How to Prepare for Teaching English Abroad

While teaching abroad is exciting, challenging and pretty awesome, moving to a new job, house and country all at once can be a bit overwhelming.  So, if you’re feeling a little nervous about the whole thing, you’ll need to find how to prepare for teaching abroad so that it seems a lot less scary!

1) Do a TEFL Course

While doing a TEFL course won’t prepare you for every classroom eventuality (for example, there’s no module on what to do when a student starts eating all the stationery), however, it will prepare you for the realities of life in the classroom, including how to plan lessons, what a past participle is and how to prevent all out rebellion against you. Do a TEFL course and, not only will your employment prospects rocket, but it will also help you feel much more confident about stepping into the classroom for the very first time.

2) Do Your Research

There’s nothing more frightening than heading into the unknown, so it’s a great idea to do your research before you accept any job offers: our destination guides offer in-depth information for 50 countries, with information on everything from average pay and the types of jobs available, to the most popular cities to teach English and the types of holidays to expect!

Once you get that all important job offer don’t be tempted to accept it straight away without doing any research. It is a good idea to Google the name of the school you’re thinking of working at and ‘review’, you may soon find out that there’s a reason why they’re offering such a ‘good’ salary. In addition to this get to know the area you’ll be working, read some guidebooks or simply get on Google Earth for a bird’s eye view. It’ll all help to put your mind at rest.

3) Take Part In a Supported Program

If you would love to teach overseas, but you’re not confident enough to go it alone, a supported program, such as i-to-i’s Teach in China Internship ( might just be the answer for you. You get full training, a 14-day orientation period which is great to ease you into Chinese culture, on top of that you get 24-hour support throughout your time in-country. In addition, both your accommodation and food is included in the internship fee, meaning you just have to concentrate on becoming a great teacher, and having the experience of a lifetime.

4) Have Some Resources Tucked Up Your Sleeve

Any experienced teacher will tell you that, no matter how well thought out your lesson plans, there will always be times when you have to resort to plan B, C or even D. So, before you step foot in the classroom for the first time, make sure you have some tried and tested activities to fall back on if and when things start getting a little hectic. The activities in i-to-i tutor Emma Foers’s free eBook, ’20 Classroom Activities for Elementary Learners’ are a great start. Download your free copy here:

5) Network

If you’re feeling nervous about moving to a new country, the best people to talk to are those who are currently living and working there. And with the wonders of the internet it’s now easier than ever to do just that. Sign-up to i-to-i’s online TEFL community, Chalkboard, to meet thousands of people who are teaching all over the world: – they’ll be able to give you a great idea of what life out there is really like and hopefully calm some of those niggling worries.

6) Learn Bits of the Local Language Before You Go

While you don’t need to know the local language in order to teach overseas (schools will want an English-speaking atmosphere in their classroom), it’s handy to know a few words of the local lingo so you’re not totally overwhelmed when you touch down. The BBC website has a free ‘Quickfix’ section of essential phrases: or sites like LiveMocha enable you to learn the basics of a language online for free:

7) Keep An Open Mind

Most major TEFL destinations (China, South Korea, Thailand etc) have cultures that can feel very, very alien to most westerners: you may be confronted with things that seem frustrating, strange or just plain wrong. The only remedy for this is keeping an open mind and remembering that you decided to go overseas to experience another culture, not make everyone behave in a way that’s acceptable to your own.

What do you think? How did you make going abroad less scary?


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