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Author Topic: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience  (Read 1714 times)

Arx

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The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« on: April 11, 2019, 03:48:34 am »

So I'm contemplating spending a year teaching English overseas, having found an agency that offers reasonable-looking placements etc. In order, I'd be interested in teaching in Korea, China, or Thailand.

I've done a bunch of reading around and a fair bit of thinking, and I figured I'd get the B12 hivemind's input on this.

In terms of reasons I don't think it would suck:
  • I love teaching.
  • I like small children, I like teens, I like adults. I'm happy working with any age group.
  • I have a reasonable knack for languages. I can pick up enough to make it by in pretty much any language, pretty fast. (In fact, I actually speak some Chinese and Korean because languages are fascinating.)
  • I live in a country with 11 national languages. Teaching through a language barrier is nothing new to me.
  • My only direct attachments here are my family, with whom I am close, but it's not like I'm juggling a SO or anything.
  • I'm a shut-in by inclination My social needs aren't huge, so I'll probably be fine with interaction at work, and I should think I can find a TKD dojang near-ish anywhere I'd end up teaching, especially in Korea, which is another place to see people.
  • Lodging is usually subsidised, which reduces cost of living quite a bit.
  • Bonus point: the alternative is that next year I start teaching here. I can expect an entry level salary locally (as a scarce-ish skills teacher) of about half what I'd earn teaching English overseas*.

In terms of reasons it'd suck:
  • I am close with my family, so it's not like I'd be without homesickness.
  • I've never actually spent an extended period away from home before. Short periods, yup, long periods, nope.
  • Travelling between South Africa and basically anywhere is expensive and slow.
  • Regardless of how confident I may be in my ability to pick up a language fast, the first while is probably not going to be easy.
  • I do need time and space to myself to reset my energy.
  • This list feels too short. There's a lot I don't know.

So, what do you guys who are older and wiser and have travelled the world or live in the countries of reference think? What am I missing? What's horribly naive of me?



* Of course, if it were just about making money, with my qualifications I could all-but-certainly get a position at a tech company that pays quadruple a teacher's salary, but I'm not sure how I feel about that for a number of reasons.
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I am on Discord as Arx#2415.
Tu jee, veerey / Toofano se lad ke [Fight, brave one / Fight those internal storms and]
Tu jeet, veerey / Zakhmo se bhid kar bhi tu [Win, brave one / Weather those wounds and]
Firse uthega yaara [Rise once again]

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wierd

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Re: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 10:46:29 am »

The blog is old, but a cursory read of "I am a japanese school teacher" might be prudent.

https://classic.dryang.org/japanese/index.htm


While it focuses on Japan, and its obvious japanisms, some parts might still be applicable in the larger sense.  It might give you some things to watch and be wary for, if you decide to go through with it.
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Il Palazzo

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Re: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2019, 11:40:31 am »

The way I see it you're all set to go, with the only issue of note being homesickness worries. Which you can alleviate by getting your family to agree on having regular calls, or video calls, at a set hour every weekend, or daily even. Talk over every bit of progress you make, share observations, show them around, and get advice on any hurdles as they may appear, so that you won't feel overwhelmed or isolated.
Just make sure to research the how-to's of cheap calling from abroad beforehand.

All you really need before moving to another country is a prospective source of income, a place to stay, and a safety net to salvage the operation should some unexpected snafu happen. The EFL teaching agencies are generally very helpful in finding lodging, so that should take care of the former two. The safety net should be just enough emergency funds for a ticket back home (at short notice prices, though) and a couple weeks' worth of living expenses - this can be just your family agreeing to cover for you if you find yourself in a pickle.
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Doomblade187

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Re: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 11:53:36 am »

Also, be extremely careful of scams- I have a friend attempting this in another country, and they've been having to sift through some shady shit.
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delphonso

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Re: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2019, 09:57:46 pm »

Been living abroad for 5 years and some change - in multiple countries, mostly Asia. Including Japan, Thailand and China.

First and foremost, living abroad is a wonderful experience, worthwhile for anyone. The deeper you get into the culture, language and the usual life, the better you'll benefit in later life. I believe it's one of the best crash courses in independence, responsibility, and social skills. So, if you're considering it and feel reasonably ready, go for it.

If possible, I recommend avoiding programs and placement agencies. Programs tend to be insular, meaning you're less likely to have control over your own experience abroad. They have a nice support network, usually, but don't give you as much opportunity to meet and interact with locals as peers. Also, they don't always offer good salaries compared to what you can find alone. Placement agencies just want to fill slots and will misrepresent jobs to meet that. They're very short term industries (speaking from working in one and hating that experience)

Research your city deeply before you go. Public transit, atmosphere, etc are good to know beforehand. China can be hard for people with asthma, or those who are really attached to Facebook or other social media sites, and a lot of people leave because they weren't sure what to expect.

My family has always been pretty independent, so going abroad didn't put much strain on our relationship and I have always been comfortable abroad  - so I can't say much about dealing with homesickness. But, with my friends, as I moved to China and dropped facebook - I will say that the friends who found other ways to communicate with me have become extremely close friends and I don't think our friendships will ever break now, tempered as they are. It can be a strengthening experience for familial relationships too.

Best general advice I can give is to avoid expats. If you're abroad, don't waste time spending it with people from your country or culture. Reserve that for when you feel homesick or overwhelmed. I say this knowing people who have lived abroad for up to 10 years and don't speak a word of the local languages because they've just stayed with Americans or whatever.


Feel free to PM me at any time, stranger. Depending on where you go, I can give you some specific advice or put you in contact with some good people. Heck, my school right now is looking for teachers.
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Arx

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Re: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2019, 06:31:19 am »



Whilst I find this very entertaining, there's also very little here that really surprises me. Call it the third world, call it having experienced Mediocre Public Education (TM), pretty much all the crazy shenanigans happen at South African schools too. Not kancho, but there are plenty of other bizarre violent games that take its place.

The way I see it you're all set to go, with the only issue of note being homesickness worries. Which you can alleviate by getting your family to agree on having regular calls, or video calls, at a set hour every weekend, or daily even. Talk over every bit of progress you make, share observations, show them around, and get advice on any hurdles as they may appear, so that you won't feel overwhelmed or isolated.
Just make sure to research the how-to's of cheap calling from abroad beforehand.

That was what I was thinking. Glad it's not too far out there.

Also, be extremely careful of scams- I have a friend attempting this in another country, and they've been having to sift through some shady shit.

Yup, that's part of why I'm asking around now, in April, when I'm only thinking of next year!



Thanks! There's a lot here that I kinda assumed, but I'm interested in this:

Quote
If possible, I recommend avoiding programs and placement agencies. Programs tend to be insular, meaning you're less likely to have control over your own experience abroad. They have a nice support network, usually, but don't give you as much opportunity to meet and interact with locals as peers. Also, they don't always offer good salaries compared to what you can find alone. Placement agencies just want to fill slots and will misrepresent jobs to meet that. They're very short term industries (speaking from working in one and hating that experience)

I'm not terribly interested in a program, but I was planning on going through a placement agency - this is the one I had my eye on. It seems like it'd vastly simplify most of the process - I absolutely hate being in limbo and not knowing what's happening, so having an agency handling the critical parts seems like it'd take a lot of strain off the system, rather than trying to work out accommodation/visas/etc. remotely myself. Is that completely deluded? Is it easier than it seems?
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I am on Discord as Arx#2415.
Tu jee, veerey / Toofano se lad ke [Fight, brave one / Fight those internal storms and]
Tu jeet, veerey / Zakhmo se bhid kar bhi tu [Win, brave one / Weather those wounds and]
Firse uthega yaara [Rise once again]

Mel lives again! Fight monsters; fight crime; fight compound interest...

delphonso

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Re: The Legendary Teaching English Overseas Experience
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2019, 10:48:54 pm »

It depends greatly on where you choose to go. Visas are a pain for getting into China as a legal worker - but once you do it, you can get an apartment here with incredible ease. Like literally the same day as arriving you can find one, sign the contract, and move in. The visa process for Japan was a lot simpler, but the apartment process was notably slower. I'd still say finding your own is going to outweigh the original convenience of having one provided - since you can choose what part of the city you want to be in - but this assumes you'd stay in a hostel/hotel and found an apartment later. Doing that process before you move is a nightmare. So, an agency might do better for you.

A lot of schools have some sort of Foreign Liaison, who would help you with this anyway. An agency may not be necessary at all. I think settling on where you want to work will decide whether an agency will be overly beneficial or not.
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