Travel

Teaching English in the Age of COVID

Grace Martens

Grace Martens

November 6, 2020

Recently TravelBud was invited to host a live Webinar as part of the Teach and TEFL Week with GoOverseas. From years of working in the industry, we know what information adds the most value to future teachers in deciding where to go and how to go about it. As much as all of us LOVE talking about teaching English abroad and all the ins and outs of salaries and TEFL/TESOL requirements (all of us at TravelBud have done it before ourselves so we’re very passionate about this), we decided to talk about the NEON PINK ELEPHANT in EVERY room right now – COVID-19.

COVID-19 has affected every facet of life – from global economies to the way we grocery shop. And the landscape of teaching abroad has also been greatly affected and changed.

Our topic was Teaching in the Age of COVID. And it’s a biggie.

By the end of me typing this blog post, and maybe by the end of you reading it, and certainly in a week, a month, by the time you go – there are some aspects of the stats that will have changed completely.

It is a fast changing, ever evolving thing this world pandemic. However, there are some aspects that we want to highlight that are specific to teaching during these unprecedented times that we, on the front lines of travel, wanted to share with you all.

  • For those in a post-graduation world where jobs are harder to find, this offers guaranteed job placement opportunities.
  • For those that have been climbing the corporate ladder and had a full perspective change when faced with the stark reality of their current lifestyle, this has offered (one of the only ways, might I add) to actually travel and take on a rewarding job that makes an impact.
  • For those that have been hit hardest by the economic effects of COVID – it’s an opportunity to start fresh.

How do you take a mountain and condense it into an easy-to-read, won’t-confuse-you, will-remain-relevant-when-things-change-daily molehill?

The answer is to do what teachers do!

So I’ve decided to break down the sea of information into smaller bits (ponds, if you will), through a word we’ve come to know all too well: C-O-V-I-D.

C – Country by Country Updates
O – Organization
V  – Versatility
 I  – Investment
D – Dependability


C – Country by Country Updates

We’ll cover:

  • Why teaching in that country is popular amongst teachers (you still have to decide where to go after all, and what will suit you best);
  • What has happened in that country up until now and;
  • What your options are for teaching there and when you can head out

Jump to each of our Teach Abroad programs to read each country update:

Thailand
South Korea
Myanmar
Vietnam
Japan
Costa Rica


Thailand

Why Teach English in Thailand

Teachers taking a stroll along the beach in Hua Hin.

Teachers taking a stroll along the beach in Hua Hin as part of orientation. Meet other like-minded individuals who are experiencing the same pleasures and challenges you are.

Everyone knows someone who has been to or taught in the majestic country, affectionately known as the Land of Smiles.

From pristine beaches to sacred temples, it’s not hard to see why in excess of 30 million tourists visit Thailand every year.

But ask yourself – do I really want to be a wage slave for 350 days of the year so that I can take a 2 week vacation in Thailand once a year, when I could actually live there, eat mangoes for breakfast and whizz a scooter to a job where I make a huge impact instead?

Thailand is known for low living expenses, long holidays, friendly locals and an incredible, life-changing experience.

COVID effects on Thailand and Teaching English

All countries were hit hard by the lengthy lockdowns. But for a country that generates 15% of its GDP from tourism- Thailand was hit exceptionally hard. However, the effect of this has meant that Thailand has been propelled to open as quickly as possible and to stay open for good.

We’re bringing nearly 100 teachers over to Thailand this fall, and although the process is complicated, we’ve been able to help our teachers navigate it successfully and they’ve been receiving their visa and travel authorizations.

They will start arriving in October with most coming over in mid-November for the start of the school term in December.

Teachers arriving have to complete a 2 week mandatory quarantine in one of the 13 designated hotels in Bangkok for now. Luckily, you’re not totally cooped up for the entire 2 weeks- you have a COVID test on day 4 or 5 and when it comes back negative, you can hit the gym and kick it poolside in your hotel.

