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PostHeaderIcon Preparing To Teach Overseas

Each year, more and more college graduates are choosing to pack their bags and head abroad.  While these excursions do give the individual a multitude of experiences, countless sights to explore and people to meet they are not all achieved in the name of vacation.  The number of college graduates who are opting to teach in an ESL environment overseas is increasing each year.  Teaching abroad is a great way of paying off that student loan, saving for your future and adding that extra umph to a resume to make it a standout.  But before that job can be set in stone and the boarding pass is handed over to the flight attendant a number of preliminary actions must be taken first. 

Prospective teachers will need to get their visa and passport in order, work out the logistics of keeping on top of their monthly bills while out of the country as well as brushing up on the local customs of their host country.  In addition to these, teachers will also need to pass an interview with their school.  Due to the discrepancies in time zones this usually be done in two or three ways.

The Types of Interviews

  • Physical Meeting

While this is pretty rare, there are circumstances where this will happen.  If the school holds a lot of authority overseas, they may have satellite locations throughout the United States where they can interview possible candidates for their overseas schools.  If this is the case for you, you will most likely be notified of a face to face interview pretty early on in the process.

  • Skype

Skype is becoming the preferred way for ESL schools to interview prospective candidates.  Once the school has received your resume and a few emails have been sent back and forth between yourself and the recruiter a request for a Skype interview will usually be made.  Keep in mind that     the person you will be speaking two is coming from a different time zone so these Skype phone calls can come in some pretty non-traditional times.  Make sure you are presentable (at least from the waist up) as most of these will be done over video.

  • Sample Lesson Plan

While not so much an independent interview process, submitting a sample lesson plan is usually  a standard supplement to an over the phone or in person interview.  If you don’t come from an educational background that’s okay, don’t panic.  There is a plethora of resources for you to take advantage of on the internet and in classrooms.  If you have the time, consider enrolling in a TEFL course, if not sites like Dave’s ESL Café have a number of forums from teachers who have gone before you that are just itching to share their advice with others.

Know the Lingo

Learning some of the terms and jargon of instruction can do wonders for your interview.  This can be as simple as replacing the word teaching with instruction to more advanced phrases like pedagogy, student retention rates and teaching styles such as kinesthetic, visual and auditory.  Knowing the rhetoric of the professions can impress the interviewer on the other end of the call and perhaps make you standout above the other people they talked to just before you.

Prepare Your Credentials

During the interview, the school will want to know what credentials you have that qualify for a position at their school.  While they will have a resume from you in front of them, they will want to hear you explain a little bit more about the circumstances that led you to achieving this degree or certification.  If you took a TEFL course, touch on some of the information you learned during the course and how what you learned during that time makes you a great candidate for their school.

Even if your degree wasn’t in a teaching related field you can still mold and mend some of the experiences you had in college to appeal to the interviewer.  Think of a time you gave presentation, a speech or had to assist a group of people in completing a specific task.  Don’t get discouraged about this either.  They’ve clearly seen that you don’t hold a degree in English yet there is something on your resume that makes you standout.  Let this empower your interview and come equipped with the proper tools to appeal to the interviewer.

Anticipate Questions

An essential part of delivering any great interview is preparing and anticipating questions that could come up during the conversation.  To do this, put yourself in the mind-frame of the school.  If you were an employer what sort of qualities would you look for in a prospective candidate?  What kind of questions would you ask someone in order to weed out the good from the bad?

Take out a piece of paper or even create a Word document.  Spend a little time to jot down some potential questions.  Once you have an ample list, start to formulate answers for these questions, that way when the time for the interview comes around you won’t be left with an unnecessary amount of “uhs” and, “uhms”.

Such questions could include:

  • How do you develop a good rapport with your students?
  • How would you choose to present material that could be tricky for an English as a second language student? ( Past participles, narrative structures, complicated vocabulary)
  • What strategies would you use to deal with troublesome classroom management issues?
  • How do you stay organized and on top of your work?
  • Give an example of when you thought outside of the box to accomplish a task.

Follow-Up Questions

After the interviewer as asked all the questions that they have prepared, they will usually turn the tables and ask if you have any questions for them.  This can be a great time to clear up any confusion you had on arrival logistics, airfare and any other questions related to your intended time in their country.  Be careful not to focus too much on the finance side of things as this could put a bad taste in their mouth.  Even if you don’t have any questions, it’s usually a good thing to have two or three inquiries to show the employer that you are interested in the position.  Jot a few of these down when you are formulating the previous questions.

After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master's degree.

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