Heading to Asia to teach English, and want to know how long you'll need to commit? This is the article for you.
There's always going to be a bit of variety, but for the most part, schools will be looking for some relatively long term commitment on your behalf.
While there are summer and winter camps in some countries that offer short term contract opportunities, if you're looking to go the mainstream route and work in an established cram school, you'll likely have to sign a 1 year contract, or if you want to work in an international or government school, then 2 years can sometimes be the minimum.
There are various reasons for this, which we'll look into now. If you're thinking that 1 year is too long a commitment, then hopefully this article will make you realize why it's not long at all.
Why 12 Months?
Most language schools invest a lot in their teachers, both time and money. This involves things like the initial and ongoing training, the welfare support, induction weeks, as well as help finding (and in some cases providing) the accommodation.
On top of that, the students themselves need stability and always having to get used to new teachers isn't beneficial for them. Parents will also see a high teacher turnover as a negative sign, so would also expect a teacher to be there for a year or longer.
In many countries, everything is catered towards the teacher staying a year or longer too. Work permits and resident visas are 12 months long, sometimes with an option of choosing 24 months instead. Even housing contracts usually last a year as well.
Depending on which country you're in, staying for 12 months usually results in a tax rebate or other perks. Many schools give bonuses or even flight reimbursements in exchange for teachers completing a 12 month contract, so it's definitely worth your while to commit.
There are more intangible benefits to staying a year as well. For a start, anything under 12 months makes it hard for you to really immerse yourself in a new culture. When you're staying for 3 months or even 6 months, your mind never really leaves the holiday mindset, and you view things differently.
You might not bother learning the language, making friends, or even trying some of the food, if you think you'll only be there for a short time.
Also, as mentioned above, you may find it difficult to get short term accommodation and employment. Yes, there are often short term summer camp positions available, but these tend to be among the most competitive in the industry, and usually require a lot of experience.
Why 12 Months Isn't Long At All
Before you go, a year seems like a long commitment. What a lot of first-time teachers soon come to realize though, is that when you are abroad, 12 months literally fly by.
The first few months can seem like a blur as you are getting used to your new environment and meeting new people. Next up, you'll have a few months where everything is fantastic, you're in your comfort zone, and life is good. All too soon though you will realize that 9 months have passed and it's time to think about going home.
This is perhaps the reason why many teachers stay longer. At TEFLOne, we are proud to say that many of the teachers we recruit stay in their jobs for a lot longer than a year, and a lot of them have even gone on to work in academic management in their schools.
The very first teacher we placed is now responsible for over 50 schools in Taiwan.
This all happens not just because a year is a lot shorter than you think, but because life teaching English abroad is such an adventure and fulfilling experience, that many people don't want to leave.
Think Of It As A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity
The fact that you know you will be spending at least a year abroad is something you can embrace. This makes it much more real, much more of a commitment, and much more of an opportunity. You know that you'll have to learn a new culture, meet new friends, and experience things that if you went for any less time, you'd simply not experience.
Yet at the same time, 12 months is short enough that you have the safety net of knowing that you'll be home before you know it. Take the opportunity while it's there, and you'll soon be telling people how the time has flown by.