Critical questions to ask yourself before teaching abroad

Teachers | Teaching Abroad - 16 Aug 2023

Teaching abroad can be a transformative and rewarding experience, offering the opportunity to immerse oneself in a new culture, make a positive impact on students’ lives, and broaden one’s horizons. However, it is essential to approach this endeavor with careful consideration and preparation. Before you count down the hours to leave on a jetplane to teach abroad, there are several critical questions you should ask yourself to ensure that it aligns with your goals, values, and abilities.

  • What are the legal requirements and regulations?
    Familiarise yourself with the legal requirements and regulations of the country you plan to teach in. Each country has its own visa, work permit, and documentation procedures for foreign teachers. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to legal issues and even deportation. Many countries require teachers to possess a Bachelor’s degree, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, and a clean criminal record. Research the specific requirements for your desired destination well in advance.
  • How will the cultural differences impact your teaching?
    Teaching abroad means interacting with students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Understanding and respecting these cultural differences is crucial for effective teaching and classroom management. Different cultures may have distinct approaches to education, communication styles, and behaviour norms. Being culturally sensitive will help you build meaningful connections with your students and adapt your teaching methods accordingly.
  • What is the cost of living and salary expectations?
    Consider the cost of living in your chosen country, as it will affect your overall experience. Research the typical salary for teachers in that location to determine if it meets your financial needs. The cost of living can vary significantly from country to country. While some countries offer higher salaries for foreign teachers, others may have a lower pay scale, but the lower cost of living can balance it out.
  • Are you prepared for the language barrier?
    Depending on your destination, you may encounter a language barrier that could impact communication with students, colleagues, and locals. While English is often the medium of instruction in international schools, the local language may be prevalent outside of the classroom. Learning some basic phrases and expressions can help you navigate daily life and engage more effectively with the local community.
  • What level of support will you receive from your employer?
    Evaluate the level of support provided by the school or organisation you plan to work with. Adequate support can make a significant difference in your overall experience. Reputable institutions offer orientation programs, assistance with accommodation, and ongoing professional development opportunities for their foreign teachers. Research reviews and testimonials from previous teachers to gauge the level of support.
  • How will teaching abroad impact your career?
    Consider how teaching abroad fits into your long-term career goals. Will this experience enhance your resume and open up new opportunities in the future? Teaching overseas can provide valuable skills like adaptability, cultural awareness, and cross-cultural communication, which are highly valued by employers in various fields. Additionally, it showcases your ability to thrive in diverse environments, making you a more attractive candidate.

Venturing overseas can be a life-changing adventure, offering unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. However, to ensure a successful and fulfilling experience, it is essential to ask yourself critical questions and gather relevant information before taking the plunge.


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