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/
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?