If you enjoy teaching or think you want to try it out for a stint, try teaching English abroad. English is a universal language as you can see when you travel around the globe and millions of students are learning it as their second language. There is a high demand for English teachers, especially in Asia.
Why did you want to teach English abroad?
I started this new journey because I applied to 50 jobs in America while finishing my master studies in Belgium in May 2014 and landed nothing. This was a hard blow since I felt qualified for these positions and really wanted them. The optimistic problem solver in me looked for other options. With a quick Google search of 'jobs abroad,' teaching English seemed to be a big winner as well as very lucrative from the advertised salaries.
How did you get a teaching job?
There were many online recruitment sites, but many of them wanted you to pay for your teaching certification and your visa requirements and then you would be given a job. This seemed like a scam. I continued searching and found Teaching Nomad, a recruiting firm based in Shanghai, China. The firm promised free services for the job seeker and had many job postings throughout China (Read more about China here).
I applied to a position on the website with my CV/résumé and Teaching Nomad representatives responded back to me right away. They said that the position I applied to did not meet their requirements, but they offered other positions that they thought would interest me. I reviewed each one and applied to a couple. After selecting positions in Shanghai, I set up an interview with a member of the Teaching Nomad staff.
The interview went really well. I was asked questions about my experience with children, why I wanted to teach, teaching experience and licenses, where I wanted to teach, what could I bring to the school in the form of personality and extra abilities to contribute, and if I was open to new cultures. I asked about the duties of the position, work hours, salary, holidays, living in Shanghai, what was Chinese culture like, and if the school was open to renewal of contracts.
The major stipulation in obtaining the desired position was a 120-hour TEFL course in which I would need to take. I took the course online in two weeks time and I passed with a 94 percent. I emailed my certificate right away to Teaching Nomad to solidify my position acceptance.
You got the job! What did you do after?
I could not believe that I got the position I wanted at an international school in Shanghai, China. It paid well for a starting foreigner's salary in China ($2,600USD per month), including government holidays plus a month off for Chinese New Year in February, visa and medical check reimbursement, and a bonus ($2,000USD) upon year-end completion.
Teaching Nomad helped me throughout the entire visa process and my employer would pay for my visa once I arrived in China. I sent my documents to the recruiting firm and they sent me the paperwork that I needed to fill out and sign. I had to complete a full medical check-up which you would have to complete again upon arrival in China (the medical check-up in China would be reimbursed by my employer).
There were a few delays during the document process from the Chinese government, therefore delayed me in sending my passport to the Chinese Embassy in the United States for the official visa sticker. Again, look at the Chinese immigration section on their website and create a checklist of what you need to include in order to obtain the visa in your passport.
I ended up not purchasing my plane ticket until I knew when I would have my passport in my hand, so three days before I actually left. The one-way ticket was $800USD and I left with one suitcase and one backpack right after received my passport with visa in hand.
What happened once you got to China?
Prior to arrival, Teaching Nomad told me certain expenses to expect. The agency said that rent near the school was really cheap at $350-$400USD per month with a flatmate, but when I chose an apartment that I would have to put one month down for deposit and pay two to three months of rent up front, so about $1200USD. I would also have to pay up front my medical ($100USD), resident permit ($80USD), and food for the first week ($100USD). This totals to about $1500USD.
Other things to consider right when you get off of the plane: new cell phone and/or cell phone plan ($10-$12USD per month with data included), money for transportation and activities, so round up to about $2000USD as your 'starting over fund' as I like to call it.
Teaching Nomad and my employer put me up in a hotel for a week when I arrived in Shanghai so I had a short time to find an apartment and get all of the above in order, all while teaching. As you can imagine, it was stressful and at many times daunting since I did not know how to speak or read Chinese! Survival mode went into play. I tried to stay afloat and not drown. I asked for as much help as possible.
Apartment hunting in Shanghai…how was it?
The day after I arrived, I had the infamous medical check. I met some people with whom I was working with and asked if anyone wanted or needed a flatmate. A cool guy in a Stars Wars shirt said he wanted one and then we decided to be flatmates together.
Later, he and I went to a realtor agency across from our school (there are agencies everywhere!) and we were shown many different apartments over the next couple of days. The apartment we ended up choosing had a move in date ten days away, so we had to stay in a hotel closer to the school before we could move in.
How was the work load?
I teach Monday through Friday. I am at work from 7:45AM until 4:15PM. I teach 18 periods each week (about 4 lessons a day) with a period being 40 minutes long. Depending on the activities that week, I will supervise recess for the children twice a week. One night per week, I sit in a classroom for an evening study hall session from 5:45PM until 7:30PM. I also created a photography club at my school as well as help organize school-wide events. My work consists of lesson planning, material gathering, grading and documentation for students. Some days are hard with my students or the lesson plans do not go as planned and other days are truly fantastic and my students have equally as much fun as I do. Overall, a very doable schedule and work load.
Holidays are a very nice perk, too. I have a week off in October for National Day and almost a full month off for Chinese New Year celebrations in February. There are a few one-day holidays peppered throughout the year, too. Summer months are July and August. Again, a very nice schedule.
Teaching has been a very rewarding job and I am so happy to be working with my same students next year as that is the format of my school that I work at in Shanghai.