5 things that might stand in your way when teaching abroad

It's easy to imagine yourself teaching abroad but knowing the obstacles in your way will help you get there. Below are the top 5 things that might prevent you from getting the job you want. 

1. Age and experience.  Many popular countries have set minimum requirements for experience and many more have maximum age requirements. Countries like Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Oman, Indonesia and China now require a minimum of 2-5 years of teaching experience to teach at most international schools so you won't get a look in if you don't have it.  In addition, some popular countries such as Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong get so many good applicants that they don't normally hire less experienced teacher regardless of ministry requirements. All countries in the Middle East, as well as China, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong have visa related age restrictions that kick in at 60.  What can you do about it? Think about similar countries such as Kuwait and South Korea to start your career. And think about Africa, Europe and Eurasia when you are older. 

2. Broken contracts and inconsistent experience.  International schools want teachers who can produce good academic results and who have good references to prove it. If you have not taught recently, or if you have left your school in a bad way you won't be able to convince a prospective school you can do the business in theirs.  What can you do about it? Make sure you do your research before taking an overseas contract so that you don't end up at a bad-fitting school. And if you have spotty experience be aware that you will not be able to get a look-in at the most prestigious schools so have realistic expectations and work hard to get your CV back on track by sticking it out and getting good references. Edvectus has a number of schools that will take less experienced teachers that have a history of positive feedback. 

3. Lack of experience in the right curriculum.  40% all international schools use a variant of the UK curriculum. 25% use the US curriculum and about 20% use the International Baccalaureate curricula.  These schools will naturally prefer teachers who have experience teaching in their system and the most popular schools and the most popular cities/countries will probably get what they want, locking out perfectly good teachers who just have not had a chance to prove themselves.  What can you do about it?  The best bet is to think of teaching abroad as a two or three stage process. First, take a job to get you the experience you need and then once you have proven your abilities in a sustained way, apply to a more popular school / area.  Edvectus has identified a number of good 'starter schools' that are happy to take teachers without direct curriculum experience to enable you to get your foot on the international ladder. 

4. Accent. 80% of all international schools serve mainly host nationals and children for whom English is not the first language. These schools want their expatriate teachers, which cost them much time and money to select, hire and sponsor, to be able to model the English language appropriately and be clearly understood by their children who are still learning.  This is why strong accents of any kind can cost you the job you want. What can you do about it? If you want to know what schools want to hear, then tune into the British BBC or an American newscast and work on losing your regional accent when you interview and teach.  

5. Lack of Focus. International schools take a big risk when they hire you. It costs them money to sponsor your visa, fly you out, train you and support you.  So it should come as no surprise that they want to minimise their risk, and will want to know that you have thought long and hard about your decision to become a teacher, that you love your teaching subject, and that you have really researched teaching abroad. If you have moved in and out of teaching, if you flit between two or more subjects/levels, or if your knowledge of the country/culture/school for which you are interviewing is shaky,then your lack of focus will probably put schools off.  What can you do about it? Do your research (our Learning Portal can help), focus your career aspirations and stick to it. 

Published Date: 21 January 2016 Comments: 6 Comments

Comments

Orlagh 16 August 2016
Hello, I am Irish currently doing my Masters in Post-Primary Education with English and History as my subjects. My undergraduate degree is a BA Hons in Humanities and I also have a FETAC Level 6 certificate in Special Needs Education. I am eager to work abroad as soon as I am qualified I am especially interested in the UAE. Although the only teaching experience I will have will be my placements while I am studying - 100 hours minimum required by the Teaching Council of Ireland, I am still eager to teach abroad once qualified. This information has been very helpful and I was wondering if there is anything else I should know regarding my chances of employment. Kind Regards, Orlagh
Orlagh 16 August 2016
Hello, I am Irish currently doing my Masters in Post-Primary Education with English and History as my subjects. My undergraduate degree is a BA Hons in Humanities and I also have a FETAC Level 6 certificate in Special Needs Education. I am eager to work abroad as soon as I am qualified I am especially interested in the UAE. Although the only teaching experience I will have will be my placements while I am studying - 100 hours minimum required by the Teaching Council of Ireland, I am still eager to teach abroad once qualified. This information has been very helpful and I was wondering if there is anything else I should know regarding my chances of employment. Kind Regards, Orlagh
Marlene Komoto 13 May 2016
This has really been an eye opener to me. I really appreciate and acknowledge people who take the time to do research for me to have a better understanding of what is happening and what to expect. I filled with insight and believe I can start with the process of applying abroad. Kind regards Marlene Komoto
Christina Ristau 04 May 2016
I taught in US schools for 22 years but left 5 years ago to go into education publishing. Now I want very much to return to teaching and to teach internationally. Do you think there is a place for me "out there," or did I blow my chances by taking a break from teaching? Please help? I still have an active (US) teaching license in Spanish and English, and I'm willing to teach anywhere in the world! Thank you very much, Christina Ristau
Reply from Evedecus 04 May 2016
If you have been out of teaching for more than a year, we recommend you get back into teaching in your home country for at least a year or two before going abroad. Most reputable schools want to see recent, proven experience.
scholastic Mazibuko 26 March 2016
Thank you for such a valuable information, on what to expect and how to prepare yourself as a teacher to relocate. Thank you for clarifying about Age limitations and nature of contracts
shanthi edwin 25 February 2016
I am shanthi. Iam a post graduate in History and a Bachelor of Education in English. I have taken Economics and political science as my ancillaries. I worked in United Arab Emirates and India for more than 12 years as a primary and a higher secondary teacher under American and British Curriculum. I will prove worthy of myself as an excellent teacher to teach in International Schools. I will be very glad if you consider me and offer me a post of social science which comes under Humanities. Thank you, Regards, shanthi

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