In the film Dead Poets Society, starring the late Robin Williams as Professor John Keating, one of the students asked his teacher, “You can go anywhere. You can do anything. How can you stand being here?”
Keating replied, “’Cause I love teaching. I don’t wanna be anywhere else.”
Passion often disregards distance. This is not new to English teachers who are traveling the world to practice their craft and fulfill their desire to experience new cultures and make new discoveries both in their professional and personal lives. But this kind of decision is a not a walk in the park. One has to go through rigid preparation to pull this kind of journey off. Here are three tips for those who are interested in teaching abroad:
1. Plan, plan, plan.
Here are guide questions you can use:
a. Where are you going to teach? Check the website, reviews, and other types of feedback about the school.
b. What are the requirements and qualifications? What are the details of the job? Are there exams you need to take?
c. What are the working and living conditions in that country? Can your future salary sustain your lifestyle and teaching needs? Are you going to live in a safe and peaceful community? What maps do you have? Have you read the country’s laws, especially in the fields of employment, housing, and transportation?
d. What are your Plan B, short-term plans, and long-term plans? Success happens to hard-working teachers but not everything is in your control and anything can happen, like retrenchment and disaster. Make sure you have a backup system and solid connections.
2. Be competitive.
There is a high demand for English teachers worldwide, and you are just one of the many applicants that employers would choose from. How will you stand out?
a. Complete all the requirements, and if your time and resources can still accommodate one or two additional qualifications, that can make your CV extra special.
b. Be competent. Spend more energy on the areas where you still need improvement. Review everything, from the beginner’s materials to the most difficult subjects.
c. Be flexible. Aside from English, you might want to study the basics of other common languages, such as Spanish, French or the one used in the community where you plan to teach. Use a pocket dictionary, check language learning tools online, engage in conversations, observe gestures, or ask a good neighbor’s assistance. Gaining more skills will open more doors of opportunities for you.
3. Have a real love for language.
Teaching English abroad is not easy. It requires patience, practice, and passion. If that is really your calling, there’s a special kind of motivation that would help you overcome the complications of pursuing a career abroad. Learning another language would make you sweat a bit, but it would give you a sense of fulfillment that is lasting and worth passing to another generation.
Most of all, you would wake up not troubled about your distance from home. You’d just be thrilled to teach a new word or phrase to young language learners who need both your knowledge and contagious passion. So where else would you rather be?