Teaching English Abroad: Tips for New TEFL Teachers

Moving abroad for your dream job will make your heart flutter. However as with any big changes in life this also creates worries. A new job in a new environment is filled with challenges. You have to be mentally prepared for it.

To minimize the worries, we have curated some tips to help you enjoy the adventure ahead and avoid some common mistakes many new TEFL teachers experience while teaching abroad. 

Research

Researching about what to expect as a TEFL teacher working abroad helps you make know what to expect. It is even more beneficial to research the specific country/region you are planning to work in. In addition to researching about typical benefits packages, find out about the culture, the currency, the foods, weather, housing and transportation.

With inflation running red hot in many countries, take into consideration the cost of living. Being near a good public transit system, a laundry service, a supermarket and casual restaurants nearby is a great way to keep things manageable and cut down on the cost of taxis etc. Nailing that budget target is uber satisfying when you do it in a foreign country!

Compare job offers

In destinations with lots of pent up demand, you have the luxury of being a bit more picky on which offer to accept. Compare benefits packages, working hours and expectations, as well as the reputation of the employer. If you are a new TEFL teacher, going with larger established employers is usually a smart choice as they typically provide much more support and have more experience with onboarding even if they have a few disgrunted teachers posting less than stellar reviews. You may also consider working with an agent who adds an extra layer of support through the entire process.

Set a realistic timeline

Accepting a job offer abroad is a pretty big decision and life change. Depending on the destination you are planning to head out to, a lot of documents may need to be prepared in order to obtain your work permit. For some destinations processing can take up to 7 months! If you are itching to leave quickly, be flexible on which country you will teach in. Some places can have you in the classroom in less than two months.

Always set a realistic timeline so your travel and moving arrangements don’t get messy.

Be financially prepared

Although you are going abroad for work, you still have to prepare financially for the first month before your paycheck comes in. Remember, besides groceries, there are costs like accommodations, transport, deposits on utilities, internet, SIM card etc. Speak with your employer/agent for a realistic amount that should be set aside for your first month of living.

Be prepared for culture shock

While it is inevitable, you can still minimize some of the shocks of living and working in a new world where the way of doing things is much different from home. It is a common mistake for new TEFL teachers going abroad to overlook the importance of being aware of the differences. Things are not the same back home. There are some actions that are normal back home but are considered rude, and vice versa. Be prepared with cultural expectations to help yourself blend in more easily with the locals.

Feel free to ask for help

We sometimes tell ourselves that we got this, even when we really need a hand. Do not hesitate to ask for help, whether it be seeking moral support from other TEFL teachers or emotional support from the family and friends back home.

It is best to go overprepared

While you can’t be prepared for every little thing that comes your way, you can take steps to ensure your stint abroad is the best it can be. Aside from living conditions and benefits packages, it is pretty much essential these days to have a good foundtation teacher training course under your belt. myTEFL’s 120 hour is the perfect blend of practicality and value. In addition to prepping you for the class, myTEFL can also help you skip the headaches of the job hunt with placement services.

*This is a guest post submitted on January 16, 2023.*

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