For this post, I consulted my good friend Shanti to explain how she intends to teach English abroad now that she graduated from college. Shanti majored in Japanese throughout her time at Florida State University, and she just was hired by a Japanese school to teach English in Tokyo. I think what she’s doing is so impressive and inspiring! If you’re considering majoring in a foreign language, or if you’re interested in teaching English abroad after college, this post is for you! I’ve asked Shanti some of the biggest questions about teaching English abroad, so read on to learn more about this interesting topic.
Why major in a foreign language?
I have always been interested in Japanese culture. When it came time for me to choose a major, it was a no-brainer. I simply didn’t like anything else nearly as much. Studying a foreign language in college presents a lot of different travel possibilities for the future. A lot of people don’t know all the career options that come along with knowing a foreign language. There’s really an endless list of possibilities. You can become a translator, a diplomat, a teacher, or an interpreter. If you learn a very specialized language like Japanese, there’s much less competition for these jobs.
What is it like to major in a foreign language?
It’s very challenging. You get really close with the people in your major since you take so many classes together and study all the time. There’s a lot of reviewing past material. There are so many aspects of learning a new language. You have to learn to read, write, and speak a completely new foreign language. If you plan to teach in the future, then there are even more classes on top of that. Even though it’s really hard most of the time, it’s also really rewarding. It feels amazing to be able to read Japanese characters and converse with people in the language I love so much.
What advice do you have for incoming foreign language majors?
Keep studying! Don’t just think that because you moved up a level, you no longer need to review the stuff you already learned. Languages build on each other, and you’re going to need to keep reviewing the stuff you already learned if you want to keep up with the material.
I also seriously recommend studying abroad. There’s no way to really know if you want to live somewhere if you’ve never been! I’ve been to Japan twice, once for just a month, and again for a full semester. It was on these trips that I really put my language skills to the test and got a feel for a culture. Studying a culture and actually experiencing it are completely different things.
Why teach English abroad?
Two words: paid travel! When else in your life will you get paid to live in your favorite country?! Teaching English abroad helps you gain valuable language and career experience while getting paid! Depending on the organization you work for, you’ll receive help finding housing and lowered living expenses. Some organizations even provide housing for you! Depending on your schedule, you’ll be able to travel to nearby cities and maybe even countries on weekends and holidays. There is always a lot of options for where you can work if you teach English abroad. There are a ton of schools across the world looking to hire English speaking teachers, and there are so many different places you can go!
How to prepare
If you’re interested in teaching English abroad, there are some things you can do to prepare while you’re still in college. First, make sure you take a TEFL course. Take it in person, not online! When I was applying to jobs, they often asked specifically whether I took it in person or online, and in person was seen as much better. I also tutored students in English and Japanese. You can find a lot of virtual English tutoring jobs over the internet if you’re willing to do some research.
Since you’ll be working with kids abroad, it’ll help if you can gain some childcare experience at home. Think about the level of students you’d like to teach (like pre-school, elementary, etc) and try to get involved now. You can intern or volunteer at a daycare or after school program, for example. Any teaching experience you can get is going to help you when you start applying to teach English abroad!
How do I find English teaching jobs?
The best way to find English teaching jobs is to do a lot of research. Google “English teaching jobs” for the country you’re interested in and get to work! The application process can be lengthy, and if you get hired it will probably take a few months for your visa to be processed. There is a lot of demand to for recent grads to teach English abroad, so I recommend applying to as many jobs as possible! It took me several months of applying and interviewing in order to get a job offer, and that’s pretty normal. Don’t give up, and don’t be afraid to apply for jobs outside of your comfort zone.
Once you’ve been selected, it’s time to get started on your visa. Most likely your company will sponsor you and take care of most of the process, but be sure to ask specifically what documentation you’ll need. For Japan, I needed to submit my resume, a photo, and a copy of my college diploma. Be sure you know the rules for your chosen country, and be patient while your visa comes through.
Good luck applying! Have you ever considered teaching English abroad?
Shanti is a 22-year-old recent grad from Florida State University who is moving to Japan in November to teach English at the Kindergarten level. Shanti hopes to become fluent in Japanese and work as an interpreter at the 2020 Olympics. Follow her adventures on Instagram @shanti36.