I have been teaching English in Japan for three months now, so I thought it would be a good time to take stock of what has happened. I arrived in Kyoto, Japan, in May. I have slowly built up my number of students, all the while trying to get to grips with teaching effectively, and doing my best with the responsibility of teaching these people a foreign language. I even found time to move home to Otsu. Pretty eventful three months!
Thinking about it, there are (roughly) eight steps that brought me here, and that can take you somewhere too.
1. Set a goal – my goal was teaching in Japan as a private educator.
2. Research that goal – what qualifications will you need to meet the criteria for being a) a teacher, and b) resident in Japan (or whatever your target country is).
3. Achieve the criteria – study, learn, and progress.
4. Find work – as a private teacher, a lot of my work has built up since I came here through word-of-mouth, but I had to ensure there was a market for this kind of teaching before I came. If you are looking for a permanent teaching position, I would recommend finding a job before you come (see step 5).
5. Apply for the visa – Unless you are a European teaching in Europe, you are probably going to need a visa to work in your destination country. Normally, your employer will offer visa sponsorship, which makes the work for you minimal. In my situation, things were a little more complicated as I am teaching privately, but I made it!
6. Arrange final details for your target country – make sure you are clear about where you are going and what you are doing, and try to arrange for accommodation in advance.
7. Make the necessary arrangements for leaving your home country – say goodbye to family, friends, and Branston’s Pickle (“I miss you, sweet pickle!”). Book your flight and, preferably, ensure you have some savings to fall back on for miscellaneous expenses.
8. Start your new life – now comes the hard part. A new job, a new country, new friends, new foods (“Ah, wasabi – who needs pickle anyway?!”). This part is also the most fun, so enjoy!
I hope these steps help you to achieve your TEFL goal! Of course, there are other steps too which you will find out as you go along. If you have anything to add to this list, let me know here!