Teaching Abroad for UK Teachers

In 2014, about 82,000 British teachers were working in English-medium international schools throughout the world. This represents about 21.9% of the 457,300 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers currently working in schools across the country. The figure grew to 100,000 by the end of 2015 despite the critical shortage of teaching professionals in UK.

In light of this, the obvious question must be asked: why do teachers choose to travel and work abroad? What is the appeal of teaching overseas compared to domestically?

Appeal of Teaching Abroad

For starters, teaching abroad offers the opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and lifestyles. For many, the years spent teaching abroad will prove to be a greatly satisfying experience as they learn to adapt to another culture and learn to live alone – without the support of family and friends -, which will ultimately help them to grow into more well-rounded individuals.

Monetary appeal is also a strong factor. Teachers are usually compensated at an equal or higher wages than what they could potential draw in the UK. The lower cost of living (because let’s face it, UK has a very expensive cost of living) also offers the chance to save substantially. Moreover, many international schools, especially in less attractive locations, offer foreign teachers free accommodation, along with other fringe benefits.

However, it is not always a bed of roses. Teaching abroad brings its own set of challenges. Teachers will have to adapt to the local cuisine (which could be insurmountable to a few) and customs (including dress code and social interaction), even as they struggle to learn the language. Jobs can also be a little unstable during economic uncertainties – foreign teachers are usually the first ones to go when enrolments drop. In addition, political unrest and high crime rates are cause for concern in some countries. Many Britons take for granted the country’s extremely safe political and social atmosphere – until they start traveling and working overseas.

Qualifications to Teach Overseas

Qualifications to teach abroad vary by countries. However, as a general rule, there are three common criteria which most foreign schools look for.

  • Bachelor’s Degree : In almost every country, a bachelor’s degree is a compulsory requirement to obtain a working visa. It would help greatly if the degree complements the subject that will be taught.
  • Teaching Qualification and Experience : Candidates who have undergone the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) or Initial Teacher Education course, as well the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) (Teaching Qualification, in Scotland) course, will have a great advantage as UK’s teaching accreditations are very respected in foreign countries. If you plan on teaching English, then you must possess either a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults/Cambridge ESOL) or CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages/ Trinity College London) certificate. Additionally, practical teaching experience is a major bonus.
  • Communication Skill and Open Mindedness : According to experts, foreign schools place high marks on a candidate’s communication skill and perceived open mindedness during interviews. These two qualities are great indicators of the candidate’s ability to adapt to a new living and working environment. It goes without saying that candidates who can converse in the local language will have a tremendous advantage.

So, if you’re dreaming about spending a couple of years near the ancient pyramids of Egypt, commuting to work on the bustling streets of Hong Kong, or taking a weekly hike in Sweden’s serene pastoral landscapes, then read on. We’ve got a ton of information to get you started.