Teacher Recruitment Fairs – Pros and Cons

This year, more teachers found international positions online than through the more traditional recruitment fairs which have dominated in the past. In this article Camilla Cook, an experienced international teacher, assesses the pros and cons of ‘fairs’ and asks whether recruitment fairs are still worth attending in this ‘online era’.

So, the question you may ask yourself is: “Should I attend international teacher recruitment fairs?”

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Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been an international teacher for almost a decade now and have taught in South America and Europe and will be making the move to Asia this August. I have attended recruitment fairs in the past, but this time, following a friend’s recommendation, I decided to try the ‘online approach’.

It ended up being faster, easier and significantly cheaper, but there are clearly advantages and disadvantages of each approach and I thought it would be useful to share my experiences with likeminded teachers.

Job fairs have long been touted by some recruiters to be the best way of securing an international teaching role, but how do teachers feel about them? As the number of English-medium International Schools increases globally and more jobs become available, is it time for us to question this method of recruitment, or are they to be championed as the best way to find the perfect role in a complicated market?

There is little doubt that meeting face to face for a proper interview is the most effective way to make informed decisions, both as recruiters and candidates. However, in our industry, geographical constraints make this ideal situation very hard to achieve. So large-scale recruitment fairs have come to serve as the watering holes at which people gather to meet each other. Are these watering holes the best way to ensure that teachers end up where they most want to teach?

Many schools in one place
Since many international schools still attend fairs, they offer an unparalleled opportunity for us to engage with a number of different organisations in one day. Schools put on presentations for teachers that can be illuminating and useful as a guide in the decision-making process.

Network with other teachers
Teachers have the chance to mingle with many of their peers. This means that fairs are a networking opportunity like no other. They provide teachers with the chance to mix with colleagues from all over the world in a neutral space and hear about one another’s experiences.

Get it over and done with!
The other real positive is that, providing you are successful, you can get the recruitment process done in one fell swoop, rather than having it extended over many weeks. This makes it a neat solution, and one that hopefully means that you can win some time back for doing the work you really care about in school.

However, there are a number of counter arguments to attending recruitment fairs.

Is still worth it?
Firstly, attending a recruitment fair can add up to an extremely costly experience. The bills for fights, hotel and food are footed by the visiting teacher and can cost thousands of dollars, with no guarantee of success. There is also the need to take time out from school, leaving your classes to be covered by someone else. If many teachers from the same school take time out to attend a fair, this could potentially have a very real impact on students’ learning that week.

Get in early
As the new schools open annually across the world, demand for teachers increases year on year. Clever schools don’t wait for the fairs to recruit their new teachers. They advertise online as soon as they know what positions are available, and often will have filled the slots by the time the fairs come around. They are, after all, looking to fill positions with the best teachers possible – they owe that to their students. This means positions initially advertised at fairs are often already filled by the time teachers arrive making the experience increasingly frustrating and pointless. They earlier you can connect with a school, the greater your chances of finding the right job.

Enough stress!
Fairs can also be a very stressful process for teachers. Although you will be aware of which jobs are available and can tailor your interview preparation accordingly, the position you wanted might be filled. You may feel pressurised into taking a job on the spot, and one that you are not sure you want. In the worst instance, you could walk away without any offers at all.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So are these fairs a necessary challenge for teachers? Something to be accepted as a quirk of the international recruitment scene? My experience taught me that it certainly is possible to avoid them altogether and rely on the quickening speeds of the internet to carry you through the tricky process of recruitment.

Both have their advantages and I won’t rule out attending fairs in the future. But I will try online routes early to find out first.

Virtually all schools are now using their own online application forms for the first stage of the process so that makes things easy. There are also more platforms like Teacherhorizons designed for teachers to explore jobs. When it comes to the interview, online services such as Skype have opened up the possibility for effective real-time conversations between recruiters and candidates. They also provide more flexibility since there need be fewer time constraints. When being recruited for my most recent role, I spoke to the Head teacher and Head of Secondary via Skype a total of four times on different occasions. This extended interaction gave them the chance to evaluate my suitability for the role collaboratively, over time, and from different perspectives, something that couldn’t be done in the heat of a job fair.

