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How to Prepare to Teach English Abroad

Once that travel bug has bitten, it’s impossible to stop dreaming and planning for a future in faraway places. Teaching English in a classroom abroad or teaching online while traveling is the ideal career to earn as you explore. Before you can book that plane ticket, however, here’s how to prepare for your dream TEFL job overseas.

Get TEFL Certified

To begin your journey as an ESL or EFL teacher abroad, you will require a Level 5 ESL certification. This certification equips you with a foundation in essential skills such as classroom management, teaching methodologies, grammar, evaluation and testing, lesson planning, teaching aids and equipment, and more. A valid TEFL certificate qualifies you to be competitive and marketable in the hiring process.

Join our internationally accredited TESOL courses which, upon completion, qualifies you to teach English as both a second and foreign language to students of all ages at various English proficiency levels. Having an iTTi TESOL certificate helps you to stand out from the crowd!

Finding an Overseas TEFL Job

  • Research – Once you’ve picked a destination, do thorough research on:
    • Best locations to teach in;
    • The culture; 
    • Currency;
    • Climate;
    • Living expenses;
    • Best time of year to apply – Some companies hire year-round while some only do so quarterly or in the summer months.
    • How to apply – Some companies prefer online applications versus others prefer in person, such as in Vietnam [ ]. 
    • Each school or company you apply to – Especially when receiving job offers, thoroughly vet them to assure it’s not a scam or could potentially lead you into a tricky, illegal situation. Ask all the questions before signing any contracts!
  • Recruiters – Unless you brave the World Wide Web on your own to find a TEFL job on various job board sites or through various overseas teaching programmes, like the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme [], we recommend contacting reputable TEFL company recruiters who specialise in connecting you with potential employees seeking English teachers. 

In our Job Support Course, you’ll have access to a list of companies that accept South Africans and recruiters’ contact details to assist you. 

Obtain the Necessary Documentation

Prior to leaving, your new school or company and the country in which you’ll be residing in will require your documentation. Note the time periods for obtaining each document and plan ahead accordingly. 

  • Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) – This certificate confirms whether or not you have any criminal convictions. To apply for one, head to your nearest SAPS or PostNet, fill out an application form [], provide a full set of fingerprints, a certified copy of your ID/passport and marriage certificate containing a maiden surname (if applicable), and proof of payment (R400 per application). It takes approximately 8 weeks from the day your completed application is received at the Pretoria Criminal Record Centre until the PCC is issued and sent to you. Note that there will be additional courier fees. 
  • Passport – In order to travel abroad, you need a passport, which can be applied for in-person at your local Department of Home Affairs. You will need your ID document/smart card to apply. Passports are issued fairly quickly in South Africa. If you already have a passport, ensure that it is valid for at least 6 months from the date of exit, with sufficient blank pages for stamps.   
  • Visas – With the exception of 101 countries accepting South African passport holders without a visa (read this article for that list), the country you have set your sights on to teach in may require you to obtain a visa. Each application and requirements will differ, so be sure to contact the specific country’s embassy for more information. The company or school you’ve secured a teaching post with should also assist in the application process.
  • Digitize all your documentation and store on the Cloud for safety and easy access. These documents include your passport, ID, Drivers license, education records (degrees, certificates), banking documents, immunization records, medical scripts, CV, taxes, marriage and birth certificates, and any other essential personal information. You may need these in both the application processes as well when in a new country. 

Financial Forethought

Immigration comes at a cost, even if it’s temporary. Depending on the teaching job you’ve acquired, some companies may cover your travel costs and assist with housing and transport. Others may not. You’ll need to find out this information as part of the research phase. Regardless, you will need money for the big move and beyond, so start saving! 

Determine your budget by researching the desired country’s average expenses. Network with other English teachers via social media groups for assistance with figures of day-to-day cost of living as well as potential hidden fees to be aware of. The goal is to earn, save and live a comfortable life – not be a struggling TESOL teacher in a foreign country. 

Are you keen to embrace the world of opportunities of teaching English abroad? Get your ticket to the world by contacting us right away and we’ll assist you!