We expect some changes to quarantine that will alleviate this currently-unavoidable addition to start up costs ($1000 – $1500USD approximately for 2 weeks) such as changing the quarantine period to a shorter length of stay required or to be allowed to quarantine beyond only the 13 designated hotels in Bangkok in other, cheaper hotels that meet certain guidelines.

When can I leave to teach English in Thailand?

With the pre-placement process for fall coming to an end in October for new enrollments, our focus is now on the 29th of March intake, 2021. It is subsequently, one of the best times of the year to come to Thailand and start teaching.

Despite their semesters being higgledy piggledy this year, they’ve managed to get it back on track to have their vacation throughout April as usual.

So when you come for 29 March, you do your full TESOL on the ground in April and start teaching fresh in May at the new semester.

You also get to see Songkran (Thai new year) unfold around you, and have more placement options being the start of the new term.

Also- you’ll be one of a huge group of teachers that will be starting then and can build great relationships with fellow teachers.

Read more about our Teach English in Thailand Program →

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South Korea

Why Teach English in South Korea

Teach English in South Korea with TravelBud

Meet new people and enjoy unmatched cultural experiences in South Korea

South Korea is one of the richest and most fascinating cultures in the world. It has an exceptional modernity with high tech, fast paced cities fused together with a unique preservation of ancient traditions and history.

It is the kind of place that has many intricacies and nuances and spending a vacation there will only touch the tip of the iceberg, but living there gives you a chance to fully understand the culture and immerse yourself in it.

Education is highly respected in South Korea, and the benefits included in your contracts is a demonstration of that respect.

Contracts include:

  • A starting salary of $1700 USD
  • An apartment is provided and you do not pay rent
  • Flights are completely reimbursed
  • You get paid vacation
  • You get an extra salary bonus pay at the end of your contract
  • Full health insurance is included

COVID effects on South Korea and Teaching English

Being a highly efficient and detail-oriented nation, they were prepared for the virus long before it hit their shores, due to their proximity with China. They rolled out extensive testing and tracing systems and have had two major waves of COVID during the pandemic.

Life has returned to the new normal and schools are back in the classrooms.

Despite the pandemic and border closures for most visa types, they have continued to issue the E2 working visa that English teachers go over on. The major delays experienced by teachers have been as a result of the documents that need to be collected and completed in their entirety before the visa application can take place and there were some backlogs and delays in the document collection, as opposed to the visa.

There is a mandatory 2 week quarantine period upon arrival which leaves teachers with two options:

  1. The one is to complete the quarantine in a government appointed facility (which does have a fairly high price tag associated with it) and the other is to
  2.  Quarantine in the provided apartment, provided teachers have:
    1. a residential address in Korea (which we provide through the school apartment) and
    2. a Korean SIM card and number that the tracing team can contact you on (which we provide).

You then get escorted to the apartment, where we’ll prepare the apartment to be comfortable for you and after two weeks, you begin your year contract and things are business as usual.

Experience South Korea's rich history and culture.

Experience South Korea’s rich history and culture.

When can I leave to teach English in South Korea?

The borders are open for the E2 visa. You generally need about 4 months to get the documentation collected and completed, so at this stage, it’s likely to be around February 2021 for new enrolments.

January is generally a bit of a tricky time to arrive as they have winter vacation and the Korean New Year in January so most schools are closed. This program is your best option if you are looking to go as soon as possible.

Read more about our Teach English in South Korea Program →

Myanmar

Why Teach English in Myanmar

Experience the famous skyline of ancient Bagan, the major drawcard for travelers to Myanmar.

Experience the famous skyline of ancient Bagan, the major drawcard for travelers to Myanmar.

We affectionately call our Myanmar Program participants our “pioneer teachers”. Myanmar opened up to the outside world in 2011 and has made great strides in the direction of international trade and tourism.

It is an incredibly unique environment to teach in- and one that is on somewhat of a time limit to experience this level of Southeast Asian authenticity considering it’s fast-moving toward growth and exposure to international influences. You make an enormous IMPACT in Myanmar. It is the road less travelled and one that will allow for tremendous personal growth.

