Finding the Gap, Teaching English Abroad
Living and working in a foreign country is an increasingly familiar practice and a great way for students to get out and see the world.
With the struggling global economy, budgets are tight – so becoming an English teacher abroad is a great route to take for those looking to travel. It is easily achievable once the TEFL certificate has been completed.
Many countries across the world recognise the TEFL qualification, which means there are plenty of destinations and jobs to choose from. It also means that you will be getting paid to live in a foreign country rather than having to rely only on savings to get you by.
Location, location, location
Where you choose to teach English will affect your wages and the working conditions you will experience.
Western European cities have a wide network of established English language schools. The prime recruiting month for these locations is September and contracts can sometimes last all the way through until June.
A demand for TEFL qualified teachers can be far higher in some Eastern European countries because of the European Union expansion. Scandinavia has the least amount of TEFL teachers, as immigration laws are extremely strict and visas hard to come by.
Asia has a great need for English teachers due to many economies in the region growing and companies tending to conduct business with the West, so requiring a good command of the English language.
There has been a significant need for TEFL teachers in South American countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, where English is considered a highly important language. Chile has invested heavily in the ‘English Opens Doors’ programme, their effort to increase the learning of the English language.
The country you choose to work in will affect the type of contract you are offered. Some institutions will offer accommodation and travel expenses while others will only offer short contracts with minimum pay.
Your level of skill can also affect the package you are offered, as can your age. Some institutions will only hire you if you fall into the 20 – 40 age bracket. If you are under 20 then you can easily obtain the TEFL certificate but may only be able to teach in a voluntarily fashion, such as in a refugee camp. Nonetheless this is great experience and, as well as offering rewarding and interesting work, also looks fantastic on a CV to future employees.
Private institutions may demand a minimum of 100 hours (including 6 hours of observed tuition) teaching experience before accepting your application.
Expatriate work can differ wildly with pay depending on your location. Your pay and conditions will be reflective of the country you are in, both in terms of economic development and how much demand there is for positions.
In some regions you may only be offered a minimum wage, but that can often equate to a comfortable middle class way of living.
Cultural differences, limited time and economic problems can make it sometimes difficult to negotiate the kind of contract you are happy with. Teachers who cannot adapt to new lifestyles often leave within a few months so it is worth researching your chosen country carefully and decide if the destination is somewhere you can integrate.
In times of austerity the traditional ‘travelling gap year’ is a difficult one to achieve. Purse strings are tight but the option of teaching English abroad opens up so many doors. It also allows you to fully understand the local culture and society you are in rather than fleetingly glimpsing what life is actually like.
You never know, you may decide to stay there…