Important Requirements for Teaching and Learning English Abroad

As the top global language of business and with approximately 1.5 billion English speakers worldwide, learning English is a priority for many non-native speakers, and English teachers are consequently in high demand. However, before either a teacher or a student can get started some requirements must be fulfilled first. 

From getting qualified to reading up on the culture, there are a few important requirements for teachers but how they go about fulfilling them will depend on where they want to go in the world. Students, meanwhile, will first need to identify what their goals are regarding learning English. Following that, it’s then just a matter of ticking off the rest of the checklist: so, what exactly is on it?


Get Qualified

For prospective teachers looking to move abroad, the first and most important step is getting qualified. This can be done either online or in person, with various courses to choose from. Opt to study for as long as 198 hours or as few as 120 hours. There are also additional courses you could choose to complete following your qualification, that provide more extensive training in certain areas such as exam preparation and teaching online. 

While getting your TEFL qualification is a requirement you can’t do without if you want to be an English teacher, it’s also an excellent first opportunity to network. Your tutors will have vast amounts of firsthand experience and information on the industry, including where is best to go in the world to teach. Pick their brains to help narrow down where you want to apply. With countless English teaching jobs in China, this is one of many popular destinations for new teachers. For more info, check out TEFL.Org. 


Get Experience

Though it isn’t always a prerequisite, getting some teaching experience under your belt will make you a more competitive applicant when applying to schools abroad. A great way to do that is to volunteer. Organisations such as RefuNet rely on volunteer teachers to teach refugees via online lessons to help them prepare for language exams, improve their fluency, and build their confidence so that they may assimilate more easily. Be aware that you will need a background check if you want to volunteer to teach children or teenagers. 

If you’d like to get some practical in-classroom teaching experience under your belt, why not ask your tutor if you can shadow them or work with them as a teaching assistant? At worst, they’ll say no. At best, you’ll get to learn by following in the footsteps of the person who guided you through your qualification and come away feeling more prepared for your first-ever paid English teaching job. 


Be Prepared

Beyond teaching, newly qualified English teachers will need to be prepared for the financial cost and logistics of moving abroad. Some schools will offer to cover the costs of flights, however, that is not always the case, and you should factor in those costs when applying to schools abroad. Visas and insurance can also be expensive upfront costs, and again are things certain schools may include as part of your job offer. Be sure to do your research and confirm that information with employers during interviews. 

In terms of logistics, how you go about organising your move abroad will depend entirely on whether you plan on moving abroad for only a year or two or for the foreseeable future. If it’s the latter, figure out what items are absolute necessities to pack and start looking into affordable shipping companies for the rest. Looking into this sooner rather than later will help mitigate the stress of moving your life to another country, and ensure that you arrive prepared and ready to teach. 


Be Adaptable 

A culture shock when moving abroad is almost inevitable, be it related to the time people normally eat dinner, how people communicate or even how people get around a city or town. 

Being adaptable will make this transition easier, as while you may be used to doing things a certain way, to assimilate you’ll need to embrace the cultural differences and do as the locals do. 

Ways to prepare for these differences include doing your research and reading blogs, such as those on www.live-less-ordinary.com, and travel guides. You could also have a chat with your colleagues at your school to get some tips once you’ve arrived. This is especially useful if your colleagues are locals, as they can give you some inside knowledge on what to do, and most importantly, what not to do during your time teaching abroad. 



Learn the language

One of the most useful tools to help you adjust to living abroad as an English teacher is the local language. You don’t necessarily have to strive for fluency, but learning enough to get by will give you more autonomy when going about your daily tasks. Not only that, but you’ll be able to interact with locals and feel more connected to the community, as being able to communicate will also allow you to better understand the culture. 

Making an effort to learn the language could also improve your teaching. You’ll be able to recognize common mistakes your students make due to direct translation, as well as empathize with them more when it comes to the difficulties of learning a language. Moreover, you could identify methods and exercises that your language teacher used, which you found effective, and apply them in your lessons. 


Do the Work

Both English teachers and English learners need to come prepared for lessons to be successful. For teachers, that boils down to keeping a register with notes on your students’ progress, assigning and marking homework, and lesson planning. The more you prepare, the more focused your lessons will be on your students’ needs and help them to accomplish their goals. 

For students, ensuring that you complete assigned homework, take notes, and revise will allow you to continue making progress in the language, as opposed to stagnating at a certain level. Homework, especially, will give you a better idea of what parts of the language you find difficult without the assistance of your teacher. Once you’ve identified those weak areas, you’ll be able to work on mastering them and ultimately, feel more confident in your use of English. 

Overall, whether you’re an English teacher who wants to teach abroad, or a student aiming for proficiency in the English language, knowing what is required of you will go a long way in helping you achieve that goal. However, as no two students or teachers are the same, how you go about tackling those requirements is entirely up to you.

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