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The Essential Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Written by Milly Whitehead on 14 / 07 / 2014

Gap Year Advice

Did you know that you are in possession of a skill that is extremely valuable? And no, I'm not talking about your ability to touch your nose with your tongue (although if you can do this, I'm very impressed).

Instead, I'm talking about your ability to speak English. It’s a global language and although more people speak Mandarin and Spanish, English is the common language of business, media and popular culture.

There is a high demand for English teachers, because speaking English is seen as opening the doors to better job prospects, improving futures for people all over the world. It’s also seen as one of the most challenging languages to learn from scratch, so what better way to do it than with the help of you.

So taking all of this into consideration, we hope it’s obvious to you that your possibilities just blew wide open. Because where ever you go in the world, there is a need for your skill, whether you get paid for it, or volunteer your time. Hoorah!

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

So, now you’re probably wondering what you need to do in order to be able to teach English abroad? Unless you're sitting there thinking you’d be able to rock up to a school and they’d take you on without any qualifications? Sadly, that won’t happen. You need to convert your skill into a qualification. And it’s easy.

There are 3 qualifications that are the most common for teaching English: TESOL (Teaching English To Speakers Of Other Languages), TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) and CELTA (The Cambridge English Language Teaching Award).

There are also 101 alternative courses (all varying in length) that will cover lesson planning and teaching techniques. Make sure the course you choose rewards you with an internationally recognised qualification certificate though, to enable you the best chance of getting hired. You may also come across the ‘Weekend TEFL Diploma’ or a TEFL short course. Whilst these qualifications are still good, they are less renowned worldwide.

DIFFERENT JOB TYPES

Once you have your well-earned qualification, it’s time to put it to use. Your first option is to find a salaried teaching job. Resources that can help you with this are:

- Eslcafe.com

- TEFL.co.uk

- British Council

- Voluntary Service Overseas

Make sure you research your destination country thoroughly, along with teacher salaries in different areas (a salary can differ massively depending on whether you’re living it large in a city, or absorbing rural village life). Also consider the type of English you want to teach: technical English for business people, or Michael Jackson’s 'ABC, easy as 123' to children?

You could also volunteer your time to share your skill. Here in the Western world, it’s known that teaching isn’t the best-paid profession, but in developing countries, teachers are so underpaid, they are forced to find second or sometimes third incomes just to get by.

This means that teachers will often skip class for a few days, obviously impacting the children’s education. Because of this, volunteers are a massive help, especially when they can relieve full time teachers so they can plan lessons and complete admin/managerial work.

There are many internship/volunteering companies out there who promise to change the world, but unfortunately, they aren’t actually helping those who are in need. This is when organisations such as Year Out Group (UK) and American Gap Association (USA) come in to play. They basically do all the hard work for you, (checking out safety procedures, management and project quality), leaving you with the cream of the crop.

It’s well worth a look on these websites, to see which trustworthy organisations are making a difference. And good news - you've already found your way to one such website! Check out The Leap's homepage to find out about opportunities to teach English abroad.

ANYONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TEACHING ENGLISH

As discussed, English is a massively popular language, and there is a demand for native/fluent English speakers. Remember:

-You don’t need a background or experience in teaching when teaching English abroad, especially if you are volunteering.

-You don’t need to speak a foreign language to be able to teach English abroad.

-You don’t need travel experience to teach English abroad.

-You don’t need a college degree to teach English abroad.

WHILST YOU’RE TEACHING ABROAD

Most people think that class clowns who act up in front of everyone for attention, talk over the teacher, or sit there doodling for the duration of the lesson only exist in this country. Most people also think that children in developing countries are so appreciative of an education and go through every lesson without so much as a hair out of line.

Well, take it from us; children misbehave all over the world. It’s definitely a challenge when you’re standing at the front of a class trying to control noise levels, stop the roaring laughs, or generally just hold their attention for more than a couple of minutes. But, it’s a challenge you will love, and if you prepare properly with lesson plans and different activities, you will thrive.

Another challenge you will face when teaching English abroad is the language barrier. It is in these situations you’ll find physical activities will help you out hugely. Playing sports, drama performances, or simple art will really help you to engage the children.

Failing that, if you still need some form of icebreaker, then we can highly recommend a game of ‘Duck Duck Goose’. It works every single time. No matter where you are in the world, any child under the age of 10 will go absolutely crazy for the game. It requires no props, no costumes, no… well, anything really. You sit them in a circle and off you go. Rules can be found here.

OVER TO YOU

And there, ladies and gents, is your essential guide to teaching English abroad; from getting a world-renowned qualification, to playing ‘Duck Duck Goose’.

So go and put your skills to good use, and we guarantee you won’t regret it.

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