5 Reasons You Should Teach Abroad at an International School Instead of a TEFL Language School

Teachers who are looking to move their teaching career overseas have two options, teach at an international school or teach at a private language school. I’ve done both and I think that teaching at an international school is the best option. I’d like to share 5 reasons why I think this is true.

Reason #1 – disposable income

When I taught at private language schools, it was a luxury to buy paperbacks, and to have my legs waxed. I had to think about where I was spending my salary because I simply didn’t have enough money to spend on non-essential items. Not if I wanted to go on any vacations or have any time off over the summer.

Now that I teach at an international school, I am able to spend my teaching salary as I choose, and still have money left at the end of the month to save. I’m not talking about saving for the summer holidays, or for a rainy day. I can save money just to have it in the bank. I’m now able to save towards a deposit on a house, and contribute to a pension scheme.

Reason #2 – regular paid vacations

When you are an EFL teacher, you will usually sign a contract for an academic year (9 months) or a calendar year. Generally your contract will include a few weeks holiday, but you will be expected to work a larger proportion of your contract’s length than if you were teaching at an international school.

At an international school, your teaching contract will be signed for a period of 12 months. Of which you will be expected to teach around 200 days. The rest of the year the school will be closed and you will be able to go on vacations.

I spent 4 years working in the TEFL sector of the teaching profession, and I worked each summer teaching residential summer school courses. Since I’ve been teaching at international schools, I have been able to take each summer off and travel. I also travel during the school year as there is only two months in the year when I do not get at least a three day weekend.

Reason #3 – normal teaching contact hours

Private language schools that specialise in TEFL are ‘cram schools’. The students mostly attend their English lessons around their other school or job commitments. This means that your working hours will be crazy. At my first language school my working day was any hours I was given between 10am and 10pm. I was lucky because the manager of the branch at which I taught was very considerate of her teachers. Not all the EFL teachers working for the same company were so well treated.

At another school I taught at, each week I had days when I worked a split shift. I would be teaching my first lesson at half past seven in the morning, have a few hours off in the middle of the day, then I would have to be back at work and teaching for another 4-5 hours in the evening and finish the day at 9:30pm.

International schools operate regular school hours. If you are teaching at a school that starts early in the morning, then you will be done with your working day in the early afternoon.

Reason #4 – planning time is ‘included’

TEFL teachers are employed for contact hours. This is the time you spend in front of students. However, lessons don’t just appear out of thin air, teachers need to prepare their lessons and organise resources. When you first start out teaching EFL you may spend as much time preparing for a lesson as you actually do teaching it. I remember when I began, this was the case on a good day, sometimes I’d spend a lot more time agonising over what I was going to do in the lesson than I actually spent in the classroom with my students. Of course, this is not true now, when I am teaching in a well resourced language school, I am able to plan a lesson much more quickly than when I started out.

One thing that TEFL teachers need to know is that while your contract says you must teach 20-35 hours a week, in reality this will mean they are working (between lesson preparation, teaching and marking) 50+ hours a week. And the pay for all your extra time spent planning the lessons is ‘included’ in your hourly teaching rate. I can tell you, teachers become very efficient in planning their lessons quickly!

Teachers working overseas in international schools are employed as full-time teachers who teach a required number of contact hours. But overseas teachers are employed for the whole teaching day, and so their planning time is included in their salaries. I’ve taught in regular high schools in addition to international schools, and I have considerably more non-contact time in which to prepare my lessons when I teach abroad at international schools than when I’ve taught locally at state schools.

Reason #5 – professional development opportunities

I have a number of qualifications in EFL teaching. I have two Cambridge certificates and a Diploma in Second Language Teaching as well. I paid for all of the courses out of my teaching salary, when I didn’t have a lot to spare. I sought professional development opportunities to make me a better teacher, and the schools I’ve worked for have directly benefited from my efforts. But not one of the private language schools I’ve taught for in the past have ever helped me pay for my professional development.

Most international schools have a pool of money set aside for the professional development of their teaching staff. At my current school, there is a budget set per teacher annually. I went to a summit in Singapore this year, funded by the school. I’ve used a number of the techniques I learnt at the summit in my classes since I’ve been back.

In conclusion

I’ve taught overseas at both international schools and private language schools since I began my international teaching career, and I am happier and feel more valued now that I am teaching in an international school.

I found that many private language schools were run by people solely interested in their profit margin, and the quality of language education offered was hardly a consideration to them.

I now teach at a school where I’m treated like a teaching professional, the students’ education is the top priority of teachers and management alike, and I get regular vacations to satisfy my hunger for travel and new experiences.

