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What Are The Language Requirements for Teaching Abroad?

By Yann, published on 04/01/2019 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > Teaching in a Foreign Language

“You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.” – Czech Proverb

Teaching languages is a unique pursuit which requires constant effort.

Did you know that 74% of teachers have considered working abroad to improve their teaching skills?

There is no better way to learn than spending time in another country learning another language.

So which language will you need to learn and how well will you need to speak it?

This is a tricky question that a lot of teachers who are thinking about working abroad ask themselves.

If you’re interested in becoming an English teacher or getting teaching jobs abroad, we’ve got a load of information on teaching opportunities for you in this article.

What Subjects Can You Teach Abroad?

Whether you’re interested in teaching English as a foreign language or find work in an international school, teaching abroad is a great way to broaden your horizons. But before you start looking for work in Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, or Spain, you’ll need to know exactly how to teach your subject abroad, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

How do you overcome the language barrier? It can be difficult overcoming the language barrier when teaching abroad. (Source: ludi)

The Most Popular Subjects Taught by Foreign Teachers

As you probably know, becoming a teacher in a school in the UK is more than just a job. However, whatever establishment you decide to work for, you may still feel drawn towards working abroad.

Can you teach your main subject in a foreign country?

It should be noted that for the purpose of this article, we’re also considering British overseas territories as abroad.

Don’t forget that there are plenty of British teachers working abroad and there are plenty of different subjects that they teach. The most popular subjects include:

  • English as a foreign language
  • Foreign languages
  • History
  • Maths
  • Hard sciences
  • Marketing
  • Economics

Unsurprisingly, foreign languages (particularly English) are all very commonly taught by teachers abroad. In fact, plenty of Brits have already moved abroad to teach English as a foreign language in both foreign schools and private English schools.

Teaching English abroad is one of the most common teaching positions since almost all countries that don’t speak English as their mother tongue will teach it as a second language.

If you’re an English teacher, you can get a TESOL or TEFL certification and start your international teaching career with a new teaching job. Whether you teach at a language school or get a job placement at a private English academy, there are plenty of jobs abroad where you can teach English to foreign students in a classroom.

If you want to teach English abroad, make sure that your TEFL certificate is widely accepted. For example, the CELTA is accepted almost everywhere whereas an online TEFL mightn’t be the qualification your potential employer is looking for.

Make sure you check which qualifications you’ll need.

Similarly, subjects like economics and marketing can be easier to teach in a foreign language because a lot of the specialised vocabulary comes from English. This means that the terms are generally recognised everywhere. On the other hand, some subjects answer is easy to teach abroad.

The Easiest Subjects to Teach in a Foreign Language

For example, you’d probably be better off teaching Spanish in Miami rather than German, for example. The subject you’re teaching may also help you decide which country you’re going to go to: for foreign languages, you’ll want to go somewhere where the language is commonly taught or spoken.

However, some subjects are very simple to teach in a foreign language. If you work in a British school abroad, you won’t have to worry about this at all. This does mean that you probably won’t learn the target language as quickly as you’d like. However, they’re far more likely to be able to provide you with a work visa as they’re used to finding certified teachers internationally.

One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching abroad in Asia, Europe, Africa, or the Americas, is that you can pick up a foreign language as you live in the target country.

Subjects like history and geography can be quite easy to teach in another language as they’re based on fact. Once you’ve taught the vocabulary and the main concepts, the rest will come naturally. However, teaching the arts can be more difficult as students will be expressing local cultural concepts.

Keep in mind that you’ll be expected to prove your language skills if you want to teach in establishments where these languages are used and that tests that are accepted in one country may not be accepted in another. An ESL job won’t have very strict foreign language requirements as you’re supposed to teach exclusively in English.

But first, let’s have a look at the foreign language levels required before you start teaching abroad.

The Common European Framework of Reference

Whether you’re teaching children in a secondary school or university students, it doesn’t matter, you’ll need to have a good level in the target language to teach abroad. The requirements may also vary according to where you’re going:

  • For European countries, there is the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).
  • For British overseas territories, English may be accepted.
  • For other countries, their linguistic requirements may be different.

What level do you need in a foreign language to teach? Choosing the destination is one thing, learning the language is another. (Source: JESHOOTScom)

Make sure that you fully understand exactly what you need to know in the foreign language before you travel abroad and start your teaching adventure in another country.

Similarly, this is why a lot of teachers from the UK decide to go to other English-speaking countries. When it comes to foreign language skills, you should be aware of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):

  • A1: Breakthrough or beginner
  • A2: Waystage or elementary
  • B1: Threshold or intermediate
  • B2: Vantage or upper intermediate
  • C1: Effective operational proficiency or advanced
  • C2: Mastery or proficiency

In general, you’ll need between a B1 and B2 level in order to teach in the target language and will probably require proof your abilities. The necessary qualifications vary by language.

For other countries, there are different language tests you may need to take. For teachers to come to English speaking countries, they usually are required to take a TOEFL or IELTS test. These allow employers to gauge their level in the English language. These are also often a requirement for English teaching if you’re not a native English speaker.

To avoid the language requirements for certain establishments, a lot of teachers look for jobs that have no foreign language requirement. This means they won’t have to take a foreign language test to get the job.

Make sure you get ready to teach abroad.

Applying to Jobs in Other Countries

It’s often a good idea to apply to jobs before you move to another country. This means that you don’t have to worry about finding a job once you get there. This can also help you get the necessary visa to live and work in certain countries.

How do you get over homesickness when teaching abroad? Homesickness is something you’ll need to learn to deal with. (Source: Pexels)

There are a number of institutions that can help you went looking for work abroad and different places you can teach.

They may have a variety of different requirements:

  • Several years of teaching experience and a specialisation in a given subject.
  • A certain degree.
  • A reference from a former employer.
  • There are a number of different paths you can take to becoming a teacher abroad.
  • Assistance when Teaching Abroad

A language class in a school won’t have the same objectives as one in a private English academy. Similarly, the levels of the students mightn’t be the same. Before you start planning your trip abroad, keep in mind everything that you will have to do.

What administrative steps are there to moving abroad? Make sure you prepare your bags before you go. (Source: tookapic)

There are all organisations that can:

  • Help you do an internship abroad or a university exchange program.
  • Find you a way to embark on a long-term career abroad.
  • Provide you with the opportunities to enjoy intercultural linguistic experiences.
  • Assist researchers.
  • Provide you with teaching tools.
  • Offer training for teachers in the host country.
  • Provide information and teaching resources.
  • Offer activities for your period abroad.

These places and services can be very useful to anyone considering spending time working abroad. You should consider visiting the website of the British Council and adequately preparing for your move.

Whether you’re teaching in a school, want to become a teacher, or developing your teaching skills, heading abroad is a great option. Really, a period of residence abroad should be an obligatory part of everyone’s education.

Whether you’re doing TEFL courses to teach English abroad, a qualified teacher looking for a career change, or just interested in teaching overseas, there are plenty of places hiring. You just need to find them!

Good luck!

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