Health and Medical Care Insurance Abroad

Not really an advert. I just like the gecko.

Many, but not all employers overseas will provide you with a very basic form of accident and/or health care insurance.

Everything depends on your country of residence.

In some countries you will be eligible for the national health care system and in others you may belong to a private plan purchased by your employer (you might have to pay a certain percentage of the coverage).

Some places, you may not have any coverage at all.  Be sure to ask.

Will provided coverage be enough?

The typical medical coverage provided will help you out with the occasional cold or not-so-serious illness. If you are young and healthy, you might be okay if you don’t jump from bridges, ride motorcycles, take part in dangerous activities or even visit other countries – you might be okay.

If you are middle-aged, thinking about teaching long-term or traveling out of the country and being adventurous, then this type of coverage will not be enough for you. It’s often not suitable for long-term coverage or for a serious injury and illness.

Consider buying a good quality policy that you can take with you wherever you go.  It will cover you in the more serious situations; it will cover you in most countries. You can be that bike-riding-adventurist, because you’ll be covered from head to toe, east to west.  Maybe – be sure to check the details.

Aren’t these types of policies expensive?

Yes and no.

It will only be expensive when you have lousy or basically zero coverage while having a serious medical problem.

Some policies are more expensive; especially those offered by major insurance providers. Not to worry, you will find some reasonable alternatives. You can find ‘instant quotes’ online these days from many different providers.  Some ridiculously expensive, others surprisingly inexpensive.

Because of the low medical cost in certain countries you might not need as much coverage as you think or would have need in the USA, UK or Australia. Ask your personal physician and/or financial adviser for advice if you don’t know what to do.

Travel Insurance

A TEFL job is usually equal to ‘traveling’ for most people. Know that your basic coverage will likely not cover you when you are traveling out of the country. It is a good idea to get travel insurance if you choose to travel for a while or – as above – get an insurance package that is not dependent on being in the country where you are working.

I feel better already knowing that you know something that you really need to know if you are going to live and work overseas.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Do your research and find what policy will be the best for you in terms of coverage and cost.

TED’s Tips™ #2: If you plan to teach for a year or two or more, make sure to get an insurance policy that is portable, so you can take it with you from job to job and country to country.

I found that these policies can help you out of a difficult situation and save you a small fortune – a close friend once needed to be hospitalized during a vacation in Tanzania – luckily he had good coverage.  Everything was covered, he got excellent care and even a week’s supply of medicines when heading out the door.

TED’s Tips™ #3:  Disclaimer:  I am not a financial expert or health insurance expert or pretty much not an expert about anything.  Ask the appropriate consultant in your life about these issues.  Sorry – have to say these things these days . . . 🙂

Teaching Internships in China



TEFL and Intercultural Communication

Yes, just might mean NO!

This blog post comes from an eBook I wrote about achieving success abroad.  (part of a package of free TEFL eBooks at: TEFL Boot Camp)

You will find that various cultures respond and behave in their own way, a way that is usually different from what you are familiar with and these characteristics and ways of reacting might be the total opposite from what you expect.

Western-style assertiveness is not common in other cultures, nor is it helpful or useful.

To show a little bit more about cultural differences I will share a personal story: In summer of 1993 I was on paid vacation teaching a summer program at another university to save up some extra cash.

It was a hot and sweaty day and we were melting down from the heat due to the lack of air conditioning in the classrooms.

A Coffee Shop

My students made the suggestion to have our class in the air-conditioned coffee shop across the street.  I loved the idea and there were only about eight students so we could easily fit into a corner booth.

I asked for a ‘go ahead’ from the professor in charge of the program and he said, ‘Yes’. A few minutes later he said, “So you are not having class today?” I replied “Of course we are.  We are going to meet in the coffee shop, as the students requested. That’s okay, isn’t it?” Again, he said, “Yes”.

After a few minutes he asked, again, “So you are not having class today?”

