How To Teach Abroad

How To Teach Abroad

In my past blog entries, we have discussed English camps, one of my favorite aspects about living and teaching abroad. For many people, the idea of teaching and living abroad sounds so bizarre that many people do not know how to navigate their way through the great, big world of TESOL. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is a complex sect of the job market, so I'm going' break it down for you!

TESOL incorporates a wide array of companies, countries, standards, levels of certification, job placement opportunities, and requirements. This causes a lot of confusion for people and most people will loose interest or give up due to the overwhelming amount of information you find on the internet. At Global Teaching Adventures we like to make things easy for you and we are always willing to have a conversation with you about making the move.

Some people will tell you, “You don't need a TESOL certification to teach abroad!” or “I don't understand TESOL and there's no way I could teach to people that don't understand English!” and even “TESOL jobs don't benefit you in the long run.” Okay, I understand these points, but I also challenge them.


In the first argument: “You don't need a TESOL certification to teach abroad.” I would absolutely disagree with this statement. My TESOL certification gave me the tools I needed to succeed in a classroom with non-native English speakers. A TESOL certification teaches you the history of TESOL, the various teaching methodologies used by professionals, how to create a lesson plan, and how to teach the four main skills of learning a new language (speaking, reading, listening, and writing). Think of it like a course you took in school, TESOL is the name of the course (like History, for example) and your syllabus (the outline for the course) includes TESOL history, Teaching Methodologies, Lesson Plan Basics, etc. You may think teachers are the only ones who can succeed in TESOL jobs, and although experienced teachers make great TESOL teachers, it doesn't mean they are the only ones who can get paid to live and travel in awesome places around the world. TESOL certification ranges from online classes, anywhere from 20-120 hours, or in-class certification courses that last about a month and take place in the country where you have chosen to work. I have attended both types, and there are pros and cons to each. In-class TESOL certification takes preparation and commitment, you must be prepared to pay the huge costs of your TESOL certification, as well as the costs for travel and living expenses in a new country before you are placed in a paid teaching position. One advantage of being inside the classroom, is that, for people who lack discipline, you are held accountable for completing the work and you can feel comfort in new surroundings with people going through the same experience. A online TESOL certification programs allow you to work at your own pace and cut your expenses so you have funds to put towards an apartment in your new country, flights, etc. I recommend  this one; the course info is easy to read, the website is easily navigable, and the costs are low. Major points also include an online tutor and a straightforward system of reading material and videos followed by quizzes to analyze your understanding of the material. You can also work while you get certified and make arrangements to teach abroad when you are ready.

So, my first tip is: sign up for a TESOL course that you will enjoy and one that fits into your budget.

Second argument: “I don't understand TESOL and there's no way I could teach to people who don't understand English!” Well, hopefully I have just cleared up some misunderstandings about TESOL and how to take your first step into this exciting job market. For those of you that can relate, the world is your oyster, you want to see new places, taste exotic food, and learn from people living their lives in entirely different and wonderful ways than you are used to in your native country. TESOL jobs are the answer! I cannot stress this enough, it is really such an incredible opportunity that I can't believe that so many people are afraid to dive right in. I never taught a class a day in my life before I up and left on a plane all by myself to Thailand. I never spoke Thai, I had hardly even tasted Thai food. I grew up in a tiny town, I know the same people I knew when I was a baby, and I am a quiet, nervous, self conscious, and shy middle child. I didn't come from a family with a lot of money. My parents saw my interest in teaching abroad and helped me pay for an online TESOL course. I worked while I finished my course, but then life happened and I didn't go straight into a teaching position. A few years later I signed up with another company who offered TESOL jobs in Thailand. I worked at a restaurant waiting tables while I saved up almost every dollar I made. My friends and family were like, “What?!” I was so determined to go somewhere new, to put myself out there and took risks, and I felt confident in my TESOL certification that I could do this! A positive attitude and effort are the two main things you need to teach abroad. Everyone is learning in this environment; its very exciting.

Second tip: Stay positive! Be prepared to take risks, understand you will fail and things will be different (which often means difficult), but it will all be worth it!


Final argument: “TESOL jobs don't benefit you in the long run.” For those of us that are American, we have received the education we were told we needed to get the jobs we wanted and then were left behind with huge debts and no professional experience to make us marketable in the job market. Before my teaching experience, I had no confidence in myself to succeed in a professional environment; shortly after I began my new career I could feel a change taking place inside of me. I had to succeed because my students depended on me, I had to set goals and clear objectives because it was expected of me, and I had to be diligent in my work ethic and dedication because my job was my only means of living in this great place. Without work there would be no experience. I also received assistance with my resume (this is something that is unique to Global Teaching Adventures and really is invaluable when, or if, you return to your home country). As a TESOL teacher you have to lead others, interact with coworkers, develop lesson plans, write and analyze reports, attend training sessions, and so much more that benefits you “in the real world.” Stay posted for future blogs on success stories from past TESOL teachers and remember my final tip: Use your opportunity as a TESOL teacher to take advantage of the invaluable skills and tools you will gain to open doors to even greater opportunities

You can read a little more about my perspective on teaching abroad in the About Me section of my blog!

You can read more here

- Johna Hunger

8 Responses

  1. Teaching overseas is a totally different thing to experience AND one of the best things that I ever did for myself. It was very enlightening to see how different the culture is and the teaching along with it. Thanks for posting this!
    Baker Gipp
    • Awesome! You have been overseas to teach? That must be such a shock to your system. You should share your experience with us!
      Boris Howard
  2. It seems like you are willing to help anyone that is willing to head overseas to help out. That is a great thing as people that have never been out of the country might be a little more freaked out than others. Thanks!
    Daniela Tate
    • That is exactly what is happening here. This blog is full of tons of information that will help you if you are moving overseas for a career change. I like it.
      Joshua Baker
    • I know the first time I was out of the country, I freaked for about 1 month leading up to it. As soon as you get there though, it was pretty smooth and I loved every minute of it!
      Kimberly Powell
  3. The first thing that I thought was how can you teach to a group of students that do not understand my language. I see you covered that here and once I read the tip, it makes sense to me. It is a learning experience and one that would be life changing for sure.
    Lynn Lawrence
    • I feel your pain. I asked a teacher about this one time and they explained it to me very easily. The students are willing to learn English, so it would not be any different that you knowing English, being taught Spanish for the first time.
      Sonia Roberts
  4. Very good tips. Teaching in another country has got to be a hard thing to be accomplished at. It looks like you are willing to help those that are willing to give it a try however. Great blog!
    Ally Foss