COVID Effects on Myanmar and Teaching English

Myanmar has experienced severe lockdowns and harsh laws regarding preventative practices. Schools have been shut for a while and continue to be shut, as well as borders being closed to all foreign entries. There are a significant number of cases that warrant the shutdown, but we also need to look at the bigger picture and the fact that Myanmar has elections coming up in November.

The incumbent part is keen to prove themselves in their COVID-19 response and other parties are also in favour of hard lockdowns prior to voting so that there are no delays in voting and it can go ahead as planned. Once the elections are over, we will have a clearer picture of the realistic timeframe for teachers to enter and the new procedures that may involve.

When Can I leave?

Our next intake is 18 January 2021. It is currently under review as an option for new enrolments, but we will have a clearer picture by the end of November regarding the opportunity for this to go ahead.

A teacher in her classroom in Myanmar.

A teacher in her classroom in Myanmar.

Vietnam

Why Teach English in Vietnam

Participants pose for a group photo at a Vietnamese food market.

Participants pose for a group photo at a Vietnamese food market.

When I ask people what they’re looking for when teaching abroad- it’s usually a combination of making and saving money, having a good work-life balance, travelling and making an impact.

Vietnam offers it all – and then some!

With a permanent contract of only 20 hours a week for a salary of $1500 USD – $2000 USD per month (and living expenses of only around 600USD to live comfortably), it’s an amazing opportunity to achieve the perfect work-life balance and save money.

Not only that, but more than anywhere else- you have a much bigger say in your placement area and preferences, as well as unique opportunities for career growth to headteacher and beyond.

Vietnamese learners enjoy the fun and games of interactive class lessons.

Vietnamese learners enjoy the fun and games of interactive class lessons.

COVID Effects on Vietnam and Teaching English

I often believe that Vietnam didn’t really get the kind of praise for their COVID combatting efforts that they should have, especially by comparison to the first world countries efforts (but I’ll leave this tangent for another day).

Point is: Vietnam had ZERO related COVID deaths over the course of many months. ZERO. They had very strict rules and regulations and by April, the country was back in full swing under the new normal. Because of the huge efforts and resources, it took to achieve this, and the fact that COVD was perceived largely by the population as a “foreign virus”, it meant that they were not willing to compromise their efforts to open borders prematurely.

They are still closed to almost everyone, except the very elite few that can qualify for a special visa (but we’re talking brain surgeons and top businessmen). Our first group is going over for the 22 February intake and things are on track, we are just awaiting the procedures for quarantines upon arrival, which will likely be the case and a similar set up to what we’ve seen in Thailand. Our focus is also to get our teachers that left Vietnam initially back into the country as soon as possible.

When can I leave?

The next available intake date for the in-class TESOL and orientation is 3 May 2021. We added this extra date in so that we can accommodate the high volumes of teachers looking to teach in Vietnam, but spots are running out fast.

Read more about our Teach English in Vietnam Program →

Japan

Why Teach English in Japan

Mount Fuji

If you’ve Googled Japan, Mount Fuji would have been one of the first images you saw. Soak in the best views of this active volcano on a train trip between Tokyo and Osaka or, for the more daring and active, climb Mount Fuji during July and August.

Um…IT’S JAPAN?!

  • You like fashion? Covered.
  • Long hikes and nature? Covered.
  • All things high tech? Covered.
  • Ancient history and culture? Covered.

Japan has something for EVERYONE. It has become, based on our research prior to launching Travelbud’s latest program, the most sought after destination to teach in. It offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself into an intricate culture that has many nuances and is best experienced over the long term.

COVID effects on Japan and Teaching English

Japan was rather quiet on when they would reopen. I think they’re pretty bummed about the Olympics, which is fair. We heard very little about their plans to reopen UNTIL we got notified that as of 1 October, anyone planning to work, study or reunite with family could apply for a limited number of visas, in a staggered approach.

