Teach Abroad

I am often emailed questions about teaching in Taiwan. Most people assume I am teaching the English language to non-native speakers, but I am actually a certified teacher working at an international school. I taught in American public schools for five years before moving to Taiwan. Here in Taiwan, I teach 8th grade language arts and social studies and 9th grade introduction to literature. My husband teaches a self contained fourth grade class (meaning: language arts, social studies, math, and science). All of our students are fluent English speakers, and our curriculum and classes run exactly as they would in America.

As far as finding a job overseas, certified teachers should check out the following recruitment companies: International School Services (I.S.S.) and Search Associates. I used I.S.S., and I was hired for my position at an I.S.S. Boston job fair in February 2012. My husband was hired for his position after we had been here for three years. 

Before accepting any position at an international school, I would check out International Schools Review (but please read everything with a grain of salt). Also, see if the school will give you contact details for someone who currently works at the school or an employee who is also at the fair. This is a crucial step that will hopefully help you make an informed decision, and if the school hesitates or refuses, I would read that as a huge red flag.

It is important to keep in mind that there are all kinds of international schools; I just read an article that stated there are 8,000 international schools in the world today. There are some non-profit schools, many for profit schools, a handful of embassy linked schools, and quite a few ESL schools masquerading as international schools. Personally, there are only a handful I would work at, and that is why I use a recruiting company.

That said, you have to understand that not all international schools are made equal. I work at a Taiwanese public school that is also an international & WASC accredited school. I actually like that it's a public school, which is a rarity in the international teaching circuit. Here, my kids' parents don't pay for A's. At my school, I can give kids the grades they earn rather than the grades Mommy and Daddy paid for, which is not true at a lot of private international schools that are run more like businesses. To me, that matters a lot.

So know what matters to you, but at the end of the day, keep an open mind and expect the unexpected. Teaching abroad requires all the flexibility and adaptability you possess, as well as a very healthy sense of humor.

[NOTE: Another avenue for international teaching is the DODEA, which places certified American teachers at military bases worldwide to educate the children of active duty personnel. This is the creme of the crop in regards to salary and benefits in the international teaching world; however, it is quite hard to land these positions. This is our next step and what we are aiming for, so wish us luck!]
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