Important information for getting your Chinese working visa

Megan Grey has been in China for just over two weeks, at Yew Wah International Education School of Tongxiang. She tells us she is having an amazing experience so far, and has written lots of blogs about her experiences which we can’t wait to share with you. In this first blog she recounts her experience of obtaining a Chinese working visa, complete with the mistakes she made, and how to avoid them.


This blog post is an attempt to help anyone out who is trying to go through the exhausting, frustrating and simply ridiculous process of applying for a Chinese visa. I know that when I went through it, I would have found it helpful to get some advice from someone who had done the same thing to explain the process in simple English terms.

Just bear in mind that everything I tell you was true when I started applying for a working visa during the beginning of 2017, but the regulations change all the time so might be different for you. You need to check with your school’s HR department for what you need and what steps they can do for you.


documentsStep 1: Send documents to your school

You need to email a huge list of documents to your school. For me this included the following:

  • A full colour scanned copy of your passport
  • Authentication of degree certificates, teaching credentials and DBS/police check form (I will explain this bit and how to get something authenticated, it’s a tricky process!)
  • A full colour scanned copy of university transcript
  • A CV
  • A reference letter from your last employer (this needs to include your full name and passport number, your period of employment and details of your teaching position)
  • Pay slips from your previous employer
  • The name and address of the Chinese embassy/consulate from which you will apply for your entry visa (there is one in London, Manchester and Edinburgh)
  • An overseas correspondence address
  • A health certificate (I’ll explain this bit again later too)
  • A signed letter of commitment
  • A signed employment contract
  • Full colour passport photos (tip: bring a few with you when you get to China, I had to get some more done when I got here)

There are more steps to do if you are married or have children but for little old me that was it.


Step 2: Get the medical check

In order to work in China you need to prove that you are fit and healthy to do so. I went to a place in Manchester called sameday doctor. You’ll need to get an ECC, a chest x-ray, and a blood test. There’s an official form to fill out, if you google it you might find it, my school sent it to me. You need to make sure you have a photo attached to the form and the doctor signs it and stamps it to make it official. You will have to pay for it and get it done privately, it’s expensive! Mine cost nearly 500.          *Important tip: save all your receipts so you can get reimbursed from your school.*


Step 3: Get your documents authenticated

Word of warning… this step is a long process so get it done as soon as possible. I needed to get my degree certificate, my teaching credentials and my DBS check authenticated.

  • authentThe first thing you need to do is take it to a solicitor, they need to sign a photocopy of the document to prove that it is a legal document. CAREFUL: for the DBS document you have to sign the original document but for the degree and teaching certificates, signing a photocopy is okay. I went to a solicitors in Manchester called Stephensons, they are really helpful. They saw me on the same day and only charged me a fiver per document. I went in about 5 times by the end! Learn from my mistakes and do it right the first time!
  • The next step is to send the documents to the Foreign Commonwealth office in Milton Keynes. You need to fill out a form online, google FCO documents authentication and it will take you to a .gov website. You need to fill it out and print it off. Then send it on tracked delivery to the address on the form. This takes about 2 weeks to come back to you. This costs £35.50 per document so it soon adds up! When it comes back it will have an A5 sized document stapled to it to prove it’s a legal document.
  • The final step is to take the documents to the visa office, I went to the one in Manchester on Denison Road. You will need to take a photocopy of the document too with all the things attached. Make sure you do the front and the back (starting to see all my mistakes yet?). You also need to take your passport and a photocopy of the passport. There’s a form to fill out too (such a massive faff!). They will take the document from you, you can pick it up 3 working days later and need to pay £15 per document. It will have an official stamp from the embassy.
  • Then you can scan and send all these documents to your school and they can apply for a work permit. You may also get an invitation letter, I didn’t need this when I applied but this changes all the time.


Step 4: Get your work permit

Once everything is sent in you can receive your work permit, this is basically a letter that says you have permission to work in China. You need this document and your school’s license (just ask your school and they can send this to you), then you can go to the visa office. In Manchester, it is near China town on Morton Road. You need to take your passport, your permit and the school’s license. I got seen really quickly and didn’t need an appointment, however, in London I heard it’s much harder and you need an appointment to do it. You hand everything in (they will keep your passport) and 3 working days later you can pick it up. It cost me £178 so be prepared to have to pay a lot for it! You’ll get a sticker in a page in your passport and with that, you can be allowed into China.


Simple as ABC… I think not! I hope that helps even a little bit! If you are applying for a Chinese Z visa (that’s a working visa) good luck! I hope the process is more straightforward for you than it was for me.


What a useful post, thanks so much Megan! If you have any useful advice like this, for other teachers heading abroad this year, please email and we can discuss your ideas!

Written by Megan Grey, A 24-year-old primary teacher from Manchester. now working in Tongxiang, China at a Yew Wah school. She is beyond excited for the next steps in her teaching career, and believes that "if your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough!"

Ten reasons why our international teachers can’t wait to begin!

International teaching has many perks, which means that there are many reasons to do it. We asked every teacher we have placed this year to tell us what they are most looking forward to, and then whittled down the hundreds of responses we got. Here are the ten most common reasons why teachers this year are excited to go international.


1. Professional Development

International schools often pride themselves on their excellent CPD opportunities. They are able to provide effective training because they employ the best teachers from all over the world who can share with each other the skills they have learned back home. Have a read of our blog on professional development here. 

cpd ladder


“Having recently completed an MSc International Development Management, I am looking forward to taking a step towards education development in the senior organisational levels.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing to strive for best practice in vocation.”

“I am excited to be able to learn new teaching methodology and continue my professional development. You are never too old to learn.”


