What About Teaching Overseas?
If you are graduating this year, you probably have a game plan for finding a job in place. Naturally I wish you good luck with that and sincerely hope it works out. On the other hand should things not pan out the way you planned, why not consider teaching? We need teachers. We need talented teachers. In both public and private sectors. At home and abroad. I have several articles on finding , applying for and interviewing for private school jobs. So for the purposes of this article, we are going to look at teaching overseas.
Overseas? Yes, there are plenty of teaching jobs overseas. Hundreds of private schools in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean are always looking for qualified teachers. Of course, you probably have already seen dozens of emails from ESL schools in Taiwan. Are those jobs real? Yes, they most certainly are. But, caveat emptor. Do your research carefully. There are some lemons in the bunch. besides teaching English as a Second Language isn't all you are capable of doing, is it? Laura Light, Director of Educational Staffing for International Schools Services, explains what it is like to work in an overseas school.
We are not talking about only ESL teaching jobs. How about teaching in a country like Argentina? For example, let's say you are a Spanish speaking graduate with a degree in American language and literature from Brown or Boston University. You have worked hard getting that degree, but the job market here is tough and you don't want to start your master's degree for a few years. So, why not get out into the world and gain some real life experience. Wikipedia will show you listings of all the K-12 schools in Argentina. Use the search string "private schools in Argentina". You can use similar search strings in Wikipedia for most countries. By the way, don't be put off by the British naming convention which you will see in countries where Britain had influence. Private K-12 schools are often styled 'colegio' or 'college'. They are not colleges in the sense with which we are familiar. These are in fact K-12 schools. As well the International Schools Services has a job page.
Many of these private schools are international schools whose students are English speaking. Why is that? The reason is that places like Buenos Aires have large expat communities. Expat parents typically insist on sending their children to a school with an American or English style curriculum so that their children can make the transition more easily back home when they finally do return home.
What's it like living outside the United States? It is different, that's for sure. But learning about local customs, understanding different points of view, getting a feel for the centuries of history in some of these locales, well, as the credit card commercial says "That's priceless!"
Here's what some teachers have said about their experience teaching overseas:
"As for making the jump from teaching in America to international teaching, it happened through people who taught in America and then went on to international teaching...they LOVED it and encouraged us to look into it! Our kids are all grown, we have no grandchildren (yet), and decided that this was the time to go for it! We also love the idea of world-wide travel. I will be very honest here, what appealed to us was the small class sizes in international schools, the opportunity to immerse ourselves completely in another culture, and the opportunity to have more involvement in curricular decisions in the school."
Finding an Overseas Job
The first thing you have to decide is which country you want to work in. Because you will need a visa to work in a foreign country, you need to focus on one country or you will be overwhelmed by red tape and expense. You will also end up wasting a lot of time. This short video explains how to get a teaching job in an overseas school.
The U.S. Government has thousands of families posted overseas. The Department of State offers a useful list of schools it has vetted. Contact schools on the list to see what vacancies exist. Email makes this part of the job search process easy and fast.
When you contact schools what should you say in your email? Treat it just like a formal letter of interest. Something along the lines of the following will work. Write in English unless you are fluent in the local language.
|I am a graduate of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in American Language and Literature and a minor in Chinese language and literature.|
I was a member of the debating team, played soccer and badminton.
I seek a teaching position at your school. I am available immediately.
102 Somerville Avenue
Boston, MA 02138
Organize your materials
On the back end make sure that you have your resume up to date and ready to send. If you have a curriculum vitae, update that as well. Many foreign countries will expect you to submit a CV. What's the difference between a resume and a CV? Read Alison Doyle's explanation.
Have your references lined up. Speak with them and let them know what to expect. Wherever possible, obtain actual hard copy letters of reference for your files. Overseas employers might ask for them. Have a passport-style photo taken. This should be a head and shoulders shot. A high quality photo always makes a good impression. Copies of transcripts, diplomas, awards, etc. all need to be collected for your files.
Be patient with the process. If there is an opening and your are a good fit, expect to be interviewed by phone. You should also plan to attend any job fairs which scheduled for a major city near you.
When you are offered a position and accept it, the visa process gets underway. More paperwork, photos and appointments will be required to get that important document processed. Once you have your visa, the school will send you a plane ticket and instructions as to when and where to report.
Depending on which country you go to, you could end up with several colleagues who have come from other countries to teach. That will make your transition into a whole new life that much easier.
Once you arrive at your new job, be sure to register with the United States Embassy or Consul just in case some emergency arises. Remember to continue to file your income tax forms timely. Consult with a knowledgeable tax preparing who has handled expatriate tax situations as there are several allowances and exclusions for which you might be eligible. Scott Wentz gives us an overview of the tax situation for Americans living abroad.
Let the adventure begin!