A beginner’s guide to teaching overseas

If you’re teaching abroad for the first time, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here, we’ve pulled together loads of great tips and tricks to help you on your way

Tes Editorial

Teaching overseas: How international schools can help new teachers settle in

Right! You’ve made the decision to move your teaching careers overseas. You’ve cleared your diary, made yourself a triple espresso and your laptop is suddenly a glowing beacon of opportunity. Now what?

With so many overseas teaching opportunities, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start; the world is your oyster – but how do you crack that little sucker open?

In the following article, we’ve pulled together some of our top tips and links to more detailed guides and advice:

Listen: So you’re thinking of teaching overseas?

Have I got the necessary qualifications and experience?

First things first…are you in a position to apply for overseas roles?

International schools normally expect you to have a recognised teaching qualification and, depending on the school and the country, you may be required to have a set number of years’ experience or specific subject-related qualifications.

For example, in Abu Dhabi, if you apply for a visa to teach at a secondary school, your degree will need to be in the subject you want to teach.

If you don’t have a teaching qualification, you may still find there are roles out there. With countries desperate to attract native English speakers, you may find a degree is enough.

Read more: What qualifications do you need to teach abroad?

Some schools do take NQTs, but you should check with the institution or government issuing your qualification whether this is acceptable. 

Read more: Doing your NQT induction abroad

How do I narrow down my search?

First, decide what’s important to you in the type of school and the type of location. Shortlist some criteria for both and you’ll soon start to narrow down your search.

If you want to live somewhere warm with a social life and teach the IB, you’ll soon find your pool of schools will become more manageable.

Look for online forums and Facebook groups, and you can start to get a flavour of what different countries and education settings have to offer. But remember to take comments with a pinch of salt and cross reference what you find.

No matter how many forums you read or Twitter teachers you follow, everyone will have a different experience of working in a particular country. Think about what’s right for you.

Do you want a thriving expat scene where your weekends are spent having brunch in local foodie hotspots or do you want to immerse yourself in local culture and learn the language?

Below, we have put together a few guides to some of the more popular overseas teaching destinations:

Find out more about...

Teaching in China

Teaching in Dubai

Teaching in Spain

Teaching in Egypt

How do I find the right school for me?

Once you’ve decided which part of the world you want to zero in on, you also need to draw up a shortlist of schools. There are lots of different international schools out there, so think about the type of experience you want as you narrow down your search.

Do you want to teach a particular curriculum? Just because you’ve never taught the IB, that doesn’t mean your application won’t make the shortlist.

Do you want to be part of a big chain? Although some teachers like the freedom of a single school, international chains can offer opportunities to move around if you get itchy feet.

Read more: How to choose the right overseas school

If you want to get a flavour of what’s out there but find the world of overseas schools overwhelming, you could sign up for a careers fair.

These are normally global events, with schools attending from far-flung corners of the world. They can often result in job offers so don’t be afraid to research schools in advance and come brandishing a CV.

Register for the Tes International Jobs Fair January 2021

How do I make my application stand out?

Although schools will have minimum requirements when it comes to qualifications and experience, there is so much more you can do to appeal to international headteachers.

The usual rules apply when filling in a teaching application form, so make sure you make specific references to the school and the job description, and get someone to proofread it. But in addition, think about what else you can do to make international heads take notice.

Make sure leaders know you want the job and you’re not just collecting stamps on your passport. Schools also want to know that you’ll be able to handle whatever international teaching throws at you – whether that’s pushy parents or a hurricane –so make sure your flexibility and resilience come through.

Read more: How to tailor your CV for international schools

How can I ace the online interview?

The final hurdle when it comes to securing an overseas job is the interview. Unlike local schools, who have been struggling to get to grips with interviewing from a safe distance during lockdown, international schools have been doing this for years.

It’s not uncommon to be asked to do multiple online interviews. You could be asked to submit recorded answers to questions as part of the application process, so getting comfortable on camera is a must.

Remember, this is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have before you move your entire life to another part of the world, so think of a few questions of your own.

Read more: How to ace the online interview

For more advice on teaching overseas visit our international careers advice page.