Way back in Part 1 of the series, I talked about the different types of teaching overseas; qualified teachers and ESL teachers. I mentioned the qualifications you need for either and what the differences are.
Today we are going to look at the different types of teaching overseas you can do as a way to travel the world. Whether you’re a qualified teacher or an ESL teacher, there are so many options open to you! Each will have different pros and cons and appeal to different people. For example, I am a qualified primary school teacher so I can teach all subjects at the primary level. I would hate to be faced with a class of teenagers expecting me to teach them business studies! I am pretty confident in saying I would learn more from a bunch of 15 year olds then they would from me! But, as with teaching at home, different roles suit different teachers and require different skills, experience and qualifications.
As well as different types of teaching overseas, there are also different destination opportunities. ESL teaching is more common in South East Asia however the Emirates employ large numbers of international, licensed teachers each year.
As a quick reminder, qualified teachers are certified in their home region to teach specific ages and / or subjects. In the majority of cases their qualifications are recognized by the government’s education department and teachers are usually required to register with the education authority. ESL teachers complete a TEFL / TESL / TESOL / CELTA certificate either in person, online, or through a combination of both. This qualifies them to teach English as a second, or additional / foreign language, to non-native English speakers at various levels.
What types of teaching overseas can I do?
Qualified teachers could find themselves teaching in government schools or private international schools.
Sometimes referred to as public schools depending on the country, are financed and run by the state, government or education authority.
Teachers in government schools will:
- Educate local children
- Work alongside locally trained teachers
- Experience huge cultural differences compared to teaching in private international schools
- Teach the local curriculum meeting local standards and assessments as opposed to teaching your home curriculum.
Most often, government schools will require their licensed teacher to be just that; licensed. As with school boards and education authorities at home, teachers must be trained and certified to teach the subjects they are teaching. If you are planning to train as a teacher primarily to be able to use your qualifications to travel overseas, it is important to do plenty of research into what types of jobs often come up. As important as it is to teach something you enjoy, getting qualified to teach junior level politics may not get your overseas teaching career off the ground!
Foreign teachers most commonly fill international roles at primary (all subjects) and high school level (math, science and English). This is because many schools will have internationally qualified teachers teaching these core subjects local teachers teaching the secondary subjects (history, geography, social sciences etc). Before deciding what you want to train in, look at overseas jobs boards and see what positions agencies are trying to fill. Especially in North America where you can add Additional Qualifications to your certificates, having a few options under your belt will broaden your employability.
Private International Schools
Generally speaking, private international schools are most often found in large cities with high numbers of expats. They will provide a curriculum from a country different to the one they are located in, usually American, Canadian, Australian or British. Many American International schools were set up by US embassies specifically to cater for their expats however, children from all over the world now attend international schools regardless of the curriculum they are taught.
Teachers in private schools will:
- Teach expat rather than local children so your class may be filled with many nationalities
- Focus on a curriculum from a country other than the one you are teaching in
- Have smaller classes and longer holidays (usually with higher pay too)
- Communicate with international parents and children while working alongside international staff
Teaching in private schools can be more flexible than in government schools. Teachers will sometimes teach a variety of subjects and may not be required to be certified in specific subjects as long as you have a teaching certification. Private schools usually have international teachers teaching all subjects so you may just be able to put that junior level politics certificate to use! Although it is best to be prepared to teach what you’re certified to, don’t be surprised it you take on a subject specific teaching position and end up teaching other subjects too!
International Baccalaureate (IB) schools
IB schools, also privately run, have been around since 1968. They were created when the need for a program to providing an internationally standardised curriculum, was identified. Initially started for children of diplomatic expats, the program is now seen as the gold-standard international education. It has been labeled the top passport to international education and continues to grow in popularity around the world.
Teachers in IB schools will:
- Receive personal development training sessions before teaching in an IB class.
- Teach as part of a rigorous academic program
- Be part of a significant international standard of education
ESL teachers could teach in a private organization or within government schools as a co-teacher.
ESL teaching positions are most often held in private organisations, whether that’s a private language school or a business. The organisations are usually only concerned with language learning rather than with all education subjects.
ESL teachers in private organisations will:
- Teach anything from business level English to adults to conversational English to primary school children.
- Use your expertise as a native English speaker
- Work with small groups, teaching all ages and abilities
- Communicate with non native English speakers
As with qualified teaching positions, it is important to think about what you want to teach when completing your ESL teaching qualification. English proficiency is an important skill at various ages therefore ESL teachers have the opportunity to teach at many levels and to different ages. If you want to teach business level language to adults, that’s what your ESL qualification should certify you to teach.
ESL teachers in government schools will work alongside a local teacher and focus on teaching English alongside the curriculum.
ESL teachers in government schools will:
- Teach school aged children
- Use your expertise as a native English speaker
- Work with small groups of mixed abilities
- Communicate with, and work alongside, non native English speakers
As you can see, the various opportunities within each type of teaching can be very different. That’s without even thinking about country and culture specifics that would impact any role. Or the differing benefits packages! However, I hope this gives some insight into the positions you could be looking for as an overseas teacher.
Teaching can be amazing. It can also be challenging and frustrating, regardless of what you’re teaching. If you’re seriously thinking about moving overseas to teach, you need to do lots of research. You need to think about what it is you want to teach and who, you want to teach that to. As you can see, the possibilities are huge and each has it’s own benefits as well as difficulties. Follow travel blogs, look into different teaching and qualification options, research different countries; their pros and cons and living conditions. Find out what it is like to teach English in Japan or high school math in the Emirates. Talk to people who are doing it already. This research won’t be done for you and, as with many things, going into teaching overseas well prepared, will likely make it more enjoyable as well as successful.
Are you teaching overseas? Have you done it before? Are you about to embark on the adventure? Let me know about your experience in the comments and if you have any specific questions, feel free to post them too!
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