I like to travel as much as the next person. Heck, I’d even argue that I love to travel more than the next person, but my recent Norwegian Airline debacle puts a damper on my enthusiasm some. But travel isn’t cheap, and it’s even more complicated after graduation when those student loans start to tap you on the shoulder. That’s why I brought my friend Shanti on the podcast this week to share how to teach English abroad with a Bachelor’s Degree + beyond.
Shanti’s not a travel newbie. First, this girl put my English major to shame in the pointless-waste-of-student-loans competition with her Japanese language degree. (I kid, I kid…sort of) Next, she gave a big no-thanks to a “real” job after graduation by moving to Japan to teach English abroad.
You might think the chaos stops there, but nope! After a year in Japan, Shanti made the (understandable) decision that teaching small children was not for her and back to the US she went. After so much moving around, she was ready to finally sit in one place. Sounds normal, right?
Wrong! Within a few months, she’d already given up on that and decided to take another 24-hour flight across the globe. You read it right, folks, this girl gave up a perfectly good and stable office gig for more traveling.
Now, she’s working her way around New Zealand trying new things and living every day as it comes. I can’t fault her for that, at least. Shanti’s the definition of an Offbeat Grad, and I’m so excited she braved her hostel wi-fi to talk to me. Here’s her advice on how to teach English abroad with a Bachelor’s Degree!
First, Stop and Think
Maybe you studied abroad. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of Swiss Alps or big-city living in Tokyo. Shanti wants all recent grads to stop for a minute and think about why they want to teach English abroad. It’s no cake walk! Graduating college and joining the “real world” is hard enough without a trans-Atlantic move. Navigating the visa process, finding accommodations, and integrating into a new culture is hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart.
So you’ve mulled it over and decided you’re cut out for it. Congrats! Teaching English abroad is a great way to see a new part of the world and step out of your comfort zone after college. Shanti says the first thing you need to do is find a program or company that makes sense. You don’t have to know the local language, but it certainly helps. Depending on the program, you might need additional qualifications so do your research.
Different programs and institutions will offer different levels of support. If you’re new to international travel or if you don’t speak the local language, Shanti suggests going with a larger organization that offers a solid support system. While these programs might be more competitive, it’s usually worth the extra help finding housing and making friends abroad.
You’ll also need to look into the local rules. Different parts of the globe have different working expectations. In Shanti’s case when she moved to Japan, she had to sign a contract with her employer. This put her in a tricky spot when she realized she needed to switch employers. Japanese employment laws generally side with the employer, so this is something she needed to be aware of before signing a contract.
Resources for finding your English teaching program abroad:
- GoAbroad – Great variety of programs from around the globe with reviews.
- CIEE – A nonprofit that pairs recent grads with English teaching programs abroad.
- Go Overseas – Short-term teaching positions overseas.
- Gaijin Pot – Japanese job board for Japanese teaching jobs.
Teaching English Abroad Requirements
Not every program is created equal. The good news that having a Bachelor’s Degree puts you in a good position to teach English abroad even if you don’t have teaching experience. The most obvious requirement to teach English abroad is a visa. You’ll need a work visa to work legally in your country of choice. Usually, these visas are sponsored by the organization you work for.
In addition to a visa, you might need special teaching certifications. In Europe, it’s common for English teachers to have a TESOL or TEFL certificate. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages while TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge. You can get these certifications through online courses or even through some universities.
Prepare to Move Abroad
Finally, after you’ve decided on your program and filled out the applications, it’s time to wait. You’ll need to get real about moving abroad! Long-term travel isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. One of Shanti’s main points was that teaching English abroad is much different than studying abroad. When you study abroad, it’s all about having fun and exploring. When you’re teaching English abroad, you have a job. You’ll be expected to work long hours, and you won’t have unlimited free time to travel.
If you’re ready to make the shift, moving abroad to teach English is an amazing opportunity for recent grads! See the world while you can!
Post-Grad Travel Opportunities Beyond Teaching
If you don’t’ think teaching is a good fit for you, you’re in good company. I would sooner dig my own grave than teach kids. It’s definitely not for me! And it wasn’t for Shanti either, though there were parts she enjoyed. That’s why she’s now found herself traveling around New Zealand working her way from place to place.
As she explains in the episode, New Zealand is a great place for young travelers. It’s easy to get a temporary work visa, and there’s a lot of job opportunity. New Zealand isn’t the only affordable option for young travelers! You can volunteer abroad in exchange for free housing with these opportunities on WorkAway or even just find a way to work remotely by starting a blog!
Teaching English abroad after college is no doubt an amazing experience! Just make sure it’s right for you before you commit to a long-term trip abroad! Let me know where you’d like to travel in the comments below!