And might it be possible to do more with virtual fairs? Mass Skype meet-ups could allow schools and teachers the opportunity to focus on recruitment all at once and on a level playing field.

It seems to me that with a little creative thinking there may be scope for recruiters to make the process more consistent and fair, and for teachers to take back some control over the paths that our lives take. After all, the students are the most important stakeholders in our sector, and it’s only right that they have the best (and happiest!) teachers in their classrooms.

Camilla Cook is an English teacher from the UK. She has taught in London, El Salvador and secured her latest position at the Prem school in Chiang Mai in Thailand through Teacherhorizons.

Written by Camilla Cook, a British teacher who has taught in London and El Salvador. She will be moving to Chiang Mai to become Head of English at PREM in August this year.

Living and working abroad – Part II

As promised, here are two more daily accounts of our consultants’ work adventures – this time all the way from Somerset, UK and Cairo, Egypt! Talk about the varied life our consultants lead! Contact Teacherhorizons and discuss your options of teaching in a new exciting destination. But first, grab yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee and find out what Catherine and Maggie are up to when it comes to living and working abroad.

Meet Catherine

“On a clear day I can see across to the Nile river and the deserts beyond. The pyramids of Giza and Saqqara are often visible as well! Sunset views from my office are the best.​​”

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1/ Where are you based and how do you start your day?

I am based in Cairo, Egypt.
Every morning starts with coaxing my 6 month old puppy out the door. Ideally, this is followed up by slowly sipping a cup of tea on my balcony as I scan through e-mails. The reality is though that it’s more often a cup of tea on the go as I sprint to get ready and out the door!

2/ How many teachers on average do you Skype (or communicate with) per week?

As a part-time recruitment adviser, this varies hugely depending on the time of year. On average though I Skype 3-5 candidates a week and communicate with 40+ per week!

3/ What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

The most enjoyable part of my job is chatting with people from all over the world. I love finding out about the places they’ve lived and the engaging lessons they share with their students.

4/ What are the challenges of your job?

Time zones are always a challenge. But the bigger challenge for me is that teachers in my subject areas all have such niche skill sets and the right job always comes up at the wrong time!

5/ What’s the team like and how do you cooperate?

The TH team is so welcoming and it’s fantastic to have colleagues spread across the four-corners. We’re always bouncing e-mails back and forth to each other. And the monthly Skype meetings are a fun combination of endless jokes and getting through the agenda. Even though I’ve never met them in person, I know that we’re all of the same mindset!

6/ How often do you get to visit schools and do you get to travel?

Travel – always! I’m still teaching part-time as well and my school visits are related to that side of my life.

7/ Describe the view from your office

On a clear day or a smoggy one?
On a smoggy day I see the satellite dishes crowding the roof tops around me. But on a clear day? Wow! I can see clear across to the Nile river and the deserts beyond. The pyramids of Giza and Saqqara are often visible as well! Sunset views from my office are the best.

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8/ Why would you recommend your area to international teachers?

Cairo is a great city to be based in, particularly for teachers who are new to the international teaching scene. There are so many other international schools that it’s really easy to integrate yourself with a new group of friends. Egypt is a good balance of having the bizarre ‘quirks’ of life abroad, while still having easy access to the comforts of home (cheese!). Of course, it’s also a great part of the world to be based in if you’re interested in ancient history. Not only are the sites here incredible, but it’s just a short flight over to Lebanon, Jordan, Israel or Turkey!

9/ How do you spend your time after work?

Wandering the streets with my puppy. Cooking and savouring every tasty morsel. Taking photos of my quirky neighbourhood. Working on my master’s degree. Fantasizing about the next adventure.

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10/ How do you celebrate when a perfect match between teacher and school is made?

I jump up and down, a lot, there’s usually also screaming and high-fives involved. :-)

Meet Maggie

“We all have quite different personalities, but we gel very well as a team.”

1/ Where are you based and how do you start your day?

I am based in North Somerset in a sleepy little village quite close to Cheddar. I start my day by attaching myself to a vat of coffee and putting on some very loud 90’s rave music to recover from the school run and focus myself on the day ahead!

2/ How many teachers on average do you Skype (or communicate with) per week?

It varies depending on the time of year as certain times of year are busier than others. I would say that I speak to between 35 – 40 people during a busy times and 10 – 15 during quieter times.

