Teaching English is one of the most popular ways to travel around the world, without having to wait to save enough money to get out there and explore.
However, to really make the most of your experience it’s important to understand the best way to get into the industry in the first place, as well as how to keep the momentum of travelling across the globe, from school to school, going.
You should have an idea of where in the world you want to start from as you begin your journey as an English teacher. This will be your first stop of many destinations, and with your options narrowed down you can begin researching the local schools there and form an idea of where you could see yourself working.
If you really have no idea, have a read of 54 best countries to teach english abroad (comparison) | the tefl org to see what stands out to you.
Once you’ve decided, show the schools how interested you are in working for them by sending an email. Whilst they may not have any active job listings, they could be preparing to hire, or keep you in mind for future job openings.
Private language schools, in particular, typically have a high staff turn-over as teachers continue on their travels. Sending that email and showing initiative could be what separates you from other future applicants.
Fellow teachers are often the best port of call when it comes to wanting the inside scoop on the best schools around the world to work for. By asking your colleagues to share their experiences of the various schools they’ve taught at so far, you’ll be able to learn where you could potentially go to next. Moreover, they may still have contacts working there, which could get your foot in the door.
Don’t be afraid of also asking your director of studies for a reference for the schools you’re applying to, as this will give your applications an edge. They understand that teachers come and go, and have probably written many for previous teachers who passed through on their own adventures.
In addition to this, you will demonstrate that you value their opinion, and your time at the school, allowing you to part on good terms. Maintaining relationships in schools is a key part of generating your own contacts in the industry, which may in turn help out other teachers in the future.
When all else fails as you look for your next stop on your travels, a quick google search for English teaching jobs abroad will give you an abundance of information and choice.
From there, it’s just a matter of weeding out the job openings you’re not interested in, and maintaining a rhythm of sending out applications to the ones you’d really like a shot at. As the English teaching industry can be quite competitive, try not to pin your hopes on one particularly appealing vacancy.
Opt for a variety of perfectly suitable alternatives where you could also envision the next leg of your journey as an English teacher.
If an abundance of choice sounds overwhelming, you can always tighten up your job search by taking a look on LinkedIn instead. Build an updated profile and connect with people in your industry, especially in locations you’d like to visit, to tailor your job search to where you’d like to go next.
Often, there are also recruiters on the platform on the hunt for English teachers in various parts of the world, and reaching out to them to inquire about roles could really aid your own search.
How other teachers feel about the working environment of schools is just as important as the students’ reviews of a school. You don’t want a stressful working environment to dampen your globetrotting adventures. And so, if you can’t get this information straight from the horse’s mouth, reading reviews is the next best thing to ensure your school year runs smoothly, so you can enjoy your travels without work weighing on your mind.
For the same reason, it’s always a great idea to write your own reviews of a school, when you have finished your time there, for other teachers. Whilst the industry is competitive, it’s also a community. Reviews and blogs are a great way of reaching like-minded teachers on the move. You can highlight whether high standards are being upheld in English schools, and if not, flag the issues to spare fellow teachers, along with providing schools with the opportunity to address them.
Going beyond the English teaching industry, it’s always a good idea to think about how to prepare in general for travelling. Experienced bloggers such as Jen Around The World explain why travel insurance is always good to bear in mind. In the same way that you should always be prepared for your job as an English teacher, you should also cover all of your bases, logistically, when stepping out of your comfort zone and heading to new parts of the world.
A basic knowledge of a foreign language is another tool that will ensure you’re prepared to travel abroad. Not only will travelling as a teacher be a great way to practise that language or languages, depending on where you go, but it will be vital in helping you out with the basic tasks of daily life. Simply knowing how to order food in a restaurant in the local language will ease your transition into new cultures, and give you an authentic experience of life in that country.
The final task, before setting off on your journey as an English teacher, is to get qualified. Once armed with your TEFL qualification, you’ll have all of the necessary information to navigate how to go about teaching English abroad. No two English teacher’s experiences are the same, but the community that exists in the industry is what makes it possible to explore the world on your own terms.