Teaching Overseas: Are you Qualified?

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U.S. Teachers uniquely qualified to teach overseas. Growing demand at International Schools give teachers new career opportunities all over the world.

Small Class Sizes in International Schools

Small class sizes are only one of the benefits for English-speaking K-12 teachers of all subjects recruited to teach abroad.

“Teachers in the U.S. are uniquely qualified to teach at overseas international schools."

Teachers who are looking for a change of pace, or just feel like they are getting into a dull routine, might want to consider teaching overseas. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never worked, taught, or even traveled abroad, international schools are looking for teachers who can teach their subject in English.

“Many people hold the mistaken notion that teaching overseas means teaching local kids English,” says Forrest Broman, President of The International Educator (TIE), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping international schools find qualified teaching staff, “But that’s not what teaching at an international school is all about," says Mr. Broman. “Teachers in the U.S. are uniquely qualified to teach at overseas international schools because they are native speakers of English who can teach their subject to English-speaking students.”

To dispel some common myths, here is a quick guide to what you need to teach at an overseas international school.

Language Requirements
“I don’t speak a foreign language,” is the common reaction of most teachers, but knowledge or fluency in a foreign language is not necessary to teach at an international school. The only language requirement is that you speak English. In fact, native speakers of English, or those highly fluent, are exactly the types of candidates that international schools are looking for. American and international schools all over the world consist of diverse, multicultural student bodies whose common denominator is that they are all English-speaking.

This means that regardless of what subject or grade-level you teach, you will be teaching your subject in English.

Education Requirements
International Schools are looking for teachers who hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher in their subject area. Therefore, if you are planning to teach Social Studies at the middle or high school level, you should have a degree in history, political science, sociology or any of the other social sciences. The same applies for secondary teachers of English, Mathematics, Science and other subjects. Elementary school teachers should hold a degree in education, childhood development, or other related subjects.

International experience is not required, but you do need a minimum of two years teaching experience. Contrary to a common misperception, teaching abroad is not the place to learn how to teach, or to get your first experience running a classroom. “International schools are looking for proven performers who can hit the ground running and are capable of managing their own classroom independently,” explains Mr. Broman, of The International Educator.

Certification Requirements
Many international schools require that teachers be certified in their subject area and grade level from the state or region in which they are licensed. However, many international schools will waive the certification requirement if a teacher has valuable experience. “Private independent schools in the U.S. employ talented teachers who often are not certified,” explains Mr. Broman, a former head of international schools in Latin America and the Middle East. “International schools are willing to hire these teachers, despite the fact that they are not licensed, because they bring valuable experience to their schools,” according to Mr. Broman.

It’s a Small World After All
Once you’ve landed your first international teaching job, you are a more desirable candidate because you have already proven that you are adaptable in a foreign environment and that you have been successful at an international school. The expression, it’s a small world, really bears true in the international school community. School heads know one another, and will place greater value on a recommendation from a colleague they know well or have worked with in the past. For teachers getting into the international circuit, Mr. Broman has some sage advice: “It’s important to honor contract agreements and maintain professionalism, because your reputation precedes you.”

Ready, Set, Go
Don’t let your blank passport pages stop you. If you are a teacher with at least two years experience and you are fluent in English, then you are qualified to teach at an overseas international school. The only thing left is to look at a map and decide where in the world you want to go.

The International Educator (TIE), located in Hyannis, MA, is a non-profit organization that for 25 years has been dedicated to developing links among teachers and the extensive American and international schools network worldwide. TIE publishes a quarterly newspaper featuring the latest in international school news and developments for K-12 educators around the world. TIE’s website, http://www.tieonline.com, offers the widest selection of K-12 teaching and administrative jobs available anywhere in the world.


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Cynthia Nagrath
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