3/ What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Listening to the different life journeys that people have been on and the reasons why they have chosen to work on the international school circuit. Also, of course – matching the perfect candidate to their dream job! I find the team meetings enjoyable because even though having so many people on a Skype call at the same time can be challenging (and hilarious!), it’s great to be able to touch base with everyone.

4/ What are the challenges of your job?

It is hard when schools take their time to make decisions about teachers. It’s great to be able to keep people in the loop about how their application is progressing and it’s frustrating when this is not possible.

5/ What’s the team like and how do you cooperate?

We all have quite different personalities, but we gel very well as a team. I believe that the common thread is a somewhat quirky sense of humour and an adventurous spirit. The fact that we gel is all the more surprising because many of us are scattered around the globe.

6/ How often do you get to visit schools and do you get to travel?

There are great opportunities to travel in my imagination because I speak to teachers and schools from all over the world on a daily basis.  I am a little less free to travel because of my daughter, but looking forward to a tour of our schools in China and Hong Kong later in the year. It was amazing to see all the team members in real life in Cambodia last year.

7/ Describe the view from your office

Sadly not as glamorous and exciting as some of my team members – just a narrow village street with rows of cottages. There is a disused water pump opposite the house which I am sure has some historical meaning!

8/ How do you spend your time after work?

I detach myself from the vat of coffee and switch the 90’s rave music on to prepare myself for the reverse school run and homework phobia which usually sets in at about 5pm.

9/ How do you celebrate when a perfect match between teacher and school is made?

A big whoop whoop and shout out/dance round my office followed by a virtual gong connected to the gong in the office in Cambodia!

The world is full of opportunities. So, where in the world will YOU teach? 

 

Written by Anna Bella Betts, Teacherhorizons blog manager by night and photographer by day.

Living and working abroad – Part I

Living and working abroad as a teacher is one thing. But what are those, who help you find your dream job, up to in their daily routine?

Here at Teacherhorizons we thought you might like to meet some of our consultants and see what their lives are like on daily basis when it comes to their profession. The beauty of their job is that they are based in different locations around the globe hence their days will vary from one to another and it may even inspire you to select a new exciting destination for your next teaching post! Connect with our friendly consultants to learn more.

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The Teacherhorizons team

Meet Steven:

“We are not a traditional, boring recruitment company that relies on outdated information on the internet to make recommendations – we are out there struggling through Southeast Asian traffic on a Monday morning on our way to a school to meet the Headteacher!”

1/ Where are you based and how do you start your day?

I am usually based in either Thailand or Cambodia but currently I am in the USA for the summer. Wherever I am, my day starts with checking emails, making a cup of tea and then getting ready for my interviews with teachers. This means reviewing CVs, checking references, a heck of a lot of calendar management (in literally 8 different time zones) and checking in with schools to make sure their vacancies are up to date. In Asia I get up a lot earlier, as do most of the locals – the day begins when the sun rises! If I’m lucky I might be able to hit the gym, but if not, biking into the office is fine with me!

2/ How many teachers on average do you Skype (or communicate with) per week?

This depends on the week, but it can be anything up to 40 teachers per week when schools are actively looking for great teachers for their vacancies. Usually it’s a little less, which gives my voice a break, but as a company we are growing steadily month-on-month so the average volume of teachers we interview is rising!

3/ What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I think it’s the feeling of finding a teacher a job in a place they have been dreaming of teaching in. I love talking to enthusiastic, motivated teachers over Skype and getting a real insight into what they are looking for in their next teaching position. I can then use all the tools at my disposal to turn those insights into interviews! There is sometimes a bit of a delay because schools are often very busy with recruitment, but when I get an email from a teacher saying they have accepted a position at the very school they told me they were interested in when I interviewed them, it really makes my day!

4/ What are the challenges of your job?

Schools are very different in terms of what their teacher requirements are which can make it tricky trying to give “general” advice to teachers. Although often teachers are very flexible and don’t mind where they are placed, we like to ask teachers to do thorough research on areas where they would like to teach, so that we can then give them better advice. We work with our teachers to find them jobs where they will be happy, not just jobs where the salary and package look good. This can be time consuming, but it is an important step in the recruitment process. Another challenge is that we have so many teachers in our database that at times, we have hundreds of emails coming in about particular positions which can make it challenging to give every applicant timely feedback – however this is something that we prioritize, and being a busy recruitment company is definitely a good challenge to have!