After doing this question-answer-thing several times, I got a bit upset and told the supervisor, “If you don’t want us to meet at the coffee shop, just say ‘no’!”

I should have picked up the supervisor’s message the first time when he asked if I was not having the class (or at least the second time!). Everyone got upset and things could have been easier.

Many cultures are not as direct as our own

You need to listen intensively for underlying content and pay attention all the time!

Being confrontational might make things awkward and you will make your new coworkers and supervisors very uncomfortable if you put them in the position to confront you. It can spoil your relationships and work situation.

Listen and interpret carefully

If you get lost in a situation and don’t understand, ask your supervisor about it in the context of a culture question.

You can say, “I am a bit confused here, in my culture my boss would say ‘(Fill in the blank)’ – are you wanting me to ‘(do or not do something)?’ Please help me understand.”

If you approach a matter with this kind of attitude and statement it will help avoid a difficult situation, everyone will be at ease and you might even have a good laugh about the misunderstanding later.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Cross-cultural communication might be difficult to understand at first. But, if you handle it with finesse, life abroad will go much more smoothly! It’s is all part of learning how to be a skilled expatriate.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Be patient, don’t be over-assertive and don’t lose your cool.  Wait for things to settle down a bit when you are not sure what is happening.  Wait and listen a bit before you act.

You will often hear other foreigners bragging about how they “told off” someone at work, but you can be sure that they paid the price for that in the long run.  Such breaches of courtesy and culture are not usually easily forgiven.  These very same people will be complaining later about how a contract for next year was not offered (how you get fired in these types of jobs).  Usually they won’t have even a clue as to why.  But we know why, don’t we?


Teaching Internships in China





Dress for Success in TEFL

Lookin’ Good?

I often get the question ‘Is appearance important in TEFL?’

People seem to forget that TEFL is a job, it is an industry – it is not something that was created just for English speaking Westerners to take a break, party and have fun for a year or two.

Appearance is very important!

Tattoos and piercings

The whole “rebel” look is quite popular in Western countries. Even though we might do the rebel-style tattoo piercing thing, we know that what’s on the outside can’t be compared to the true character inside, but in many other cultures appearance is of great significance and can easily make or break your opportunities.

Schools usually have strong opinions about your appearance and how they would like it to be as teaching tends to be a highly respected occupation overseas.  Much more respected than in America, the UK or similar countries.

A Culture Lesson

A common saying in Korea is “The first impression is everything”. While I lived in Africa I would sometimes be surprised to see a man, wearing a three-piece suit, coming out of his mud hut. In Korea, Africa and many parts of the world appearances are very important.

Just take note, the Korean saying was not “The first impression is important”.  They say it is everything!

You will make a good impression if you dress in a neat, nice and professional way. It will better your opportunities.

What goes in one culture does not necessarily go in another – so play along, do what is expected, try to fit in – it may not be the same as your ideals, it may not be your style, but dressing and grooming yourself for the part will pay off in the end.

Tattoos and more

Keep your tattoos out of sight; think before you show the ink. In your country and culture it might be a matter of pride and principal, but in some other cultures tattoos have negative connotations and are mainly seen as symbols of yakuza or the mafia.

In Thailand many locals have tattoos.  Foreign teachers often observe this as a go ahead to get a tattoo, but remember…those locals with the tattoos most likely aren’t teachers.  And if they are, they keep their tattoos out of sight when on the job.

You will be a foreigner in a foreign land. You will stand out from the local people. You can expect to be closely observed, judged, a gossip-topic and commented on. It will most likely happen, so prepare yourself, get used to it, understand it and deal with it in a proper way.

You will find yourself surrounded by different cultures with different ideals. When living abroad it is usually expected that you adapt to the country’s local ideals – failing to do so will limit your career and opportunities.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Play along and open the doors to so much more.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.   Observe how the local people dress for the job you want and dress accordingly. Dress for Success . . . it is the same as back home.

