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All content on this site and this page is original content by Leon of Leon's Planet.
It is provided as a service, free of charge, out of the goodness of my heart.
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Everything you wanted to know about teaching overseas.


Please keep in mind that it costs 200+ dollars per year for this website and I'm providing this service out of the goodness of my heart free of charge.  I make no promises, no guarantees, or other contractual obligations to you, the reader.  Remember, you ought to accept jobs at your own risk and with your higher power's blessing.  In fact, I would admonish you to counsel with the  higher power of choice, before accepting any employment.  If you don't believe in a higher power, then by simply following my advice, you will reduce the chances of getting a bad job.  Teaching overseas can be the best experience of your life, or your worst.  Please listen to me.  I've been doing this since 1995.


       There are a lot of scams going on out there.  Therefore, I hope to empower you with knowledge to be successful job-hunters, instead of becoming the prey of some conniving employer and/or head-hunting service.

       So, be sure to see my advice (ON THIS PAGE below; or click on the links in blue).

[Advice for getting job overseas]

[Advice for living overseas]

[Leon's FAQs for teaching overseas]

and now....

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Advice For Getting a Job Overseas

ADVICE for the Prospective Expat Teacher:

Finding a decent overseas job can be a difficult thing to do.  This document contains general advice for anybody desiring to go abroad to teach.  No matter which country interests you, you should read this.

1.  DON'T GO THROUGH RECRUITERS THAT CHARGE YOU MONEY.  They should charge the schools money, NOT YOU.  If they do, and you paid, you have been taken for a ride.  I personally know a guy who paid $1000 Canadian dollars to be placed (and the headhunting agency also charged the school the same).  I paid $20 US dollars, but I didn't go through a recruiter.  I went through an information service, much like the one I offer, only my offer is better (because it is now free of charge).  Please let me know the names of recruiters that charge prospective employees money.  [Now, remember that I'm not a recruiter; I do not offer employment; I offer information and advice.]

2.  ALSO:  DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BELIEVE ANYTHING A RECRUITER TELLS YOU.  THEY LIE LIKE SIEVES (sp?).  Be sure to read your contract thoroughly before signing.  If there is ANYTHING that you don't agree with, don't sign it.  Sometimes contracts are very vague (especially on the housing part).  They promise you housing, and then you find out that you are living with three other people in the same apartment.

3.  DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Find out as much as you can.  Ask questions.  Get the names and contact information of those expatriate teachers already working at the school, so you can contact them and ask questions.  Don't take anything for granted.  Ask a million questions.  If you don't like the answers, don't take that job.


Advice for Living Overseas

Instructions for living overseas:

(1) Blend in.  {Dress like the locals (unless they dress like you).}

(2) Learn the lingo.  [You get ripped off a lot less this way, and it helps to get around.]

(3) Go with a local whenever possible.

(4) If someone (a local) tries to start a fight with you, just walk (or run) away.  [The courts/police favor locals].

(5) Don’t go anywhere alone late at night.  [You set yourself up for a mugging if you do, or worse.]

(6) Safety in numbers (This is connected with #5, of course).

(7) Don’t complain about your host country.  [Remember when you point one finger, three are pointing back at you.]

(8) Watch your bags and pockets closely and carefully.  [Foreigners are targets for pick-pockets.]

(9) Get secured housing.  [There’s not much more scary than having one’s own home invaded.]

(10) Hold your child’s hand.  [There’s nothing more scary than losing a child in a foreign country.]

(11) Green light does NOT mean go and Red light does NOT mean stop; So, look BOTH ways before crossing the street.

(12) If you feel you’ve been “ripped off”, of if you know you are being “ripped off”, just pay the money and let karma do its thing.

(13) Under NO circumstances, tell any stranger your true country of origin if you are American.  There is quite a lot of anti-American sentiment in the world, because America is the “bully on the block”.  Hostility will be mis-directed toward you, even though you’ve done nothing wrong.

(14) When a beggar asks for fifty cents, give a dollar.  [This brings GOOD karma your way].

