Your top ten questions about teaching overseas answered

Are you considering teaching internationally? If you’re like most other teachers, you will have many questions on your mind. Here are the ten most common questions the TIC Team get asked. We hope these answers help make your decision that little bit easier:

Do I have the right qualifications and experience?

Most international schools require a reputable teaching certificate or qualification (including PGCE) and want you to have two or three years of experience teaching the National Curriculum of England, an American style curriculum, or the International Baccalaureate (IB). A few schools have the authority to accept and provide the necessary support for NQTs, and some schools will consider you with just one year of teaching experience. But to access more options and jobs, it’s best if you have experience.

International schools also highly value attitude; enthusiasm, positivity, flexibility and resilience are important qualities that schools look for, as well as teachers who can lead extra-curricular activities. 

What will it be like leaving family and friends at home?

It’s perfectly normal for teachers to get homesick, but the internet and social media mean that it is now easier than ever to communicate with loved ones. Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, email; the possibilities are endless, and all of these are free to use.

Some international schools will include flights home within your package. And don’t forget, your new job may also be a place that friends and family want to visit. You may even see more of the people you love than you did back home!

Can someone help me with my international job search?

Yes! Recruitment companies can support you through the whole process; offering advice, working with you to find the right school, and can communicate with the school on your behalf. They will work hard to find a position that is suited to you as an individual. All of this will cost you nothing; reputable agencies do not charge fees.

Will teaching overseas meet my expectations? 

It’s a good idea to think about why you want to teach overseas. It’s not a decision to make lightly. Are your reasons for teaching overseas positive? Running away from a problem, such as a broken relationship, is not a reason to go. And if you’re expecting lots of time on the beach, easy money, and less work, then you’ll almost certainly be disappointed. If, however, you want to develop professionally, work with teachers from across the world, gain teaching experience and live within a new culture, you are sure to gain a lot from teaching at an international school.

Is teaching overseas the same as TEFL?

No, it’s completely different. International schools are schools that teach through the medium of English-language. They often follow the National Curriculum of England, American curricula, or the IB. They employ qualified teachers from across the world, most commonly from UK, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa.

Who will I be working with at an international school?

You will be teaching children from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and countries. Many will be speaking English as a second or other language. This will require you to be patient and adaptable, with a positive frame of mind, and you will likely experience new circumstances and unexpected challenges.

In addition, you will be working alongside a team of staff that are from a mixture of cultures, and will have different learning and teaching skills to yours. Most international teachers say this is incredibly helpful for their own professional development. It’s a great chance to learn new skills and approaches to teaching and learning.

Do I need to speak the local language?

No. While it is helpful to know enough of the local language to get by in a new country socially, it is not a necessity. All the international schools TIC works with are English-medium schools. This means that the majority of subjects, sometimes all of them, are taught in English.

Most of the leaders, and many of the staff at international schools speak English as their first language.

Do I have the right personal qualities to live in another country?

To live overseas successfully, it is important to be open-minded. If you can view the world as one, with no culture, country, or type of people being more significant than another, you will get on well. Being sensitive and appreciative of other cultures is a necessity for any international school roles. If you are internationally-minded, you will make a great international teacher!  

Will working at an international school progress my career?
It most certainly could. International school teachers move between international schools frequently, meaning that promotions often occur. Once you have landed your first job at an international school, you are more desirable to all schools. The skills you will develop, such as working with a new curriculum, with students who have English as a second language, and with teachers from across the world, are highly appreciated by international schools and by schools back home.

Will I ever have time to travel?

Most teachers we work with say that they have been able to travel frequently, during holidays and at weekends. The main school holidays at most international schools are longer than national schools. Often the cost of living is lower, so teachers have more disposable income, enabling them to travel to some exciting destinations.

To read more about what it’s like to teach internationally, why not check out some of our blogs, teachers’ stories, or advice for teachers. If you are a school leader, or aspiring to be a school leader, then we have an entire section dedicated to leadership support here.

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