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Travel to Teach

Having lived abroad for over 15 years, I know that having the freedom to pick up sticks and move to a new city or country is something I don’t take for granted. I have been allowed this great freedom because over 15 years ago I got a TEFL certificate which allowed me to travel to teach.

It was hands down the best decision of my life. At the time I was working for a bank behind a desk with a three-hour commute everyday. It was sucking the life out of me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew it wasn’t what I had been doing.

A Big Change

I made the decision to quit my job and travel the world to teach, but I wasn’t sure how to do that. I knew at the time that teaching was interesting to me and I wanted to help people and know how to teach someone English, but I didn’t know how to get started. At the time, there weren’t any online TEFL courses, so I signed up for an in-house one and got my certification. If I were to do it again today, I would go with an online course as I am much more suited to learning at my own pace, rather than being force-fed information to cram everything into four weeks.

Once certified, It was time to decide where to go. I settled on the north of Thailand as I had visited it previously and I loved the mountainous terrain. I am a very outdoorsy person and Northern Thailand had everything: Great hiking, mountain biking, lakes, jungle and adventure.

Finding Work

Once I arrived in Thailand it was time to find a job. Now, the best advice I can give anyone, whether in Thailand or anywhere, is to turn up to schools personally. Arrive dressed to impress with your resume / CV ready with a cover letter attached, and your best cultural greeting. In Thailand that’s a wai, but in Japan it would be a bow, you get the idea.

There is a good chance you might be asked to give a demo lesson while you are there, so make sure you have some basic material to do a 20-30 minute lesson. The Teejr flashcard lesson is ideal for this. Once your interview has finished, there’s a chance they might offer you the job immediately. If they do, there’s a chance they are desperate for a teacher and you have to ask yourself why that is. If you have a good feeling about the school, then you can probably accept. It’s usually a good idea to think it over and tell them you’ll let them know tomorrow. Don’t make a hasty decision. It’s worth the small risk of losing the job over the course of 24 hours to make a good decision in the long run.

When making your decision, factor in all the key pieces of information, salary, hours, contact hours per week, distance of school from home etc. Really! I had a student once who got a job at a great school and accepted it. Then two weeks later decided it was too far away. Not cool. The school hadn’t moved in those past couple of weeks. Suffice to say, she struggled to find more work locally after that.

Deciding to travel to teach is a big decision as it will affect the rest of your life. The decisions you make later in life will be based off your experiences you had when you’re spending time in other cultures and around other people. In my experience, it’s only been a blessing.

April 3, 2015

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