5/ What’s the team like and how do you cooperate?

The Teacherhorizons team is great, full of very different personalities and skill-sets. As you can imagine with a busy tech company, emails are flying around nearly constantly at Teacherhorizons, at all times of the day and night since we have people in so many timezones! It’s not unusual for us to be working out a teacher placement at 2am my time, which might be 2pm the next day in one of my colleague’s time zones. This sounds tough at first but once you get used to it, it’s great, and offers the team the kind of flexibility that many organizations dream of! With smartphones we are never very far away from our email, and we also use G-chat, Skype and Whatsapp to collaborate in different ways. We get the whole team together regularly over Skype which is important when you have people dispersed around the globe – video calling makes it feel like we are sitting in the same office during the call, even if some of us are in darkness and some in daylight!

6/ How often do you get to visit schools and do you get to travel?

I visit schools every month or so, usually when I am in Southeast Asia as this is where the majority of my schools are based. Being able to travel is a part of the job that I really value and I am excited to visit more schools in more countries later this year, in order to increase the amount of jobs we have available for our teachers! We believe that visiting schools is crucial – how can a recruiter realistically give great advice about a school or area if they or one of their colleagues hasn’t been there? I love it when I have a teacher interested in one of my schools because I can tell them not just about the school, but about really in-depth information, on the area, the teachers at the school already, what the kids are like, what kind of accommodation they will have and so on. In the past I’ve even been able to tell a teacher how good the cafeteria food is at one of my schools in Bangkok – obviously not a deal breaker, but I think it’s this kind of personal touch that makes teachers value the Teacherhorizons approach. We are not a traditional, boring recruitment company that relies on outdated information on the internet to make recommendations – we are out there struggling through Southeast Asian traffic on a Monday morning on our way to a school to meet the Headteacher!

7/ Describe the view from your office

My view often involves palm trees and blue skies although right now I am in the USA for the summer, looking out over non-tropical trees and an interstate highway! Luckily the sky is still blue where I am!

8/ Why would you recommend your area to international teachers?

Southeast Asia is a fascinating place. The people, the climate, the food, the many languages and cultures condensed in such a small area… it’s no wonder people fall in love with Asia when they go to visit! For teachers, it’s a great place to save some money since the cost of living is low while school packages are often very attractive. You’re never far from a beach and a hammock in Southeast Asia, and who doesn’t love the idea of beginning the school year in 30 degree sunshine just as it’s starting to get cold back home!?

9/ How do you spend your time after work?

I rock climb, longboard, go camping, take road trips and travel as much as possible! Given that I live in a tropical climate for most of the year, when I’m not in the office I am usually outside doing something active! If you are a good planner, you can fly throughout Southeast Asia very inexpensively. Sometimes I will look at my calendar and realise I have a flight booked for that weekend, for example to go celebrate Thai new year in Bangkok! This is something that all teachers teaching in Asia will identify with – your weekends away become pretty exciting when you can get to a tropical beach for less than the price of a pizza back home!

10/ How do you celebrate when a perfect match between teacher and school is made?

This all depends on the time of year! Currently we are in the very busy period of the year, so there is honestly not a lot of time to be patting ourselves on the back! My calendar is full of Skype interviews with teachers, or visits to schools, so I am often right back into the thick of it, perhaps after getting myself a celebratory coconut from one of the street vendors outside! We make sure that we follow-up with teachers and schools to ensure that everything goes smoothly after the perfect match moment – even when all contracts have been signed we make sure that we are available to help teachers with any questions they might have.

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Stunning sunsets of the Gulf of Thailand – Kep, Cambodia

Meet Anisha

“It’s always lovely to help a teacher to gain their first opportunity into international teaching.”

​1/ Where are you based and how do you start your day?

I live and work in Siem Reap, Cambodia – about 15 minutes from the UNESCO heritage monument Angkor Wat and other magnificent temples scattered across the area. Even though I’m in Cambodia, my day usually starts in a very British way – with a cup of Yorkshire tea and a flick through my emails and calendar.

