So you’ve decided to pack up your life, move to another country and become an English teacher? Great! Now all you need is a job!
Here’s how to get hired so you can teach English abroad:
First and foremost, you need to be a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree.
Enroll in a TESL/TEFL certification course. Not only will this provide you with some practice in basic grammar rules (you know, the past perfect tense, future, etc.) but also give you experience and confidence in teaching if this is a new profession for you.
Do your research and find out what you want in a job: public school or private? After-school academy? Kindergarten or elementary school?
Do you want to live in a city or a suburb? Would you like to work with other foreign teachers, or are you OK being the only native speaker at your school?
After you have a general idea of what you want, sign on with a recruiting agency. They are free (the schools pay them to find teachers), and they will set up all of your interviews and help you navigate the visa process.
I contacted Pegasus Recruiting, in March to put my name out there. I stayed in contact with my recruiter through my college graduation in May, and over the summer she set me up with interviews while I worked on getting my visa.
The agency will get you the interviews, and it’s your job to get hired – based on a phone interview.
Generally the phone interviews are very short (5 to 10 minutes), and are conducted at night (due to the time change) by a non-native English speaker. It’s important to speak loudly and clearly and to sound as enthusiastic as possible.
I was asked about everything from why I want to live in Korea to what kind of teacher I think I will be.
Once you get hired, check out the school. The agency will give you an e-mail address of a teacher already working there, so use this: ask them anything and everything.
Things to know before you sign your contract:
- How long is the contract? How many hours will you be teaching?
- How much will you be paid, and how frequently? Does the school consistently pay you on time? Does the school help you set up a bank account?
- Do you get health insurance?
- How is the housing?
- Do you get vacation time?
- Will they pay for your airfare to and from Korea?
Once you are satisfied with your contract, you need to get an E2 visa, which requires: a signed contract from a school in Korea, an FBI background check (this requires fingerprints and can take up to four months, so it’s best to order this way ahead of time), a copy of your passport, an official transcript and your original college diploma.
You will then receive a visa ID number. Next you have to visit your nearest Korean consulate for an in-person, group interview. The interviews are short and more of a formality than anything else. The consulate will then mail you your passport and visa, the school will e-mail you an itinerary and you will be on your way.
You can spend months getting your paperwork together and finding the right school for you, but once you get your visa number, things start moving pretty fast, and you could be in Korea in a month’s time.
The great thing is, schools need YOU: English teachers are in such high demand right now, and contracts are ending all the time, so schools are always on the lookout for new teachers. The odds are in your favor!
In a few short months you could find yourself “nation building” with the rest of us expats in Korea.
Have you taught English abroad? Share your stories, I’d love to hear!