Why should you think about teaching English abroad after you graduate? Well, English-language teachers are in demand world-wide, and taking a position as an English-language teacher is one of the few ways in which recent U.S. college graduates can find paid employment overseas. But more important, teaching abroad offers an incredible opportunity for your own continued education and growth.
Teaching abroad offers you the chance to live and work in another culture. In doing so, you will improve your own foreign-language skills. Through your interactions with students and co-workers, you will gain a greater understanding of the culture in which you live and work-and you will also learn a great deal more about your own culture as you try to explain it to your students.
You will gain valuable work experience, whatever your future plans. You'll learn to be part of a multicultural workforce as you gain practical work skills; you'll create an international network of friends and colleagues; you will become more adaptable, flexible, and confident.
Photo: S. Welch, France
There are many more reasons to work or teach abroad, but you will have to find them out on your own. Below, though, we offer some guidance on gaining experience and finding a teaching position and provide links to some organizations and government agencies that help place English-language teachers.
You don't need to be an education major to find work teaching English abroad. However, acquiring some experience--as a teacher, a tutor, a mentor--will both make you a more desirable candidate and also better prepare you for your role as a teacher. So here are some ideas:
Take Advantage of Campus Opportunities
There are ways you can gain teaching experience here on campus. Become a tutor in your discipline; work in the Writing Center; volunteer with the International Office to be a conversation partner for an international student; look into Registered Student Organizations that mentor or tutor students in local school.
Volunteer in Your Community
There are also lots of opportunities for you off campus. Certainly, you can join an RSO that will connect you with the Bloomington-Normal community or find a local organization on your own, but also think about volunteering in your home community over the summer and during breaks.
While being a native speaker is desirable trait, it alone is not sufficient to qualify you to teach English: Teaching requires patience, effective communications skills, and thoughtful lesson planning. And so you might want to look into a training program.
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses provide valuable training, including reviews of English grammar, training in creating lesson plans, information on cross-cultural communication styles, and general teaching tips -- all of which can make you a more qualified and desirable candidate.
Courses vary widely in length, depth of training, and costs, so do some research and think carefully about the type of training you want or need. Try looking at actual job postings to see what qualifications are required for the country, type of school or length of contract you are looking for.
CIEE -- Chile, China, Spain, Thailand
InterExchange -- Ghana, Spain
WorldTeach -- Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Pacific Islands