Moving abroad for a TEFL job? What you need to know!
So you’ve passed the course, landed your dream job in a far away land and your adventure teaching a language abroad is fast approaching! In the midst of all the excitement, you might be a bit apprehensive about what teaching abroad entails, but don’t worry! We have gathered some handy tips that you might not have yet thought about to make sure you feel as prepared as possible to make the transition into your new lifestyle abroad a smooth one!
What should I pack?! This is probably the most stressful part of planning for a big move abroad, as you struggle to decide what you will desperately need whilst resisting the urge to over pack and bring everything but the kitchen sink. Clothes wise, it is best to pack a happy medium of smart clothes for teaching, and casual clothes for your free time so you are appropriately dressed whatever the situation! Obviously researching the weather of wherever you’re heading to is a must, as you don’t want to be sweating in the Spanish sun because you only brought your favourite woolly jumpers. Clothes sorted, it is probably best to research what might be difficult to get hold of wherever you are going, such as certain toiletries or painkillers, so that you are prepared and having all the brands you love will make you feel more settled! Don’t forget your electronics, such as laptops, tablets and Kindles, and any chargers/adaptors you will need to help you stay connected to home.
Do I need to know the language? Although you are heading to away to teach your native language, it is definitely helpful to have at least a basic knowledge of the local language of your students. This will not only help your teaching ability, as you can converse more easily with your students when the occasion calls for it , but also in your own day to day life – you will be able to ask the locals for directions, chat to the bus driver and find what you are looking for in the supermarket much more easily! You probably won’t be expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the local dialect, as you are there to teach your own language, but using resources such as YouTube and language apps mean you will have a head start in settling in when you arrive in your new home!
How will I understand the culture? The short answer to this question is…research. Find out what customs are appropriate, how you are expected to greet people, say goodbye to people, act towards elders…all the little things that we take for granted in our home country can differ massively abroad and knowing about the culture can help you connect with the locals and avoid any social faux pas! Although some points will be learnt by in-country experience, having some know-how will be appreciated by the locals, and help you navigate life in your new home.
I’ve never taught before! How will I know what to do? If you are stressing about teaching for the first time, don’t! You will usually have training sessions, where you will be able to sit in on other teachers’ lessons to get a feel for how best to approach lessons. Once you start teaching, you will often have a teacher sitting in on your first few lessons, so if at any point you feel as though you need some guidance you can ask them for assistance. You will be provided with all the teaching materials you need, such as chalkboards or pen and paper so you don’t need to worry about lugging in over in a suitcase.
Although the preparation process can be intimidating, it’ll be a distant memory when you are having an incredible time exploring your new home. So now you are ready for your big adventure teaching abroad! Remember the most important part of your journey…to have fun!
By Kathryn Gardner