Our focus is on the teachers that have sadly had to postpone their plans to teach and make sure we meet the needs of the backlogged teachers first.

When can I leave?

Our next group is going out on 1 March 2021, for the full in-class TESOL in Nagoya.

The next available intake for new enrolments is 31 May 2021 for the full in-class, but there are limited spots available. There is also the option of doing the Online TEFL and placement, or the Placement program for those that have a TESOL/TEFL already, which would see teachers hopefully go over in the first quarter of 2021.

Read more about our Teach English in Japan Program →

Costa Rica

Why Teach English in Costa Rica

Costa Rica coastline

Soak up the sun on Costa Rica’s stunning coastlines

Teaching anywhere in Latin or Central America was usually reserved for the ambitious backpacker. There are few well-established programs that offer the full in-class and guaranteed placement.

But with so many reasons to teach in a place as amazing as Costa Rica, we saw the need and filled it. It’s a great opportunity to improve your Spanish, to live the Pura-Vida lifestyle for which Costa Rica is known, the coffee is sensational, the people are friendly and although most of our placements are in the Capital city of San Jose that is bustling and vibey, it’s never far from the magical rainforests and chilled out sloths you see in catalogues. Need I say more?

COVID effects on Costa Rica and Teaching english

Costa Rica has an ENORMOUS tourism industry. They are known for their stunning biodiversity, nature and Latin American flair. Their case numbers have fluctuated and are still fairly high, but their borders are open. They first only opened to Canada, the UK and select states in the US, but have now included many more nationalities and the entire US. Not only that, but they do not have a mandatory quarantine period. There are some procedures that of course need to be adhered to, but quarantining ain’t one of them. Hooray!

When can I leave?

Our first group starts on 23 November 2020 and they’re all packed and ready to roll for the adventure that is just around the corner.

The next intake after that is 15 February 2021 and is highly recommended and in demand due to the lack of quarantine, closeness in proximity to the US, and an early 2021 start date.

Read more about our Teach English in Costa Rica Program →


O – Organization

TravelBud Team

The TravelBud team during an intake status briefing

This is an organization in the sense of both:

  1. The organization that is required in handling each applicant in terms of document collection, visas, arrival logistics, placement procedures and all the rest, specifically during the age of COVID; as well as
  2. The benefits of choosing to use an established organization when teaching abroad in the age of COVID.

There is a ton of information on the internet around requirements, visas, documents etc which can be good, but also very conflicting and difficult to know which are correct.

This was the case even prior to COVID – but teaching in the age of COVID has seen new announcements that change the entire process and require us to do a full 180 and adapt to new procedures.

In normal circumstances, it can be confusing and difficult to know where to begin when it comes to collecting documents and applying for the right visas when teaching abroad.

However, now more than ever before, a helping hand with first-hand information on the ground in the destination and the backing of all the teams rallying to find new ways to get around last minute announcements and changes, is imperative.

If we look at the Thailand process: under normal circumstances, it involved going over on a tourist visa and bringing documents with you to then switch to the work permit once at your school placement. With tourist visas no longer being issued, we had to figure out how to send the 100 teachers that have arrived in Thailand this year into the country through the pre-placement process.

Applicants had to collect their documents, get their contracts prior to departure, use that proof of employment to get the Non-immigrant B visa, use the visa to prove being eligible for a repatriation flight to Thailand, use the visa and flight to apply for the Certificate of Entry.

It took a whole lot of planning, manoeuvring and MacGyvering, but we got it done thanks to our resources and connections.

Which brings me to my next point: that teaching in the age of COVID has changed the landscape for seasoned teachers and first-time teachers alike.

There have always been many ways to skin a cat when it comes to teaching English abroad. You had the adventurous, young backpackers that would get a $15 Groupon TEFL and head out into the world on the vague promise that there is a job at a school, courtesy of a sister’s friends, ex-boyfriends, cousins teaching gig. There will always be traditional recruiters.