(15) Love your host country and your host country’s people unconditionally.

(16) Do you show fear; in fact, do not fear; But be very, very cautious.  [Be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves].  Fear attracts those things that one REALLY has to fear.  [Law of attraction].  Be happy and loving, and you will attract happiness and love.

(17) Pray.  Pray that the angels will watch over and protect you and your family.  Invite the angels into your life, into your home.

(18) Always keep a “cushion fund” of USD – for emergencies.

(19) Understand that you are in a different culture.  There are different mentalities, different ways of doing things, different taboos and different superstitions.  Learn those.  “When in Rome, do as Romans do.”  For instance, whistling in a Mongolian ger (yurt) is tantamount to opening an umbrella indoors in the West.

(20) Be vigilant.  ALWAYS be vigilant.  Keep your eyes open for suspicious behavior.  When suspicious behavior is perceived, take evasive action.  If being followed, do not go home.  The last thing you want is for a scumbag to know where you live.  Walk instead to the nearest police station, or hop in a taxi.

(21) Taxi drivers tend to overcharge foreigners.  Get used to it.  You can haggle if you wish.  I generally just pay and let karma do its thing.

(22) Make friends with as many locals as possible.  They can be a great source of help while living in a foreign country.


FAQs about teaching overseas

Q:  How do I obtain employment overseas?
A:  See links above.  Search for a job that tickles your fancy.

Q:  Once I have secured employment, how do I get my visa?
A:  Don't worry, the school/institute will tell you everything you need to do in order to get your visa.

Q:  How can I be sure that I'm not being scammed?
A:  First of all, don't pay anything to either recruiters or to the alleged school.  If they are charging you a fee, you are being scammed.
      Secondly, do your research.
       - For TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) / TESOL:  See any one of various "blacklists" online to see if the school you are to work for is listed.
       - For International K-12 Schools:  I suggest you pay for ISR (International Schools Review), and see the postings about various schools.

      Caveat:  Remember that some schools may have had problems in the past, but may have remedied their reputation.  It is always good to contact somebody working at the school and get their opinion about the school.

Q:  My boss says that I should just go to the country on a tourist visa and he will switch it to a work visa upon arrival.  Should I trust him/her in this matter?
A:  Well......    This is a tricky/sticky matter.  When I went to China in 2003, that's what I did and it worked out fine, because the local governments are allowed to issue visas (or rather WERE allowed to issue visas when I was there.  Laws change.)  Since then, I've heard that that is no longer the case.  In most countries, switching from a tourist visa to a work visa involves leaving the country.  Why?  I don't know.  It's crazy, but that's how the system works.  Sometimes schools will pay for the "visa run", and sometimes they won't.  Therefore, I have always insisted upon having my work visa BEFORE going to the country (China was the only exception).

Q:  Will I face any problems overseas?
A:  YES!  But, those can be minimized by following the advice given above/below.  I always say that living overseas can be the most wonderful experience of your life, or it can be the worst.  There are many stories of expats being taken advantage of.  This is due to naivety--in thinking that the same rules apply as in your home country.  Contracts are generally written for the benefit of the employer.  Read your contract carefully before signing.  Any promises made in the contract to you, the employee, may or may not be kept.  In some less reputable institutions, payment may be occasionally late, or in extreme cases not given at all, especially toward the end of the contract.  That's why it is so important to contact someone actually working at the school to see if they were treated appropriately by the employer.

Q:  What if I can't find any way to contact somebody working at the school/institute?
A:  Ask your prospective employer to let you talk with or email one of the foreign employees.  If your employer refuses, that is a very strong clue that you don't want to work at that school/institute!!!!!

Q:  Can I get out of my contract if I don't like working there?
A:  Yes and no.  Usually, there is a procedure written in the contract for the premature ending of a contractual term; And so, yes you can.  However, sometimes this enrages some employers and you risk incurring their wrath.  How that wrath manifests can vary:  pay might be withheld until you finish your contract, sometimes passports are held hostage, and sometimes you can be blacklisted by the employer calling immigration, and you will never work in that country again.  Such problems can be avoided.  More information about this is on my other page.