2. To teach the IB

As I am sure you are aware, many international schools run the International Baccalaureate as opposed to the local curriculum. It is a very different way of teaching and learning, which enables students to become holistic learners with an understanding of how they actually learn (‘the theory of knowledge’) and skills that are useful outside of the classroom. For teachers, it enables them to teach with more freedom. They are encouraged to make lessons interactive, investigative and can introduce some interesting projects. The IB is very interdisciplinary, enabling teachers to learn around their subject and collaborate with other departments.



“I am mostly looking forward to teaching the IB curriculum because I believe that it will develop my teaching skills further.”

“I am looking forward to teaching the IB Middle Years Programme. Oh, and less traffic congestion!”

“I am very excited about working with children from very diverse backgrounds and learning about how IB schools work.”


3. More money

International schools salaries vary from place to place (read our blog on comparing schools salaries) but as a general rule, they enable teachers to save more money. Some countries are tax free, others have a very low cost of living, and most salaries will be inclusive of accommodation, flights and free medical cover, saving you hundreds every month.



“I am excited for professional growth, experience and of course some more money is always a nice plus.”

“I am looking forward to being able to afford to do exciting and wonderful things at the weekends and in the holidays. I will have a better salary in Thailand AND the cost of living is lower!”

“I am looking forward to being able to provide better for my family. My children will join me at the school, and get a great education for free, and as a family, we will be able to afford some lovely holidays and trips.”



4. To experience a new culture

Outside of the school walls, there is a new culture to dive into. A new language, new food, new religion and a new way of life. This is one of the most exciting things about teaching abroad. Read my blog about Cambodian culture, or a teachers experience of living in El Salvador.



“I’m looking forward to experiencing a new culture and way of life, doing a job I’ve been doing for many years but in a totally different setting. I look forward to meeting different people and am excited about the different opportunities that this will provide me.”

“I’m excited for my family and me to explore a new country and culture.”

“I am so excited for my children to experience and understand different cultures. I think it’s so important for their development.”


5. For the students

Teaching an international cohort is an amazing experience. Students may have different motivations, different learning styles, and very different opinions to those students you taught back home, and in fact, from each other. This can make every day and every lesson exciting and challenging.



“I am excited about teaching Art to Chinese students, it will be worlds away from teaching students at home.”

“I can’t wait to teach students who are more motivated to learn.”

“I am very excited about working with children from diverse backgrounds,  it is a chance to learn from the students as much as they learn from me.”



6. To work in a renowned school

Some of the top schools in the whole world are international ones. Just have a look at the blog we wrote on the best international schools to teach at in the world.  Many are very well established independent schools, and many belong to fantastic school groups. Either way, these schools can provide exciting opportunities and an unforgettable experience to teachers lucky enough to work there.


uwc thailand2“The International School of The Hague is a well established and renowned international school that offers amazing opportunities for pupils and staff. I look forward to learning more about international education through working there, and making likeminded friends of colleagues.”

“I can’t wait to work with a principal who is so experienced, enthusiastic and down-to-earth.”

“Working at an established IB school with new career opportunities. Being in Africa also offers numerous travelling opportunities during the holidays!”



7. To work in a developing school

On the flip side, because of a sudden boom in international education, there are many new international schools popping up all over the world. Being part of a growing and developing school can be a great learning opportunity. It can provide experience in curriculum development and can enable newer teachers to climb the ranks quickly. Alternatively, it can provide a challenge for more experienced teachers who may be feeling too comfortable!



“I’m looking forward to teaching in a relatively new school with a small staff and getting to have a real input into curriculum design and hopefully taking on some more responsibility.”

“I am excited to be part of a school in the early stages so that I can be part of its development.”

“I am really looking forward to joining a school that is just starting out and being able to grow with it. I am excited to learn from other professionals, meet new people and of course, discover what life is like in Myanmar!”



8. To meet new people

Moving to a new school means meeting a whole load of new teachers. Moving to an international school means meeting a whole load of likeminded, adventurous teachers! International schools can have a fairly high turnover too, meaning that if you stay for a long time, you get to meet lots of new people every year.



“I am really looking forward to getting back to Thailand to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones, too.”

“I want to share my new experiences as a teacher in East Timor with others wanting to do the same thing and hopefully inspire other teachers to work and travel.”

“I can’t wait to be part of an international school community, where so many people will have the same motivations and values as me and my family. My children will meet students from all over the world, and I will meet teachers from all over the world.”


9. For a new challenge

Teaching can become stifling and stagnant back home. International teaching provides a new challenge for those who have come to a standstill perhaps, or who just know there is something more out there for them. Have a read of our blog 5 signs you need a new teaching job!

challenge“Jeju will be an amazing adventure for my family and me. The school sounds really amazing, and the position is the challenge I was looking for.”

“I am looking forward to leading the secondary division of a relatively new international school and taking it through the next stage of its journey. After spending a brief time as a classroom teacher, I am equally looking forward to the challenges which senior leadership in schools bring.”

“I have lived and taught overseas for about 20 years. I am really looking forward to going to Egypt for another experience and the challenges of which a new country can bring. I am also a diver so being able to go diving in the Red Sea is very exciting.”


10. Travelling opportunities

What can be better than being able to pop to a tropical island on your week long half term? Or taking a trip to a new city every weekend? International teaching provides endless opportunities for travelling and exploring the world.  Have a read of this blog by Chris Lyons, about the opportunities he has had since going international.

travel“I am excited to get back to a seasonal climate in a culturally rich part of the world. I can’t wait to explore South Korea and get over to Japan, the Philippines and all the other incredible spots in South East Asia. Not to mention trying Kimchi and eating seaweed soup on my birthday!”

