Top 9 Resources To Get You Teaching ESL Abroad

Friday, March 18, 2011

I remember the conversation I had with a friend about taking a year off with just my backpack. She was fresh off of a year teaching ESL in Shanghai and the tone in her voice told me I’d be stupid not to teach English somewhere. “Dude, you get paid and you travel. Don’t be an idiot.” She’s always been a sweetheart.

Honestly though, it can be a leap of faith: culture shock, the commitment, the moving, the food, language, money . . . Thousands of native English speakers head off each year, but just how does someone even begin the process? Try your own Google search and you will probably be overwhelmed before you even start (2,210,000 results at last check).

Obviously, there are hordes of options out there. We’ve assembled some time-tested resources to help begin your research. (And If we’ve overlooked any, paste the resource and a link in the comments section!)

Want to Know What It’s Really Like?

Blogs are a great way to hear experiences (both good and bad) straight from those in the trenches. Start your searches at travel websites that often touch on teaching overseas, like Matador Abroad or  BootsnAll, where I found a list of useful blogs to get you started. Here are some highlights from around the web:

1. The Daily Kimchi: A blog about life and work in Korea.

2. Mondo’s World: Everything for the ESL teacher, by the ESL teacher. This is a resource-dense blog with links, lessons, videos, ideas, and more.

3. An ELT Notebook: ELT notebook was put together by an English language teacher in Italy who has has been teaching for over 30 years experience, and provides advice on a variety of topics.

4. An English Man in Nyugun: Now at home, this blog was from a British teacher who participated in the JET Program for a year in Japan.

5. Barry Fun English: Less blog-like, and more of a jackpot of classroom-ready games, and ideas, and worksheets, and vocabulary, and flash cards, and PowerPoints, and . . . well, you get the point. Become a member to get even more. Even specific sets for the Korean ESL curriculum.

So You Think This Is A Cool Option, Now What?

Recruiting agencies and job centers are typically the easiest way to get the process moving. Each agency has its own process, but plan on an application and interview process — most likely by phone — and guidance through the visa acquisition process.

Most agencies know the uncertainties involved with this decision and work hard to support you every step of the way. Be sure to shop around and find a program that you feel most comfortable with. Here are a few options:

6. GoOverseas: A great first step in the process. This one-stop-shop offers articles and advice on teaching, living, studying, and volunteering abroad.

7. Footprints Recruiting: Founded in 2001 by two ESL teachers in South Korea, it’s now the largest ESL teacher recruiter worldwide.

8. ReachToTeach: Offers placements in Taiwan, South Korea, and China, with ongoing support, job comparison data, monthly meet-ups, and some pretty famous alumni (Me!).

9. Dave’s ESL Cafe: This is the holy grail of ESL information and job hunting;  job boards, teacher resources, and forums will get you started — just to name a few.
By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at (@ExpedJon)

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