10 Tips for Teaching English Abroad a Second Time

Students in Costa Rica

You’re now armed with teach abroad experience and even more curiosity about the world. You have a good grasp of what it takes to be an ESL teacher. You’re comfortable standing in front of the classroom, and you find the challenges both welcome and exciting.

The second time around is your opportunity to take advantage of things you didn’t before. Was your first time purely for the experience, and now you need to make some cash? Are you hoping to build your teaching resume and your non-teaching resume? Write a book? Have more time to travel? Ask yourself what it is you really want to gain from teaching abroad again, and choose a job and a country accordingly.

Whether or not you choose a new country or just a new location, here are some tips you might find helpful for your journey as a veteran international teacher.

1. Use your connections to find a job.

You likely have a handful of expat friends who have taught English elsewhere, and many others who know friends who are currently teaching in other cities or countries. Use your connections, like you would anywhere, to get a foot in the door to a new teaching job. Perhaps you just spent a year in China, but a friend of a friend is teaching in Korea and loves it. Get in touch. Chances are she’ll be able to recommend you to a hiring school, maybe even hers.

Also look at: 10 Ways To Teach English Abroad

2. If you don’t have a degree or TEFL certificate, look at jobs that require them anyway.

Teaching in Vietnam

You now have experience, and that’s what really matters in the end. Plus, if you have a connection with another teacher at the school who’s willing to put in a good word for you, the chances are high that a school will overlook your lack of formal education in preference of your stellar experience. However, if you plan to teach abroad for several years or even make it a career, you might consider completing a TEFL course to increase your eligibility in the job market, refresh your old skills, create new habits and learn how to implement your previous experience and new ideas into a new classroom environment. As an educator yourself, you already understand that constant learning is an inherent part of the process, and there is no such thing as too much knowledge.

Also look at: 5 Ways to Teach Abroad Without a TEFL Certification

3. Negotiate your contract.

Many first-time teachers overlook the contract terms in eager anticipation of starting their first job abroad. They simply skim to the bottom, sign their name and get on their way. Now that you’re going to teach abroad again, it’s your chance to read your contract thoroughly and make changes based on what you know you deserve, and adjust anything that doesn’t settle well with you, including extra duties and benefits.

Also look at: 10 Things to Know Before Teaching Abroad

4. Negotiate your salary.

As with any job, employers want to pay the least amount you’re willing to accept, so they’ll likely start you at the low end of the totem pole. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, especially if you’re staying within country and you already have a good idea of what experienced teachers should be earning. If you’re changing course to a new country, do your research and demand a reasonable salary.

Also look at: 3 Tips for Negotiating Your Teaching Abroad Salary

Teaching in South Korea

5. Explore a new region.

Did you spend all your time traveling around the mountains of northern China, and didn’t have time to make it to the south? It’s a big country, but now’s your chance to get something different out of the familiar. If you’re teaching in Thailand, move to a new province and explore the differences even small countries have to offer. Tired of the tropics all together, move further from the equator. Was your last position too cold in the winter? Maybe it’s time to migrate south.

6. Do the things you didn’t do last time.

Do you wish you had traveled more? Spent more time with the locals instead of other foreigners? Tried a larger variety of foods? Documented your experiences? Now’s your chance. Teaching abroad again is a wonderful way to change the things you might regret about your first time, when you were less experienced and more uncertain about what to expect.

Also look at: 25 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently While Teaching Abroad

7. Teach a different age level.

If you taught high school your first time, give primary school a try, or even pre-school or university. Each presents a list of differing challenges and rewards, and exploring them all will allow you to choose a favorite and hone your skills.

Also look at: Teaching English Abroad to Children vs. Adults

8. Grow professionally.

There are likely things you didn’t do so well last time. Perhaps you committed one or more teach abroad fails, but now’s your chance to redeem yourself, to learn from your mistakes and grow as a teacher. The improvements you make, and the more comfortable you become with commandeering a classroom, the better the experience will be for everyone involved (students, staff and yourself).

Language Teaching in China

9. Grow personally.

Now that you’re an experienced expat, there are likely personal reasons you want to do it again. Ask yourself what they are – maybe you want to be more forgiving, more understanding, less judgmental, etc. – and use this opportunity to grow in your own realm.

10. Document your experience.

You already know this is going to be an adventure to remember, so don’t rely on your memory to last for years to come. Keep a journal, a blog, a diary, whatever your preferred method. Take lots of pictures, too many. Write down the emails and Facebook addresses of people you meet. You never know when these might come in handy later, even if it’s when you sit down with your grandchildren to reminisce on your youth.

One Classroom at a Time...

Teaching abroad has surely already impacted your life in ways you couldn’t imagine before, and each new experience will only add to the bigger picture. Don’t take anything for granted. You truly are lucky to have such an experience, and even more so to do it again. After all, what’s to stop you from traveling the entire world, one classroom at a time?

Photo Credit: Gina Rogari and author.
Jessica Hill
Jessica J. Hill has taught English in Thailand and China. She now helps others do the same via her TEFL certification and job recruitment agency Teach...