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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Will teaching ESL overseas help me to determine if I should become an early childhood or elementary teacher?

Will teaching ESL overseas help me to determine if I should become an early childhood or elementary teacher?

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Do you think teaching ESL overseas will help me to determine if I should become a kindergarten teacher? Do you think this experience would have (or did) help you to solidify you're in the right career? I would like to get some real on the job experience before starting school to be sure that I'm cut out for teaching. I've been trying to volunteer locally in the elementary schools but I haven't had any luck. A friend recommended since I am a native English teacher to teach ESL overseas for one year to be able to experience what teaching is like. Do you think teaching English overseas for a year would be a worthwhile experience to reinforce my decision to be an early childhood school teacher for a living? Thanks very much for your insights, Sincerely, Emily

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Lisa Pluth's picture
Lisa Pluth
Researcher and Writer

Teaching and living overseas is an amazing experience. I'm not sure if it will help you to decide on kindergarten but I think it will teach you a lot about yourself. ESL can be pretty tough- make sure to do a little ESL learning before you go. Knowing English and teaching English are not the same thing. Negotiate everything (especially housing and pay) before you leave.

Rick Villalva's picture
Rick Villalva
Science Instructional Coach.... El Paso, Texas/ Rusk Elementary

Emily... any teaching experience is great experience. It's almost like building reading skills, the more you practice the craft of teaching, the better you become at it. I would venture to say the teaching overseas is not the same kind of experience, because our country is unique in that we teach EVERYONE; in other countries, you don't have to deal with "student rights" and inclusion, "equality" and all the social pressures that our students deal with on a daily basis. Most foreign countries are more heterogenous than ours. Good Luck!

Rick Villalva's picture
Rick Villalva
Science Instructional Coach.... El Paso, Texas/ Rusk Elementary

Emily... any teaching experience is great experience. It's almost like building reading skills, the more you practice the craft of teaching, the better you become at it. I would venture to say the teaching overseas is not the same kind of experience, because our country is unique in that we teach EVERYONE; in other countries, you don't have to deal with "student rights" and inclusion, "equality" and all the social pressures that our students deal with on a daily basis. Most foreign countries are more heterogenous than ours. Good Luck!

John's picture
John
Grade 3 Lead Teacher at an independent school

Absolutely! That is exactly how I became a teacher. I started teaching in Korea and did not realize I wanted to be a teacher until I went through that experience. It is certainly "trial by fire" and will challenge you, but it is also highly rewarding.
It is also a great experience outside the classroom. I think Lisa gave some great advice to make sure you understand all negotiations before you go. There are a lot of scammers out there in the private education/ESL world. But, there are also some amazing and honest people. Talk to the teachers at the school you are interested in (the school should provide some emails) and ask lots of questions.
There are some excellent websites to get you started: ajarn.com, eslcafe.com, etc. (At least that is what I used 6-7 years ago) Good luck and I hope you find your experience as thrilling and fulfilling as I did.

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