2/ How many teachers on average do you Skype (or communicate with) per week?

This can vary according to the time of year. Some weeks over 20 teachers but others only a couple!

3/ What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I enjoy speaking to teachers and hearing about their experiences in various locations around the world. It’s always lovely to help a teacher to gain their first opportunity into international teaching.

4/ What are the challenges of your job?

Working across time zones can, on occasion be a challenge so this requires a bit of flexibility.​

5/ What’s the team like and how do you cooperate?

​Everyone in our team is great! We’re a fun, lively bunch who get along well – there is always a lot of humour in email exchanges and in the Siem Reap office.​

6/ How often do you get to visit schools and do you get to travel?

​We all try to visit a bunch of schools in one location each year. If we happen to be travelling (as most of us usually are) we try to squeeze in a school visit in the location we are visiting. We’re able to work remotely so our team travel quite a bit.

7/ Describe the view from your office

​Our office overlooks the Siem Reap river and there’s always something going on – from ​trucks full of fresh coconuts driving by, to women on bicycles selling lotus pod fruits, to families sitting along the river having picnics. Our working space also shares the area with a an art gallery so we always have plenty of inspirational creativity around us and it’s great to be invited to opening parties and gatherings.

8/ Why would you recommend your area to international teachers?

​Siem Reap has the feel of a small town so it’s easy to get to know people and pace of life is a bit slower. However, there are tonnes of restaurants, bars, and activities to experience – you can never get bored!​ Pretty much all international cuisines are represented here and the cost of eating out is relatively inexpensive. Siem Reap is also very well connected with other destinations in Asia and you can easily hop on a plane and visit neighbouring countries for very reasonable airfares – think weekends in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or even Japan and Hong Kong – many destinations are mere couple of hours away.

9/ How do you spend your time after work?

​Usually eating (!) and hanging out with friends.​ Socialising in Siem Reap is partly fun and partly networking and very much a way of life here. Sometimes you just need that perfect cup of coffee or cold drink and air-con!

10/ How do you celebrate when a perfect match between teacher and school is made?

We have gong in the office that we hit when a perfect match is made – this is usually accompanied with clapping, cheering and a celebratory round of coconuts to drink! There’s no better reward for your work than making the perfect placement.

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Angkor Wat post sunrise

Keep your eyes on this spot – next week we’ll have two more daily accounts for you from another part of the world to keep you inspired.

Where in the world will YOU teach?

 

Written by Anna Bella Betts, Teacherhorizons blog manager by night and photographer by day.

Teacher – Parent Communication Tips

We’ve connected with Zoe Anderson at Study Select to get her views and tips on teacher – parent communication from the teachers’ perspective.

If you’re a teacher, you love your students. You might not always like them, but you honestly care about the kids who come into your classroom every day. Those students look up to you and are learning more from you than math, grammar, and history. The student-teacher relationship has its ups and downs, but it is definitely one of the biggest rewards in a teaching career.

There’s another relationship that plays a major role in a teacher’s career—the parent-teacher relationship. But while you see your students almost every day throughout the school year, you might only know their parents through a handful of interactions, so you need to make the most of them. Here are a few tips to help keep those lines of communication open.

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1. Set the tone of your relationship right from the start
Whether it’s a parent-teacher conference, an open house, or a quick meeting as a parent picks up their child after school, first impressions count. Set the tone for a strong, communicative relationship early by being friendly and approachable whenever you meet a parent for the first time.

2. Establish each parent’s preferred method of communication
Some people like e-mails, while others might prefer a phone call. If you reach out to parents in the method that they prefer, they’ll appreciate your consideration and respond more quickly, more often, and more thoughtfully. Many people prefer texting to calling today, so you might find connecting with parents quicker and easier than you imagine.

3. Be consistent in tone and frequency of your communications
Maybe you send home a monthly newsletter, write a personal note every semester, or schedule office hours every other Friday. However you choose to stay in touch with your students’ families, make sure you’re consistent. Parents appreciate knowing the best way to reach out to you, and they also enjoy the updates you send home with their children.

