Preparing for an Opportunity to Teach English Abroad (Guest Post)

Jeremiah Jordan is a teacher-turned-entrepreneur who blogs about business solutions.

When you teach English to a citizen or a child in a developing country, you can actually increase that person’s earning power by an average of 25 percent, according to The Guardian. In fact, your volunteer teaching efforts might actually make the difference between that person barely scraping by for the rest of his life or having a job with a promising future. While it’s almost certain that you could make more money teaching English in a first-world country like Japan or South Korea, the satisfaction that you’ve actually made the planet a little better by teaching in a developing nation may be worth more than cash to you.

Children and education, teacher reading book to young students

Program Options

Unlike many other volunteer efforts that can be completed in a one, two or three-week time frame, English teachers are typically asked to make a commitment of a semester — about two months — to a year or more. For example, WorldTeach has teaching opportunities of various lengths, including year-long positions in India and Costa Rica, six-month-long semester positions in Ecuador and Namibia, as well as eight-week-long summer positions in China and Morocco, according to WorldTeach.org.

Preparing for Your Trip

Being away for the length of time required by most teaching jobs takes quite a bit of pre-trip organization. Unlike shorter volunteer trips where you can just ask a neighbor to take your mail in for a week, being away for several months means taking care of the following:

  • If you rent or own a home and will be going away for several months or more, decide whether or not you want to sub-let your abode. If not, you will have to arrange for someone to keep an eye on your place. In addition, you may have to make special arrangements to pay your mortgage or rent, such as setting up automatic payments from your bank account, as TransitionsAbroad.com recommends.
  • Have your mail stopped or picked up by a trusted relative or neighbor who can open it and inform you of any important information that may require your action.
  • Oxford Seminars recommends appointing your power of attorney to someone you trust in the United States. You never know when you might need someone in America working on your behalf to transfer funds or to represent you in a legal matter.
  • Set up an account with an identity theft or credit fraud protection company. If you are living halfway around the world from your home and you suddenly learn that you have become a victim of identity theft, it may be next to impossible to try to unravel the mess on your own, especially in a developing nation where phone calls could cost you a fortune. Having LifeLock protection can save you a lot of grief in the long run.
  • Determine how you are going to handle any prescription medication that you take on a regular basis. Will you be able to get them through the mail or get a supply that will last you for your entire trip? You may need to speak with both your physician and your insurance company to see how best to handle this situation.
  • TeachAway.com suggests getting health insurance that will cover any of your medical needs abroad.
  • Do your homework on the country that you will be living in and do your best to be culturally aware. For example, if you are a woman who will be living in a conservative Islamic nation, try not to walk around in a top that shows too much cleavage or is too tight.

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