“I can’t wait to be able to explore a new country and see what the world has to offer.”

“I am looking forward to working and living in a new climate with such a wide range of biodiversity and natural beauty.”



If you want to experience the same excitement as these lucky teachers, sign up to Teacherhorizons and create your profile. Then you can browse our list of jobs. Schools will be starting to recruit for August 2018 very soon, don’t miss out!

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Three reasons schools value Teacherhorizons and our recruitment service.

At Teacherhorizons, we’ve had another fantastic year and we’re proud of the feedback we’ve received from teachers. We’ve helped over a thousand teachers secure positions in over fifty countries. We also support hundreds of schools – all over the world. This blog is to share some recent feedback from Headteachers and recruiters that we work with…


1. Our personal service

One of our unique attributes at Teacherhorizons is that our Recruitment Advisers all have a background in education. Many of us have been through the Teach First programme, been international teachers or even been members of senior leadership in the international sector. This background enables us to understand the needs of teachers, the needs of schools, and to empathise with the trials and tribulations of recruiting.

Every single one of the schools we work with has a designated Lead Recruitment Adviser (LRA). That Adviser will take the time to either visit the school or, if not possible, speak to the main recruitment contact over Skype. They will learn and make a note of everything there is to know about the school itself (facilities, intake, curriculums, the surrounding area) and also that school’s specific recruitment needs. The rest of us can then tailor our search for teachers with that in mind.

excellent“Maggie has worked tirelessly to match candidates with our needs and expectations. It is never easy to find the perfect teacher/school match but Teacherhorizons’ personal and tailored  approach has always been highly valued.” – Bebegarten Education Centre

 “The service was very personal and the person I was liaising with had a good understanding of my specific needs, which meant that she could link me with the most suitable candidates.” – Traill International School

“Teacherhorizons is a highly professional teacher recruitment agency, whose consultants go the extra mile to understand our specific needs as an organisation. This has helped us to recruit some excellent new teaching staff. A huge thank you!  Tiffany has been an amazing point of contact, highly professional, very responsive, and has done a great job for us, finding candidates for ‘hard to recruit for’ Cairo and some difficult subjects.” – New Cairo British International School


2. Our communication

We pride ourselves on our quick and effective communication with both schools and candidates. We Skype every candidate we place and, if possible, every school we work with as well. As for emails, even during peak time, our turnaround for answering queries from schools is within one working day. When schools inform their Adviser of a new vacancy, that Adviser will ensure it is advertised on the website within 24 hours, and a marketing campaign is sent out to suitable candidates that week.

This year we beat our record time for finding an English teacher. The school got in touch on a Friday and we had a candidate interviewing for the position by Monday. It was successfully filled by Tuesday!



“I was impressed with the support and swift responses. An extremely helpful and professional company to work with.”- The Britsh School of Tashkent

“I have been impressed by the speed and efficiency of Teacherhorizons’ services. We needed a Mathematics teacher at short notice and were able to make an appointment within a week.” – UWC Thailand

“Teacherhorizons is prompt, thorough, and professional. They do a great job screening and recommending candidates for Woodstock’s unique requirements as a residential school in the Indian Himalayas.” – Woodstock School




3. Our talented teachers

As we discussed in our blog on safeguarding, our candidate recruitment and vetting procedure is rigorous, and as such, we only put forward the best teachers. We look at each candidate’s CV, qualifications, experience, personal and professional background and 3 confidential references before we invite them to interview. If you are one of our teachers you will know only too well the importance we place on verifiable references which have been sent from professional school email addresses! We also treat our interviews as professional school interviews, both so that we can identify strong teachers, and so that we can prepare them effectively for the next step.



“We use Teacherhorizons as our preferred provider as we find their service to be very responsive, the quality of the candidates to be consistently high and the fees very reasonable.” – ACS International, Singapore

“Teacherhorizons has provided me with some of my most experienced and versatile teachers and academic leaders this year. The recruitment team really go the extra mile in trying to listen to our school’s needs and providing candidates who will be personally and professionally fulfilled in our school and fulfill the high expectations we hold for our teachers and leaders.” – Yew Wah International Education School of Yantai

“We’ve worked with Teacherhorizons for three years now. They’re very responsive and patient. Teachers we hired through Teacherhorizons are excellent.” – Léman International School

“A very efficient service with a high proportion of suitable candidates” – The Koc School


In summary…


“Recruiting was a pleasure when working with Teacherhorizons; the drag and dross was removed, and it became quite exciting!” – Kivukoni School

“Teacherhorizons is the most effective recruitment service I’ve worked with this year.” – New Cairo British International School

“We have been using Teacherhorizons for a number of years now, they have been consistently providing us a very professional, very personalised service. We are very happy and will continue to use them for many years to come.” – Sekolah Victory Plus




Does Teacherhorizons sound like something you would like to be part of? If you are a Principal or school contact interested in creating a free school profile page, then start here. If you are a teacher looking for a new international position and want to create a free teacher profile, start here. For any questions or just to get in touch, contact

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

What to expect when you’re moving to a new country to teach or study abroad

Moving to a new country for an extended period of time can be difficult. They call it ‘culture shock’ for a reason! There are a lot of things we take for granted in our native countries, such as eating customs, colloquial language and social norms. Knowing what to expect when making the move to teach abroad can make the transition much easier. That’s why guest blog writer Punyaa Metharom from Bromsgrove International School in Thailand, has put together some advice.