Growth in International School Jobs

Teaching in international schools may be broadly obtainable but it seems to be more tough to be employed into because of the superior standards essential for tutors and even teaching assistants. Among the general requirements is the comprehension and fluency of more than an individual language, usually the national language, and then an overseas language. English is also not restricted to teaching English as such, but teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

There is also a penchant in international school vacancies for applicants to have been educated in an intercontinental setting, whether in a foreign country or in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. A candidate with longer and more wide-ranging teaching skill, may be preferred in some international school positions.

A increase in alternative areas of education is also evident with the vacancies of tutors in Special Education, technological education, and other more particular areas. There is also a need not exclusively for teachers but for teaching assistants. Even though they are assistants, working in international schools expects them to meet stringent qualifications too.

Jobs on the Rise

The past few years have presented an increase in overseas school jobs. International teaching jobs vacancies thrive because of the speedy turnover of tutors. This doesn’t serve as a snag because of the rising interest in the younger age band of teachers to not constrain themselves to conventional teaching but to broaden their horizons and teach internationally, which means either schools from outside the country or schools offering an international-level curriculum.

Perks of the Job

A additional benefit for new tutors in acquiring school jobs are the other perks that come with it. Examples are tax-free salaries, free of charge round trip airfare, at no cost housing and utilities, and yearly home leave, among others. Acquiring an individual international teaching job also exposes opportunities for new jobs, and that will require traveling to unique parts of the world, whether by being re-assigned or snatching a bigger opening, because of his or her teaching and personal experience.

The internet is the richest spring of international school jobs mainly because it delivers a more international scope catering to a more international level, that is, the international school vacancies are not limited only to one physical region. In fact, every now and then an applicant from outside the country is favored, because with him or her comes experience, diverse from what a native has. On the other hand, there is no discrimination, theoretically, between one who is from the country where the international school is situated, or from additional countries, providing one can teach capably in the international school setting.

Teaching Internationally

For a number of these teachers, the fundamental motive for teaching internationally is to gain experience, the sort of experience that one does not get by staying in their native land. It is the sort of know-how that can’t be measured in financial and material terms but in the years used, the people met, and so on.  International teaching jobs help not only the students of these international schools but also their teachers, who are themselves pupils learning new things everyday.

Teaching English Abroad In International Schools

There are many opportunities for teaching English abroad that are open to anybody who is able to speak English fluently. Whether you have a teaching degree or a certificate in English language teaching you can find work almost anywhere in the world.

This article looks at two options for people who want to teach English abroad including private language schools and teaching English abroad in International Schools.

International Schools

International schools are elementary, middle and high schools for expatriate children whose families live abroad. There are international schools that offer an American curriculum, those that offer a British curriculum and many more. The language of instruction in most international schools is English but many of the students have English as a second or third language, and so most international schools have teachers who support these students by teaching them English language.

Teaching English abroad in international schools can be done with the same qualifications that are required for teaching in a private language school however you will be competing with people who have teaching diplomas. With over 4000 international schools worldwide, there are many positions vacant every year.

Teaching in an international school often offers better pay and more benefits than teaching in a private language school. Some benefits you are likely to receive teaching in an international school are annual flights, accommodation allowance, medical insurance and, free tuition for your children in the school.

International schools follow the regular school year, so you will only be teaching for around 200 days, and you will be paid for your vacation time, unlike private language school where you will receive 3-4 weeks holiday in a 12 month contract.

Private Language Schools

Teaching positions in private language schools are easy to secure. English language tuition is a growth business in many areas of the world, in particular in Eastern Europe and throughout Asia.

In order to teach English in a private language school you need to be able to speak English fluently and have a certificate from either Trinity or RSA CELTA. These courses are around 4 weeks long and can even be completed online. Some language schools will hire native English speakers who do not have any ESL qualification, but usually these schools are not as reputable as those that insist their teachers have the appropriate qualifications.

For some countries you will need to have a Bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for a work permit. You need to check this out if you do not have one because you could end up working abroad illegally. Usually your degree can be in any subject, it does not need to be in education.

Working at a private language school can be rewarding as you learn about the local culture from your students and see the progress they make. You are likely to have a combination of classes with 12-20 students and private lessons where you teach only one or two students.

In Asia you can land an English teaching contract at any time, but in Europe most contracts are from the beginning of autumn in September through to the beginning of summer in June or July.

Having taught English in both private language schools and worked in international schools, I recommend you try and focus on landing a position teaching English abroad in an international school because the pay and benefits are better and you get longer holidays too.