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Moving abroad to teach with non-teaching (but PhD holding) partner

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by edmundstavros, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter


    I've recently been exploring the possibility of teaching abroad, both for the life experience and with a view to saving some money. I've been teaching in the UK for four years.

    My girlfriend will move out as well. She's not a teacher but has (or will have by then) a PhD in English Literature, with experience in teaching seminars at university level and with a higher education teaching qualification. This is for small group seminar teaching so of course doesn't equate to PGCE or similar.

    I was just wondering what the opportunities would be for her/ the likelihood of her finding work? She's thinking of getting a TEFL or Celta qualification before we go out, and would hope to find some english language teaching.

    We're fairly open to the country we move to - thinking of south east Asia or the Far East, but would be open to international schools in Africa or elsewhere (with the possible exception of the Middle East due to the strict marriage laws). However I imagine some places will be easier for my girlfriend to find a job than others. I know some schools offer jobs to teaching couples but I think I'm right this wouldn't be possible as she doesn't have QTS.

    How have other people found moving abroad to teach with a partner who is not a teacher? Is it viable? Are some countries going to be very difficult or impossible?

    We're at the early stages of planning this as you can tell, but any advice would be appreciated!
  2. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    With a globally recognised TEFL qualification (e.g. CELTA, Trinity CertESOL) she would have no problems finding a job in a country where English is not an official language... and even in those where it is, she might be ok.

    International Schools can employ whomever they like, QTS or not. My wife doesn't have QTS, but works at the same school as I do, teaching remedial English to small groups of EAL students plus parents (she has a CELTA and a degree in English & Drama). The real question is, is that what she wants to do?

    Hopefully others on here can let you know whether she will have problems getting a visa as an unmarried partner or not in the areas you mention.

    best of luck
  3. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter

    Ok great, thanks. Can I ask where you based now?

    Yes the visa question is another issue... do you need to have secured the job before arriving in the country to get a working visa?

    Lots to think about.
  4. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I'm in Spain.... so no need for a visa.

    No idea about visa rules for the other places you mention, though judging by other threads on here it seems to be that you need to get the job before you can get the visa. Hopefully somebody else with more knowledge of SE Asia/Africa will be along in a bit to clarify.
  5. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    I don't know about the likelihood of her getting a job, but if you're looking at places outside Europe, in all honesty if she doesn't have her own job and visa lined up before you go, it's unlikely she'll get a visa through your job. Most schools will also not recognise her as a dependent in terms of providing healthcare insurance etc. My (now) husband and I were in a similar position, we knew it'd be a risk that I'd get a job and he wouldn't but we were optimistic about him being able to find something that would get him a visa or else still being able to get him a visa through me and about schools recognising him as a dependent, but as I got further into jobhunting it soon became clear that this really wouldn't be the case. He was looking for jobs but there just wasn't anything in his area in any of the countries we were interested in, and I didn't find any countries or schools that would have recognised an unmarried partner as a dependent. After a lot of discussion (oh the romance) we agreed that we would get married if the alternative was not being able to go overseas together, so we did. This has made things MUCH easier, as he still hasn't got a job but we can live off just my salary and he has access to healthcare and is legally allowed to be here (Malaysia). He's looking into doing further study at one of the local universities and is doing volunteer work teaching at a refugee school. If your girlfriend is interested in teaching and your salary is enough that you can live on one wage, schools like this are absolutely desperate for people to teach there. I'm more than happy to be the only earner when he's doing something like this.
    If you want any more info then feel free to PM me if Malaysia is somewhere you're considering. We really like it here.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    i have had the complete opposite in 3 separate countries. it really does depend on the country you go to, and how helpful your schools wants to be.
  7. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    Fair enough, that was just my experience. People told me beforehand that we'd be fine as an unmarried couple, but we must have been unlucky as it really wouldn't have been possible in any of the countries or schools we looked at (unless he did visa runs, which I know some people do but we didn't want the uncertainty of it).
  8. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter

    Thanks for your comments!

    She was hoping that with her PhD and by doing a CELTA she may be able to secure an English language teaching job before we get out there, but of course this depends where we go (I imagine it's easier in big cities). We're not really considering this until August 2019 so we have time to look into these things (or get married?!).

    If an international school could hire her like in tb9605's experience that'd be great - but we know that without QTS it's much less likely.