                                                                                                         Eating and ordering habits

mealOrdering and eating food is one of the first and most common things you will need to do in your new country of residence. Keep in mind that different cultures do things differently. For instance, in your new country:

  • Utensils may or may not be used with certain food items
  • It may be considered impolite to touch food at produce stands prior to purchase
  • Gratuity for servers may be expected or included in the bill
  • You may be expected to ask for the bill, or it might be considered rude to do so
  • You may have dinner much earlier or later than usual, or find meal sizes vary

Learn what you can before you leave in order to avoid awkward moments. You won’t be able to avoid them all, so be polite and be prepared to learn by example.



New languages 

girlYou may already have a good grasp of the language spoken in the country you are going to, you may know nothing, or it could be your native language. Either way, expect to be surprised.

If you already know a fair amount, expect to learn quickly, and, if you spend a lot of time with natives, to start to see your new language affect how you speak your native language. Certain phrasing will creep in when you speak to your friends back home. You may even forget a word! Don’t worry, it’s all still there and waiting for you.

If you are traveling to a country that speaks your primary language, expect it to be very different. Residents in your new country of residence are likely to use some words differently than you do, and phrasing may also vary.

If you have little knowledge of the language in the country you will be traveling to, hang tight! You may be in for a bumpy ride. Learn basic phrases before you go, such as greetings and questions; for example, to find out where the bathroom is!


Social customs

Related to eating habits, social customs vary widely from country to country. This includes greeting styles, in which you may expect, a kiss, double kiss, triple kiss, a hug, a handshake, a bow, or nothing. The customary distance between individuals may be different from your native country, so you may find that people stand at a closer or greater distance from you in social settings.

Depending on the country to which you travel, there may be different customs specific to your gender. Learn what habits you may need to adopt in order to remain safe and respectful.





Health and safety

Before traveling to a new country, research if any vaccinations are recommended prior to travel and if the water in the country is safe to drink.

You should also research how to get in touch with emergency professionals, locate the nearest hospital and police station, and learn how to contact your native country’s embassy.


You may be surprised to learn that readjusting to your life back home can prove to be a bigger challenge than leaving your native country in the first place. For some people, getting re-acclimatised in their native country can be a more jarring experience. Expect that your horizons will be broadened and your perspective may have become enriched. You may see things differently and should be patient with yourself as the new you gets to know your native customs again.


You stand to learn a lot from your time in another country and studying or teaching abroad is a wonderful experience. Help yourself to transition into your new surroundings by keeping an open mind and doing a bit of research before you jump in! If you are keen to take the plunge, sign up to teacherhorizons and browse our jobs board.  Schools like Bromsgrove International School are advertising now!

Written by Punyaa Metharom, who has been teaching English as an Additional Language, English, and writing blogs at Bromsgrove International School in Thailand for eight years. When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel around the country and beyond. Punyaa wants to have a firm grasp on the world so his students can as well.

Teaching at Dili International School, Timor-Leste

Greetings Teacherhorizons viewers! I am Matthew Spooner from Melbourne, Australia. In January 2017, I packed my bags, left the land from down under, and flew to South East Asia’s best kept secret: Dili, Timor-Leste. I want to share with you the experience I have had so far.


Why I am here

After teaching for seven years in Melbourne’s Catholic Archdiocese primary schools I decided that I needed a new professional adventure. I had assumed leadership roles, taught three grade levels in two schools, took on extra-curricular activities and even had a brief stint as an emergency teacher. Yet, there was an emptiness. I knew that I wanted to combine my love of travel, with my love for teaching. My wife, Jaklin (who is a qualified high school teacher) knew that this challenge would benefit our careers and our lives. So… to Timor-Leste we went!

timor leste
Learn more about teaching in Indonesia and find any Indonesian teaching positions here.


Dili International School

DIS is a certified International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The schools consists of a Junior School (Pre-school- Kindergarten), a primary school, a high school and Year 11/12. The school hours are 8:20am – 4:30pm, though this time can vary depending on meetings, extra-curricular activities, planning, marking etc. Within the primary school the class sizes range between 18-24 students per class and every primary teacher has a full-time Learning Assistant. The presence of the Learning Assistant in the classroom is advantageous as he (or she) is productive and helpful.

The leadership team here are both approachable and supportive. In particular, the principal and manager of the school are aware of the challenges of living in a developing country and being away from family and friends. Their open door policy is reassuring, and they are there to listen, offer advice and assist with our concerns. I believe that when good will is extended to another, it is received back. This is the case at DIS. They employed my wife as Year 8 Individuals and Societies Teacher, Grade 2 PE Teacher and she is on standby for relief teaching when required. Furthermore, they understand the importance of a work/life balance. This has resonated well with me. The overseas staff

Furthermore, the leadership understand the importance of a work/life balance. This has resonated well with me. The overseas staff are encouraged to have an active social life away from school in order to come back refreshed and energized.

dili international
Interested in working in an IB school too? Read advice on getting IB experience here. 


The lifestyle of an international teacher

The lifestyle of an international teacher has really appealed to me over the past six months. Jaklin and I thoroughly enjoy the down time away from school. We hire a car every couple of weeks and spend the weekends exploring Timor-Leste. Our favorite district is Liquica. Liquica is a 45 minute drive from Dili and takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. We also spend time at a local orphanage during the week, and the school has supported our voluntary work by making this our extra-curricular activity on Friday afternoons.

In my own time, I have taken up Portuguese lessons, however, in a country such as Timor-Leste, Tetum and Bahasa Indonesian are other languages worth pursuing. We have travelled to Bali and Singapore twice during this six month period. There are three flights a day to Bali, so whenever there is a long weekend or term holidays we are off to the travel agent to book our trip. Dili-Bali return flights cost around $200 US per person and the accommodation/spending money in Bali is reasonable. In Timor-Leste the official currency is US Dollars and the exchange rate adds value to your trip away.

