If you're an education major or recent grad, you can absolutely get an education internship abroad. Opportunities are available worldwide, but unless you're looking at teaching ESL, you'll want to consider taking an internship in a country where you're fluent in the native language.
Even if you plan on teaching at home afterwards, going abroad for your internship will help you create a global classroom and be exposed to different methodologies. Not only that, but participating in one of the many available education internships abroad gives you an opportunity to put theory into practice, gain hands-on experience, and get exposure to classroom culture in another country.
So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to mold the minds of our tomorrow through an education internship abroad!
Teaching English as a Foreign Language
One of the biggest opportunities for education internships abroad is by taking on a TEFL/TESOL internship, where you teach English as a foreign language. Some programs will include TEFL training prior to placing you at a school (which will qualify you to apply for ESL teaching jobs later on).
Teaching, Co-teaching and Classroom Support (primary or secondary level)
For education majors who have a specialization in subjects other than ESL, you could take on an internship co-teaching / assistant teaching in a primary, secondary, or post-secondary school abroad. Other tasks would include curriculum development, educational outreach, and tutoring.
Typically, these internships will help you fulfill your student teaching semester requirement. If that's a concern of yours, though, be sure to talk to your provider during the application process to confirm.
Specialized Education Opportunities
If you're specializing in special ed, internships in this field do exist abroad. They're less common than the other two mentioned, but they are there. Consider broadening your search to volunteer opportunities as well for this sub-field.
Where to Go
When it comes to programs that will get you TEFL/TESOL certified and place you inside the classroom, the best places to look are in Asia, such as Thailand, South Korea and China. However, TEFL internships can also be found throughout Europe and Latin America. For Europe at least, it's often easier to find an internship teaching than it is a job.
For teaching assistant and co-teaching internships, it's best to look at destinations where you speak the language. England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and Malta are great destinations for English speakers. If you speak Spanish, challenge yourself and look towards Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Chile. Did you learn French? France actually has a program (TAPIF) that will place you in an assistant teaching position in France / one of its territories (Guadeloupe internship, anyone?)
Planning Your Trip
Tips for applying to education internships
Make sure you can cover the cost: If you’ve landed an internship through a placement company, you’ll most likely have to pay some money out-of-pocket to get the work experience you’re seeking. Whether the expenses are limited to an application fee or expand to housing and placement support, you’ll want to make sure the costs are realistic for your education internship abroad. Other programs will provide a stipend.
Update your resume: You’ll want to show off your credentials and relevant experience to your potential employers. Make sure your resume is formatted to global standards.
Get your references in order: Like any job, your employers abroad may want to check your references to ensure that you are a good fit for the job. Line these references up in advance.
Be prepared for an interview: Some employers will want to hold and international phone or Skype call with you as a part of the interview process. Make sure you have the required technology or phone plan to support international calls.
Where to look for education internships
There are three key ways to finding and applying for an education internship abroad.
- TESOL/TEFL certification courses: Quite a few TEFL course providers also have programs at the intern level.
- Internship placement providers: There are companies, called internship placement providers, that can help place you at an internship abroad for a fee. The service fee will generally cover your airport pick up, an orientation, accommodation, insurance, and some meals.
- Internship websites: If you'd rather bootstrap it and find an internship on your own, some education internships are posted on global job websites like Idealist.org -- which focuses on NGOs -- or job boards specific to the country you're interested in interning in.
If you’re participating in a more “all-inclusive” program, like a TEFL/TESOL certification program, your housing will usually be provided as part of the program cost. Most programs will place you in a dormitory-style housing situation where you share a room with your peers and share a communal share.
If you’re internship is independent of a placement program (i.e. you applied through a job portal) you will need to find your own housing. Your school should be able to help you with finding a furnished apartment.
If you're taking an education internship abroad, some items you should bring include:
- A couple of business casual outfits for work
- School supplies (notebooks, pens of different colors, pencils, stickers) -- though you can usually pick these up easily in country.
- Portable speakers (these are great for playing songs or listening exercises in the classroom... or listening to music at home!)
- Your laptop
- Reusable water bottle
- A daybag or tote bag
Contributed by Helen Seely
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