Teaching English in a country other than yours: opportunities and challenges #ELTchat Summary 12/112014

A PLN for ELT Professionals

Teaching English in a country other than yours: opportunities and challenges #ELTchat Summary 12/112014

#ELTchat is a weekly twitter chat for ELT professionals all over the world. Each Wednesday at 12pm or 21.00pm GMT a different teaching related topic is discussed. You can submit and vote for topics here: http://eltchat.org/wordpress/




This week’s topic was teaching English in a country other than yours: opportunities and challenges. Below is a summary of what we discussed.


Where can Teachers go to find job information?


  •  www.tefl.com is a great place to start, with adverts for jobs worldwide. You can also sign up to a weekly newsletter which is full of useful information such as city cost guides and plenty of job adverts (@HadaLitim)
  • Organisations such as the British Council and International House advertise vacancies on their own websites (@patrickelt @Marisa_C @Shaunwilden ). EFare always looking for teachers. Destinations include NY, London, China, Russia and LA (@angelos_bollas)
  • For some Teachers the VSO is a good place to start and get experience (@patrickelt @Marisa_C)
  • The Guardian newspaper jobs section is also worth checking out (@Shaunwilden) and the @GuardianEdu has some good stories/resources/reflections on TEFL in (@StudyBundles)
  • For jobs in China and South Korea daveseslcafe has a large number of adverts and some useful forums which have tips on moving to and working in these countries, though chose the forums carefully as some are not so useful! (@GemL1).
  • It can be worthwhile writing directly to schools if you know where you want to go in a specific country/city (@MarekKiczkowiak) and it is sometimes easiest to find a job once you are in the country (@jankenb2).
  • Iatefl always has a job section at the annual conference (@SueAnnan)
  • @MarekKiczkowiak suggested that esl base  is a very useful website for finding schools in specific locations.


Are these jobs open to non-native English speaking Teachers (NNESTs) or just native English speaking Teachers?


  • @SueAnnan said that she did a course in March and half of the participants were NNESTs and all of them found jobs with no problem.
  • Also, it was generally agreed that it is just as easy for NNESTs to find jobs as NESTs in the U.K (@GemL1 @SueAnnan).
  • However, the British Council in Saudi Arabia employs mostly NNESTs (@HadaLitim), in Mexico, they can only hire Mexicans or foreigners from countries where English is the native language (@RCDesouches) and also most of the jobs in China and Korea advertise for NEST (@GemL1).
  • It is also almost impossible due to immigration laws to get NNESTs into a new program in Japan (@Gotanda). Third country NNESTs in Japan have a difficult path but this is gradually increasing (@Gotanda).
  •  Nevertheless there are still many NNEST working in places such as South Korea and China (@Marisa_C) so maybe (and hopefully!) opinions and requirements regarding NNESTs are slowly changing. Still, over 70% of EU jobs on tefl.com are for NESTs only (@MarekKiczkowiak).
  • @ HadaLitim suggested that applying directly to schools can sometimes help with contract negotiation and finding out more regarding the hiring of NNESTs.


What should applicants for any posts be wary of?


  • Jobs that sound too good to be true (@SueAnnan).
  • How many hours they’re expected to teach and the timings (@HadaLitim).
  • The length of a teaching hour as this can range 40 minutes to 120 minutes, this is important to know when somebody says you have 30 hours a week (@Shaunwilden).
  • Possibility of unsociable hours (evenings, weekends etc.) (@StudyBundles).


Make sure you have enough time to relax and enjoy your new country! Photo from eltpics.com Marjorie Rosenberg


Interview Tips


So you have found the job of your dreams, in the country of your dreams what about the interview….


  • Read the schools website and a bit about the country, although this is an obvious point, many people still don’t do this! (@Shaunwilden).
  • Think about reasons why you want to teach in that country (not just for the money!) (@GemL1).
  • 1- google the school and the DOS. 2 – be on time. 3 – relax and admit when you don’t know something, and … smile J. People skills make up for a lot (@ELTwriter)
  • People skills is a top one. They’ll be transferred in the classroom (@HadaLitim.
  • Don’t lie about your experience, and smile J (@SueAnnan).
  • Think of answers to a variety of scenarios – How would you deal with a student who…..? (@GemL1)
  • Personal hygiene was agreed to be an important point, especially in the more tropical countries! (@ELTwriter @HadaLitim NewbieCELTA).
  • Be ready for a spontaneous demo if it’s a face-to-face interview @HadaLitim or at least have a good lesson which works in many differing situations up your sleeve just in case! (StudyBundles).
  • Knowing the purpose of the programme helps. EAP is not conversational English, but both are legitimate products/services. In other words know the job. Also know if the program uses teacher made resources or expects a close adherence to a set prog (@jankenb2).


Try to find out about the type of classes offered



  • “Be personable” is general good advice – had an example of somebody interviewing for us in disco queen gear 🙂 (@Marisa_C).
  • Being familiar with some classic course books can help too (@HadaLitim) and not being too critical of them until you know if the school uses them or not 🙂(@Shaunwilden).
  • @Marisa_C suggests taking a portfolio of lesson plans or activities / materials to an interview as it gives Ts a better chance. For example, if you have done a CELTA, you could fix / improve all of your lesson plans and put some in a portfolio. You could also take a digest of Ss’ feedback notes (@HadaLitim).
  • @jankenb2 suggests having a good understanding of grammar rules and being able to explain these clearly.


Which places currently have the best paying jobs?


  • The British Council in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia pays hourly paid teachers £30 per hour – tax free (@HadaLitim)

Picture from eltpics @aClilToClimb

  • South Korea still offers fairly good packages which include your flights and accommodation allowing you to save a decent amount of money each month (@GemL1)
  •  £18-£20 per hour is normal in colleges in the UK if you’re dip qualified (@StudyBundles). Higher Ed / Universities in the UK start at around £24 per hour and most are closer to £30.
  • Certified teaching at k-12 pays best then private, adult professional programmes. But you must factor in housing and transport to compare (@jankenb2)
  • This Go Overseas blog has a list of 9 highest paying countries (note this is from 2013 so may have changed). The list includes Saudi Arabia, Japan and Vietnam.


Main challenges / final tips for working abroad


  • Discipline issues are a challenge with those who are trained for teaching adults (@Marisa_C).
  • Mine is setting realistic expectations for out of class HW levels for working professionals. I over assign and then regroup (@jankenb2)
  • Create a digital portfolio and keep it updated with added PD, lessons, student artifacts (@jankenb2).
  • Learner English can be a great life saver when starting a job in a new country (@HadaLitim). It highlights various difficulties students from specific countries may have when learning English.
  • Apart from adapting your teaching to new setting [let go of  ‘methods’ you developed] – loneliness/isolation can be a problem for some people (@ELTwriter)- Which is why Twitter and #ELTchat are SO important! 🙂(@Marisa_C).
  • @jankenb2 stated that her greatest frustration is to remember that language is used by engaging in 2 way conversations, thus try to build in lots of conversation practice to your classes.
  • Challenges are 1- understanding the new learners in front of you,  2- finding a place to live, 3- culture shock and finally 4- learning a new language (@ELTwriter). To help avoid culture shock and its various stages you need to invest in the local culture.


Finally, a very sound piece of advice from @Shaunwilden to finish on:


  • Embrace it fully, the more you integrate into the place the better the experience.



About the author


Gemma Lunn – @GemL is an EAP Tutor, RHUL | IELTS Examiner | MA Applied Linguistics | Trinity Diploma

Her blog: Early Reflections