The scenery of Dili, Timor-Leste.
Like the sound of the international teacher lifestyle? Read more about it first hand from teachers such as Christopher Lyons, in South Korea. 


The development of my professional approach

This way of life has benefited my teaching practice. My planning with my Grade 3/4 Team are professional and pleasant times. My colleagues and I come back to work wanting to get the best out of ourselves as well as meeting the needs of our students entrusted in our care. The IB framework has challenged my thinking nevertheless; I have adjusted and tweaked elements of my practice to embrace this style of learning and teaching. The professional reading is necessary to deepen my understanding of the IB model and the texts that I obtain are reader-friendly and practical. Moreover, I still read other educational topics that I am interested in. These topic include: Grit by Angela Duckworth and The Fixed/Growth Mindset or The Power of Yet by Carol Dweck.

My own professional standards have improved as I am working with teachers who have taught all over the world and from different countries. Their stories and commitment to the school has enabled me learn a lot from them. My students are from Brazil, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the USA. They bring their own experiences, talents and gifts to the classroom and I am delighted to see them grow in their learning on a daily basis. Truly, they are a joy to be with. I have had positive experiences with their families who trust my capabilities and are willing to work with me on their childs’ development.

dili kids
Read about how other international teachers have developed their way of thinking and teaching in this blog.
Final Thoughts

At the end of my teaching career in Melbourne I was burnt out, disengaged, and frustrated with the profession. If I have to be truthful, I was prepared to walk away from teaching. Teacherhorizons and Dili International School both helped me fall in love with teaching once again. Timor-Leste and its location in South East Asia has allowed me to travel domestically and internationally on a regular basis and I am hopeful that there are many more voyages ahead. I am forever grateful for this opportunity. The way of life for an international teacher was something that I had always dreamt about, and now… I live it!


Has Matthew answered some of your questions about what it is like to teach abroad? If you still have more, have a look at our FAQ by Teachers blog. To get adventurous like Matthew and Jaklin, just create a profile here. 

Written by Matthew Spooner, an Australian primary school teacher, who has ventured to Timor-Leste to teach PYP at Dili International School.

We asked our teachers… “What advice would you give to others thinking of teaching abroad?”

At Teacherhorizons we love to get feedback from teachers about their experiences all over the world. We recently sent out a questionnaire to get some of this inside scoop. We have already shared with you the answers to “tell me something you have learned”“tell me a funny story” and “what are the misconceptions about teaching internationally?”. Here are the answers to our final question. It is an important one for those of you who are teetering on the edge… it’s your last chance to take the leap!


This week we asked “what advice would you give to someone who is umming and ahhing about teaching abroad?”


“Do it! But get in touch first with the teachers who work there already; they tell you how it really is.”

“Just go for it. You will always have doubts but the experience is worth taking the risk.”

“100% do it. You will come back with stories to tell, characters you’ve met, adventures to share. You might think you can imagine what it will be like but you will never know until you’ve taken that leap of faith.”

“Just do it! It is always possible to do it in the way you want to, for example there are more comfortable options (places, schools, roles) or more adventurous ones. There is something for everybody out there.”

“If you’re thinking about it, do it! Whatever happens it will be a life experience that will develop you as a person. And who wants to hear about the time you nearly moved abroad?”

“Take the leap. If it isn’t what you wanted, you always have a home to go back to, but if you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder what it would have been like.”


“Try it! Even if you don’t like every part of it, you will come back a more rounded person, with some amazing experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise. I have loved every minute of my last 7 years abroad!”

“Do it….but choose the school wisely! The school is more important than location as you spend most of the time at work!”

“Go for it – you only live once! Do as much research as you can about the school as well as city and country you will be living in so that you get a sense of what your professional and leisure experiences and costs of living could be like. Seek out people who live in that environment, or have done so, and ask as many questions as you can.”

“If you are worried about the change or about being so far from home, don’t! Embrace the new experiences but also, it is important to recognise time when you need a break – whether that means going home for the holidays, or visiting a different city or country.”

“Take the leap! It’s not scary once you are there…You will likely gravitate towards others who are like you and quickly become part of an expat community – but be open to connecting with others beyond this bubble if possible: sports, culture and the arts, religious affiliation are some of the ways you will meet new people.”

“Did you know, 73% of teachers say they would like to teach overseas at some point but only 9% ever do. Which group do you want to be part of?!”


Do you have your own advice to give? Please feel free to comment below, or to contribute to our teacher questionnaire by clicking here and answering the questions. We would love to use your answers in our next blog!

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

7+1 practical tips that will help you adjust back home after teaching abroad

Hello, international teachers! Have you finished for summer? Are you off travelling the globe? Are you preparing for your next teaching adventure? Have you fallen in love with your school and city, and sticking around for the umpteenth year? Or have you decided to pack up and head back to your friends, family and those home comforts? If you are coming home, then welcome! You are not alone. This week we have a guest writer, Dimitris, who offers some tips on making your trip home hassle free…


They call it reverse culture shock – that odd feeling people get when they return home after they had spent a relatively long time abroad.

I was never even aware of the possibility of such a feeling, until it actually happened to me. Recently, I came back home after a year spent teaching English in Thailand. I remember my head being full of questions before I embarked on my Thai adventure. Who will I meet there? Will I enjoy the food? Is it really so beautiful? Then, after a while, I settled into my new life and started enjoying it to the full. When the time came to return, I begrudgingly stepped onto a plane home and arrived into a new kind of shock.

