Teaching abroad for Newly Qualified Teachers

Teaching Internationally as a Newly Qualified Teacher

….. for those with fewer than 2 years of experience


Every year thousands of teachers make the decision to go abroad soon after their teacher training. Sometimes it’s the culmination of a lifelong dream to teach overseas and sometimes it’s to find a full time teaching job when you cannot get one at home.

Whatever the reason, if you have fewer than 2 years of post-qualification teaching experience,  Edvectus can help you pick a suitable school that will provide a solid foundation for your future international teaching career. Please read on for our advice and tips on making your first job a success.

Where can I teach?

Most teachers want to teach the subjects and levels they are trained and qualified to teach, and Edvectus believes that this is the best career move in the long term.

Many countries require teachers to have at least 2 years of post-qualification experience in an international school setting. These include China, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Hong Kong and Oman. Indonesia requires a whopping 5 years of post-qualification experience.  Whilst a number of opportunities exist for less experienced teachers to teach English as a foreign language only in many countries worldwide, we do not recommend that newly qualified K-12 teachers take this route as most international schools do not count this experience as relevant and it won’t help your career.

In addition, many schools simply prefer teachers with more experience and as an NQT, the fewer schools that will consider you, the more competition you will face.  Because of the sheer number of schools who will hire NQTs, the vast majority of suitable opportunities for teachers who have limited experience are currently in Kuwait as well as the UAE, particularly Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah.

Advantages of Kuwait:

  • 1 year contract (9 months of teaching for 12 months of pay)
  • Flights yearly
  • Low cost of living
  • Furnished housing, tax free salaries
  • Higher salaries

Advantages of the UAE (Abu Dhabi/Sharjah)

  • 2 year contract (with a paid summer break)
  • Flights home and back every year
  • Moderate cost of living
  • Furnished housing (sometimes shared), tax free salaries

In what kind of school will I be teaching?

Local International Schools

Most schools that hire newly qualified or less experienced teachers serve host national parents who want their children to have an international education, and these kinds of schools, called Local International Schools, make up more than 70% of all international schools worldwide. Edvectus visits our client schools in the Middle East, and we regularly get feedback from teachers we place. We place newly qualified teachers only in schools we select for their ability to support our teachers and which enhance their careers.  You can expect to find other like-minded teachers with similar qualifications and experience to your own, which makes finding new friends much easier.

Local International Schools more closely reflect the local culture and teachers are advised to make full use of the Edvectus Learning Portal to access videos and documents created by our Middle East office to prepare before you go.

English Language Learners

Although all or most subjects are taught in English, Local International schools have a high proportion of English Language learners. Teaching children who are learning English requires a modified approach so we recommend that newly qualified teachers visit the Learning Portal to access tips to help you succeed.

Schools that have a more modest fee structure are usually more willing to hire new teachers, and their salaries will reflect their lower cost basis.

Typical Salaries for Newly Qualified Teachers:

– UAE:  84,000 – 96,000 AED per year (approximately US$23,000- 26,000), tax free, shared apartment with own bedroom

– Kuwait: 8,400 – 9,600 KD per year (approximately US$28,000 -31,000), tax free, single (non-shared) 1 bedroom or studio apartment

Benefits for all posts: Free furnished housing, flights yearly, local medical coverage, end of contract bonus of about ½ month per year of service.

Once you have 2 or more years of post-qualification experience teaching in an international school you can expect your salary to increase by 30 to 40% and you will have a much wider range of locations and types of schools from which to choose.


How will this help my teaching career?

For most international schools, having 2 or more years of solid, consistent teaching experience in the subject and level for which you are applying is a minimum requirement.

Getting a good foundation with a well-respected international school will enable you to master preparation, planning, reporting, assessment, classroom management and teaching English Language learners with your own class. With a solid professional grounding, newly developed cultural awareness and good references based on a consistent job and assessable results, you can expect to have your choice of new opportunities in any variety of settings.

Teachers with fewer than 2 years of post-qualification experience at the start of contract should focus on quality schools in:

  • Kuwait
  • Abu Dhabi City, UAE
  • Al Ain, UAE
  • Sharjah, UAE

Teachers with over 2 years of post-qualification experience at the start of contract should focus on quality schools in:

Almost anywhere!


Understanding the Middle East


It was announced today that the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is passing control of the country to his 31 year old son by his second wife, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.  This peaceful handover is quite a rarity in the region where most rulers stay in office until they die, but then again Sheikh Hamad has surprised the world at each turn and has transformed Qatar into a global power with the highest GDP per capita in the world.