And there will always be organizations like us- full programs that offer support from start to finish, and beyond. Gone are the days of hopping on a flight to Asia and hoping for the best. Teaching in the age of COVID is not impossible, but it’s way way way harder than before.

With the extended skills, resources, and care of TravelBud, it really is the safest way to ensure that you realise your dream of teaching abroad. Travelbud provides some certainties, in an otherwise very uncertain time.

We pride ourselves on doing so in the following way during the age of COVID:

Expert guidance on program choice after your initial enquiry:

Grace Martens TravelBud Enrolment Director

TravelBud’s Enrolment coordinators are standing by to help you plan your life-changing adventure.

Our team of coordinators that contact you directly after your enquiry, make it their mission to guide you to the best fit for you. We understand so much about each program, we tailor-make programs to suit your needs where we can, or match you with a program we believe suits your needs the best.

Now, whilst teaching in the age of COVID, that skill is even more important. If you tell me you’ve been laid off from your job and want to start somewhere as soon as possible and you’ve enquired about Japan – as much as you love fashion and Nintendo and sushi- I will tell you straight up that South Korea is a far better option for you right now.

Doesn’t mean you can’t transfer to Japan after South Korea and eat all the sushi your heart desires, but the amazing benefits offered as part of the South Korea contract, the ability to save, the low start up costs by comparison to Japan and the ability to go over sooner with more certainty, would be an important option for us to provide.

We try to set realistic expectations on timelines and the way that start up budgets have been affected by COVID. Knowledge is power and we have the knowledge, so we offer it to you so that you can have the power of making the right choices.

Pre-departure support and logistics:

  • Notarization?
  • Apostille?
  • Legalisation?
  • Authentication?
  • Travel insurance?
  • Repat flights?
  • Changes to visa regulations?

We’ve got you covered.

With clear communication and a host of options, we want to minimise the stress and up the ante on smooth sailing in the way of pre-departure logistics, no matter what COVID curveballs come your way.

Saskia Smuts TravelBud Support Director

Saskia is TravelBud’s Support Director and will make sure you’re fully prepared and covered for your adventure

Guaranteed job placement

This is a biggie, friends.

Teaching in the age of COVID has meant that schools have taken economic knocks and are hiring fewer teachers. Competition for the jobs that are left is high, being that teaching is one of the few ways you can travel right now. The job market at home ain’t looking too great for a lot of us.

So with all that in mind, the guaranteed job placement at reputable, high-quality schools in Travelbud’s partnership network is an excellent reason to choose the option of an organization like us.

Teacher in Thailand

Guaranteed Job Placement in a high quality School

24/7 In-country support upon your arrival and throughout your time teaching

DING DING DING – this is super important.

Say you do manage to figure out all the documents and adapt to all the pre-departure changes, say your sister’s friends, ex-boyfriends, cousins teaching gig works out and you make it to your destination and get a job.

What happens if lockdowns arrive and you suddenly have to teach online?
What happens if your school can’t keep you on, or shuts down due to economic restraints of pupils withdrawing from classes?

With TravelBud, you know the team on the ground in each country is poised, ready, trained and equipped to respond and communicate with teachers and provide solutions to whatever happens- always in a personal capacity, but also with newly developed and highly detailed plans in place for all eventualities related to COVID.

What this means for you, is that you safeguard your plans of teaching abroad despite what may happen. This safety net and peace of mind is utterly priceless.

Teachers in South Korea on a cultural orientation tour at the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

TravelBud Teachers in South Korea on a cultural orientation tour at the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Lifetime Placement Guarantee provides us with backup plans

You want to know that when teaching in the age of COVID, you should always have a plan B and plan C and plan D. That’s hard to have when you’ve put all your eggs in one basket or going it alone.

TravelBud has partner schools in various destinations. This allows us the opportunity to offer the Lifetime Placement Guarantee, which is a fabulous opportunity in normal times, but even better when teaching in the age of COVID.

Your chosen destination is plan A and first prize.

