Where are you going to teach TESOL? 3 tips to choosing a suitable country
With over 200 countries and territories in the world, there are ample opportunities for you to find a teaching position. However, before you book your plane ticket to just anywhere, there are some factors you need to consider.
1. How much cash do I have?
If you live in one country and you want to travel across the border and teach in the next door country, you will need considerably less cash than if you decide to teach in a country a continent away. Travel expenses vary, daily expenses vary greatly, and incidental costs can be significantly greater or less than any number you hear quoted. You will have to make some decisions about how much money you will need to help get you started in a new country. How long will you likely be without any income? Don’t forget to include periods where you start employment but that paycheck is paid at the end of your first month!
2. Will I like the people, culture and language?
For whatever reason, not every teacher will enjoy traveling in every country. For some, the weather can be a problem; for others, the food or the language represent daily challenges. You’d be wise to check what a country offers, find out a little about the country and even talk to a few visitors who came from there. You’ll get a sense of what the country and life there is like, and you’ll at least be prepared.
Visit ethnic restaurants to get an idea of what the food might be like (I say might: there’s a quite a difference between your local Asian takeaway’s fare and Asian cuisine in many ways!); take part in inter-culture meetings, activities and exhibitions to find out who’s doing what. You may end up meeting people from your target culture. You can even take language classes to help with the transition. Even 10 hours of class is MUCH better than nothing. And being able to say ‘hello!’ in the local language can make a huge difference!
3. What ESL opportunities are there?
Different countries have vastly different TESOL situations and require different kinds of teaching because of their unique needs. For example, some countries have high standards of English, others are mired in grammar translation systems, and still others have minimal English teaching at all. Consider your skill set carefully, and ask yourself: what kind of problems do they face? What kind of help can I bring? How am I competitive against local ESL teachers or other incoming ESL teachers? There’s little point if you are teaching ESL through computers but find yourself in a village with no electricity and no materials. Check the teaching schedules, find reports and reviews of schools by past and present teachers, read about the local education system. In other words, become informed. It will help you focus on where you want to teach, what you will teach, and what conditions and salaries you can expect.
Creating a shortlist of countries you are interested based on these considerations can help you focus your TESOL teaching job search and avoid wasting time looking at unsuitable opportunities. If you are interested in becoming a TESOL Teacher, you should take a look at my sister site: site for TESOL Teachers.
This article was written by Kenneth J. Dickson and is copyrighted as of April 2009.