Want to teac elementary abroad-no certification.
August 7, 2011 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I want out of America--and I want to teach elementary school abroad, but I don't have any certification.

For a variety of reasons, I want to move to another country. I'm specifically very interested in Finland or Sweden. If not, somewhere in Northern Europe like Poland. I'm graduating in May with a BA, my majors are sociology and anthropology. Unfortunately my school doesn't have any courses or programs in education. I'm currently in an AmeriCorps program which I am in my local elementary school working as a teacher's assistant about 12 hours a week. I know teaching is what I want to do, but I'm not sure what my next step is.

I don't speak any languages but English, but I am open to learning one over time. Ideally, I'd like to go to grad school or a certification program abroad so that the transition to moving to that country is easier. However, I've spent hours looking online and found nothing. All the programs I've found require you to have certification and years of experience before you come over.

I'm wondering if there is a program out there in which I could be certified or receive a masters abroad in order to teach elementary school in said country? I am NOT interested in teaching English as a second language. I just want to be your everyday elementary school teacher. Any suggestions?
posted by fuzzysoft to Education (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you are not going to teach ESL, you will need to be fluent in the language of the country where
you want to teach. That level of fluency takes years to master. I don't think there is a master's program that covers instruction in English to prepare you to teach in that country's language.
posted by Linnee at 5:25 PM on August 7, 2011

One skill you have is English. There are many ways to organize living abroad as an English teacher.

But, teaching English abroad without TOEFL (or other certification) means that you have almost no chance of a job in Europe. South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, and others. Once you get into that industry, if you succeed, you will have chances to get certifications and make contacts - and in time, you could find a job in Europe.
posted by Flood at 5:28 PM on August 7, 2011

There are English as the language of instruction schools in many countries -- schools for ex-pats, schools for embassy brats, fancy private schools for rich kids whose parents want them to learn to speak English like a native speaker, etc. Would teaching at a school like that interest you?

A friend of mine taught at a school like that in Colombia for a number of years. He was already a well-qualified and working math teacher in Canada before he went there, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:33 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you aware that it is extremely expensive to live in the Scandinavian countries. Should you find a potential position please make sure you understand the significant differences in costs. i do believe the "Big Mac" index now puts it over 7.00 USD
posted by rmhsinc at 5:37 PM on August 7, 2011

It might also be worth looking at African countries that speak English along with local languages (Uganda and Tanzania come to mind). English will be the language of instruction at many schools there, and there are probably organizations that can help you get there. (Actually, an organization I recently volunteered with, Brethren Volunteer Service, has at least one school placement in Nigeria, possibly more.

There are obviously a lot of other issues that come up if you go to a developing country, particularly one still dealing with a legacy of colonialism, and the decision to go teach there isn't one I'd take lightly.

Countries like Finland and Sweden are going to be particularly hard to break into without any local language knowledge, especially if you don't want to teach English.

Honestly, teaching English (and maybe getting a TESOL certification) might be your best (only?) option if you want to teach abroad. I'd encourage you to look at Fulbright grants. Many of the more obscure countries (particularly E. Europe) don't have language requirements [I'm applying to Bulgaria right now; hoping to get a university-level placement] and some of them have you teaching at the elementary or middle school levels.
posted by naturalog at 5:40 PM on August 7, 2011

If you don't want to teach ESL, perhaps getting your foot in the door in Scotland or Ireland would be easier and make future plans in the EU more accessible.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:15 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is a whole network of international schools that will hire you without serious credentials. Here's the recruiting thing.

I've had friends teach for them. Their experiences vary, but all-in-all, if you want to teach abroad, this is probably you best bet.
posted by k8t at 6:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

In most Scandinavian countries, becoming a teacher is much harder than in the US. There are competitive programs that are hard for residents with perfect grades and fluency in multiple languages to get into. There's something like a 20-25% acceptance rate. Compare that to the US - in most credential programs, if you can pay, you can attend.

