What does it take to have a good experience abroad? Well, a few things, but much of it depends on you. And not just your situation or job.
1. Be Open to New Experiences
This is the number one quality that you need, to have a good year teaching English abroad. Although it may be more of a personality trait, your attitude will also help. Many things will be different, such as language, food, manners, etc.
Many of the cultural and environmental nuances that you now take for granted will be absent abroad. These differences can be exciting and they can be annoying and frustrating.
Being open and adaptable will help you to accept these differences. If you have a fixed personality and a set way of doing things then you will likely suffer.
2. Learn the Language
No, you don't need to speak their language to teach English, but it will enrich your life outside of the classroom. Many people teach abroad and never learn to count to ten in the native language. Show some respect and learn the language.
What's the difference between the person who learns to speak the language and the one that doesn't?
- The one who knows none is likely socially isolated from the native population, living in a bubble, and possibly adopting a "me and them" mentality.
- The one who is learning the language is likely more connected and happier.
I have been on both sides of the coin. I lived in a country where I hardly learned to speak the language (Korea) and I also lived in one (well, now China, Taiwan and Japan) where I did apply myself to learning the language.
Which experience do you think I enjoyed more?
You are right I didn't enjoy Korea so much. Well, it was comfortable I was living in my little comfort bubble.
You can take language courses at a center, university, or possibly through a tutor. These prices vary a great deal and can cost thousands of dollars for a semester of studies at a university. At a center you could pay $500 or more for just a few weeks of studies. If you're teaching English full time that can be difficult to fit into your schedule.
3. Learn How to Teach English
Put some effort into your work. Get prepared to teach. Most of your hours will be spent at work and if you don't enjoy it then your students won't either.
Why waste your time, your students time, and possibly their parents money?
If your students are enjoying your classes then it's most likely that you will be too. Take some time to prepare classes that are enjoyable, enriching and educational.
Regardless if you take a course or not you'll still need fresh ideas, games, activities and resources for class.