    Thanks again.
  9. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    My two recommendations are;

    1, Get married and that would solve all the visa issue's.
    2, Your significant other studies for her PGCE, as she would be able to get a job in any of the real prestigious schools in the world.

    School principals salivate over hiring teachers with PhDs.
  10. schmedz

    schmedz Occasional commenter

    Teaching with a TEFL / CELTA certificate is not usually done through International schools, but language schools and the pay is far less - a PGCE would be a better investment.

    That said, you then have to find a place with openings for the both of you, so at least a CELTA would open up some employment opportunity.

    Being unmarried, it is unlikely the school will be able to sponsor a working visa, but some will consider a dependent visa.

    It can be very hard for non-employed partners - many find work they can do 'remotely' or 'under the radar'. Many have to give up and work apart from their partner. Even teaching couples don't always find work in the same school.

    As you've only been teaching for four years, I'm assuming you are quite young - is a 2-year/4-year stint abroad viable for your girlfriend's career aspirations?

    Good luck with your decisions - it's a brilliant thing to do this international teaching thing, but it can really be dampened by an unhappy partner. I'd suggest she use the time to study if she wasn't able to work, but she really seems to have reached the heights of education already!

    Good luck :)
  11. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter

    Thanks for the advice.

    Lots to think about. She is considering a career in teaching (the academic job market is a bit of joke and she enjoys the teaching more than the research), so perhaps doing a PGCE first would be a good option.

    The issue there is with time. Presumably she'd need a couple of years experience as well to be an English teacher in an international school, and by that time we'll probably be thinking about starting a family (we're 28 now). Maybe this whole teaching internationally should be something we hold off until we're older and more settled - I have seen quite a few posts on here about couples teaching abroad with kids so it seems to be something that's done.

    The other option (which is what she is pushing more than me), is to just go now for the experience, even if she's working in a language school and I'm in an international school. We know a couple who have recently come back from South Korea, both just with tefls working in a language school and who saved a lot of money. The difference is they were both able to work at the same place which maybe is key.

    We're a bit stuck, unsure of the best option and going round in circles a little with arguments for and against. I'm sure things will become clearer over time as we mull it over - everyone's suggestions and opinions are really helpful, so thanks.
  12. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    My partner and I left the UK in our late 20s early 30s. Unmarried, no kids (though now married as we get better benefits and it's easier for visas). You can easily have kids while working overseas.
  13. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    my sister had 3 while working abroad
  14. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    We have two, one born overseas...
  15. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Most schools love having PhDs on their payroll. If she has any kind of teaching cert (including CELTA) and she's white, I think she'll have her arm snapped off - in most non-European countries at least.
  16. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter

    Really? So this seems to be a different opinion to most others, who think she'll need a PGCE to work in an international school. All of the adverts on TES specifically ask for that, and a few years experience.

    She also has university level teaching experience and a higher ed teaching qualification.

    Hmmm tricky. The thing is, she will finish her PhD by about December this year, which is why a CELTA is more appealing, in that she could do it in January 2019 and we could start looking for jobs. That said I know the job market opens early for international school so we might have missed the boat by then.
  17. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    all the schools i have worked at have paid people with PhD's more than other teachers, my current school pays them $7000 a year more.
    it is also possible to do an iPGCE while teaching in international schools, and many schools will support this. i have seen it many many times.

    just go for it, start applying yourself next season and tell them about your partner in the interview. any decent school will be asking you about them anyway..... a bored trailing spouse has be the death of more international school teaching careers than drink and drugs in my opinion.
  18. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter

    That's really interesting, thanks.

    These questions are now getting very specific considering we're about six months off applying but...

    If there are schools offering a History post and an English post, do you think it would be worth her putting in applications to international schools, even though they are requesting QTS and years of experience?

    I should have mentioned she has worked in secondary schools, through an organisation that places PhD students in schools with low uptake of Higher Education, taking classes and designing short programmes of work. Not like being a full time teacher of course, but it demonstrates a willingness nevertheless.
  19. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    she can certainly apply. yes schools want two years experience, but they cant always get it, and they LOVE teaching couples. just apply and see what happens. i know a number of people who were given jobs (in good schools) under the provision that they completed a recognized qualification as soon as they could. most did an iPGCE.
  20. edmundstavros

    edmundstavros New commenter

    Amazing, thanks so much. This has given her hope!

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