But if necessary, if anything were to happen that would delay or restrict entry at the time of your intended departure, you still have the option of starting out in one country and then transferring to your intended destination at a later stage, once it does open up.

Our Lifetime Placement Guarantee enables you to continue to immerse yourself in new cultures and environments


V – Versatility

Teaching in the age of COVID has required increased flexibility for teachers.

Flexibility and adaptability is a skill you learn whilst teaching – but you need to have a bit of it in your personality from the get-go, when teaching in a world pandemic.

Versatility is key, because there are a number of major changes that have occurred across the board in various destinations.

Below are just a few examples of how and why things have changed and what you may need to adapt to and what TravelBud has done to accommodate those changes where possible.

  • Costa Rica always offered 6 month contracts. But with COVID, there is a lot more paperwork required by the schools to bring teachers into the country. This means more effort from the school and as a result, they want a year long commitment so that they only have to go through the lengthy paperwork process once a year, instead of twice.
  • Lengths of contracts, in general, have also been somewhat affected. We usually offer shorter contracts or bespoke lengths of time because even if you need to leave prior to the end of the school term, we have a large influx of teachers coming in that can replace you. With new procedures and lengthy processes, we need to be mindful of what is possible to accommodate for contract lengths outside of the ordinary contract lengths for various destinations.
  • Placement preferences and reach of school placements have been affected whilst teaching in the age of COVID. Depending on school term start dates, and a host of other moving parts, we require increased flexibility in terms of preferences for locations, based on what is available at the time.
  • Our partner schools in Vietnam have always preferred a full in-class TESOL/TEFL (or CELTA, which are always done in-class). We do have a handful of schools that accept online certifications, but they now require a year of teaching experience to go with an online certification specifically, as well as at least a 6 month commitment for the contract.
  • Updated pre-departure budgets. There are quarantines that often come with specifications of where they are and how much they cost, and these costs can be unavoidable in some cases. For example, in Thailand, there are currently 13 designated hotels in Bangkok that have a price range of $1000 – $1500 USD. We hope that these quarantines will fall away by the time teachers head out in 2021, or change in ways that reduce the costs (shorter quarantine lengths or not specific hotels and quarantines allowed in our guest houses at much lower costs). TravelBud will let you know in advance about any costs that you need to budget for the sake of planning and transparency. In light of these quarantine costs for teachers that have/are heading out to Thailand, we have included free accommodation for the week after quarantine spent in Hua Hin prior to placement. Apart from quarantines, we are also transparent about other costs that might be relevant in light of COVID, such as increased flight prices and changes to requirements and duration of travel insurance.
  • We understand that during various lockdowns, many people acquired their TEFL/TESOL certificates to be productive and do something meaningful while we waited for this to unfold. To cater to the increased number of those with existing TEFL’s, we have reduced the Placement Program fees by $200 USD, so that you are not obliged to do our online/in-class TEFL/TESOL but can still make use of the benefits of the valuable services needed during COVID.
  • We have seen huge demand for South Korea due to the fact that it offers quick turnarounds with the visas that are still available and has great financial benefits, which has meant the South Korea program has become more competitive and applications need to be submitted early for an increased chance of acceptance.
  • We’ve had to put EU applications on hold for the moment due to changes to the teaching landscape, making it more difficult to place but we certainly hope that we’ll be able to assist and welcome EU citizens applications when things start to open up a bit more. It has also affected the applications on non-degree holders to some extent and those over a certain age, but we assist this on a case by case basis and at the discretion of the Placement and Admissions Teams.
  • TESOL Extra Option was introduced as a way to meet the needs of schools and applicants wanting the practical experience and in-class qualification, while still adhering to the changes presented by COVID. This involved the theoretical component of teaching English to be done through an online platform prior to departure, but still allowing for the orientation and the practical component to be completed physically in classrooms.

I – Investment

People often see the opportunity to teach abroad as a means of sustainable travel and to take a break after studying or to gain some perspective in life.

