Every year, thousands of teachers move abroad with their families to teach EFL. Whether it’s to find a better job/salary, a higher standard of living, to experience a different country and culture or learning a new language, the truth is that many TEFL teachers take the plunge and change their lives every year. If that happens to be your case, you already know that moving overseas with your family is not something to do on a whim. There are many things you need to keep in mind before making that decision.
There is this common misconception that traveling and living abroad can only come in your twenties. The truth is it can come at any age and it boils down to the time when people have fewer responsibilities and much more energy. After all, who could be a better EFL teacher than a free and unencumbered spirit?
Well, anyone can travel and start a successful life abroad. However, it is true that teachers with a family have a few extra things to consider than solo teachers and we have compiled the MUSTS before embarking on the lifetime adventure of teaching abroad:
1. Get a TEFL certificate
In countries like Spain, though it is not mandatory to obtain a TEFL certificate to get a TEFL job, the most prestigious schools and academies require their teachers to have one. These academies will not settle for anything less than a gold standard TEFL/TESOL certificate, a certificate that is recognized and accepted by the British Council. The academies who hire untrained teachers and don’t care about training must be avoided like a plague. If they don’t care about the training of their staff, that means they don’t care about the quality of the teaching they give their clients and it won’t be surprising if they also don’t care about the work and pay conditions of their teaching staff. I would be very wary of these academies. We advise you to check well what you need to teach EFL in your destination country. Also, bear in mind that having a TEFL certificate is not only a matter of a formal requirement, but a TEFL certificate course will actually give you the essential tools to become a professional and confident EFL teacher. Trust us, you don’t want to see yourself standing in the classroom in front of your students whilst thinking: what should I do now?
2. Choose the country that best fits your family needs
The first thing to check would be the legalities of working in any country. Will these countries allow you to bring your family with you? Try to find family-friendly ones which offer more opportunities to start a new life. Of course, you shall look for destinations that are physically safe for you and your family, and ones with high-quality healthcare, education, and childcare.
What happens with your partner? Before moving abroad, you both should check employment opportunities for you and your spouse. It is important that you are sure that you both will be able to find a job or, if that’s not possible, that your spouse is okay with being at home.
3. Make a thorough job search
Do not settle for the first job offer you encounter. Make sure the salary offered will be adequate to support your family, and that the company provides benefits to families such as help with moving, the visa cost and arrangements. Talk to people living in the area who are in a similar situation and have worked with that company before. Do not believe all that you read on the Internet and beware of offers that seem too good to be true!
4. Time to start saving
Moving overseas is something very expensive, even if you are traveling solo. The money you will have to invest will vary depending on how many are you in your family. You need to consider the age of your children, if they get to attend an international or local school, if they have special health requirements, if your partner will also be working. …there is so much to take into consideration!
5. Get ready!
Feeling thrilled? It’s time to get everything ready! Prepare your documents, passports and visas in advance. It is also time to think about what to do with your house…are you planning to sell it or maybe rent it for the time you are away? What will you do with your stuff? Will you send things to your destination country?
After all of these, the only thing left is to start packing and three, two, one … go!