Finding the ideal teach-abroad program can be a difficult process for first-timers, second-timers, and old-hands. There are so many factors to consider that it can make the process feel overwhelming. As well as avoiding dodgy programs that do not prioritise the teacher’s well being, it is important to consider that a program that is perfect for one teacher may not be for another. Here are the four most important factors in your decision-making process.
The ever-important visa is something that should be of top priority. Even well-established programs can struggle to keep up with complex, ever-changing visa requirements. In fact, larger organisations that offer placements in multiple countries can struggle with this more than smaller organisations like TFV (I ensure that visas are organised and paid for) because they must keep on top of visa-updates in multiple regions.
Not all schools are alike. Countries like Vietnam offer a broad range of teaching opportunities in public schools, private schools, international schools, language centres, etc. Each of these organisations holds its own benefits and challenges. Many programs will not give you any choice as to the establishment you will be working in. This is something that I place the highest importance on, rather than being ‘placed’ in a school, we will always strive to give you choice of establishment and location.
Money is normally not the primary motivation for ESL teachers, but that does not mean it is not important. Some programs only offer an ‘allowance’ rather than a real salary. Other shadier programs try to trick teachers into false-volunteer programs that are made to sound altruistic but really are just taking advantage; putting teachers into normal schools without payment. It is also worth considering whether the payment includes benefits such as ongoing professional development, paid holidays, insurance, bonuses, etc. Often these are good indicators of a reputable teaching-body. I work with you to find the benefits you are looking for. To add to this, be careful of the schools which offer larger salaries but make you work around 40 hours per week. Often, the hourly rate works out way less than the language centres who appear to be paying less.
- Non-Educational Benefits
A great teaching environment is important, but good programs should realise that there are many other factors outside of work that are vital to ensuring a happy teach-abroad experience. To name a few examples (all of which, I can provide) – a good program should help you with accommodation, transport, language, getting settled, as well as efficient contact should you need help or support. This service should not stop once you have arrived, you should have support throughout your time away. After all, nobody knows when they are going to need a friend to help them out.