Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated November 16, 2018
Mike Cairnduff

Teaching abroad

Are you thinking about teaching overseas? Hear firsthand about the experiences of three international teachers who decided on China.

Nicole from USA - teaching in Shenyang, China

Nicole Layana, a 28-year-old early childhood teacher from California, decided to teach English in China before settling down in the US. She currently works in Shenyang, a city in northern China.

Nicole believes that everyone should try teaching abroad for at least a year. “Do it!,” she proclaims. “Seriously, teaching abroad for at least a year is an amazing experience that you will never forget.”

“Whenever I go back home and tell people where I live, they are always so jealous. The majority of people always tell me that the one thing they regret about their lives is not traveling around before settling down. I, on the other hand, will never have that regret.”

Nicole shares her experience of teaching English in China.

Teaching abroad is an amazing experience, according to Nicole Layana.

One of the great things about working overseas as a teacher is that you can country-hop and discover somewhere new once you’ve finished your contract.

“I’ve been in China for a long time and am ready to try somewhere else,” Nicole said.

Bill from Australia - teaching in Beijing, China

At 57 years of age, seasoned Australian English teacher Bill Cass, based in China’s capital, Beijing, proves that teaching abroad is not just for twenty-somethings.

“Travelling broadens the mind. I have learnt so much about so many things, as well as myself,” Bill said.

Bill agrees with Nicole that everyone should experience working in another country for at least a year. “I have found the Chinese to be very friendly and welcoming, even though sometimes I am an object of fascination,” he said.

Not one to jump into something new without some planning, Bill recommends researching the country you intend on working in. “You need to do your research before you jump in the deep end. It makes your experience all the more enjoyable,” he said.

Bill also shares this sage advice: “Have plenty of money (both with you and as a back-up at home), get health insurance, have an emergency evacuation plan that is funded, and don’t be gullible.”

Tim from the UK - teaching in Shenzhen, China

39-year-old Brit Tim Robinson wanted a change from engineering and was sick of the gloomy weather back home. After a stint in Spain, he’s been teaching English in tropical Shenzhen, Guangdong province, southern China, for the past five years.

“Make sure you know why you’re coming. If you’re just here for a year, find a place that will let you travel, party, learn, whatever, depending on your priorities. If you want to build a career, look for places that offer better salaries and career structures,” Tim said.

Tim shares his experience of teaching English in China.

Tim and his wife in China.

Tim believes that dealing with a reputable recruitment agency is a good idea. “Search for feedback about them online, and avoid the ones that have been slated,” he said. “This is probably the best option if you simply don’t have any clear goals. Write and tell them what you know, what you like, and let them suggest some places for you to try.”

For Tim, money isn’t a big issue. “You can save the same on half the salary in a third-tier town and have twice the experience, but you will have to be more adventurous,” he said.

Tim’s time in China is limited, but not because he’s getting sick of it. Tim recently got married to a local Chinese woman.

“Our main motivation for leaving is to let my wife experience life outside China, but we’ll be coming back, on and off, for the rest of our lives even if she loves living abroad. I can easily imagine living two years here, two years away," he said.

“Even if we didn’t have that tie, I would certainly come back. There’s a lot to see and do here and five years has only just scratched the surface.”

Have you taught English abroad before? If so, what’s your best advice?


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