Working & Living Abroad

What will it be like?
Deciding to live and work abroad is a major step. The following may help to answer some of the initial queries and worries you may have, if you have not taught abroad before.

Language Issues

Will I need to speak another language?
You will usually only speak English and teach in English at school. If you only speak English at the moment, this should not prevent your appointment at an International / British School, unless they specifically require it for the post.
Of course, everyday life will be much easier if you make the effort to learn the local language.

What language will the pupils understand?
The pupil body of many British/International schools may represent twenty or more different nationalities. Many secondary pupils are bilingual or even trilingual. They will speak their own language at home, English at school and possibly another language socially.
They will aim to take International G.C.S.E.s, ´A´ Levels, I.B. etc. in English. Some may continue their education in British or International universities. Some pupils may additionally take examinations in the local language.
In junior/primary schools, the levels of English may vary from school to school. It may be useful to gain a basic understanding of the local language for Nursery/Reception posts.
Parent Evenings can be interesting, as some parents may not speak English. Sometimes the child may interpret or interpreters can be at hand to help - perhaps teachers or assistants who may be bi-lingual.

What will the pay be like?
You will agree your salary with the school when you sign your contract with them. Salaries across the world vary greatly.
Working out your salary in pounds/dollars/euros etc. will not always give you an idea of its worth. The cost of living is an important factor, as well as the nature of your new lifestyle. You may spend money on certain things in your home country which may not seem important in your new surroundings. If you are travelling to a warm climate, you may spend nothing at all on heating your home, and very little on clothes! Ask at interview if it is possible to phone someone who is already on the staff, just for a chat and to put your mind at rest.

How will I find accommodation?
Make sure you understand the arrangements for accommodation when you are interviewed.
Some schools provide free accommodation on the school campus - find out if this involves duties. If this is not the case, ask if initial accommodation is provided at the start of your contract - for how long and at what cost. Also ask if help will be given to find more permanent accommodation. It may be difficult to find a house or flat without help, particularly if you don´t have local language skills initially - you won´t be able to read the local paper/ads or make yourself understood in an estate agent´s office. Some agents in Spain charge the tenant one month´s rent for their services!
You may find yourself living in an apartment in the city or in a remote village in the hills.

What should I take with me?
Schools usually provide useful information/factsheets for teachers who are newly appointed. They may even ask you to bring certain items to help you in the classroom.
Once again, find out at interview what is likely to be provided in your accommodation. Basic equipment will usually be provided in school accommodation or in privately rented accommodation. Most people like to take their own sheets and kitchen linen.
Books in English may be hard to find or expensive. Once you exceed your baggage allowance for your flight, it will be quite expensive to take extra freight by air, and not all schools will help towards this. Most basic items may be bought locally wherever you are. If you are travelling to a very remote destination then, once again, take advice from your contact at the school.

How will everyday school life be different?
Schools are pretty much the same the world over. Primary/junior school pupils will probably follow a programme of learning similar to the English National Curriculum, American Curriculum or International Baccalaurate. High School/Secondary children will study the same subjects at secondary level, even if the exams have different names.
You may however find yourself taking assembly outdoors or teaching a class under the shade of a tree or on the beach. You may have amazing technical equipment/computers or you could be using a handful of pebbles for a primary/junior maths lesson. You may find yourself teaching children who come from a comfortable, privileged background or your pupils may have walked several miles, barefoot to school, from their village. Father Christmas may arrive in the middle of summer!
So yes, everyday life will be different in all kinds of ways, but if you are a committed teacher, willing to adapt to any situation and to put all your energy into the job - then the rewards hardly need spelling out.

Is there life after school?
Of course, your social life will vary from country to country and from school to school, but usually it will be easy to make friends. Staff are generally very friendly and helpful towards new staff - they know it can be difficult to settle in.
The staff in large schools may have the use of sports facilities or a pool and groups of staff may organise trips together etc. Of course each school will be different. Do ask about the other staff at interview - who they are and where they come from.
You may meet people by joining a language class or taking part in sports eg. a diving class, football, rugby, hockey, netball, surfing, walking etc. Of course, it is always a pleasure to try out the local food and drinks.
Once friends are made in schools abroad, they can last a lifetime. Good friends are very important when you are away from home and family.
Still Interested?
We would ask you only to put yourself on our register if you are committed to the idea of living and working abroad.
If you only think of it as something you might do, then please don´t register. Schools will access the register to create a shortlist and will be disappointed when they contact you if they feel that you are not a serious contender.
If you really do want to improve your chances of living and working abroad, then do put yourself on the register - and Good Luck!!

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