Posted on November 27, 2018 | By Alexa Randell
27th Nov 2018
You’re on the treadmill, working 9-5 or more (and don’t forget that extra slog to work too). Or perhaps your life is all about lectures, the library, submitting assignments, study, study, study… But you dream of jetting off for a thrilling challenge of teaching English abroad and spending days off on sun-drenched beaches or zooming to the top of super-tall buildings or exploring amazing cultural sites or simply chilling out with new friends. You just can’t quite work out how to find that job teaching English abroad while you’re working or studying.
We hear you. But it IS possible – and we’re here to help.
The basic process is exactly the same as anyone trying to get a first job teaching English abroad. You need to:
Which is all very well in principle. But when you’re trying to do all this at the same time as holding onto a job or studying hard it can look a little, well, overwhelming.
Tip 1: Set yourself a deadline
Love them or hate them, you’re used to deadlines at work or uni, right? They help you get stuff done – even if it is all at the last minute.
Set yourself a deadline for when you’re going to get on that plane. Make it close enough to give your search some urgency but realistic enough to make it possible (next week just isn’t going to happen!). It could be three months, six months or a year. The important thing is that you’ve made the decision and you stick to it.
Next pin up the date above your desk or on your fridge and tell everyone that it’s when you’ll be leaving. The more you talk about it, the more likely you are to make it happen – even if only to avoid the embarrassment of cancelling!
Tip 2: Get TEFL qualified – flexibly
If you’ve not already got your TEFL certification, this is probably the single most important step you can take to find a job teaching English abroad. Reputable employers will expect you to have been trained in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and many governments stipulate it as a requirement for a work visa to teach English in their country.
We know that when you’re already working or studying it can feel impossible to fit in another course. And we’re not going to lie – you will need to dedicate time and effort to complete your TEFL certification course successfully. However, instead of giving up, take a look at the array of flexible TEFL courses now on offer – from fully online courses that allow you to study for your TEFL certificate at 3am or 3pm to part-time courses which offer evening and weekend classes that you can fit around a full-time job. If you’re serious about getting a job teaching English abroad, you will find a TEFL course you can fit around your other commitments.
Tip 3: Protect your time
Your time is precious, particularly when you’re working or studying. Don’t let it drift away under a pile of paying bills, meeting friends, watching TV…
Work back from your departure date and create a timetable setting out each task you need to do to complete your course and search for a TEFL job. Next, book out time in your diary to make it happen. Whether that’s taking a few days’ holiday from work or a couple of hours each week is up to you. What’s important is that you look on that time in the same way as you would a tutorial or a work meeting – it’s there, it can’t be cancelled, so other things will have to work around it. Then put your phone on silent and use the time productively.
Tip 4: Focus your TEFL job search
We always recommend focusing on a small number of vacancies when you’re trying to get a job teaching English abroad, as you’ve got a far higher chance of being selected if you customise each application to the specific role. However, this is doubly important when you’re looking for a job teaching English at the same time as working or studying, as every minute counts.
To maximise your chance of getting your first teaching job with the minimum number of applications, target a country where there is a high demand for TEFL teachers, such as Thailand, China, Japan, Vietnam, Brazil, Argentina or Russia. In addition, look for schools that are recruiting for multiple posts or go through a recruitment agency where a single application allows you to be considered for a number of different TEFL jobs. It will make those hard-won hours you’ve dedicated to your application feel well spent.
Tip 5: Showcase your experience
If you’re working, don’t look at your current job as an impediment to finding a job teaching English abroad. Instead, see it as brilliant experience to highlight on your CV, which can set you ahead of people trying to teach English straight after uni. Even if your current role is nothing to do with TEFL, it’s proof that you can work professionally – from arriving at your job on time to making presentations, all of which will come in handy when you’re teaching English abroad.
Tip 6: Start teaching before you leave
If you’re trying to find a job teaching English while you’re working or studying, chances are you’re not ready to leave immediately. One way of preparing for your new life is to do some voluntary English teaching alongside your search or put up an advert in your local shop for one-to-one conversational classes. You could even start teaching English online. It can be a great way to gain experience and even save some money before you leave.
Tip 7: Look at internships and summer camps
If teaching English abroad still feels like an impossible dream, there is another route – internships and summer camps.
Entry requirements for internships are generally lower than for paid TEFL jobs, as they’re considered as study placements rather than paid employment. In addition, both summer camps and TEFL internships often need a shorter commitment – sometimes as a little as two weeks. This means that you could fit a TEFL internship or summer camp into an extended holiday from work or during your summer break at college / university. It’s an excellent way to dip your toe into TEFL and will give you some fantastic experience to add to your application when you’re ready to apply for a full-time TEFL job.
Regardless of the route you choose, keep holding onto that dream of teaching English abroad. You really can make it happen!