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Are you prepared for a new life in a new country, continent, climate or community? There are ESL teaching jobs all around the world but what do you need to know before you begin your ESL journey?

Here are my top 7 tips to help you on your way.

1. ESL is not going to make you rich financially but it will enrich you personally

The classic narrative of teaching English overseas, in Asia especially, is that you’ll make a Western salary, with a significantly lower cost of living and, potentially, paid-for accommodation. All of these things are true to a certain degree, but the fact is that if you simply teach your required hours and collect your paycheck each week, there will be enough to save or enough to enjoy life in a new country but not both. Lesson planning can take up a lot of time, especially if you are a new teacher. Try my 176 English Language Games for Children to help keep those teaching juices flowing.

2. Private Tutoring

There is always a chance of doing one-on-one tutoring, just ask around and offer your services. Taking private ESL clients can double or even triple your ordinary salary in a fraction of the time. If you are working too hard though, try these simple tips for ‘Feeling overwhelmed as a teacher?’

3. Immerse yourself in your new home

When you first arrive in your new country, the company of your English-native colleagues might seem comforting, but if you want to learn a new language then I urge you to abandon them as soon as possible.  If learning the native language is not a priority for you and you don’t speak it tead my blog about ‘How often should we talk to pupils in their mother tongue‘ which also navigates the problem of how to communicate with a class without using any words.

4. Think of the bigger picture, always

You may want to use teaching English abroad as springboard into your future career. You might just be teaching as a means to travel and experience life abroad.  Or you might consider setting up your own language school or online tutoring business.  There are plenty of careers in education outside the classroom if you discover you don’t like it.

5. In the worst case scenario you can get out of a contract

The vast majority of English jobs abroad come with the stipulation that you must sign a contract of between at least six months or a year. What most ESL job hunters fail to realise is that you can easily cancel your contract by giving a months notice. Cancelling your ELS contract might involve forfeiting certain benefits, such as reimbursement of your flights or other expenses you incurred, but it is almost always possible, which is important to know when times get tough.

6. Once your in, your in

Even if you work for a Western company, chances are it’s going to be run as if it were a local company – some may result in working longer-than-contracted hours and being subject to questionable management and supervisory techniques. The great news is that once you’re in the country and have the legal authorization to work, finding a different job is easy, especially if you’re in North Asia so you can jump from job to job.  My blog on how to teach ESL for 3 weeks of summer camp covers how to keep boredom at bay as well as introducing a fun and big project for everyone to get involved in, at any level of ESL.

7. Time flies when you are having fun!

Many aspects of your life working abroad may not be what you imagined, from work conditions, to health issues, to general feelings of loneliness and isolation. The important thing is to enjoy your time in a new country and learn about their culture. Teaching and living abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and although you can of course return to your host country after you’ve finished teaching, try to savour it as much as you can while you’re in the thick of it.

If your are a newly qualified ESL teacher, read our blog ‘During my class, pupils ignore me and speak to each other in Chinese‘ as we promise this information will come in handy one day.

If you are looking for interesting and fun resources, check out my ESL Stories for ages 3-6 and my ESL plays for children aged 4-12. There are more resources online, which will save you time and stress! If you have any questions about my resources, please do contact me.

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