But the truth is, teaching abroad may only last for the duration of a contract or two, be it a few months or years, and that experience in itself is enough to warrant the investment made.

However, teaching English has far reaching benefits beyond the end of a contract in-country and is in so many ways, an investment in yourself, as well as your own future, regardless of your chosen profession or degree.

7 Reasons Why Working Abroad Boosts Your Employability

Investing in yourself

Teaching abroad in a foreign culture and country is a challenge of yourself in an unfamiliar environment.

From personal experience, I look back at the year I spent in Korea and think about the way it gave me the kind of growth that would otherwise perhaps have taken a decade:

  • You are confronted with choices and get to be whoever you want to be in a new country, without preconceived notions and ideas of home.
  • You take on new projects (like blogging, photography) and find new passions.
  • You formulate opinions through exposure to different cultures and fellow teachers around the world.
  • You meet new people that can change your whole course of your life.
  • The networking and growth potential in the silent moments abroad are worth a decade of life.
  • You have incredible memories, experiences and it will change your life forever because it will change who you are and how you perceive yourself.

Investing in your best chance of teaching abroad in the age of COVID

You may have been planning to teach abroad for years and been waiting for the right moment, only to be hit by a world pandemic.

You may have recently happened upon the idea of teaching abroad and can now not unsee how it ticks all the boxes and gives you hope in a world that is struggling for some.

Whatever the reason or catalyst, you’ve decided, despite the impositions and struggles of COVID, you want to do this and you want to do it right.

The truth is, you can gamble on a lot of things when you’re in-country.

Should I go on that weekend away?

Should I eat this weird thing on a stick?

Gamble on those things.

But do not, I repeat, DO NOT, gamble on the whole experience you’ve imagined for yourself.

Invest in the experience you’ve imagined, the parts of the experience you’re excited for and the reason you did this in the first place, through the safest and most supported option to facilitate that with an investment in TravelBud. Read TravelBud reviews on GoOverseas to see for yourself!

Investing in your career, teaching or not

While you’re forging friendships with people from around the world, celebrating holidays you never knew existed, making an impact on your students – you’re also gaining invaluable skills from teaching abroad you may not even realize until you reflect when it’s all said and done.

Teaching requires an endless list of skills. One day, you’ll think back to your own teachers and respect them even more once you see all that goes into it.

There is a long list of incredible, transferable skills that can be used to further an established teaching career following teaching abroad, but that can also land you your dream job with future employers.

In the wise words of the head of our Placement Team abroad:

“The ability to reflect on the experience teaching abroad and the skills gained from that experience is the single biggest indicator of the perceived success of our alumni in the job market upon returning home, irrespective of the work field.”

We make it a priority to run workshops and provide insights to teachers heading home on how to successfully reflect on their newly acquired and perfected skills.

To do this, we isolate the skills and reflect using the S T A R method: (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

You essentially take the skill and reflect on that skill using the STAR method. There are a long list of skills teachers can comfortably add to their resumes once they return home, including:

  • Time management
  • Business etiquette
  • Language
  • Public speaking
  • Stress management
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership

The list goes on. But some of the most important skills that will be required for ANY profession would include:

  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Problem solving
  • Self-sufficiency

Below we’ve given you some examples of how these skills are developed and how you can use the STAR method to reflect on them.

SKILL: Adaptability

EXAMPLE USING STAR self-reflection (Situation, Task, Action, Result)

S – When moving to Asia to teach English I was faced with an abundance of obstacles, such as language barriers and cultural differences.

T – I needed to be able to adapt to the new culture in order to be successful.

A – In order to be more comfortable in my new surroundings, I turned into a “yes” person. Whenever a co-Thai-teacher invited me to things I would go.

R – By doing that, I was able to immerse myself into the culture and was able to better adapt and fit into my surroundings without feeling as isolated.

SKILL: Problem Solving

S – At the school, I was faced with having to manage a classroom size of over 50 kids, where they ranged from very low English proficiency to very high. Each lesson was losing either the low end or the high end of the students.

