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Teaching Tips: 6 Things You Need to Know Before Teaching English Overseas

Whether you’re teaching English abroad through an online tutoring website or in an offline public school, you’ll probably have some butterflies in your stomach while preparing for the trip. Part of that is nervous excitement about a new journey, and the other part is just plain nervousness. 

To help calm your nerves a bit, let’s take a look at six things you need to know before the big move abroad. 

1. Patience is part of the job

Teaching abroad is all about adapting to new circumstances, and adapting to new circumstances is all about patience. This simple yet powerful quality is a lifesaver when living (and working) abroad. 

Rather than getting flustered about a random schedule change or yelling at a rambunctious class that has no concern for your carefully-crafted lesson plan, it’s better to keep calm and… well, just keep calm. Patience is part of the job.  

2. Kids are the same everywhere

A well-worn travel cliche is that people are the same everywhere. This is especially true when it comes to kids. Although cultural differences are going to regulate behavior to some degree, the amount of similarity between kinds in Chile and China is remarkable. 

For example, sitting still at one desk for hours on end isn’t going to be their favorite activity. Most will fidget, fumble, and lose interest at one point or another. That’s why it’s important to mix in games, songs, and breaks with textbook learning. 

3. You’re likely to get sick 

If you teach abroad long enough, chances are you’ll get sick once or twice. Whether it’s street food or sneezing students, there are so many new stimuli thrown at your immune system that it’s bound to get overwhelmed at some point. 

Rather than trying to figure out what to do once you’re sick, it’s best to work it out beforehand. That means saving the directions to the nearest hospital, adding a company contact to your phone, and making sure you have travel insurance.

4. Understand the contract before signing it

Your teaching contract will tell you everything from job expectations to salary and time off. It’s 

essential to read it carefully, and if you have any questions, ask them. The last thing you want is to find out there’s a hefty fine for breaking your contract early when an emergency back home requires you to break your contract early. 

Make sure you’re comfortable with all the specifics before signing. 

5. Get the right credentials

Teaching credentials vary from country to country, so it’s important to do your research beforehand. The most common credentials for getting a work visa (which is required in most countries) include a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification. 

However, if you want some of the most lucrative jobs in the Middle East, you’ll need a master’s or Ph.D. in education alongside certifications and several years’ experience. 

6. There are two kinds of culture shock

Regular culture shock comes when you first land in a foreign country and get surrounded by strange sights, smells, and tastes. At first, eating a hot bowl of Vietnamese noodles for breakfast at 6 a.m. will be odd. After a week or two, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it.

Reverse culture shock comes when you return to your home country after an extended period abroad. Things that were once normal – like eating cold food for breakfast – will seem incredibly strange as you see your home country in a new light.

There are bound to be a few surprises along the way, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be relaxed and prepared for teaching English abroad. 

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