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6 Tips for Teaching English Abroad During COVID-19 Reopening
Written by: John Bentley
Last Updated: May 20, 2021
After a year of restricted life and challenges to our mental and physical health, the urge to get out both in our communities and travel abroad is strong. Fortunately, due to ongoing health measures combined with increasing vaccination rates and access, many countries have experienced substantial declines in COVID cases. As a result, they have begun to reopen their economies and schools, which are again hiring TEFL-certified English teachers. In addition, many are reopening to international commercial travel, though restrictions remain and vary from country to country. If you are looking forward to finding opportunities to teach English abroad as the world reopens from COVID-19, but have questions about how best to achieve your goals, here are six expert tips to help you.
1. Get Vaccinated & Stay Safe
Getting a recognized COVID vaccine will not only go a long way in protecting you and others in your family and community from the spread of the virus, but it will also make it easier for you to travel abroad. The vast majority of countries require a negative Covid test to enter, and many require vaccines. The European Union, for example, recently announced that most member nations will reopen to American tourists, but only those who are vaccinated. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) urges Americans who are not vaccinated not to travel internationally. In addition, even if they do not require a vaccine, many countries will remove quarantine restrictions for those who provide proof of vaccination. Finally, bear in mind that while COVID cases have declined dramatically in the U.S. since January 2021, worldwide cases have spiked in the spring of 2021, and many countries in major TEFL job markets in regions like Europe and Latin America continue to face outbreaks.
If you are an American (or U.S. resident), talk to your doctor, or contact your local or state government health agencies to learn more about vaccine options and get your questions answered. You can also learn more at the CDC’s vaccines.gov website. If you reside in another country, contact your healthcare provider or government health agencies to learn more about your options.
Once abroad, be sure to stay informed about local COVID protocols and developments. This will help keep you and those around you safe.
Hot Tip! Make sure to keep your vaccination records and take a photo of your vaccination card that you can save on your phone and in your email so that you can always access it if needed.
Key Takeaway. If you want to travel and teach English abroad, getting vaccinated will keep you safe and give you more teaching opportunities.
2. Get Your TEFL Certification
Unless you hold an advanced degree in TEFL or TESOL, earning an accredited TEFL certification is critical if you want to teach English abroad. Why? Because even if you have no teaching experience at all, it will provide you with the skills you need to become an effective teacher. In addition, it will give you the qualification you need to gain employment from thousands of schools and language institutes around the world. It is also required by most companies for teaching English online.
For those who get TEFL certified with International TEFL Academy, once you enroll and begin your TEFL course, you will start receiving Job Search Guidance, and you can begin working with International TEFL Academy advisors on your job search.
With COVID, many onsite TEFL courses may still be on hold, and getting TEFL certified online is the easiest and most convenient way to earn your certification. International TEL Academy offers an 11-week part-time 170-Hour Online TEFL Certification Course, in addition to the 4-Week Intensive Online TEFL Course. The part-time course is the most viable for most students because it is specifically designed to accommodate those working or going to school full-time.
Alert! You don't need to decide where you want to teach before beginning the certification process!
In fact, approximately 50% of International TEFL Academy students begin the TEFL certification process without knowing where they will teach. This is especially the case during the COVID pandemic as circumstances are fluid and changing quickly. Many change their mind once they begin receiving job search guidance and learning about teaching opportunities around the globe that they may not have been aware of or attracted to.
To learn more about your options, check out ITA’s complete TEFL Certification Course Index.
Please note that due to Covid, many in-person TEFL classes remain on hold and we currently recommend getting certified online.
3. Thoroughly Research Your Options & Stay Informed
English language instruction is a worldwide phenomenon, with more than 1 billion people learning English in more than 100 countries. Therefore, even during non-COVID times, learning about opportunities that would be a good fit for you based on your background and aspirations can be a challenge that requires research and due diligence.
Salaries, visas, hiring requirements, interview procedures, and recruiting seasons are just some of the factors that can vary from country to country and region to region. Throw in the wildcard of COVID, and it becomes even more vital that you keep informed about your options and how you can take advantage of teaching opportunities around the world and online.