Q:  What if I don't have money for airfare, or what if I have barely enough for airfare, but no money to survive until my first monthly salary?
A:  My advice would be: don't go.  However, if you are determined to go, sometimes schools will give an advance on the first month's salary.  MOST (not all) schools will reimburse you for your airfare upon arrival.  I only worked for one school that wouldn't reimburse me for my airfare until the end of my contract.  If you are short on money (and I have been in that situation many times), you can pre-arrange for reimbursement on airfare immediately and/or an advance on one's salary.  (I have done both).

Q:  How are the students?
A:  Generally, horrible.  I'm sorry, but that is just a fact of life.  Even in America students are getting worse and worse.  However, if you are up to the challenge, there are ways to make the learning fun and exciting.  There are ways to manage whole classes of students, to keep chaos in check and bring about a semblance of order.  That generally involves no-nonsense, rules-oriented approaches, with copious amounts of fun, exciting, and challenging activities for the students to do.  That requires preparation.  If you think you can show up to class without having done any preparation, you are sadly mistaken.
It really differs from country to country and even from school to school as to the quality of students.  It might be a good idea to add this as a question to your list of questions to a current or former employee of the school to which you are applying.

Q:  What's there to do in my free time?
A:  Unfortunately, a lot of expat teachers like to go out and get drunk each night.  This is unadvisable, because for one it is expensive; and for two it is so hard to teach with a hangover.  Frequent tardiness or absence from work is NOT tolerated and may result in termination of contract and all benefits, such as housing.  That's why I only drink on the weekends, if at all.  There are so many other things to do.  Whenever I go to a new country, I occupy a lot of my free time in learning the local lingo.  This helps so much in getting around and shopping.  On the weekends, consider sight-seeing.  Always, in any country, there are things to see/visit.  Get culture!

Q:  What if I'm lonely?
A:  Loneliness in living abroad is part and parcel of the gig.  I remember my first Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home were rough (before the days of the internet).  These days, there is internet, facebook, Skype, and plethora of other ways to contact family.  You've got it a lot easier than I had it.  Still, I understand that it can be lonely at times.  That's why it is so important to make friends.

     One year, all of the foreign teachers at my institute got together for a pot-luck thanksgiving dinner.  It was awesome!  We had so much fun.  It is such a great memory of mine.

Q:  What if I get bored?
A:  There are so many things to do in a foreign country.  While in Korea, I took Tai Kwon Do lessons.  I visited Buddhist temples each Sunday.  I also enrolled in Korean language lessons.  I kept myself so busy that I didn't have time to be bored.  You might even consider doing some volunteer work.

Q:  What are my chances for romance in the foreign country that I work in?
A:  Honestly, this was the last thing on my mind when searching for employment overseas, because my primary concern was securing an honest income.  And, I suspect that for most of you, this is the same case.  However, once settled, and having much time on one's hands, the idea does eventually present itself to one's mind.

Answers vary depending upon the country/region.  Here's what I know:


If you are NOT Muslim and you are going to a Muslim country, the chances are nil.  I worked in one predominantly Muslim country (Turkey) and I had NO romance.  So, there you have it.


If you are going to Japan, I hear good things about the chances in Japan.  Japanese people are quite liberated in that respect.  (In some cases, they are a little too liberal for my tastes).


From my experience and from hearsay, the women in south-east Asia are gold-diggers.  Some will divorce you when they've got the visa and/or when the money runs out.  Some just want a "sugar-daddy".  (Disclaimer:  Some foreigners marry with South-East Asians and have very happy lives.  It's not impossible to find such a relationship.)


From  my experience and from second-hand stories, the Mongolian men are VERY protective of their women, but when a Mongolian man dates/marries a foreign woman, there's no problem (as long as she isn't Chinese).  (Disclaimer:  Some foreigners marry with Mongolians, but most of them got married OUTSIDE of Mongolia, and come to Mongolia, post-wedding.)


China presents a lot of problems for foreigners (mostly for the expat men).

