As I check out the Facebook pics of many of the young teachers that I graduated with I thought that some of you travel-obsessed readers out there might be interested in learning about how you can get paid to travel the world and experience new cultures simply by teaching a skill you have presumably mastered – English!
Teaching English abroad is becoming a huge industry. As more and more of the developing world grows a middle class that is hungry to interact with the international business class and the Western world, high-level English communication is becoming a huge asset. By fluke of geography and circumstance you probably mastered this important skill growing up, and if you have any sort of university degree at all you can probably market that mastery.
Finally, Someone Who Actually Wants a Teacher!
My friends have Bachelor of Education degrees in addition to their first B.Arts or B.Sc ventures. If you are one of the thousands of unemployed young Canadian teachers that teacher colleges and faculties of education across our land our pumping out and you would like to gain some resume material while seeing the world, then you are in a perfect spot. Then again, if you have your B.Ed you probably know all about the opportunities that are out there since you were likely inundated with offers the day you graduated (or even sooner). One friend of mine actually signed a contract to go teach in Thailand 3 months BEFORE he even had his degree, while the rest of us peons were scurrying around like chickens with our heads cut off wondering where we would be allowed to shape young minds going forward. If you have the magical piece of paper you truly have a wide array of options open to you and they are probably better off explained by each individual academy that is trying to recruit you.
All Is Not Lost Without a B.Ed!
For the rest of you guys who were about to surf away from this article, slow down and stay awhile! Just because you didn’t suffer through tedious class after class of an education degree (not that I hold a grudge or anything) doesn’t mean there isn’t room at this trough for you as well! If you have a basic degree of any kind or are willing to invest some time in getting a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate, there is certainly someone in parts of the world like Thailand, Indonesia, China, India, Mexico, and Egypt, and many others looking for someone just like you. I’ve been told that in some of these places many of your students will already have “working” English, but are looking to polish up their skills to use in glamour industries like tourism or business. To me, the main thing is that you have a passion for adventure and teaching regardless of the piece of paper in your hand.
The compensation packages for teaching abroad vary greatly, but the long and short of it is that you probably won’t get rich. Most offers are some sort of combination of room, board, flight, and a meagre wage. Not a bad trade when you consider the real cost of the package if you had to pay for everything yourself. Many of my friends that are teaching in China or Southeast Asia take the opportunity to zip over to Japan, New Zealand and/or Australia when they are on that side of the world. I’m told that getting to do that high-priced travelling on such a discount is a pretty good deal as far as it goes. The terms of the contract are often very flexible as to how much you want to work, what holidays you want, and how many semesters you want to be there for. I’ve even heard of a couple schools paying for loved ones to come visit if that is the perk that tempts you most. The competition over someone who actually is passionate about teaching (definitely not a prerequisite for a B.Ed degree) will likely only lead to more and more inventive perks down the road.
Bet You Didn’t Know How Qualified You Were!
Even if you don’t have formal education training, you can still market yourself using the Canadian education system. By explaining that you are a product of one of the most diversified and cutting-edge curriculums on the planet, and have proved your English efficiency in a place of higher learning, you can build a strong enough case for many overseas schools to take a look at you. I personally think there is a whole lot that could be improved in our curriculums across the True North Strong and Free, but it’s their opinion that matters not mine right?
Great Opportunity (Just Not For Me)
Now I’m somewhat of a hick that loves my rural home base. At some point I would love to see more of the world, but a few weeks at a time is more my cup of tea. I cannot deny the effectiveness of building your resume this way and the crazy breadth and depth of experiences that many international English teachers get to have. The rest of the world is growing much faster than Canada, so from a purely employable perspective, it probably isn’t a bad idea to have a look. Plus, your friends that want to travel and use your house as a rent-free hotel will love you even more than they currently do! My only word of caution would be to make sure that the school and/or the hiring agency is reputable. Talking to someone who has went to that area is usually a good bet for screening out the shady options. Other than that, wheels up and bon voyage!