T – I needed to modify my lesson plans to keep each level engaged and wanting to participate in class.

A – To begin I gave a quiz to gauge where each student was and then changed the assignments to levels that would be achievable and engaging for each student.

R – The result of my actions was that students were better engaged in class and did not require as much classroom management techniques.

SKILL: Flexibility

S – When working in Asia there were many instances where plans would change very quickly.

T – I needed to become more flexible when it came to my response to those changes.

A – Whenever a sudden change occurred, I would take a deep breath, and remind myself that in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t as big of a deal as I felt deviating from the schedule was.

R – By going through these constant changes, I learned how to be better at “going with the flow” and ultimately being flexible.

SKILL: Self-sufficiency

S – Moving abroad on my own meant that I was leaving the comforts of home and my immediate support system.

T – I had to learn to become self-sufficient in a new place.

A – It was learning by trial and error for even simple tasks such as purchasing food. Others were utilizing resources, such as the placement company, to assist with finding a place to rent.

R – The longer I spent abroad the more confidence I felt in being able to handle any kind of situation and get through it.


D – Dependability

In the spirit of being dependable and offering the quality of trustworthiness and reliability, we wanted to round up some top tips for you to mull over as experts in the industry as some free advice about teaching in the age of COVID.

  • If you have not yet got your passport, you should start applying for your passport that as a matter of currency, even if your travels are only next year. Issuing passports have been very delayed across the board, so get started on that as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your physical bachelor’s degree is in hand, or that you have an idea from your University when you will be obtaining that. You will need the physical copy to go through a series of bureaucratic processes and this takes time and can affect your timeline if it is not in hand in advance of travelling.
  • Speak to us about what TEFL/TESOL will be accepted for the destination you have in mind. Not all requirements are the same. I know you all have a ton of options through multiple companies and know you will need one, but we’re happy to help point you in the direction of what the specifications are to be aware of for your intended teaching destination if you have not yet got a TEFL/TESOL. This could save you time and money and give you more and accurate options
  • I know it seems counterintuitive to enrol for something for next year when things still feel very up in the air and changes are made on the daily. However, I would strongly advise getting enrolled for our programs as soon as possible for a number of reasons:
    • Leaving more time from now until you depart, means that you can collect documents and have them ready, no matter what delays may occur due to bureaucratic backlogs. It also means that if you need to make use of our option to reroute to one of our other destinations for the sake of sticking to your timeline, you can collect different documents with enough time if necessary.
    • The 2021 dates are filling up faster and further in advance than ever before. We have stipulated deadlines around when you can enrol at the latest and close the applications for that intake then OR when they’re full. We’re seeing a lot of people who have waited for the earlier intakes and by the time they are ready to pull the trigger, the intake they planned for, is already full and they have to change their timeline. A lot of people postponed till a later date from existing enrolments, but people have also really been keen on getting a plan in place for 2021.
    • That being said, we also have certain timelines that are available, and then we are notified that the cap has been reached or something has changed and we need to halt enrolments for that intake. It really is a very “here today, gone tomorrow” kind of situation. We don’t like to be pushy at TravelBud and we know it’s a big decision that requires time for full consideration, but we also wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly if we didn’t let you know that if you want to start early 2021, you need to get enrolled as soon as possible to secure your spot.
    • Allowing more time to your departure through early enrollment, also means you have more time to save for the costs and the changes to budgets that may occur in light of COVID.

So there you have it!

We sincerely hope we’ve shed some light on what changes have occurred in light of COVID in the teaching landscape, but we hope we’ve provided you with transparent and relative information on how you can still teach abroad in the age of COVID.

We publish updates on our program statuses, intakes and latest information from our teams on the ground on our COVID-19 page.

TravelBud strives to provide accurate information and transparency. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us and you’ll get to chat to our experienced, friendly and knowledgeable enrolments coordinators – all you need to do is submit your enquiry.

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