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4. Have a classroom newsletter
Sure, it might seem outdated, but one-page newsletters are a great way to both solidify your lesson plans for the upcoming month and let parents know what their children will be focusing on. It can definitely be discouraging when you spend a hours putting together the newsletter and hear nothing back from parents, but you should know that most of the time you’d find that same newsletter on the family refrigerator. It will also give you something to look back on next year and help you remember which lessons and activities were hits, and which were misses.

5. Be honest about a student’s strengths and weaknesses
Parents love to talk about their kids. They believe in their children and are completely invested in helping their kids grow and learn. They know that their view of their child is biased, and they respect your opinion. They want to know what their child’s strength are, and where their child might need a little extra help. By giving a parent an honest viewpoint of their child’s strengths and weaknesses, you’re showing you care, that you’re also invested, and that you’re a team when it comes to that child’s education. Because you spend so much time with children, your opinion will likely be held in higher regard and be much appreciated.

6. Utilize technology
Setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account for your classroom is a quick and easy way to share classroom news. Just make sure that parents are okay with their child’s picture being shared on social media before posting anything. You can also tap into Pinterest to share ideas for classroom activities and allow parents to pin their own suggestions as well. This creates a more interactive communication and lets you share tips and ideas for continuing the learning at home.

Contact us to find out about the perfect job opportunity abroad for you. Our team of skilled recruiters will be able to guide you through the simple process.

Written by Zoe Anderson, Zoe Anderson is an employee at StudySelect. She’s keen on learning about new eLearning trends and is also interested in project management trends.

How to find the perfect property abroad

If you’re planning to move abroad, whether for a new job offer or a better lifestyle, there are important factors to take into consideration before you buy a property. Parting with your hard-earned cash shouldn’t be an impulsive decision that you could possibly end up regretting down the line. Instead, by following the four tips below, you can make a solid investment that will not only benefit you in the future, but save you money and make you happy.

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Don’t Rush

When looking at properties in your new country of residence, it’s important to not let the excitement you feel take over rational thought. You want to avoid buying the first property you view in order to compare it to others that you are interested in. Start by looking in different areas you like, view different sized properties, as well as ones that are in different prices ranges. An easy way to view a variety of properties with ease, is to view properties from a range of different agents. By doing this you will get a broad idea of the market and see the property in person – which is vital because what you see on the internet might be too good to be true.

Choose your Location 

Depending on your needs or where you are drawn to, it’s important to take factors such as how close it is to public transport, for example, into consideration when starting your search. If you have a family, you might consider an area outside of the hustle and bustle of town, and opt for a quieter neighbourhood with good schools. If you’re a single professional, you might want to consider staying in town, as it could be closer to your place of work. For couples, you could choose either option depending on your taste, what activities you are interested in, and your lifestyle preferences.

List your Must-Have Features 

Must-have features, or amenities, refer to what’s important for your day-to-day life, including being close to a hospital, shops or schools. As well as not-so-vital amenities, such as a swimming pool, a third room that can be turned into a home office, a built in BBQ area because you love to entertain, or being close enough to places that allow you to indulge in your hobbies. Taking all of these points into consideration will ensure that you choose the right property that includes all of the amenities you want and need, helping you to settle in your new home that much faster.

Know the Legal Stuff 

The legal details always take the joy out of everything, including house hunting. But, in order to keep yourself and your money safe, it’s important to know the legal facts around buying property in the country of your choice. Before you go ahead and make a purchase, appoint an independent lawyer and do not spare costs. An independent lawyer will help you navigate tax duties, local taxes, solicitor fees, mortgages, and more, ensuring every step of the buying process is done correctly. Other things to consider include having your contract document translated into English so you can understand it thoroughly yourself and doing research into whether or not you need a work visa or residency permits.

Investing in property anywhere in the world, is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly. Purchasing the property of your choice should involve a process in which you make 100% sure you are happy with everything about the property in order to avoid regret later on. The above four tips aim to help you start and complete your own property buying process successfully. Find out more about acquiring the property of your dreams in Dubai here.

Written by Ibtisaam Ganief, Ibtisaam Ganief is a helpful expat that has some experience teaching in the UAE, currently helping others relocate and settle in Dubai Properties.