I was, of course, very excited to see my family and friends again, but, after a while, I began feeling confused, bored and misunderstood. That, is when I realised; it takes some preparation before returning from your adventure too. But my struggles back then, are your gain. Now I have some tips for a smoother transition back to life at home.


1) Save money

I know it’s very tempting to explore as much as you can while you’re in an exotic place, but you should do so within your means. You’ll have significant expenses when you return – you’ll have to find a home, maybe buy a car, some furniture…

Also, it’s not as easy to save money while working in most English speaking countries, so use the opportunity to do so while teaching abroad. Give some private lessons if possible and put that money aside. You will transition back to your old life more easily if you feel financially stable.


2) Make a career plan while still overseas

Start planning the future while you’re still abroad. The internet can help you a lot with this. While teaching anywhere in the world, you can study for your Master’s Degree or get in touch with potential employers. LinkedIn is a great tool for this, for example.

If you come home with a vague plan, your savings may evaporate quickly while you find your footing.


make-plan3) Look for a place to live before you return

Look at options, contact landlords and set up viewings before you return home. This is the biggest expense for most returning teachers and taking care of this step beforehand can prevent a rushed and impractical decision.

Again, the internet can help you a lot with this, and you can also ask family or friends back home for some assistance.


4) Pay your taxes and keep your licenses current

While having a great time enjoying the beaches of Thailand or admiring the architecture of Barcelona, you can easily overlook the less exciting obligations at home, like filing tax returns.

Keeping your documents current may seem less important while living abroad, but once you return home, you’ll have a ton of work to do. The more things you do while still overseas, the easier your transition will be.


different-person5) Understand that you’re a different person now

The first step of truly readjusting back home is accepting the fact that you’ve changed. It was inevitable. And it’s a great thing. However, your friends and family may not realise how much your worldview has altered.

It can be hard to explain what you’re going through to people who have never had the experience. Consider keeping a journal in which you’ll note down your feelings, memories or doubts. Your writing doesn’t have to lengthy or award-winning. It simply serves as a good outlet to process your readjustment.


6) Keep your memories alive through your work

It’s true – when you come back, most people will listen to your exciting stories for about ten minutes and then just switch off. You’ll have a million stories to tell, but they simply won’t care as much as you’ll want them to. Frankly, you’ll start getting on everyone’s nerves.

Here are some things that can help you express yourself fully:

  • Start your own site or blog
  • Write for other sites
  • Make videos and share them online

You’ll find the right audience by doing this and things will get a lot easier for you.


like-minded-people7) Connect with like-minded people online or face-to-face

Nowadays, with just a few simple clicks, you can connect with anyone. Use social media to your advantage. Search Twitter for #reversecultureshock or #reentry hash tags. It’s nice to know that you’re not alone.

There are also several great sites to check out, like Small Planet Studio for example. Get inspired by reading about how other people adapted to life back home.

However, communicating with people online only goes so far. Perhaps you’ll also need to meet people face-to-face and talk about your experiences. A good place for that is Meetup. If you don’t see a group that suits you, make one yourself!


8) Explore your own country

Just because you are back home it doesn’t mean you have to stop with adventures. Find places to see and things to do in your own country that remind you of the fun you had abroad.

If you miss the food from your host country, find a place that serves it. Better yet, learn how to make it and invite your friends for dinner!


Remember that it takes some patience and time to readjust to your life back home. Hopefully, some of these tips will help you keep going. If home isn’t for you, and you’d like to see where else you could teach, contact our dedicated team of advisers to discuss your options.

Written by Dimitris Vlachos, a full stack marketer at Movinhand. Movinhand helps educators get the salary they deserve.

We asked our teachers… “What are the misconceptions about teaching internationally?”

At Teacherhorizons we love to get feedback from teachers about their experiences all over the world. We recently sent out a questionnaire to get some of this inside scoop. We have already shared with you the answers to “tell me something you have learned” and “tell me a funny story”. Here are the answers to a question we think is very important for those teachers looking to go international for the first time.


This week we asked “Are there any misconceptions about international teaching? Any expectations that you had (good or bad) that haven’t been as you thought?” Have a read of the answers we got back…


“In the past there was a misconception that international teaching was a bit of a gap year and that you couldn’t find a job when you come home. Today many international schools are much more progressive than schools in the UK, and the experience actually opens more doors to better opportunities when you return.”

“I really thought that teaching is teaching wherever you go, and that it is a transferable skill. Well it is, to an extent, but teaching internationally was just the most different experience for me. It is progressive and dynamic unlike back home.  The schools are different, the teaching styles are different, and some of the skills you have learned before just get thrown out of the window! It’s an amazing experience and I have loved it, but it’s worlds away from teaching back home.”

“My misconception was that I would work less hard than I did in the UK. I was very wrong! Also, that there would be no social welfare incidents.”

“I didn’t realise that I would be able to be so creative with my teaching. I have developed more than I could ever imagine, because I am trusted. I take the students’ learning wherever I think is necessary, and I teach them in the way I want to teach. It’s amazing.”

“Some people believe that international teaching is like a busman’s holiday. it really isn’t. You have to work just as hard, if not harder overseas. However the rewards are excellent.”

healthy food

“A major misconception is that these bright and open minded international students will be more eager to learn. By and large, this is true, but sometimes students from affluent backgrounds can also be quite apathetic as they know Mum and Dad are wealthy enough to take care of them if they don’t do well in school. Or there is the “I will work for my Dad’s business after my iGCSEs therefore I don’t need to work hard” mentality.”

“I thought that parents would be much more intervening in international schools than they are in the UK, but I was only half right. Parents with children in international schools can be very demanding of the level of support they expect from teachers, but other times, their busy jobs mean they just don’t have enough time to intervene. Also what you don’t consider, is that having busy and wealthy parents can actually mean that children may not be getting the kind of attention they need at home.”