Here at International TEFL Academy, we have spent years curating the most extensive library of TEFL-related content anywhere on the internet. Here are just some links for top resources, both for information about TEFL and TEFL certification generally, and up-to-date information about how COVID is impacting the fields of TEFL and international education.
- Download a 30-page Guide detailing all aspects of teaching English abroad & TEFL certification.
- Check out ITA’s TEFL Resource Library, where you can access dozens of ebook guides about all aspects of teaching English abroad, teaching online, and TEFL certification.
- For the latest on how COVID is affecting the TEFL field, please read ITA’s Coronavirus FAQs: TEFL & Teaching English Abroad & Online - What Are My Options?
4. Teach English Online (TEO)
Even before COVID forced schools (including schools that hire TEFL certified English teachers) to go virtual, the field of teaching English online was one of the fastest-growing sectors of international education. According to a survey of more than 600 ITA alumni conducted in early 2021, more than 67% were teaching English online, and 43% were teaching English online in their home country. So, even if your ultimate goal is to move overseas to teach English abroad in a foreign country, teaching English online offers a myriad of opportunities and benefits that are worth considering:
- Because you can do it from anywhere in the world, teaching English online offers tremendous flexibility and convenience. You can teach part-time or full-time, so you can find a schedule that works for you.
- You teach English online before going abroad. This will enable you to gain experience, enhance your resume, and make money to help pay for TEFL start-up costs that you may need to incur before moving abroad, like airline tickets.
- Once abroad, you can teach English online to supplement your income that you earn teaching English at a local language school, wherever it is in the world that you teach.
- As borders reopen, many English teachers abroad seek to go abroad to exclusively teach online as digital nomads. Because you can teach English from virtually anywhere and take your job with you, many TEFL certified teachers will teach English online and move from country to country in a particular region or across the globe.
To get a full overview of teaching English online and how it works, check out 8 FAQs About Teaching English Online.
5. Be Patient & Flexible in Your TEFL Job Search
Timelines. Getting hired and moving abroad for a new English teaching job can be a lengthy process, even in non-COVID times. The process of getting TEFL certified, applying for jobs, processing documents and visas, and arranging for travel, typically takes at least 3-6 months, or even longer. With COVID, some of these processes can take even longer. To learn more about realistic timelines based on what TEFL course you take and where you want to teach, please read How To Get TEFL Certification Online or In-Person in 6 Easy Steps.
Be flexible. Remember that as of the spring/summer of 2021, many countries have yet to return to pre-COVID levels of hiring or even to open up to foreign travel, so depending on where you want to teach, jobs may not be available just yet. Of course, you are welcome to wait for jobs in certain countries to begin opening up, but we also urge you to consider as many options in as many countries as possible. This flexibility will likely increase your chances of gaining employment abroad faster and will open more opportunities and options to you across the board.
6. Consider Teaching English in Asia
Over recent decades, Asia has emerged as the biggest and one of the most lucrative job markets in the world for teaching English abroad. Before COVID, nations like Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam each recruited tens of thousands of foreign English teachers annually, offering many of the top salaries and benefits in the field, especially for first-time teachers. Since the onset of COVID, these countries have been among the most effective in the world at containing the pandemic. They began to reopen their economies and educational systems far earlier than in Europe and North America. This meant that schools in many of these countries started recruiting TEFL certified teachers, and the result is that there are simply more jobs in Asia. This will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future.
Learn more about teaching English in Asia, check out the Teaching English in Asia - Country Profile Jobs Index.
Read More: How COVID-19 Affects The TEFL Job Market
John Bentley is Co-Founder & Senior Writer for International TEFL Academy (ITA), the world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad. A graduate of Harvard University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, John is a recognized expert in the field of TEFL. His articles have appeared across the field's top websites, including GoAbroad.com, StudyAbroad.com, InterExchange, GoOverseas.com, Adventure Teaching, & many others. He has also spoken as an expert on Teaching English Abroad & TEFL certification at major conferences like MeetPlanGo and Lessons from Abroad (LFA) in Portland & San Diego.
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