Teaching Internships in China



Your First Critical Decisions about TEFL

Things to keep in mind when first seeking a job teaching English Overseas

If you have made up your mind that you want to look for an English teaching job and head overseas, then it is time to think about where you want to work, how much you want to earn or save and get the ball rolling.

Ready . . . Set . . .  Go!

The ‘where’ and the ‘how much’ will be based on your qualifications, the area of the world where you wish to work and the availability of jobs there, as well as your personal financial goals.

Here a few other things to consider as well.


Do you need some training? Do you want to get some training (good for you!)? I would advise you to do it overseas, ideally in the country in which you want to teach and live.

There are food reasons for this. It is generally cheaper to do TEFL training overseas than in developed Western countries. If you add the living cost such as food and boarding during training, it will usually still be cheaper.

It will give you the chance to figure out if you would enjoy living overseas, because living overseas is completely different from traveling overseas.

Getting training abroad will give you the opportunity to mingle with and meet new people doing the same thing you want to do and the chance to network for good jobs.

Another advantage is that you will have the opportunity to do your teaching practice with students similar to those you will teach on the job. This may not be so important if you have a lot of experience already, but if you are a TEFL Newbie it will help you understand what is ahead.

I’ve taught EFL in four different countries and each country’s students have their own unique way of speaking English, with different pronunciation and different grammar problems. Even experienced teachers take a while to get used to and to solve these language problems when changing countries.

The last advantage to consider is that you will get a good idea of what your students want, need, like and dislike.  This too will vary from country to country.

In Thailand, for example, it is important to have some fun English games and activities related to your lesson, but in Saudi Arabia it would be a bad idea.  There are huge cultural differences and ideas about education.  It will be in your best interest to know these details before you have an interview or have to do a demonstration lesson.

In some countries it is common to require a demonstration lesson as part of the interview process, so you can just imagine how far ahead you’ll be if you have done your training in that specific country. You will have an idea of what is going on and understand the common problems in the classroom.   You’ll be ahead of the other newbie-applicants.

The biggest benefit you will get from this will be to network and just getting the feel for your new possible home.

Recruiters?  Useful or not?

There are different opinions about recruiters.  Some people believe you find a much better deal negotiating on your own. Others believe that you should use a recruiter. Both ways are fine to me. I’ve done both.

I used a recruiter to find my first job. As a newbie, using a recruiter was very useful to me. I had a few problems but the recruiter got it all sorted out. It was helpful as I was not yet confident and had little knowledge about the business at that time.

The bad recruiters are out there too. They will not consider or care if you are a good fit for the school.  They will just place you and get their fee from the school and say, “Bye bye”.

It is important to do some research about your new school before going. Get in contact with and talk to the teachers already there. Find out if there are any problems – big or small, critical or minor – find out if they are happy and if not, why not?

Other issues

If you take some time to have a look at the other pages here at TEFL Newbie, you will see other issues to consider as well.  We try to cover most of them so that you will know what to look for.

Before you make the big decision and sign a contract, consider:

What types of students do you want to teach? Are you interested in teaching corporate executives, resort staff, kindergarten/preschool or nursery students?

Should the job be in place before you go?  This will depend on the specific country and your personal self-confidence.  Some countries will hire almost exclusively from overseas and others frequently require that you be in the country for a personal interview to be considered for a job.

TED’s Tips™ #1: If this is your first TEFL job, you might want to consider the countries that are “newbie friendly” and welcoming. It is known that the Middle East and Europe are difficult places to start and get your foot in the door.

Two of the easiest places to get started are definitely China and South Korea. In both cultures you will find that they have a lot of respect for teachers, they will hire from abroad and pay for or reimburse your airfare and accommodation.

Thailand is not just popular for the beaches, food and friendly people, the country is becoming more and more popular for new teachers, but it may not be one of the easiest places to work. You have to be in the country, to interview on the scene to get a job and you will pay your own airfare and accommodation.  You’d earn about the same amount of money as China, but work more hours and get none of the benefits.

Teaching Internships in China