We get a lot of questions here from people thinking about teaching English abroad. Some of these questions are missing all logic and practical reasoning, a lot of these questions, relating to working abroad, are asked with totally unrealistic and unreasonable expectations!
Here are some statements and questions which have made their way to me:
“Of course the school will plan long paid vacations as they will want me to travel around their country.”
“I don’t need to wear a suit and tie, do I?” asked by someone who will be teaching at a university.
“How will I negotiate my ‘relocation package’?” asked by someone who is off to a country where airfare, accommodation and other relocation costs are not included
“Should I ask the students any questions?” from someone who will be teaching Conversational English.
“I won’t need any training as we will just chat, right?”
Let’s set the record straight now…Teaching English abroad is not about YOU! It is all about the school that has students who need your help!
Sorry to disappoint you, but you are not doing them a favor touring their country thus they will not plan or give long paid vacations to you (unless you land a good university position). And don’t expect a ‘relocation package’ unless you have a graduate degree with lots of experience!
Unfortunately, of course, YES, they might like you to wear a suit and tie in some schools.
And again, YES, you should ask your students questions! Or do you plan to talk about yourself the whole time?
To receive English education from an English native is a privilege in many countries. They pay a lot of money to attend your class and they will expect you to meet their needs.
Use your common sense when heading abroad, the basics of how to seek work and how to succeed at a new job will be the same all around the world.
Dress for success
My tip to you is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If your fellow foreign teachers dress in ragged jeans, t-shirts and flip flops does that mean you should do it too? Dress in the same way your host country co-workers are dressed, if it’s a suit and tie (common for university jobs) you better suit up!
“Should I ask the students any questions?” Please. Yes. Ask them!
Your students need to talk to practice, to get more confident and familiar with the language and gain experience. You might think that you are an interesting foreigner and you might be…but only for a few minutes. You can’t expect people to pay to sit in a class just to hear all about you? Students need to talk, help them to talk about themselves (which they will find much more interesting – don’t we all?) rather than you talking about yourself!
TED’s Tips™ #1: Dress for Success
Dress as your local co-workers dress, not as other foreigners. This is your career, take charge!
TED’s Tips™ #2: Be prepared to teach!
When you arrive on the job, be ready and prepared to teach! You can’t just walk into a class anymore and expect to have random chats with your students, prepare and be ready to teach new skills to your students. Dazzle your employer and co-workers with your readiness. Learn how to teach and know what you are doing before you arrive, it just takes practice! Get some training.