I have received the following letter too many times to count since moving overseas:
Hey! How are you? I hope things are well with you. Listen, I have this friend/cousin/sister/uncle/nephew/random person I don’t really know/little sister’s best friend’s cousin’s daughter-in-law who is thinking about teaching overseas. I know you do it and you love it- can I put them in touch with you?
Thanks- your kids are cute.
I always said yes and the friend’s uncle’s aunt’s third nephew on their mother’s side may or may not email me. At first, I used to answer every e-mail with miles of information, singing the praises of a life overseas, telling people step by step what to do, who to contact, what to pack, etc. And the response I always got?
In fourteen years of answer those questions, only one person has actually moved overseas after asking me about it. So I’m dedicating this page to all the things People Who Are Considering Teaching Overseas might ask. If I missed something you want to know, ask away!
First things first: I don’t teach English. I teach drama and music in international schools. The Rugby Star teaches PE. The kids speak English and we work from an American or International curriculum. If you’re hoping to go teach English in China/Japan/Korea for a year, I’m not the person to ask about that. That’s a whole other thing.
So, if you’re still interested, here are some things to do and know:
1. Check out International School Services and Search Associates which are the two biggest recruiting agencies in the international teaching world. They can answer your questions better than me in most cases. You’ll get an idea of the countries where you could teach, what kind of jobs are available and when you need to have your information and resumes ready.
2. Another great resource is TieOnline. They’re not a recruiting agency, but you can upload your resume and a lot of schools use it to start the search. You can get a quick idea of jobs available with direct links to the schools. We love this website- it’s super user friendly and is very up-to-date regarding hirings.
3. You have to be a certified teacher to teach in international schools.
4. The recruiting season starts in about October for international schools Most schools ask their staff to tell them by the end of November if they’re planning to stay another year or if they can start advertising for their job. You will want to have an update resume, transcripts, copies of your degrees, letters of recommendation from parents, supervisors and colleagues. In this age of technology, you may want to include your classroom website or a personal website that recruiters can easily access to see examples of what you’re doing in your classroom.
5. Skype interviews are becoming more popular but many recruiters still like to have face-to-face interviews. You will want to plan to attend a recruiting fair, which is very much like a cattle call. ISS and Search have their own fairs set up around the world in places like Boston, San Fransisco, Thailand, and Dubai.
6. At the beginning of recruiting season, couples take priority. It’s cheaper and easier to hire two. The first fairs are very couple-oriented. That’s not to say you won’t get a job as a single, but you better be really necessary or have a super-impressive resume. Check out which countries can/will hire single mothers, teachers with dependents, and trailing spouses. Culture and law may play into the school’s ability to hire you.
7. You should go to a fair knowing who you want to interview with. Don’t show up blindly hoping someone has a job for you.
8. Network. Shake hands and smile. Don’t get too drunk at the cocktail party. The international community is small and you never know who’s remembering your face.
9. Once you get a job, do as much research as possible. Follow blogs of people living in that country, get the Lonely Planet, ask questions of the new faculty coordinator at your new school. Ask to be put in touch with another faculty member (you may want to do this before hand to get a better idea of the school before you accept a job).
10. I feel like there should be a 10 because it’s a nice, round number, but I can’t think of anything else right now.
If I missed anything big that you’d like to have an answer to, just leave a comment.
I hope this helps!