition.
Another option would be to return to the UK and continue your teaching career here—either in a private language school or in a publicly-funded institution.