So you’ve done your research, earned the required certifications, scoured the job boards, and won over the hiring manager during the interview. Congratulations! But before you accept that teaching abroad job offer, be sure to ask a few questions to know what you’re getting into.
While it might be your dream to travel to another country and teach, don’t just take the first offer you get. Asking the right questions during the interview and negotiation process will help you determine if it fits your needs and lifestyle — and avoid any misleading or downright terrible contracts. Here are the top 10 questions you should ask before accepting a teaching job abroad.
1.What type of visa do I need?
Most teaching jobs require you to have a work permit, so beware of any employer that says you need only a tourist visa. It’s common in many countries to pay foreign teachers under the table to avoid the bureaucratic hassles of sponsorship. However, your employer may be illegally avoiding taxes and putting your rights at risk as a result. Learn about the country’s work visas, and take note of the different rules and requirements. Some work visas restrict you to specific types of work (sometimes to only one employer) and have firm expiration dates, which can limit your travel after your contract ends.
2. What’s included in my contract, salary, and benefits?
Teaching abroad can come with a wide range of salaries. This often depends on where you’re teaching and for how long. Do your research on the average pay for your destination, and clarify whether the amount is pre-tax or not. Contracts can also range from a few months to 1-2 years. Ask whether there’s a possibility to renew your contract and, if so, how many times.
Beyond wages, it’s important to look at your compensation as a total package. If your offered salary falls on the lower end of the range, your employer may also be covering your insurance, lodging, and even airfare. Be prepared to negotiate for any additional benefits to sweeten the deal.
3. Who pays taxes and how?
Clarify from the beginning who’s responsible for any tax obligations tied to your employment. Some countries deduct a percentage of your net income from every paycheck, while others don’t have any income taxes. Additionally, in some places like Korea, a portion of tax deducted is refunded to you at contract completion.
4. What are my housing options?
While it’s certainly convenient when your employer provides for housing, there may be a reason why it’s so affordable. Ask whether you’ll be sharing the space and if you can see pictures beforehand. Be sure to ask about included amenities, particularly related to cooking. This may seem like a small detail, but the inability to cook at home can easily break your budget.
If you need to find housing, ask if your school knows of any local resources that can help you with your search or if you can contact their other foreign teachers for tips and advice.
5. How will I travel to and from class?
Whether you live in your employers provided housing or not, be mindful of how close you’ll be living to the school. Big cities typically have plenty of public transport, but more remote regions could require you to have a car or other forms of private transportation. Find out these details as soon as possible so you can negotiate transportation costs before you accept the job.
6. How many international teachers are at your school?
Are you comfortable being the only one? If not, make sure you choose a school with other international hires. This can be especially important if you need help learning the local language. While exciting and adventurous, teaching abroad can often feel lonely if you don’t have fellow peers to learn from and connect with.
7. What teaching resources are available to me?
Don’t assume your employer will provide the same teaching equipment you’re used to back home. Find out if the school has a library of EFL teaching-related books, computer labs, photocopiers, TVs, projectors, or even smartboards. Ask if there’s a budget for other teaching supplies, or else you’ll need to factor these costs in with your expenses.
8. What does the typical classroom look like?
What types of students do you want to teach? Think of different age groups, backgrounds, subjects, and class sizes.
9. How are teaching arrangements and curriculum determined?
Language schools often implement a rotational system that allows you to see your students at varying frequencies. If building relationships with your students is important to you, be sure to ask. Plus, find out if your school requires you to follow a strict curriculum, which might limit your autonomy and creativity in the classroom. On the other hand, if there’s no set curriculum or textbook to follow, you’ll have to spend hours outside of work creating lesson plans from scratch.
10. Can I get everything in writing?
The most important details of your employment (salary, housing, airfare, bonuses, and paid time off) should be addressed in your employment contract. These contracts are often standardized and can’t be edited to include specific requests you’ve made. Therefore, make those requests over email and save the employer’s response in case there’s a future disagreement. Before you sign your contract, make sure you read and understand every word (especially the fine print!).
Once the above items have been discussed and agreed upon, it’s time to accept the offer and sign your teaching abroad contract!
If anything makes you feel uneasy, ask to speak with a current foreign teacher to get their opinion on the topic. If needed, you can easily find another teaching abroad job on Teaching Nomad’s job board and filter by location, grade level, subject, and other requirements. Register with us today, and we’ll connect you with the best and most reliable teaching abroad jobs throughout the world.