As federal funding dries up and teaching jobs and benefits in the United States are left in a questionable mess, more and more educators are looking for global opportunities to offer them the career and salary they need along with the fulfillment of being an educator. While there are many ESL firms devoted to helping teachers locate work and placement abroad, that doesn’t mean you should leave all the planning and research to them. There are certain proactive steps each teacher needs to take before he or she decides to sign a contract, leave the country and teach abroad.
Research the area you’ll be teaching in: It’s not always easy to just pick up and move when you’re staying in your country of origin—and it’s even harder to pick up and move to an entirely new country with new cultural norms. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the area and the people that you will be sharing your daily life with before you go. Watch documentaries about the area and the culture, read books and study the blogs of teachers who have gone before you so you have an idea of what to expect, and how to prepare for it.
Buy international health insurance: Your international teaching contract may include some insurance coverage, but it may be a light policy with few of the benefits that are important to you—such as reimbursement for travel and treatment back home. That is why buying your own international health insurance policy, with coverage options that matter to you, is vital.
Research the recruiter: If you are working with an ESL recruiting company, you need to research them and make sure they have all the resources you need. They should have classes and counselors to help you get adjusted to your new area and to help you learn the most effective teaching methods for the location. In addition, you should make sure that they have enough openings for new teachers.
Read fine print on your contract before you sign: Don’t assume that the recruiting company has your best interests at heart when developing your contract; make sure you read your contract and ask questions about anything that confuses you before you sing it. Many contracts allow your school or recruiting company to move you on short notice, meaning you end up living a life of constant upheaval abroad. You should also make sure you are comfortable with housing and travel allowances, sick pay, and the length of the teaching commitment.
When you do the research and buy your international health insurance policy, you help to ensure that you are getting the best of all worlds, which means your international teaching experience has a greater chance of being a success.