So you’re thinking about teaching internationally…

394891763_bb55bd1fdd_zTeaching isn’t often thought as being a profession that is easily portable.

People are often surprised that I teach overseas and I get a lot of questions from both educators and non-educators about how a New Zealand teacher ends up teaching in Singapore.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try and answer the common questions as well as give advice based on my 18 months or so in an international school as well as four years in the ESOL system. There are several avenues for teachers looking to teach abroad:

ESOL/EFL  Most people assume that if you are teaching internationally, you are teaching English as a Second Language/Foreign Language. As the language of international business, there is a huge demand for English language instruction particularly in Asia. Teachers can range from unqualified to highly skilled and can be found in private language schools, public schools, universities, non-government organisations and companies. There’s a huge variation in salaries and regulation. As a result, some schools are not particularly reputable. The JET programme is a great place for those new to teaching and ESOL to teach internationally.

Public School Depending on the local employment market, public school systems do employ non-citizens. An easy route might be to take part in a teacher exchange through Fulbright or AFS.  A huge number of Australia/New Zealand teachers do supply work in the United Kingdom, particularly in London. While I’ve met a lot of UK teachers who end up working in New Zealand.  Some countries such as Canada have an oversupply of teachers, however if you are willing to teach in hard to staff areas, you maybe able to find work. I recommend 49above for reading about teaching on a reservation in rural Quebec.

International Schools International schools are private schools that serve diplomatic and expatriate families. Some families from host countries may also be eligible for enrolment. International schools usually follow a curriculum from another country; Britain, America, Canada and Australia are the common systems for English-medium schools. The International Baccalaureate program, which consists of the IB Primary Years Program, IB Middle Years Program and the IB Diploma Program.  I’ll go into more detail about this in a separate post.

Volunteering There is also a need for teachers in developing countries to help develop educational systems. Working through an official development organisation is likely your best bet.  A word of caution, unless you are a highly qualified and experienced teacher you may very well be doing more harm than good. Unfortunately there’s a mini industry now where (largely) young graduates pay money to volunteer in developing countries to volunteer to teach in develop countries. Please don’t. Put simply children in need aren’t tourist attractions.

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