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10 Days to an English Teaching Job Abroad  – Page 2

So, you are a good English speaker and you have your TEFL Certificate, or a plan to get one while you are abroad. The first option is better for many reasons if you haven't left home already. Now you can go about finding a teaching job abroad in 10 days or less by following these 10 simple steps. If you are already in your chosen country, go to Step 3.

Step 1: Decide where you want to teach

Reasons for wanting to teach in a particular country (or countries) will be many and varied.  It may be somewhere you have always wanted to visit, or one that you know well and want to settle in for a while whilst earning a living, or possibly because it presents a challenge. 

Whatever your chosen country, and whatever your reason for going there, you will find receptive pupils who are wiling to learn and who will be grateful to you for teaching them English. It is no exaggeration to say that most of them will remember you, their English teacher, for the rest of their lives.

Step 2: Book your flight and a room at your chosen destination

You are probably on a tight budget and need to get the best deals. Visit our Travel and Bookings page first. Here you can compare prices, read reviews and make flight and accommodation reservations world-wide. If you really want to save money, there is low-cost accommodation in many Asian countries and elsewhere. Convenience, reasonable comfort and security are important issues. Make a reservations for a few nights. If you are satisfied, you can negotiate a better rate for a month or more. Make sure are happy with the room, the management, the location (near shops or your school).

If your chosen country requires a visa before you leave, apply only for a tourist visa first. Some countries have visa on arrival facilities, including the Lao PDR and Indonesia. Many don't require visas for tourists, depending on your nationality. It is wise to check first.  Don't mention working.  When you find a job, your employer should be able to arrange the correct visa and work permit (see Step 9). If you are a US citizen, visit this site regarding travel documents and visa for any country.

Step 3: Sell yourself to prospective employers

Put together a professional resume or curriculum vitae before leaving.  Take it with you in a protective case and save a copy in your Yahoo, Hotmail or Webmail folder.

Don’t forget to pack:

  • your TEFL Certificate;

  • college diploma/degree if you have one;

  • any other relevant certificates of qualification;

  • a summary note which details any teaching or training experience you may have and lists everything you have learned on your TEFL course;

  • your references – personal and work related.

Most employers will ask for references.  Arrange these before departing.  Former employers, teaching colleagues and co-workers make the best references.  Ask each to write a brief letter which recommends you as a teacher.  Ask them to leave the letter undated - so that you can use it for a long time into the future.  But each letter should include an address, phone number and email address for the person writing your reference.  

If you do not have any relevant teaching experience, ask your TEFL trainer to write a reference about the skills you have learned. 

Take at least two paper copies of all this with you with you in a protective case.  Where possible, save everything in your email account and keep a back up copy on disc, CD, portable USB flash drive or on your MP3 player.  

Step 4: What you should take with you – clothing and accessories

Don't forget when you pack to include a few decent clothes for interviews. Your future employers may be as much impressed at a first meeting by your appearance as your qualifications.  Dress like you would for a job interview at home. For men, this means a plain shirt and tie, dark pressed trousers and polished shoes. For women, medium to long dark skirt, white blouse and covered shoulders. Go easy on jewellery, make-up or strong perfume.
Earrings are usually considered acceptable for women, but nose and other visible body piercing items (for either gender) and large tattoos are generally seen as setting a bad example to the students and should be removed or covered up where possible.

Step 5: Once you arrive

'Hit the ground running'. If possible, ask your hotel to pick you up at the airport. Alternatively you should book a taxi from the taxi desk inside the airport arrival hall. You might pay a bit more, but it is safer and less troublesome.  On the first day in a new country, especially after a long flight, this can really help to set you on your way.  

Take a day or so to get settled. Don't start searching for jobs.  Walk around, get your bearings using a local map or travel guide. Let your body and mind adjust to the new environment.  

Unpack your interview clothes. If they are wrinkled, find a laundry service to have them ironed (your hotel or guest house should be able to help). This is especially cheap in Asian countries. Once ironed, hang up your clothes.  Polish your shoes and prepare your resume.  Finally, have a beer, or other drink, and relax.

Step 6: Get connected via mobile phone

Prospective employers will want to call you. Asking them to leave a message at a hotel or guesthouse is unreliable and potential employers will not be impressed. It is best to have a mobile phone with a local number. Mobile phones in most places in Asia are cheap and easy to find. If you have brought an 'unlocked' mobile phone with you, just buy a local prepaid SIM card. See our Asia Communications page. You can unlock any phone cheaply. Otherwise buy a cheap basic model locally – even Chinese ones are quite reliable. Some countries require you to show your passport to register a new number. Get the shop assistant to install the SIM and set the phone up for you and make sure you can make a call and if possible, connect to the internet. Check that English is set as the default language for the menus! Wading through manuals when you need to make an important call is not fun!

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