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Teaching English abroad - my experience!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by gnrfinkployd, Apr 29, 2020.

  1. gnrfinkployd

    gnrfinkployd New commenter

    When i was planning on moving abroad I needed all the help I could get and wanted to share my experience which worked out very well in the end. Now I am returning back to the UK but I had the most wonderful two years and gained a vast amount of experience both career wise and personally.

    Normally the route to 'teaching English abroad' is someone who wants to travel and can speak English so the easy route is to do a course "google tefl" and end up with a job in Asia somewhere but this didn't happen to me. I had been a teacher in further education colleges for the last ten years, most recently teaching English functional skills. The vast majority of my students had English as a second language and the curriculum (and my skills) didn't cater for this. I had taken a specialist qualification in teaching English as I previously had no official English qualifications past GCSE but all my experience was in teaching English. After speaking to many people throughout my career, I was always jealous that they had worked abroad and it was always something I had thought about. At this point in my life I had just also had a promotion to an advanced practitioner and was really enjoying it but I could not stop thinking about and wondering about what it would be like to live abroad and also be able to speak another language. I also believed teaching English in this way would give me experience. I had pitched the idea to my manager at the college who said he would give me a sabbatical but unfortunately his manager had said no to this. At first I decided not to go because I didn't want to lose a career I had built up but as I spoke to more people I realised that with my experience I could always come back to a job and if I didn't try it now then I would never know. Another thing that spurred me on was Brexit - this year would be my last chance to go abroad (in Europe) so I HAD to do it now, and I'm really glad I did.

    I decided to look at Italy because the culture and lifestyle was really attractive to me, even though I'd rarely holiday'd' there. I got some advice from a friend currently teaching English in France. I joined Facebook groups for teaching in Italy, or teaching English abroad and expats living in Italy. I was surprised by how many jobs were available. Over the next couple of months I had a couple of job interviews and eventually got offered a job in Salerno but a few weeks later I was told this was not going ahead, then another job came up where free accommodation was offered. This was appealing to me because it meant I already had friends as there would be three of us teachers living together. Having work colleagues or friends is really important to me. They offered me a job and I handed in my notice, finished my current role before the summer and jetted off in September. This also wasn't easy for me as I also had a (rented) house with all my own furniture and a car on finance. (and two pets!) but I was determined to go and decided to really think about how I could actually do this. I looked up how much storage would be and checked i could afford it. Unfortunately I had to give my cats away but it was the only way. I wasn't sure that I would survive even a couple of months so having my things in storage and keeping hold of my car was something I wanted to keep. During this transition period I also looked at lots of YouTube videos about girls who had moved abroad by themselves and specifically Italy and spoke to lots of people online and tried to see about social groups in the area. I also started learning Italian and paid to have a teacher once a week. These are all very good tips.

    My build up story is longer than the story. I arrived in Naples and was lucky in the role I had that we had drivers who were Italian and helped us with many things such as shopping or getting a sim card. Unfortunately the job in Naples wasn't for me and I started to not like it as it was teaching Cambridge English which is very demotivating as a teacher with my experience and the area we were living in wasn't in the city so there was not much to do, not much public transport or places to go. I knew that I would probably be coming home at Christmas as planned (I said to myself I'll try until at least Christmas!) but my saviour came when I started looking around for other jobs. Earlier that year I had visited Palermo in Sicily with a friend who was from there and his mother worked at an International School. I wasn't really sure if I could work there, or how it worked because I am not a qualified primary or secondary school teacher but I sent a CV and letter to them asking if they had any jobs and within days I had an email back saying they just happened to be looking for an EAL(English Additional Language) teacher, I had an interview the next day and was offered the job the day after.

    Now this was more difficult for me as i had to find a place to live (luckily the school were paying for the first month's rent and this is why trying to work for an international school is something I recommend!) I booked a flight only an hour away, booked an Air B&B for a week and tried to speak to some expat people living in Palermo. I did not get much help from the school in the end but overall it was a very good job where I was paid a nice amount of money including all the school holidays, met a lot of people and I was living in the city where I met a lot of expat people and was able to travel to many places and go out. This city was also very cheap so it was ideal. The job was also very easy (I would have preferred a more difficult job to what I am used to but with the location, the pay and the holidays i could not complain) I ended up staying for two school years. Unfortunately with the coronavirus lockdown I missed out on some experiences in my second year but I'm really glad I got to do it in my first year.

    Here are some tips:
    *LEARN THE LANGUAGE-and I mean really learn it. Knowing hello, goodbye and thank you is not enough. Not many speak English or are reluctant to speak it and I still now struggle with language everyday. Conversation over grammar and spelling. Ways to learn: duolingo, memrise phone apps (as a base), join learning language facebook groups, find a one to one or group language course in your hometown and work with a teacher. Practise conversation by using an app called "Hello Talk" a lot of people want to speak English but also try to speak with them in your target language. TRY TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, DON'T BE LAZY. There will be some awkward and funny moments, embarrassing, frustration and upsetting but it's worth it.

    *Get your luggage delivered by sendmybag.com they send your bag with DHL and i have used them many times. It will save you carrying around all your suitcases

    *If you feel there are things stopping you from living abroad, imagine if you had no choice but to leave, what can you do to overcome these barriers? Put your furniture into storage, sell your car, get your parents to look after your pet?

    *be brave, throw yourself in to the deep end

    *Join expat and social groups and you just have to be brave and meet people. It is very scary but once you do it you will be surprised and enjoy your experience so much more

    *If you aren't an experienced teacher then take the TESOL or CELTA courses not some cheap tefl course.

    *Check the salary and benefits. If you can get a job in an international school it is worth it for the money, the security and the holidays. Don't let language centres fool you they often don't pay much money or give you full time hours or any holiday pay. Also teachers do not usually have to pay tax for the first two years of service in schools.