“I think people think it is an easy ride. But living in a new country, not knowing anyone and having to get to grips with a new curriculum is a real challenge.”

“Well, for me, I thought that to teach in an international school you have to be a UK qualified teacher. But it turns out this is not true; as long as you are well trained and hard working you can teach almost anywhere you want to internationally, especially using Teacherhorizons!”

“My misconception was behaviour…international kids can be naughty too!!!!”

Do you have your own misconceptions to discuss? Please feel free to comment below, or to contribute to our teacher questionnaire by clicking here and answering the questions. We would love to use your answers in our next blog!

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Thank you, Teacherhorizons, for my new sunrise and sunset.

As the recruitment year starts to wind down we are beginning to reflect on our successes. We would like to share a post from Catharine DeBoni, a South African candidate who, with the help of Teacherhorizons, is on her way to China to teach Primary Art and EAL in August 2017.

My thanks

cqHow can I ever say thank you enough, to an agency that never cost me a penny, yet completely changed my crossroad in life? I was lost for words at first when my contract was officially offered in February this year, 2017. But today I feel like putting pen to paper – keyboard to screen – to write about my experience.

I registered with Teacherhorizons in June 2016, and 8 months later got offered a job beyond my dreams and expectations in China teaching Art and EAL. My career will take a huge leap forward since the school I am joining, YCIS Chongqing is now also an IB affiliated Global school. What can I say? I am truly grateful and  I am simply over the moon!

Every day at present is one step closer to a brand new life and future for both me and my daughter. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision taking on this teaching endeavor, but as reality is striking, and every single plan is just gently falling into place, I cannot help but feel a deep spiritual teaching purpose, and sense of destiny.

Helen Weir is also teaching a Yew Chung Chongqing, read her post about settling in and learning the language.


Hamilton Primary, 2016 Art Expo
My advice

My advice to any teacher applying with Teacherhorizons would be: First and foremost, be dead honest with yourself and everyone else involved. Start off with your own list of what you have to offer a school and what you have always dreamed of having in return, and then stick to it.

I am a South African teacher and have been teaching since 1997 (it shocks me to think that this is my 20th year in the teaching profession.) For me, it is time to break away from the educational downfalls, politics and regimes that have stilted me in South Africa. It is time to pass on what I have learned and enjoy seeing it flourish in the “right” school with the “right” educational vision, where Art and Performing Arts are valued and even highly regarded.

We have had many more happy teachers this year – read their comments here



logoMy process

It was quite a process making sure my Curriculum Vitae was in the right format and that all my details were 100% and listed with Teacherhorizons. I would say the first 3 months on the website was a time for me to tweak and perfect all of my information.

I must have gone through at least 5 Skype interviews and 3 shortlistings before Philip Latham and Maggie Johnstone managed to help me get my contract with YCIS. Every single interview was an eye opener and very good experience. I learned so much about myself and about the international school vibe just via the questions that were posed and the answers given.

3 simple steps to sign upI initially looked at schools in the Middle East such as UAE and Oman. I was convinced that THAT should be where I should go. But then one early morning Philip sent me an email and asked me if I could check my spam mail because there was a school in China looking for a Primary Art Teacher and it sounded like the job for me. This was really special because the email was clearly not reaching me, but Philip picked up on it and got hold of me instead. The rest is history. Philip and Maggie were incredible! They supported me each and every day, through all the anguish and nail-biting interviews, until the job was offered… and even beyond.

To get started with this process yourself, click here to sign up, and one of our Advisers will be in touch.


My futurechong

Last week I received my Chinese work visa, and next week I will buy (and be reimbursed for) my airline tickets to land in Chongqing, China on the 1st of August 2017. And by the way… you might not know this…but Chongqing is unofficially the largest city in the world. It’s larger than New York. Yikes!!!

I will miss my South African pupils; with their humble nature and their ability to simply make do with so little in resources. But I look forward to spreading my wings. When you teach Art, the sky is indeed the limit, especially in China.


We wish you all the very best Catharine! But we don’t just make teachers happy…in the weeks to come we will post some happy schools’ comments too. Whether you are a teacher or a school, we welcome your feedback…please do email and let us know how we are doing!

Written by Catharine DeBoni, a Creative Arts Teacher with 20 years of teaching experience in South Africa in both public and private school sectors. She is a Fine Arts and Performing Arts Specialist and is about to begin working at an international primary school in China.

How the Teacherhorizons community helps educate disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka

Extreme poverty, malnutrition, squalid living conditions, no running water and poor sanitation are all part of a tea picker’s life. The tea pickers sit at the bottom of Sri Lanka’s social strata. The education provided to the children on tea estates is deliberately poor so that few can achieve the qualifications to get jobs outside of the estates and tea picking becomes their only ‘choice’. It’s a generational back-breaking job of servitude, rooted in a history of colonialism.

Tea Leaf Vision (TLV) is a charity who aim to change this. Read on to find out all about their work and how, by using Teacherhorizons, you are helping them make a difference.

As a team of international educators, we are committed to supporting international education for a range of schools and students of all backgrounds. 
For this reason, we donate 10% of all our profits to support education projects that offer opportunities to less fortunate students in developing countries. This year, we have selected Tea Leaf Vision (TLV) as our charity due to the impact they are having on young people in the tea plantation region of Sri Lanka.  TLV provides English classes to some of the most impoverished children in Sri Lanka providing them with the employability skills they need to broaden their horizons. For every teacher that is hired through Teacherhorizons this year, we will commit to supporting a student in Sri Lanka to study English for six months with the aim of equipping them with the skills they need to make their own life choices.



