Are you sitting around, dreaming about working abroad? Feel like you don't have the means to get hooked up abroad? The opportunities are as endless as the destinations and you'll be pleased to know that being a native speaker of English can be your ticket to a far off place. As a graduating UCLA senior, I recently realized that I needed to start thinking more seriously about my career goals, but still wanted to participate in an exciting experience abroad. I began my teaching English abroad in Eastern Europe search and uncovered a sea of information.
Placed in Front of the Classroom
Deciding on a destination is the first step in your journey -but where to go? That's a tough question. Answers are based on a lot of factors including your personal motivation, language challenges, financial and educational goals, and job availability.
A good way to start answering your question of where to go (and, fundamentally, how to actually get the job) is by researching various placement agencies. Placement organizations help you find a teaching job and provide for fundamental matters like housing and a work permit, and sometimes teacher training. Some of these organizations charge a placement or application fee for their services. Fees vary anywhere from hundreds to a few thousand dollars based on the destination and duration of the program. The differences between services offered by fee-based and free placement organizations vary, but aren't usually too disparate. Many organizations that don't charge a fee are funded by the host country's government. Since we're all looking to save money, none of the organizations mentioned in this article require placement fees.
Sometimes, speaking English is the only "credential" you need to find a job and be issued a work permit for Asia and Eastern Europe, though the best jobs (and most reputable ones) require a Bachelors degree also, and sometimes a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL, or any of the other common acronyms). If you are interested in making money the best opportunities are in countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Many corporations in Asia offer business English lessons to their employees. The JET program www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/jet/index.html is a government-sponsored program for teaching in public schools in Japan. AEON (www.aeonet.com) and NOVA (www.teachinjapan.com) are large companies that offer numerous positions in private language schools in Japan. If you're interested in traveling to Korea I recommend checking out the HanWooRee Language and Education Center at www.HanWooRee.com and TEFKO at www.tefko.com.
Speaking Spanish can be an excellent bonus, but not a requirement, when looking for teaching opportunities in Latin America. Salaries are generally lower than in Asia. Teach English in Mexico (www.employnow.com/mexico.htm) might be your ticket to Mexico. In Chile and Argentina native English speakers are always in demand. The Colegio Ingles British Royal (www.nalejandria.com/colegios/chile.htm) and the Instituto Cultural Argentino Norte Americano can be your gateway into the Latin world.
Western Europe, a favorite backpacking destination of many, presents limited teaching positions even for qualified Americans because British and Irish teachers don't need work permits as members of the European Union, and legally schools must hire EU citizens unless proven that the job cannot be accomplished by them. Tough market to break into, unless you work under the table, which is always an option. However, a few opportunities still exist. For those who have a background and/or an interest in the French Language, their government sponsors the French Teaching Assistant Program (www.frenchculture.org), a paid opportunity to teach in France. Similarly, the American Scandinavian Foundationwww.amscan.org offers teaching positions in Finland.
Blazing Your Own Trail
There is also the option of applying directly to the overseas school without any third-party intermediary. If you already know what you want, this might be for you. You'll have to do a lot of research on your own, but it's possible if you have the time and energy and want to save on placement fees. The legendary Dave's ESL Cafe (www.eslcafe.com) is a great starting point and can direct you towards many opportunities worldwide. Other great sites are www.eslworldwide.com, www.fowt.com, and www.iteachnet.com. www.goabroad.com is a very comprehensive website. And don't forget www.StudentTraveler.com!