    *Try to do it now before December and sign as a resident in the country and then you are safe from Brexit.

    *Once you've moved, stay for AT LEAST three months before deciding it's not working.

    *Always get help for tenancy agreements, bills and other expat issues.
     
  2. myothername

    myothername New commenter

    So, you were forced to share a flat with multiple other adults, which isn't great, but what was the salary? Did your employer pay for flights, shipping, health insurance? What kind of professional development opportunities, if any, were offered? I had always assumed that EAL teaching post packages couldn't compare with international school teaching jobs, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Also, I really hate when people just give up pets to move to another country. Any expat should think twice about acquiring a dog or cat if you know you will simply discard it when you move.
     
    teachingmatters1 likes this.
  3. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    This was Italy. You aren't quite at the scrapping the bottom of the barrel of countries for international schools..... that would be Spain. But Italy isnt far off the bottom. Every year there are plenty more lambs to the slaughter that will work there.

    They just dont have to provide professional benefits because to many people fall for that "its all about the lifestyle myth".
     
  4. gnrfinkployd

    gnrfinkployd New commenter

    Hello perhaps you only scanned through my post. My first job was sharing an apartment with two other teachers and this lasted six weeks then I moved to an international school and I had my own place. And yes the international school paid for accommodation for the first two months, flights, health insurance. The salary was slightly lower than the class teachers job but I also did private tutoring and had more than enough money (for me and the city).

    Actually, my cats went to a better home and I had had them 5 years and the decision to move abroad came after adopting the cats..... I'm sure the situation isn't the best at the moment for you but there's no need to be unkind when I'm trying to help people. Take care!!
     
  5. gnrfinkployd

    gnrfinkployd New commenter

    I had a great time! and earned a lot of money and had 16 weeks holiday a year. 20 minutes from the beach and amazing food. Sorry you feel you have to take people down who had a great time. Take care!!
     
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    No i dont, but what you experienced is available nearly everywhere. But there are a lot of places where you would be paid significantly more and have a full benefits package.... in 13 years of international teaching i have never thought have holidays was a "benefit", it come as part of having a professional teaching job.

    Im glad you had a great time, but Italy and all the other sunny southern European countries are extremely low down in terms of whats available internationally..... at least you didnt have the misfortune and horror of working in Spain.
     
  7. 4019775

    4019775 New commenter

    Could not hack it in the UK, cut it in Spain and found your level in Africa but on here every day offering advice.
     
    makhnovite likes this.
  8. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    To be fair to Dumbers, there are some ghastly schools here in Spain. Where he errs is in his repeated assertion that one can find the same lifestyle wherever there's a sunny beach. Currently, one of the shining examples of Spanish culture is the disciplined way in which most people here are dealing with a Covid regime which is massively more stringent than in most other countries. Compare and contrast with the chaos which passes for lock-down in the USA and the UK. Added to which, the national health system here is superb.
     
  9. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Dont feed the troll @Mainwaring. Remember @4019775 has never even worked at an international school. He loves trolling me because i point out all his inaccuracies and lies in his posts.
     
  10. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    This chap is no troll,
    Dumbers, old soul.
    He teaches in Yookay
    Independent
    Top hole.
     
  11. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Oh he is a very old troll. Got burned by an extremely low level school in Nigeria. A school that nearly all of us wouldnt have touched in a million years. Constant comes on here and makes up international experience without having any, and keeps telling everyone how bad the international circuit is. He has had his nose pushed out of joint because i have corrected his lies and made up experience too many times. Although it does make me laugh that he now says that Africa is such a low level....yet they wouldnt take him.... amazing.

    Always good for a laugh though.
     
  12. gnrfinkployd

    gnrfinkployd New commenter

    Luckily I care more about life than money. (but actually I had more money than I did in the UK due to the cost of everything) and this isn't a competition about who had the best job or best experience. Take care.
     
  13. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Just trying to bring balance to your post @gnrfinkployd. A lot of people read this forum and they need to know whats out there. You are right, this is not a competition as there is no way Italy could even come close to 3 of my schools on two different continents.

    I will say this again, your experience of a nice life, easy working conditions etc is not exclusive to Italy. It is available all over the world.
     
  14. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Great story - thanks. Sounds like you had a great time :). I particularly liked your recommendation to learn the local language - something many of us would benefit from, including myself.

    Would you go back overseas to teach, or do you think that's it for the moment ?
     
    gnrfinkployd likes this.
  15. MayaJones

    MayaJones New commenter

    "Im glad you had a great time, but Italy and all the other sunny southern European countries are extremely low down in terms of whats available internationally..... at least you didnt have the misfortune and horror of working in Spain."

    I have worked in two southern European countries and received an accommodation allowance in both. My disposable income after all deductions was the same as in Switzerland (I had previously worked there) and not far off an average paying school in UAE or Egypt. I agree that these schools are hard to find, but they do exist.
     
    gnrfinkployd likes this.
  16. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Wonderful, could you let us know which countries ?
     
  17. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    And how common is this in the Sunny Southern European countries @MayaJones ? Because out side this region it is a basic component of a professional package where your lifestyle is equal to, or exceeds that of these countries.

    Dont worry about replying because i know the answer. But every year there are more lambs to the slaughter because they fall for the lifestyle myth. I personally would take an equivalent lifestyle (which i have) and a massively increased salary so i don't have to working forever.
     
  18. MayaJones

    MayaJones New commenter

    Albania and Portugal
     
  19. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Albania would be expected, its outside the Euro zone.
     
  20. MayaJones

    MayaJones New commenter

    Albania would be expected to be a lucrative place to teach? Not at all. Average salary 300-400 euros a month.
     

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