The ABC of ELT

Simple steps to get a job teaching english abroad

Tell me if this sounds familiar

You’ve started to think about teaching English abroad because you’ve heard about all the great reasons to do it. You’ve spoken to someone who’s done it before and they sounded so enthusiastic about it.

They learnt so much, came back with so many stories from their time abroad and the even seem more confident than before they left. (not to mention they aren’t broke unlike some of your other friends who went travelling).

The thing is you’re not sure exactly what you need to do next…you think you might need a training contract and you may have even seen some great reason to do a qualification course but should you do that before hand and what should you do after that?

Well luckily I can help.

Do some research

You can get by without doing any research but it increases the chances of having to pay extra, choosing a bad service provide, getting certificate that the job you want doesn’t recognise or even realising that you don’t want to do the job. It’s best to get this out of the way early on and be as informed as you can early on. If you are constantly spending time checking on details later then it’s a real waste of time and can lead to finding out that you have made a wrong choice later on.

Choose a country to go to

Different countries have different needs, regulations and standards. Choosing a country early on allows you avoid falling into assumptions that are only true of certain countries and not of others. There are some general trends that you can see though, Within the EU, Europe outside the EU, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Pick some back up options

Of course, you can’t always find a good option for your first choice so picking a backup option is a very good idea to help you broaden your choices. Of course, you can do this later on but by having your options open at the start it means you may actually find an school in your backup option that is even better. Or you won’t find that you suddenly need to get a medical form completed to go to your backup school and you are due to leave in only a few days time.

Do a qualification course

I’ve mentioned before about the value of taking a qualification certificate and why it is usually worth doing even if you want to go to country where you don’t have to be qualified. As such it’s probably a good idea to get a qualification as it will certainly broaden your options. It’s also a good way to make sure that you want to be a teacher and not ended up making a mistake, turning up at your new job and then realising that you don’t want to do it.

Be careful which certificate you choose though as not every school recognises or appreciates every type of certificate.

Find a great job

As you approach the end of your course (or even after you have finished) it’s time to find a great job.

Of course, you’ve probably looked at some job profiles and you may even have some jobs in mind before hand but until you’ve done your course, you can’t really apply for them. There are a lot of job sites out there (in fact we even have our own here). Some focus more on one continent, some are linked with a particular group of schools and others are just general. Ours is focused on people who are looking for their first job, of course we have some others but that’s the main focus.

Remember to make sure that it’s actually a good contract rather than a bad one. You don’t want to end up being over worked, underpaid and depressed

Make sure it’s legitimate

Sometimes jobs that look great aren’t. It may simply be a case that the job description has been spiced up a bit or it may be as far as being a complete rip off (and everything in between). Learning to separate the good from the bad is vitally important to making sure that you don’t end up abroad ripped off. Or even spending money when you don’t have to. Searching beneath the surface can help you reveal what it is really like.

A great chance to do this is during your interview where you can ask some questions to check out if the school is the real deal.

Book your flights

Once you’ve settled on a place to go, made sure it isn’t a con and accepted the contract then you have to get your flights. There are a couple of tricks you can use to help lower the cost but if you haven’t decided on your place and potential job far in advance then you won’t be able to use these tricks. You’ll be under pressure and have to buy more expensive tickets than you would otherwise.

Pack your bag

Almost there now, packing your bag can take a while if you don’t know what you need to include/exclude so use my essential check list to help you quickly and efficiently pack your bag the best you can. Once you’re packed your ready to go and start you adventure.


All that’s left to do is to begin your teaching career and create adventures and stories that you can share for the rest of your life.

Where are you planning on going?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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