Lexi Ward

Ever thought about work abroad? When I first started contemplating the idea, I drew up a list of 5 key steps to help me land the perfect job in another land. Here are those for you in detail, along with some examples from my open experience:

1. Get Certified: TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate

I grew up in a family where education was highly valued - my father is a chemistry teacher, his father a physics professor and his father a classroom instructor. So, you could say I was entering the family business! In order to combine my dual passions for work abroad and educating others in their learning, what better way for me than to become a TEFL teacher; and what better way to embark upon a TEFL career than to get certified? The course I took set me on the right path to becoming a TEFL teacher, which I still am, 8 happy years later! Looking into reputable and well-respected TEFL courses, such as those organized by EF, was what I did, and I'd recommend anyone in a similar position to do the same.

2. Keep an Open Mind

At first, work abroad presents its own challenges with respect to adapting to new languages, cultures and traditions. I remember the first time I had the opportunity to work abroad in Slovakia, and the fun adventure of deciphering the language on the side of many of my favorite familiar products from back home. Keeping an open mind is a useful life skill, not just for a TEFL teacher, but it certainly helps to maximize the fun in the experience! Speaking to those who have had experience of life and work abroad would also be great to consult on this.

3. Consider Volunteering First

Volunteering is something I learned a lot about through my mum's work, as she is a Volunteer Program Coordinator. Due to this, I've engaged in hundreds of hours volunteering, often working alongside people from other nationalities, customs and belief systems. This was a great way for me to dip my toe into the water and see if I was comfortable with adapting to others, which I am. If I had my time again, I would definitely consider a volunteering program (of the many that exist online in a managed, reputable fashion) in another country - a great way to help those less fortunate than ourselves, learn about many of the fundamentals of work abroad, as well as acquire a great range of skills transferable to a TEFL career. Speaking of skills…

4. Utilize the Skills You Have

Utilize the Skills You Have

I have found that being a teacher has helped me to pass on knowledge to others, as well as learning about myself. A TEFL teacher is so much more than standing in front of a few people and talking, as some of my friends used to think. It's about making a human connection with students, paying attention to their needs, building a lesson around their interests and their needs, and evaluating their progress on this journey. A student career is much like a TEFL career in that way, and in the words of my uncle (who is a builder): ‘The best room in any house is the room for improvement.' Being able to assess that in ourselves is important too! I have kept a TEFL teacher journal, detailing the improvements I have made and the targets I would still like to strive for.

5. Take Advantage of Your Social Networks: connect with hiring managers or people who've worked abroad where you want to work.

Last, but by no means least, take advantage of those who have been where you want to go. Ask questions. Be curious. Almost always, these individuals are happy to share knowledge of their work abroad. I know I do! Take in the information you hear, process it, and decide if it's right for you. A TEFL career with an organization like EF is the right fit for those who have a love of travel, other cultures, and are willing and able to tolerate being without one or two home comforts for a short while. Not only that, it's a fantastic opportunity to invite friends and family to visit you, and for you to tell them all your tales as a TEFL teacher when you return!

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Lexi Ward

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