International Teachers Vs. English Teacher

International Teacher vs. English Teacher- Which is Better?


Quite frankly, the first question is are you already a certified teacher? If yes, being an International Teacher is a better opportunity. The different between an English Teacher (usually just teaching Oral English Literacy) and an International Teacher is skill and training. You need significantly less training to go abroad and teach English. While to be an International Teacher you need the same training as you do to teach in the United States or Britain.


Teaching English Abroad

What Do You Need

Teaching abroad requires a lot more than a checklist. It requires a mindset. You are a jet setter. You want to see the world. Teaching abroad can be a great way to earn while you take a gap year or a new career path.

  • TEFL certificate
    • A way around getting a certificate is to join the program WorldTeach. They did not require any experience. This is a volunteer opportunity. The year-long placement pays you enough to buy food. If you choose a summer program you pay to attend. However, they do a little training at the beginning of each session. Year-long placements receive longer training. My training in the summer sessions was two days. The supervisor of each placement has experience working in that country. So they can help explain what is going on and help you create lessons.
    • If you want to get paid, you need to earn a TEFL. This requires some studying! Are you ready? Costs are around 300 to 500 dollars. TeachAway, another program that gets English Teachers abroad offers a course before they send you to foreign destinations. (Another post will come soon with possible certification and courses offered online.
  • Visas: You will need a visa for whichever country you choose
    • You will also need a Federal Background Checks (the date should be after the letter the company or school invited you),
    • health checks with a doctor’s note for approval, and your vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Valid Passport (at least for 6 months- usually to obtain a Visa)
  • Picking A Country
    • Europe Problems
      • You are usually an Au Pair
      • Want many years of experiences
      • Openings are hard to find
    • Realistic Expectations
      • Asian countries (The Far East)
      • South Korea treats English teachers the best.
      • Middle Easter Countries pay ver well too. (Make sure you get accommodations)
  • Year-long contracts available
  • Teaching local population

Teacher Timesaver Resources


International Teachers

Before I get into the checklist, the most important thing to be an international teacher is an open mind. You truly need to embrace differences and change. Change happens all the time abroad.


What Do You Need
  • Valid Teaching Certification from your state (Level 1, Level 2- both are acceptable for my United States friends. English, Canadian, and Australian versions of teaching certification accepted.)
  • IB Training and Experience
    • The better schools usually follow IB. They pay usually more than their American school counterparts. Schools in Europe are generally IB. Most teachers that enter these schools do not leave so they are highly competitive to get into.
    • Some schools will hire you and pay for your training. These schools are generally new or in high-risk countries. My finance got trained in IB for free in Venezuela because of the current economic and political state.
    • Courses are around $600 plus
  • Realistic Expectations
    • Europe is the most competitive and difficult
    • Eastern Europe is easier to get into but packages are sometimes not as good. Low potential of saving.
    • Asia has tons of schools and opportunities. You have the highest saving potential.
    • The Middle East pays the most for international teachers. There is a high potential of saving.
    • South America pays well and offers packages where you make out even.
    • Africa packages generally pay so you reach break even or they can save a little.
  • Visas
    • The school should say they provide assistance.
    • You need to have a lot of documentation all normally need to be legalized.
      • federal background checks
      • health checks- healthy doctor note
      • sometimes blood checks
      • HIV checks
      • TB tested
      • teaching certificate
      • transcripts (some countries)
  • Check contracts and know exactly what you are getting
    • Flights
    • Flights between contracts?
      • Sometimes schools say they offer a flight to and from your home country at the beginning and end of the contract. Most contracts are two years. So you are responsible getting your own flight in the summer.
    • Aid in Visa process
    • Shipping Allowance
    • Housing
    • Living off housing stipend
    • Aid in getting bank accounts
    • Retirement plans
    • Cost of living vs. amount your getting paid
      • The cost of living is quite cheap in Venezuela. It is currently 4,000 bolivars to 1 USD. So I can get enough veggies and fruits for a week for less than 4 dollars! I can get a delicious mojito for $1.50. So my salary covers two people living off of it quite easily.
    • Paid more than just English teachers
    • Teaching international student population or wealthy children in host country
    • Know the difference between a bilingual school and international school
      • Bilingual schools are usually very new schools or older schools ran like a business. Bilingual schools want to cut corners. They hire less foreign staff because they are more expensive.
      • International schools require students to hold another passport besides their host country. They need accreditation and a certain percentage of foreign staff.
    • Know when the school has last been accredited
      • If they are getting accredited the year you arrive, you have about 200% more work.


What do I do Again?

Both contracts can be quite attractive. Both types of teaching are rewarding and fun. It comes down to whether you want to teach the same materials and subjects like a teacher would in The United States or do you want to make interesting speaking lessons teaching conversational English. I had so much fun doing both but I ultimately wanted to use my degree.

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Where will you teach?

2 thoughts on “International Teachers Vs. English Teacher

  1. Marley Dawkins

    Excellent article, i didn’t really ever think about the differences between certain teachers, but i guess it makes sense that International teaching would be better suited for teachers with a variety of skills and certifications.

    But i think both of these kind of teaching contracts sounds interesting, as i am considering being an English teacher one day, so thanks for sharing this article!

    1. Kristina Hines

      Your are very welcome Marley. Also to clarify, English teacher when talking abut being aboard means they just teach oral language skills and listening skills. The focus is on BICS. A certified English teacher may teach grade 6 and 7, for example. 🙂

      You will enjoy going for a one or two year contract. My initial contract was an English teacher and I loved it. That is exactly why I am doing my 6th year abroad.

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