Five Questions to Ask Before Landing an International Teaching Job

International Teacher Jobs

With globalization on the rise, and the increasing importance of English in the business world, foreign governments and NGOs are realizing the immense benefits of having native English teachers in their schools. While teaching English is not the only way to score an International Teaching Job, it is by far the most popular. Teaching English is a great opportunity for young Americans to travel, experience new cultures, share their perspectives, and do it at little to no cost (or in some cases, even at a profit!) However, many people who move abroad to teach may find the reality of their position is nowhere near what they were expecting. That’s why it is a good idea to know exactly what you are getting into before you buy your plane ticket, so here are a few questions you should ask up front before accepting a position.

1. How many hours will I be expected to work?
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people show up at a job placement expecting to work a few hours a day, and have the majority of the time to themselves. This may be the case in certain placements, but many placements will expect you to be a full time employee at the school. Depending on workplace culture, you may also be expected to stay late or work weekends. Make sure to check exactly what the school or company expects of you, and be willing to be flexible with your schedule if the need arises.

2. What is my role in the classroom?
Depending on what qualifications you have, some jobs might expect you to take on the role of head teacher. You might be expected to plan lessons, make seating charts, or even decide on a curriculum! If you have the right qualifications, these jobs might afford you an opportunity to stay abroad for a longer period of time, and will probably come with some nice incentives. On the other hand, most English teaching jobs you will find will most likely be for assistant teachers. This is true of private companies as well as programs like the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) or Fulbright Scholarships. In these positions you will most likely be paired up with a native teacher, and you will assist the class. The responsibilities for an assistant vary from being a human tape recorder (Please repeat after me), to designing activities and cultural lessons for the class. Make sure you understand what your role will be, ensure you are adequately prepared.

3. What are my financial obligations?
Moving abroad is costly, but some companies or schools will try to make it easier on you by taking care of some of the startup costs. Some programs might reimburse your plane ticket, or subsidize your room and board while you are abroad. Other programs may expect you to front the whole bill, including plane tickets, room and board, and supplies for teaching. It is important for you to be prepared, because once you are abroad, financing options are limited.

4. What are my legal requirements?
If a school or company is hiring you to teach English abroad, they SHOULD sponsor a visa and help you with immigration documentation. That being said, it is still a good idea to ask if you need to apply for the Visa, what documentation you need to provide, and whether or not there are any fees attached. Once you arrive, you should check if there is any additional paperwork you need to fill out, such as tax documents. You may also need/want to open a bank account so you don’t have to deal with foreign transaction fees. It is also a good idea to ask whether you need to purchase any kind of insurance, or if it is provided by the organization hiring you.

5. What do you do for fun?
Besides knowing the logistics of moving to a foreign country and your job, it is also important to remember it is OK, in fact, it is encouraged to have a life outside of your job. Ask about what kinds of community organizations, entertainment options, or cultural events you might be able to participate in. Ask about ways you to learn the native language, whether or not you will need a car to get around, and how much support the school will offer you outside of working hours. If you are nervous about living abroad, it can be comforting to know if there are other foreigners in your area you could talk to, so ask about organizations for expats in the area. Above all, make sure you are confident you will be able to make a few friends, even if they are also teachers at your school. Being abroad can be an extremely lonely experience, but if you are willing to put the effort in, you will make lifelong friends.

Whether you want to spend a year travelling after college, or you are ready to make a permanent move abroad, teaching English can open up a world of opportunities (Literally!). Make sure you have all the information, and you will surely find a placement or a country to fit your needs!

To view international teacher jobs visit for open positions or attend our teacher job fairs and meet with international schools recruiting.