What the new leadership will mean for Qatar is something that many pundits conjecture about but only time will tell.  Power structures in the Middle East reflect the culture of the region, and it is therefore quite different to that of western countries such as the UK, US, Australia or New Zealand.

An interesting discussion of Middle Eastern culture by Berich, LLC here points out that there are three power systems at play at any one time in the Middle East- Civic, Tribal and Religious. So leaders and indeed anyone living in the region needs to understand that it will operate differently than a system based on explicit rules and singular power structures in the west.

At any one time in the Middle East,  any or all of the three power systems can influence a decision which is why many westerners who are not immersed in it and do not appreciate the complexity, scratch their heads in confusion.  I’ve often heard western business men and women speak frustratingly of the long, unpredictable and complex decision making process in the Middle East. But when you think about it in the context of how difficult and complex it is to find the right balance between not one but three different sets of requirements and possibly competing interests, it’s understandable why decisions have to be carefully weighed and might be prone to change when new information comes to light or any of the power structures shift.

Culture is as pervasive and intangible as the air that we breathe, but at the same time having an appreciation for different cultural frameworks allows us to be less judgmental and more accepting of our differences.  Whilst it can be hard at first, taking the time to understand a new frame of reference can lead to ‘Ah ha!’ moments that are valuable and rare, just like the first time you looked at the picture of the witch and in an instant you were able to see the beautiful woman that was always there.

It’s the joy that comes with seeing, rather than just looking.

En Francais

iStock_000023225459XSmallOVERTThere has been an ongoing debate in the UK about the teaching of foreign languages. On one hand the government has funded and required language teaching only at Key stage 3 (ages 12 to 16). But on the other hand the UK laments that it’s at the bottom of the league table within Europe for languages taught.

Studies released this year show that only 9% of pupils continue studying French at A level after completing their French GCSE. Probably because you get out what you put in. “We give only half the time to language teaching that they do in continental Europe”, said Richard Hudson, Professor Emeritus in Linguistics at University College London.   Thankfully there is new legislation next year that supports teaching languages at Primary school, which is when most studies say is the best time to start because our younger brains are more able to acquire new language skills.

I’ve been away for a week with my sister, my 20 year old niece and her 20 year old friend to the south of France and it was exhausting but fun.  It’s especially fun to take young adults who have never

been to Europe (or overseas to speak of) abroad for the first time. My niece who took French throughout her high school years was timid at first about using her shaky French but after hearing me use even more shaky Italian and German as the situations required, she realised that when travelling abroad that trying to use even rusty foreign languages is much more fun when there’s not a teacher assessing you or friends ready to snigger at your mistakes.   Indeed, the main goal during travel is to get to a point of mutual understanding … about the cost of a bunch of tomatoes or the bill for dinner or directions to the beach. It doesn’t matter if your grammar is perfect or that you are speaking in ‘Frenglish’ accompanied by what you hope are universally understood symbolic hand gestures. Just get the job done. By the end of the trip she was having quite long, natural and entirely voluntary Frenglish conversations with our local shopkeeper without batting an eye. I call that a successful trip.

Living abroad takes this experience to the next step and allows you not just to be understood verbally but to understand culturally your surroundings and your hosts.  And just like when trying to speak a foreign language for the first time, you are bound to make some gaffes. It’s part of the territory. And nothing helps you learn more quickly than when you recognise that awkward expression on someone’s face when you have inadvertently said something funny/insulting/irreverent or rude… but didn’t know it.  Making mistakes is part of the journey and learning from them makes you realise just how big and complex is this world we live in.

So molto bene to the UK government for putting more of a focus on language teaching at young ages, even at a time of austerity.  As the world becomes ever more connected, having an understanding of the language if not the diverse culture of our neighbours is essential to success.

My first blog

Image Today is a bit of a milestone for me. I have set up the social networks for my new company, Edvectus. Amongst them- my blog!

Edvectus, the word, is made up of two Latin words- “Educo ” meaning to teach or educate, and “Advectus” meaning transportation afar. Together, the two words make up what we do- we help teachers to find work abroad and at the same time, we educate them.

The thing is, teaching abroad can be really life changing but it can be really scary at the same time. Through my many years of facilitating the process, I have come to one conclusion… people don’t always know what they don’t know.  And with my new company, I hope to change that. How I plan to do it will unfold as the weeks progress.

I used to blog weekly at my old company, and I’m hoping to do the same at Edvectus. Stay tuned and come with me as we start up a new company from scratch. It’s going to be a really fun ride!