I think your best options are:
1. Get certified here, including a TESOL (like it or not, that's where the jobs are overseas)
2. Join an organisation that would place you overseas, but again, they may want a TESOL. I had friends who taught drama and English literature overseas.
3. Move to the country, start learning the language, and apply to programs there, and hope you can get it (but have a good backup plan)
4. Get a grant like the Fulbright - again, those are really competitive.
5. Get a teaching job in the US. Take advantage of exchange/study abroad programs when/if they come up (they're getting more rare due to insurance and red tape)
6. Marry someone with EU residency and move there. Repeat step 3.

It sounds like more trouble than it's worth. Why are you so opposed to staying here? I do totally know the feeling, and it's in our long-term plan to move to Europe/UK to teach (I took option 6, but was already credentialled and employed in the US).
posted by guster4lovers at 6:51 PM on August 7, 2011

Oh, it appears that you need 2/3:

So maybe go and get a certification first?


Bachelors degree in the subject area you want to teach
K-12 Certification
Two years of current, successful full-time teaching in a K-12 school
posted by k8t at 6:53 PM on August 7, 2011

You might want to look at American (or International) schools abroad, the type expats or government officials send their kids to. Many of them teach in English and follow an American curriculum.

European International Schools (US government site). Clicking through there, you can find specific schools in each country. There seems to definitely be overlap between these and those provided in k8t's link.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 7:27 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

International schools typically require applicants to be credentialed to teach in their country of origin. After all, they need to be able to tell their (North American, etc.) students' parents that they're getting "real teachers" just like "back home" blah blah blah.

(p. s. re. earlier poster: TOEFL is the name of an English ability test. As for the OP, if you do a TESOL certificate/CELTA/DELTA abroad, do your homework--many are ripoffs and not at all rigorous. That's true for TESOL certificates here, as well, as there is no real standard for what a TESOL certificate is or means.)
posted by wintersweet at 7:44 PM on August 7, 2011

I teach science abroad. It really helps to get credentialed in your home country first.
posted by msittig at 11:29 PM on August 7, 2011

Without a teaching degree, you are likely to be out of luck in terms of gaining a job as a 'mainstream' teacher in a school, regardless of country. If you are open to other destinations and prepared to do some study to bridge the gap between your BA and a relevant degree, an English-speaking country might be a better bet for you. Have you considered Australia? If you enjoyed your time in New Zealand, you'd probably be just as happy here. Primary school teachers are in demand and are part of the skilled migration program here. Without a pre-existing teaching degree, you may not qualify unless you undertake that degree here as a student first. You should have no trouble getting a student visa and you can usually apply to migrate onshore once you have completed the degree.

Otherwise, New Zealand is a great place to live.

Can you move to a different degree program, even if if is at another school?
posted by dg at 12:18 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I moved to dominican republic to learn spanish in 2005 and i taught ESL in NYC before leaving. Mentioning that got me a job at the school I was using to further my spanish studies. Within 2 months of that I began charging less than the school and gaining students. Where the school was charging $4-5,000 pesos a month I was charging 1,000 but requesting that person come with 4 or 5 ppl. In 3-4 months I had 25 + students and being most of my spanish was self taught it also allowed me to gain spanish students who lived there longer than I but were amazed at my progress. (I self taught for 9 months before even DREAMING of leaving). I charged 15 -20$ an hour for foreigners. I made good money for Cost of Living. Meaning my rent was around 7k pesos but my income was avg 30k pesos or more. I mixed between teaching at the person's home or at mine. This was a BIG hep since i find people are lazy regarding travel to school.

I say all that to say, the TOEFLis a GREAT thing to have but don't let that bar you. I was able to stay for 3 yrs and leave only when i WANTED to.

PLUS there were many other great jobs offered to me just from BEING IN COUNTRY so going is half the battle. I never took the jobs becuase, heck, I felt way prouder and happier working for self.
posted by Lastword at 8:34 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I'm not quite sure what the best answer is, because all of these are really helpful. Not sure what my path is, but this gives me some good leads.
posted by fuzzysoft at 4:22 PM on September 8, 2011

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