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Can I Teach English Abroad with My Partner?

Teaching abroad can be an amazing experience, even more so if you share it with your other half. Look inside to discover what options there are

If both you and your partner have decided you want to teach English abroad, deciding to teach in a city may be a smart move, as there are likely to be more work opportunities than in the countryside.

Don’t assume that you’ll both get jobs in the same institution; a teaching position may be offered to only one of you, but don’t feel disheartened if that happens. Having a partner, who is willing to learn how to cook the local ingredients, suss out travel in the city, explore the surroundings and generally troubleshoot whilst the other is earning money, can be enormously beneficial.

Finding a job once you’re living in the country is usually much easier. In addition, you have the added advantage of being able to check out the local language schools. Talking to teachers face-to-face will also help you ascertain whether it’s a place where you’d enjoy teaching, enabling you to make informed decisions.

Check out the visa regulations

In some countries, rules and regulations regarding visas seem to change every two minutes; so don’t forget to research this thoroughly before you go so you don’t get any nasty surprises. There may be rules regarding how long one of you can stay in a country without a business visa; and you may even have to leave the country to change visa types.

Expect your relationship to be tested!

Living in a foreign country for the first time can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the language. Shopping can turn into a major expedition, and the frustration of working out how to buy a ticket for a train, find the nearest internet cafe or work out what someone is saying to you, can leave you confused, and reeling from culture shock. However, shutting yourself away at home will quickly leave you with feelings of isolation and depression; and you may even start feeling resentful if your partner has a job, but you don't. Writing an action plan can help you both stay positive and focused on settling into your new life abroad.

Don’t waste time

If you're looking for jobs from your home country and work is slow in materialising, don’t just sit around watching daytime TV. Find out where the nearest community centres are and offer your services as a teacher free of charge. This will develop your skills and confidence as a language teacher, and may result in some private employment.

Network, network, network!

TEFL is a small world, so making contact with other TEFL teachers in the city you've moved to should be a priority! In many big cities around the world there are strong networks of English teachers and numerous social events organised to help newcomers adjust to living in a new country. Make the most of these events: English teachers usually know about the work opportunities within the city, and will be able to tell you which newspapers local posts are advertised in.

Don’t panic if you don’t get work immediately. Take your time: look in the local newspaper and respond to adverts, prepare a CV and some business cards with your telephone number, and take one round to every language school. You’re in the country, and if they have your number and desperately need an English teacher, it’s practically guaranteed you’ll be the first person that they’ll ring.

Be prepared to travel

Being prepared to travel outside the city immediately increases your chances of finding work. Small villages can have problems finding native English-speaking teachers, so don’t dismiss this possibility. It could even be in your financial interest, as such jobs may include accommodation or other incentives.

My partner has no interest in teaching English, is it possible to get alternative work?

In a big city, yes, it is possible, but they’ll almost certainly need to have some sort of proficiency in the native language first. Be prepared for it to take much longer to secure paid work. English-speaking people take up all kinds of positions, from programming to sales and marketing, but all of them were proficient in the native language and needed to work exceedingly hard to prove themselves to their employers.

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