What is Tea Leaf Vision doing?


Tea Leaf Vision offers a full-time and free ‘Main Diploma Course’ in the English Medium. This takes students from no English and I.T skills, to the point where they can sit for a job interview in English and have the skillset to achieve employment.

However, this is only a part of what Tea Leaf Vision does. It also embeds personal development and community service throughout the diploma course. One example is Tea Leaf Vision’s Community English Programme (CEP), which tackles these issues at the root by training their 150 main diploma students (aged between 18 and 24) to teach 1,500 primary school students from 25 government schools in the surrounding tea estates.  

Tea Leaf Trust also facilitates the personal development of students so they can deal with complex and multi-layered social issues. These include alcoholism amongst 85% of the adult male tea estate community and domestic violence against 83% of tea estate women (20% sexual violence). Emotional-Health lessons raise awareness about common problems such as addiction and depression, with the aim of strengthening positive coping strategies.


Why is Tea Leaf Vision’s work important?

The Tea Leaf Vision Centre for Development was set up to bring up the standard of education for the youth of the tea plantations. The centre provides a free, full time education programme of English Speech and Grammar, IT, Business Studies. Tea Leaf Vision has a number of goals:



  • To deliver high quality, accessible educational programmes, both full-time and part time, to young people and children from the tea estates surrounding the Maskeliya area of Central Province, Sri Lanka
  • To affect social transformation in tea estate communities by highlighting the importance of community service, and instilling it as a core value in youths through a series of practical programmes that develop the skills of young people to give back to their communities
  • To improve the employability of youths and choice of employment options outside the tea estates by facilitating the development of high-standard English language skills and professionalism
  • To develop the emotional health of young people and enable them to strengthen their positive coping strategies to deal with the complex societal issues that exist in their communities

It also runs a number of projects and programmes for the community – it is a hub of learning for younger and the older members of the community. This programme provides its participants with the knowledge, skills and tools to tackle the challenges faced day to day by the children of the tea field workers.


What impact is Tea Leaf Vision having?

Nearly 90,000 people have benefitted from the TLV initiatives in and around the community. Tea Leaf Vision works hard to extend its projects into the communities so that people of all ages benefit from the programmes run.
the trust

In the last two years alone, TLV have had:

  • 8,546 direct beneficiaries – these are people in and around the tea plantations of Maskeliya directly getting support from its projects
  • 81,069 indirect beneficiaries – these are people who benefit from the knock-on effect of its projects. For example, one of the first term projects is to work in the local community to clean areas of the town or make areas safe. As a result of projects like this, large numbers of people, from the very young to the elderly have benefited.


In addition to this the students have raised and donated over £2,200 to those in more need in their community. This act is no mean feat, when you consider that 80% of the students live off less than $1 a day themselves. In addition they have also given a combined 17,479 hours of their time through volunteering on the service projects.

business fair

Academically, the community has also seen a number of benefits:

  • Students achieving Grade A – C pass in their English O-level has increased from 15% to 55%
  • Over 80% of TLV’s graduates are in full-time employment, training or further education within a year of their graduation
  • Students in employment are earning an average of 50% more than they could have achieved before studying with Tea Leaf Trust



A story of success

Kawshalya says: “Tea Leaf Vision is my turning point, because it changed my negative thoughts into positive actions.” Many people in Kawshalya’s community had spoken ill of her, and her parents made decisions for her based on these rumours. Tea Leaf Vision helped her to discover talents she did not know she had. Before TLV, her solutions to problems were to harm herself and she attempted suicide on numerous occasions. She now strongly believes that dying is not the solution thanks to the Emotional Health Programme taught in the second and third term. At the start of term one, she found talking in English difficult and struggled in her speech classes, but her speech teacher encouraged and helped her to be confident. She was also recognised for her commitment to her studies and was given a weekly award for being hard working. She says that she’ll never forget Tea Leaf Vision as it was her turning point and she thanks TLV for giving a high standard free education to all of the young people in her country.


Where does the money go?

The short answer – It goes to the Community Education Programme. Each year over 1,500 children from 25 tea estate areas access 40 hours of  basic English classes for free.

The long answer – It goes to the Community Education Programme; the jewel in Tea Leaf Vision’s crown. A ‘training of the trainer’ programme, which benefits the children, local government schools and Tea Leaf Vision’s own ‘Main Diploma’ and ‘Advanced Diploma’ students.


studentsThe Main Diploma students are trained to be Student-Teachers and run free English classes for children aged 9 to 11. The programme runs throughout the year with term 1 being for training, and terms 2 and 3 for teaching through strategic partnerships with local government schools.

The Advanced Diploma on the other hand, is designed to ensure a practical learning experience for ‘interns’ to teach in the English medium and engage with students in a positive and supportive way. Interns of the Advanced Diploma are trained to manage the programme under supervision of Tea Leaf Vision staff. With their guidance, the interns will then complete a teaching placement with the centre and support staff, with management of all key events and programmes. They will play a vital role in the centre’s day-to-day operation. As such, the Advanced Diploma ensures sustainability for the centre too, as it enables TLV to employ promising and committed teachers who understand and embody TLV’s ethos.


How to find out more

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By using Teacherhorizons, you are helping us support important projects like TLV and providing opportunities for thousands of disadvantaged children in developing countries like Sri Lanka. Over the year ahead, we will share photos and stories of successes both on our Facebook page and our blog (subscribe down the right-hand side of this page). Want to get involved? sign up here and speak to one of our Recruitment Advisers.

Written by Alex Reynolds, founding partner and Director of Communications at Teacherhorizons.