Essential Must-Haves for Aspiring English Teachers Abroad

Asako Maruoka's picture

Teaching English as a foreign language presents an incredible opportunity for individuals seeking both professional growth and personal adventure. With more than 1.5 billion learners of English worldwide, the demand for skilled English teachers is immense and continues to grow. 

Essential Must-Haves for Aspiring English Teachers Abroad

This career path offers a unique chance to immerse yourself in new cultures, travel to different countries, and meet a diverse array of people—all while earning a salary. Beyond the financial benefits, teaching English abroad allows you to make a meaningful impact on the lives of your students, helping them acquire a vital skill for their future endeavors. 

However, this lifestyle also comes with its challenges, and being well-prepared is essential to ensure a successful and fulfilling experience. From obtaining necessary certifications to understanding cultural norms and maintaining personal well-being, there are several key considerations to keep in mind before embarking on this exciting journey.
Essential Must-Haves for Aspiring English Teachers Abroad

You need the TEFL certificate

The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is a credential that demonstrates your ability to teach English to non-native speakers. This certification is crucial as it equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage a classroom and deliver effective lessons.

The TEFL Academy offers comprehensive courses that typically range from 160 to 170 hours, combining both online and in-person training. These courses cover essential teaching methodologies, lesson planning, classroom management, and language skills. After completing the course, the academy often provides job placement assistance, helping you find teaching positions worldwide.

To earn your TEFL certificate, you’ll need to complete all coursework, which includes theoretical lessons and practical teaching practice. Engaging actively in the course, seeking feedback from instructors, and practicing teaching techniques are key to passing the certification. Once certified, you’ll be ready to embark on your teaching adventure.

You need to pack work-appropriate clothes

When teaching abroad, it's crucial to be mindful of the cultural norms and dress codes of your host country. What might be considered casual or acceptable in your home country could be inappropriate elsewhere. For instance, in many countries, wearing shorts, short dresses, or revealing clothing in the classroom is frowned upon. Dressing conservatively and professionally shows respect for local customs and helps you make a positive impression on your students, colleagues, and the community.

Packing the right clothes for your teaching assignment requires careful planning. For your teaching wardrobe, focus on modest, comfortable, and versatile clothing. Consider packing items such as slacks, blouses, dress shirts, long skirts, and dresses that cover your knees and shoulders. These pieces can be mixed and matched to create various professional outfits suitable for different occasions.

It's also important to pack casual clothes for your personal time. Depending on your destination's climate, you may need lightweight, breathable fabrics for hot weather or warm layers for cooler climates. Don’t forget to include comfortable shoes, as teachers often spend a lot of time on their feet. A pair of professional-looking, supportive shoes can make a big difference in your daily comfort.

Additionally, consider packing accessories that can enhance your wardrobe's versatility, such as scarves, belts, and ties. These items can add a touch of personal style to your outfits while remaining appropriate for the classroom. By thoughtfully selecting your teaching and casual attire, you can ensure you are well-prepared to handle the demands of your new role and make the most of your experience abroad

You need to plan for sore throat

Teaching requires you to speak for long periods, which can strain your voice, especially if you’re not used to it. This can lead to a sore throat and vocal fatigue by the end of the day. So you need to consider what to bring to stay on the safe side. Ideally, you want to keep a bottl;e of water on your desk. 

To protect your throat, you may want to look for warm drinks, such as tea sweetened with honey, which you can take with you in the class. This is where it can be helpful to have a reusable travel mug for transportation, so you can make the tea at home and bring it to the academy. Custom travel mugs can be a great way to personalize the mug with a meaningful design. You may not be able to order just one custom mug, but you can pass an order for a small enough quantity to share with your friends and family, so they’ve got something to remind them of you while you’re teaching abroad. 

Ultimately, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining your vocal health. Avoid overly caffeinated drinks while teaching, as they can dehydrate you.
A travel mug! From Essential Must-Haves for Aspiring English Teachers Abroad

Keep your phone in the classroom

Your phone is an invaluable tool for capturing moments with your students and colleagues. Taking photos can help you create lasting memories and strengthen bonds with those you meet. You have to remember that as a TEFL teacher, you are teaching either adults or kids outside of school, so different rules apply. Capturing memories together in the classroom can help break the ice with your students. 

Being alone in a foreign country can be challenging. Having photos of friends, family, and new acquaintances can make the transition easier and provide comfort. Moreover, taking photos with your students can help make the classroom environment more relaxed and conducive to learning.

You will need a lunchbox

The bad news first: Not all language academies have a canteen or easy access to food. The good news now: You can bring your lunchbox and have fun with your food. Having your meals prepared ensures you stay energized throughout the day.

Ideally, you want to select a quality lunchbox that is durable, leak-proof, and easy to clean. So, if you are thinking the typical sandwich box, you may want to think again. Consider options with multiple compartments to keep your food organized.

In some countries, traditional lunch sandwiches might not be feasible, so get creative with your meal prep. Think about local ingredients and cuisines. Pack nutrient-dense foods such as salads, grains, fruits, and proteins to maintain your energy levels. 

Embarking on a journey as an English teacher abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience. With the right preparation—starting with obtaining your TEFL certificate—you can thrive in this unique and fulfilling career. Embrace the adventure, and enjoy the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of your students while exploring the world.