honor’s Blog

7 Ways to Make Teaching Abroad Less Scary

While teaching abroad is exciting, challenging and downright awesome, moving to a new job, house and country all at once can be a tad scary. So, if you’re feeling a little nervous about the whole thing, try some of these – they’ll help put those jitters to rest:

1) Do a TEFL course

While doing a TEFL course won’t prepare you for every classroom eventuality (for example, there’s no module on what to do when a student starts eating stationery), it will prepare you for the realities of life in the classroom, including how to plan lessons, what a past participle is and how to prevent all out mutiny. Do one and, not only will your employment prospects soar, but you’ll also feel a lot more confident about facing your students for the first time.

2) Do your research

There’s nothing more frightening than plunging into the unknown, so a sensible option is to do your research before accepting any job offers. Free eBooks like TEFL Uncovered: How to Teach Your Way Abroad with TEFL (http://www.onlinetefl.com/contact-tefl-team/tefl-ebook.html) will give you a good overview of different countries and what to expect in the classroom. Then, once you’re at the job offer stage, Google the name of the school you’re thinking of working at and ‘review’ – you may soon find out that there’s a reason why they’re offering such a ‘good’ salary. That and get to know the area you’ll be working – read some guidebooks or simply get on Google Earth for a bird’s eye view. It’ll all help to put your mind at rest.

They're not that frightening honest!

3) Take part in a supported program

If you really want to teach overseas, but don’t feel confident enough to go it alone, a supported program, such as i-to-i’s Teach in China Internship (http://www.onlinetefl.com/teaching-internships/china/ ) might be the answer. You’ll get full training, a massive 14-day orientation to gently introduce you to Chinese culture, then 24-hour support throughout your time in-country. Plus, all your accommodation and food is included in your internship fee, meaning you just have to concentrate on becoming a great teacher, and having the experience of a lifetime of course!

4) Have some resources tucked up your sleeve

Any experienced teacher will tell you that, no matter how well thought out your lesson plans, there will always be times when you have to resort to plan B, C or even D! So, before you step foot in the classroom for the first time, make sure you have some tried and tested activities to fall back on if and when things start getting a little hectic. The activities in i-to-i tutor Emma Foers’s free eBook, 20 Classroom Activities for Elementary Learners are a great start. Download your free copy here: http://www.onlinetefl.com/activities-book/

5) Network

If you’re feeling nervous about moving to a new country, the best people to talk to are those who are currently living and working there. And with the wonders of the internet it’s now easier than ever to do just that! Sign-up to i-to-i’s online TEFL community, Chalkboard, to meet thousands of people who are teaching all over the world: http://www.onlinetefl.com/tefl-chalkboard/ - they’ll be able to give you a great idea of what life out there is really like and hopefully calm some of those niggling worries.

6) Learn a bit of the local language before you go

While you don’t need to know the local language in order to teach overseas (schools will want an English-speaking atmosphere in their classroom), it’s handy to know a few words of the local lingo so you’re not totally overwhelmed when you touch down. The BBC website has a free ‘Quickfix’ section of essential phrases: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/ or sites like LiveMocha enable you to learn the basics of a language online for free: http://www.livemocha.com/.

7) Keep an open mind

Most major TEFL destinations (China, South Korea, Thailand etc) have cultures that can feel very, very alien to most westerners: you may be confronted with things that seem frustrating, strange or just plain wrong. The only remedy for this is keeping an open mind and remembering that you decided to go overseas to experience another culture, not make everyone behave in a way that’s acceptable to your own.

What do you think? How did you make going abroad less scary?



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Hi Jeanette,

Congratulations on getting your TESOL certification. Which internship are you interested in - they all have different age limits you see!


Nice article.


I am very interested in your I to I internship.  It sounds ideal.


Do you know if there is an age limit for this.


I have just received my TESOL certification from itesolcourse.com, and I am in the process of submitting applications.


So, I am preparing myself as much as possible in the mean time, till I get a successful offer.

Working in a summer camp in Italy sounds cool - you should chat to James who did just that: http://www.onlinetefl.com/tefl-chalkboard/jclayton

It's a great way to get experience and check that teaching overseas is right to you before committing to a longer contract miles from home.

Working in China was really fantastic, if a little bit of a shock at first as EVERYTHING is so different - I actually volunteered, so finding work was a doddle, but I haven't come across anyone having difficulty finding work in China as demand there is so high. Other countries it can take longer, but generally as long as it's a non-native speaking country, there are opportunities there.

Good luck with it all!

Awesome, I would love to go to China for a while. But since I am just starting out Im hoping to do some sort of summer camp in Italy, would you recommend this type of work to begin with?

Woah how was it working in China? Did you find it easy to find work abroad in schools and different countries?

Hey Gemma,

Congratulations on signing up to your course - where are you hoping to teach?

I actually taught English in China on my gap year, went to uni and then came back to the world of TEFL when I started working for i-to-i around 18 months ago. It's amazing way to see the world!

Hope you enjoy your course - if you have any questions get in touch :)

That's awesome, Ive just signed up for a TEFL course but never done anything like this before!

How did you start of in this field? Did you go to uni and then decided it as a gap year? Where did you first go abroad?

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