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Moving Abroad To Teach English?

Here’s What To Pack…

TEFL teaching abroad

Considering moving abroad to teach English? In this post we are sharing some insights about packing for life abroad. 


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We all know that moving to a foreign country can be a daunting task. For EFL teachers, living abroad is a way of life. So whether you are a seasoned pro or a total newbie straight out of your TEFL certification course, here are some tips on what to pack to help make your transition overseas as smooth as possible.

The Essentials:

Let’s start with the basics. Obviously you will need clothing, toiletries and maybe a few snack bars thrown in for that 3am jet lag. Make sure to do your research on the climate you are moving to so you bring enough to get by for your first few weeks. Also take a look at the cultural norms for tips as to how one might “dress for success” in that particular locale. For instance, teachers in some cultures are highly respected and thus dress far more professionally than in other parts of the globe. We would also recommend anticipating the need to purchase more clothing once you arrive. It always helps to experience the environment first hand to really know the key items needed for a work wardrobe.


Travel documents are also high on the priority list. You may well be looking for an employer abroad who will provide you with a long-term visa, but you may still need some documents to gain entry into the country. This will include a passport that is valid for at least 6 months past your departure date and possibly a tourist visa. Be sure to check out your nation’s embassy website for the country you are moving to, so that you are up-to-date with everything you will need. For our fellow American travelers, here’s a link to get you started.


Now for some TEFL specific gear you will need on your journey:

Job Application Documents

Most reputable schools will require the following items:

  1. Your diploma or equivalent document of schooling
  2. Your TEFL certificate or equivalent certification
  3. An updated resume with a cover letter if you so choose
  4. The applications for the employers you are interviewing with filled out in full (*Note that these can be done in most school offices on the spot before your interview begins)

A Portfolio of Your Work

Hopefully your TEFL course will have provided you with one of these, but if not, don’t worry. Some schools will use lesson planning questions as the basis of their interviewing process. Therefore, if you do have example lesson plans with you, it can ease the stress. Even with those documents on hand, you will still need to be prepared to answer questions related to lesson planning. Don’t be surprised if a textbook is opened and you are asked to do a rough plan on the fly!

Photos of Yourself

What?! Why?! We know it seems weird to need numerous photos of yourself in physical form. But in the world of living abroad, trust us when we say it is most certainly a necessity. Between school admin paperwork and visa runs….you will need a healthy supply of passport style shots.

Teacher Essentials

What if I told you that you might have to step into the classroom 3 days after stepping off the airplane? There’s a strong likelihood you could find yourself in just this situation if you are moving abroad with intention of being employed as a TEFL instructor. Many schools are in need of teachers with the right set of skills, and they may throw you into the ring immediately. Here’s what you will want to have on hand:


  1. A notebook– for lesson planning and keeping track of your new schedule
  2. A few pens and pencils– for you and those forgetful students in your class
  3. A laptop or an internet cafe– for accessing photos, videos and other outside materials to bring into the classroom
  4. A grammar book– because even native speakers need some help in this area


We hope these tips will help calm your travel jitters and get your packing in gear for TEFL teaching success! To find out more tips, tricks, and advice to make the most of your TEFL journey, check out our blog.


Happy Teaching!


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