Home Guide ESL How to Teach English As a Foreign Language and Travel the World

How to Teach English As a Foreign Language and Travel the World

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After some planning, you can teach English as a foreigner in a distant and exciting country.

  • Decide where you want to live and what your goals are. Different rates and costs of living are different in each country.
  • Do your homework and decide if the country is right for you. What degrees do you need, if any, Certifications, immunizations, etc.
  • Search the web for job listings and openings. But keep in mind that many listings are still located in English newspapers within each country. You may also find the best jobs are not well advertised but posted at Foreign Language schools, but do not rely exclusively on the possibility of a "walk in" job -- line something up before you leave home.
  • Speak to as many people as you can who have had experience teaching abroad. If you don't know anyone, find forums online and join in the discussions.
  • it's possible to be a private tutor of english. You will need to comply with local self-employment laws. you can advertise your services on a website, in free internet classifieds, local newspapers, and social networking sites. be sure to have your advertising professionally translated into the local language if you aren't confident of your own second language skills.
  • If you become a private tutor you should have a ready supply of teaching materials. At the very least, have an English Only dictionary, a picture dictionary, an MP3 recorder, and a quality grammar book. Having internet access, a lap top, and access to free media helps even more.


    • You should actually like to teach and like helping people, and not look at teaching English as a easy way to pay for travel.
    • The needs of English as a second language learners are very different than the needs of native language learners. Take time to find out what your students need to learn. One-size-fits-all instruction doesn't work.
    • Adult learners have different needs than children. Some adults are learning for travel and pleasure, and others are learning so they can get a much needed promotion at their job. Some need to communicate only by email, and others will need to conduct complex negotiations. The type of vocabulary they want depends on individual needs.
    • Students from different countries have different challenges in learning the language. In some cases, English shares both the alphabet and an approximate root vocabulary with other Germanic and Romance languages. In other cases, such as Korean, there is little relationship between the languages.
    • Each country has different pronunciation difficulties, because their language doesn't use the same sounds as English.
    • Be sure you really know English grammar well. Can you quickly explain the formation and application of the present perfect? Can you quickly identify and explain idioms and phrasal verbs in a random article from a newspaper? If not, brush up on those topics now.
    • Teach your students to think in English, not just translate.
    • You will most likely need to go above and beyond the resources of your school to really help your students.
    • Use inexpensive technology to teach. For example, use the internet ot try listening to free radio broadcasts, watching videos, and reading the newspaper. No cost, copyright-free books are available on the web. Use diverse reading to challenge: popular journalism, humor, poetry, science texts, advertising, recipes, short fiction, and drama.
    • Practice dialogues using excerpts from plays and screenplays.
    • Use real-life examples, not just school text books. Magazines, radio broadcasts, and videos are great tools.
    • Practice one-on-one conversation with each of your students, even if it's only for a few minutes per week. Record the conversation with an mp3 recorder, play it back, and correct the students mistakes.
    • Encourage the use of English-only dictionaries, not translation dictionaries. Show the students how to study vocabulary. When they find a word or idiom they don't know during reading or listening practice, ask the student to highlight the word in the dictionary, copy the word and definition into their personal notebook, and copy the example sentences. Then ask them to practice and study their personal vocabulary notebook.
    • Notice how infants learn English. Babies listen for about a year before they begin talking. Then they learn speaking and pronunciation by imitation. They don't even begin reading and writing until age 4 or later. Thus, The foundation of learning a language is LISTENING. Although it's easier just to be a robot and slavishly follow reading and grammar texts, focusing on building listening skills will actually help your students more.
    • It's possible to be a private tutor and teach one-on-one classes without the aid of a school.
    • Many schools are looking for specific accents. The "fashionable" accents vary over time, and from region to region. Schools may also want all their foreign teachers to have a common accent.
    • It may seem obvious, but being a foreigner is not a free pass to contravene local customs and/or dress codes. This basic rule applies doubly for people in "authority roles" like that of teacher. Be prepared to conform to local norms.
    • Do you need to speak the local language? In most cases, it can be helpful but is rarely a requirement.
    • Each city in each country has different rates and costs of living. Schools in large cities typically offer higher wages, but the cost of living must be taken into account. In most developing countries, the cost of living in a rural area is substantially less than the cost of living in a big city.
    • Private schools offer more money, but also may require a lot more "out of hours" interaction with students.
    • Having a tertiary degree is useful but not imperative.
    • Having a basic "Teaching English as a Second Language" certification will, in most cases, substantially increase your chances and/or wages.
    • Investigate the company you are about to work for thoroughly! There have been incidents of people going overseas to teach only to find the company or school bankrupt when they get there!