Choosing to teach overseas is a decision you will never regret. It is, however, important to distinguish between the kinds of schools that provide opportunities for teaching. Teaching English is a great option for those without a specific teaching degree who want to save some money and travel around the world before returning home to “get a job”. International teaching is an option for certified or qualified teachers in their home country who want to teach in a different country. These teachers can take their qualifications as teachers overseas and teach in International schools set up in a country to service wealthy locals or children of expatriates who are looking for a curriculum that is similar to their home country of origin. There are International Schools all over the world and you can almost find one in every major city. There will be options for British Schools, American Schools, Australian schools, etc…
The are some major differences between teaching English as a second language and teaching in an International school.
Teaching in an international school will almost always pay a higher salary. This makes sense as you are qualified and are coming to a school in a country to be a teacher using skills that you already have. You are normally not teaching English to these children but rather teaching in English to an English speaking student population. Your benefits package will be better and will include housing, flights to and from your home country, shipping allowances and other perks depending on the country and school.
The curriculum of an International School usually reflects the country that they are identifying with. If it is a French school, then the curriculum is probably coming from France with a blending of other programs and alternatives to make it unique. If you are teaching English as a second language you are probably not given structured programmes or curriculum to follow and you may not be familiar with how to teach it as you would be if you were coming to teach a National curriculum that you are comfortable with.
3. Support & Stability
Teaching in English language learning centers to local children can be extremely rewarding but it does sometimes come with an element of risk. Of course, you can find some incredible companies to teach English for but there are certainly horror stories out there on the internet about sudden closures, delayed salaries, unsupportive leadership and many other issues that you won’t find out about until you arrive. Generally speaking, you may find more support in International schools that have a proven track record, long-standing leadership and a board of governors that help run the school. Like any school, whether it’s an International school or a language learning center, there can be problems in both as well as strong points of both.
4. Required Qualifications
An International School, if it is reputable, will almost always require that you have a teaching degree from your home country. Often times having a Masters Degree in your area of expertise will yield you even more income as it will place you higher on the pay scale. The better International schools will also require that you have at least two years of experience but don’t let this be a deterrent because there are several regions of the world that will hire teachers out of college. The qualifications for teaching English in language centers will usually be a general Bachelors degree with a TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) certificate.
There you have it, am I missing something? Let me know in the comments below if you have taught in both situations and found other major differences. I have never taught English as a second language and don’t profess to be an expert on these schools but would love to have you contribute to the above list.