I know of a guy who dated a Chinese woman, and then when his contract was up, he said, "Bye!"

She was royally ticked off (I don't know if he had led her on to believing that he would marry her, but that is likely.)  She took the cum from the condom, smeared it all over herself and told the police that he had raped her.  He went to jail for ten years.

So, if you want to break up with a Chinese woman, it is best to let her do the breaking up.  There are ways to get her to do this, but  I will not elaborate.  Use your powers of creativity.

I know personally of another guy who got syphilis from a Chinese woman.  You have to be careful in China.  The people are NOT educated about the dangers of unprotected sex and so V.D. (formerly S.T.D. now S.T.I.) are rampant in China.  China doesn't like to admit this in its state-owned media, but occasionally you can see articles about it.

I never had a relationship with a Chinese woman, for reasons that I shall not go into.


If you are going to Korea, there's a good possibility for romance; BUT, there are some things to keep in mind:

For you expat women, the Korean men are mama's boys, can't take care of themselves, and expect you to stay home and handle ALL the domestic chores, including raising the children.  Korean men are ONLY to work and bring home the bacon.

For you expat men, the Korean women are NOT what the Korean men claim they are:  "the best women on the planet".

(Foreword) My blog on my 10-year life in Korea kind of avoids this topic, except for my ex-Korean wife, so I'll give you details here:

       (3a)  My first year in S.Korea.
My first girlfriend in Korea was nice.  I fell in love, but when I talked about marriage, she said, "I could never marry you, because you are a foreigner and my parents would never allow it."  I was deeply hurt; however, I later found out that this is typical.  Korean parents (in general) are very opposed to marriage outside the culture.  Marriage is possible, but lets look at the statistics: of the five foreign men that I know who married Korean women, only one is still married.  This is because in every single case, the Korean woman left/divorced the foreign man.  So much for Korean parents blaming the foreign men!

       (3b)  My second year in S.Korea.
My second year in Korea was in the countryside.  The country folk are a lot more conservative, and that means no philandering with the foreigners.  (Exception is for foreign women.  Korean men are allowed to philander with and marry foreign women.)  I was celibate my second year.

       (3c)  My third year in S.Korea.
I honestly don't remember much about my third year in Korea.  It was pretty much bland in the romance department.  I was new to the area and it takes time to build up a social network.  In Korea, it is forbidden (taboo) to just approach a stranger and start talking.  (Exceptions include asking for directions, and Koreans are allowed to approach foreigners).  Generally, Korean culture requires a third party to introduce you to possible romance connections.  This is not a bad idea, but it can be frustrating if you aren't aware of this cultural quirk.

       (3d)  My fourth year in S.Korea.
This is when I met my wife.  Long story short.  She left me and her not-quite-one-year-old son a week before his first birthday.  She just left one day with her backpack and a smile on her face, and never came back.  Koreans blame me.  They think I must have been a bad husband.  I've got one thing to say in my defense, She gave me the child.  Yeah!  I have been raising the child by myself for 12 years (and counting).  The fact is I didn't want the divorce at the time, but now I see that she was no good for us.  She was unfaithful to me and stole a lot of money from me before she left.

       (3e)  My post-marriage life in S.Korea.
After six months of depression and drowning my sorrows in the bottle, I hit the dating scene again.  Long story short, all the women I dated were flakes in one way or another.  The first:  She was a control freak.  The second:  She dated for fun, had no intension of marriage.  The third: She was a gold-digger.  The fourth:  She was dumped by her ex-husband overseas and had trust issues.  The fifth:  She was abused by her ex-husband and had trust issues.

RE:  EUROPE:  I imagine that European romance isn't a problem at all. 
RE:  RUSSIA:   I hear that Russian men are very protective of their women, if you catch my drift.
RE:  MIDDLE EAST:  Forget it.  Not going to happen.

And, click here for more advice about how to deal with bad bosses.  (Also, black lists of employers can be found there.)

If you found this information helpful, please let me know.  I'd really appreciate knowing if this page is of any use to anybody.

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