So, if you’d like to teach English in Ecuador you must first ask yourself some fairly searching questions…namely are you a beach bum, a mountain lion or a machete wielding jungle explorer? The good news is that Ecuador, despite its small size, is perfectly formed and offers all three distinct terrains for you to call home. What’s more, if you’re a bit of a floozy on all sides as myself, you can easily reach all of these completely distinct landscapes within a few hours’ drive from the monstrous capital city of Quito, neat ey?
From the Amazon to the Galapagos, Ecuador is a country full of natural wonderment and cultural delights. It’s a country that one can fall in love within a week, yet spend a lifetime to understand. One of those rare places whose future looks as fascinating as it’s past. It is of no surprise then that it is somewhere that I would personally recommend as an ideal place to teach English.
Sitting on a plane headed for Shanghai in September 2011 the same thought ran through my head over and over… “Am I totally insane?”. This was quickly followed by another thought, “Well if I don’t like it I will just turn around and come back.” Fortunately for me and my husband we DID like it, something that is proved by the fact that nearly 3 years later we are still there, teaching EFL at a University in China.
Where do you want to work?
For anyone considering this move there are a number of things to be considered carefully. I will try to outline some of the things you might want to weigh up before you embark on an Asian adventure.
Firstly be aware that China is big, very very big. I know we all know this but getting a grasp of the vastness is really hard even when you live there, and it is almost impossible to understand this before you arrive. Therefore, it is advisable to get acquainted with the map and the location at least of the main big cities when looking for a job.
By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.
By Christos Vittoratos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
You get the job abroad over the phone usually. Very few language institutions will travel to the UK to interview you (except perhaps Middle Eastern universities who recruit in bulk and the JET programme), and even fewer will pay for you to fly over to attend an interview. One, two or three phone interviews and you’ve got an offer. You’re excited, perhaps it’s a country or city you’ve always wanted to live in, or the employment package seems good. Well done, but keep your expectations realistic.
The prospect of working abroad can be a nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing experience for a lot of people. Uprooting one’s life and leaving behind a support base of family and friends is a life-changing decision, but one which my girlfriend and I decided to make in the summer of 2013. After completing our 120 hour TEFL certificate we immediately began the job hunt. Ever ready for new experiences, we decided to look at teaching in Indonesia, as we had already traveled around much of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. We were rewarded with two early morning Skype interviews, one for positions in Solo, Java; the other for positions in Makassar, Sulawesi. The latter city we knew nothing about, apart from reading Lonely Planet’s description of it being an “unnerving place”. After much deliberation, we decided to go for the path least trodden, despite the fact that the school, Fluo Institute, had no website and very little online presence. So it was with TEFL certificates in hand, slight trepidation and much praying that it wasn’t a scam, that we left rainy old England at the beginning of 2014 for a year’s long teaching contract in Makassar. It would turn out to be the best decision of our lives.
By kallerna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Travelling away from the UK to teach English abroad is hugely exciting, with a myriad of new professional, travel and cultural experiences to be enjoyed. There are of course, the inevitable practical arrangements to be made before you jet off, including getting any inoculations that you may need, packing your suitcase – and also – arranging suitable travel insurance for your time away from the UK.
Like a great many teachers, my application to teach in Saudi Arabia was made on a whim. Facing another year of professional uncertainty, my credo was: ‘apply and see what happens’. I was more than a little surprised when within a week, and without any ‘official’ interview I’d been offered a teaching post at the largest female only university in the world on the edge of Riyadh. A year on, after circumnavigating my way through the extensive highs and lows as life as a single woman in KSA I feel that it is time to pass on my experiences, especially as Saudi related advice can be thin on the ground, and rarely constructive; in this area of EFL horror stories abound. Indeed, once I made my decision to go, I struggled to find a single constructive anecdote to guide me, which only added to my anxiety; the reality, however, was not exactly as I’d imagined.
By yeowatzup from Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany (Gili Meno, Indonesia Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Indonesia is a vast archipelago comprising more than 17000 islands. With a large variety of languages and cultures in addition to volcanoes, beaches, valleys, jungles, mangroves and cities to explore, what better place for a TEFL teacher to spend a year or two?
Surabaya is Indonesia’s second most populous city, and is home to several English language schools. Described by Lonely Planet as “a hot and dusty, crowded city with precious little to see”, a description with which I would concur, you may wonder why I have spent almost two years here. Despite the downsides, this is a place where one can experience a real Indonesian city largely untouched by tourism. As a result, the locals see you more as a source of fascination and entertainment than as a cash cow. Travel to Bali or Yogyakarta, and you will be plagued by people harassing you to use their taxi, or buy their products. Often they will walk right up and interrupt you while you are talking to a friend, demanding to know where you are going and waiting impatiently for an answer. It can be very frustrating as one doesn’t want to be rude, yet offering even the most basic politeness in refusal will often lead to more harassment.
No such problem in Surabaya, where the local people have never had tourists to make a living from. They don’t rely on making as much as possible during high season to see them through the rest of the year. Instead when they see a foreigner, they just want to be as friendly as possible, and they are very easily amused. Some find this patronizing, but I find it quite endearing. It is not unusual to be “drive-by Hello Mistered” as I have termed it. You are walking along the street and hear “Hello” behind you followed by “Mister” in front of you as a motorbike whizzes past, its driver looking over his shoulder at you, evidently more concerned with addressing a foreigner than keeping an eye on the road.
By ntt (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in 2006 with plans to achieve 3 long-held goals:
1. set up a brilliant ‘teaching English to speakers of other languages’ (TESOL in Vietnam) program;
2. ride a motorbike from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi; and bizarre as it may seem;
3. to take a day trip on a Vietnamese cyclo.
The TESOL in Vietnam goal was achieved a few years ago and I completed a motorbike trip to Hanoi in 2012. It’s the cyclo adventure that has eluded me for the past 8 years – until last weekend!
By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.
By anuarsalleh [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As in life, the greatest tool when teaching abroad you have to overcome difficult situations is humour, whether in the classroom or in your free time in that country. There will be times – every teacher working in another country has experienced them – when you feel a little alienated. Laughing and making others laugh can break down barriers and help you integrate quickly. Being able to laugh at yourself is a great advantage.
Taking yourself too seriously as a person in another country, when you don’t have your family, friends and usual social network at hand, only makes your integration into the new culture more difficult. You need to take your teaching and administrative school duties seriously obviously, but you can do it with a smile. Try to remember that you are the visitor and at a social disadvantage – I can remember several instances when humour got me out of situations I didn’t feel comfortable in. In class, I had a hostile student who made cutting comments about western culture, and instead of getting defensive (my first mental reaction), I said, ‘But we gave you Mr Bean!’ The rest of the class laughed, one or two said ‘Mr Bean!’ The difficult student didn’t laugh, but he was then the odd one out, not me. He never troubled me again.
By Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
For EU citizens teaching English in Europe is an easy way to start a new life overseas. The beauty of being able to work anywhere in Europe visa-free makes applying for jobs overseas nice and simple. However, for native English speakers from the likes of USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – things are bit trickier. For Europhiles, the best option is Eastern Europe where the demand for English is higher and employers are willing to help sort visas and permits for worthy teachers!
When most people think of Europe you often picture Venice, Barcelona and Paris but Eastern Europe is home to plenty of work, unhampered beauty and heaps of culture! Here are the top five destinations to teach English in Eastern Europe: