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Evaluating Job Offers for Teaching Abroad

Evaluating Job Offers for Teaching Abroad

You have decided on teaching abroad so you are off on the job hunt. Aside from the obvious considerations such as what country to work in and what training/qualifications to obtain; there are other things a teachers should consider when looking at potential job offers.

You have decided on teaching abroad so you are off on the job hunt. Aside from the obvious considerations such as what country to work in and what training/qualifications to obtain; there are other things a teachers should consider when looking at potential job offers.

There are many factors a teacher considers which will affect whether they accept a position. The most obvious factor would be the content of the position. What is the school asking of you as a teacher? You must ask yourself if the job is interesting and fits into your career plans as a teacher. The person you will be working for is also an important consideration so you must take the time to talk to them either via email or phone. It would also be beneficial to ask to speak to other teachers from the school to find out their impressions. Knowing what the job is and whom you will be working with are the first step in deciding whether to pursue it further.

Some may say that the most important consideration would be salary and benefits but these should be a secondary consideration to what you want to do and who you will be working with. Regardless of the salary paid, most people will not stay at a position where they feel unsatisfied or have no growth. In addition, the people you work with or for have an enormous impact on your job satisfaction. However, when considering salary and benefits, do not focus as much on the starting salary but rather on the potential for growth and increases. Does the school have growth potential for you as a professional? Do they spell out cost-of-living increases and meritorious raises? Benefits are other areas that can supplement a position where the starting salary is not as good as you would have wished. Get a list of benefits from the company and formulate any questions you may have regarding them so that you can better discuss the position with management and other teachers at the school.

Another factor that may come into play with many teachers when evaluating a position is the resources provided by the school. Teachers spend a large majority of their time preparing for upcoming lessons. This requires readily available resources such as teacher books, computer, printer, internet access, and preferably a reference library. In addition, there should be a work area set aside for teachers to plan and prepare. You should also look at whether the school already has a set curriculum/syllabus and student books because you may be asked to help to create these resources for your school year if they are not provided. I have known many teachers that have felt the need to move on because of the demands of planning for a school year without adequate resources.

To help you find that perfect (or near perfect) job, you should ask these questions to all prospective employers:

  • What is the salary?
  • How many months is the contract?
  • Do/Can you sponsor me for all paperwork, including teacher’s license, work permit, and visa extension?
  • How soon can you get this paperwork processed?
  • How many hours will I be teaching?
  • What kind of insurance is on offer?
  • When are the starting and ending times for work?
  • About how many events a month are teachers required to attend outside normal working hours (teachers’ meetings, parents’ meetings, school festivals, seminars, etc.)?
  • Does the school have/provide books?
  • Does the school have whiteboards or chalkboards?
  • Does the school provide all teaching materials needed? What are the items provided?
  • Does the school require that I attend/teach a summer camp?
  • Is there a discipline policy? What is it and how is it enforced?
  • What are the details of contract "extras" such as:
    • Resigning bonuses
    • Biannual or annual plane tickets to visit home
    • Housing allowances (if no housing allowance then ask about help finding accommodations along with cost in the school area)
    • Internet access both in and outside the school

Searching for a position is difficult. After spending many hours on a search, making a careful decision regarding a job offer is important. Getting an offer does not necessarily mean you should take the job. Most employers will not expect you to make a decision on the spot. You will probably be given a few days to a week to make up your mind. If they are unable to provide you with the time to make a decision then you should not consider this as a viable position. On the other hand, if you decide to go with a school without finding out the proper information, don’t blame the school when the position turns out not to be what you expected or wanted. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the job will help you make a more informed decision, rather than deciding on impulse.

About the Author Michael Hines is the founder of TotalESL.com , a free resource helping the ESL/EFL community in Asia and the Middle East for jobs, resumes, schools, resources, yellow pages, classifieds, information and lessons.  TotalESL.com – First Stop for Your Second Language Needs ©Michael Hines