Skype Interview Tips

With more businesses moving online and the world becoming smaller, Skype interviews are quickly becoming the norm when hunting for a job. This is indeed the case when applying for positions with Teacherhorizons. To maximise your chances of landing that dream job abroad read below our hints and tips on how to nail your Skype interview. 

Here are our compiled Skype interview tips:

1/ Be the professional yourself

Drop that evilteacher33 Skype ID and create yourself a professionally sounding name. Plain and simple is good. Ensure that your profile photograph is a good one for the corporate world too. Nobody wants to see you in your swimwear with a cocktail on the beach in Thailand…. Here first impressions count same as they would in a face to face interview. And while we’re at it – don’t forget to polish up your overall online presence. Yes, that’s your Facebook and Gmail profiles and any other traces of your persona on the internet. Your employer is guaranteed to look you up!

2/ Testing, Testing – one, two, one, two…...

Have you checked that your timezones are in sync? Watch out for daylight savings time change! Did you test your video and sound and do they work? “Skype test call” is your friend. Ensure you pick a place with reliable internet connection.

3/ Dress to impress

While pyjamas would probably be the most comfortable interview attire in the whole world, it’s not going to do you any favours while on Skype talk with your future boss. Dress for the occasion, even if just your top half…. Pick plain, simple outfits, no wild patterns to set the eyes of the viewer spinning.

4/ Unclutter

What’s behind and around you? Have you tidied up your background? Setting up your station (even if temporarily) with an interesting but not overpowering background is a good idea. Think bookshelves, house plants, cosy sitting well lit areas.  

5/ Quiet environment

Furniture and fabrics absorb sound and your interview will sound much better from a furnished room than from a sterile environment of an empty echoing space. Eliminate any disturbances and noises – coffee machines, drills, grinders, music; lock away your needy attention seeking cat! Turn off your mobile phone.

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Alexis Toye, the Co-Founder of Teacherhorizons Image: Anna Bella Betts

6/ Face the light

Where is the source of light and can your counterpart see your face? If your interview is taking place during daylight hours, position yourself directly facing a window, if at night, make sure your light source is placed directly in front of you making your face visible. Side, from the top and from below lighting will not do your facial features any favours.

7/ Your device – what are you looking at!?

You will achieve better results with a laptop than with a hand held mobile device. It’s important that you maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer – drag the screen with their face next to your laptop camera, this way you can look in the lens of the camera and maintain a natural eye contact. Place a few books under your laptop to bring it closer to your eye level and place your device at an arm’s length to achieve optimal distance.

8/ Planning, it’s all about planning

Don’t turn up unprepared! Decorate your laptop with post-it notes to jog your memory if necessary. Have your questions ready, anticipate the direction the conversation is likely to take and prepare answers.

9/ Share your work

If the nature of your work is such that it can be shown on screen learn how to share your screen and have relevant examples ready.

10/ Be comfortable and natural

Speak clearly and at such level that your interviewer can clearly hear you. Have a glass of water at hand – this way you don’t have to leave your station and show off your pyjama bottoms! Be yourself, be confident.

And finally, if you are looking for more Skype interview tips, we like this comprehensive video which you might find helpful too:

Good luck!

To set up an interview and see where your next move will take you, sign up here and our friendly recruitment agents will take your through all the steps. After all, your dream teaching job abroad is only a Skype interview away!

Written by Anna Bella Betts, Teacherhorizons blog manager by night and photographer by day.

PEAS in a POD – a message from Uganda

Here at Teacherhorizons we were approached by PEAS in a POD to share their vision and it’s our pleasure to spread the word.

Meet PEAS in a POD – a unique scheme giving children all over the world the opportunity to look through the window of a Ugandan classroom by linking schools.

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What is PEAS in a POD?

PEAS in a POD is a unique scheme giving children all over the world the opportunity to look through the window of a Ugandan classroom by linking schools! As well as giving students a first-hand insight into the life of an African child, ‘PEAS in a POD’ will raise awareness and vital funds to make sure those children continue to gain an education. PEAS need YOUR help to get behind it – tell all your teacher friends about it and sign up yourself!

Who are PEAS

It seems a ridiculous statistic in 2016 but in Uganda, three in four children are missing out on a secondary education. Primary school places are plentiful but the supply of secondary school places does not meet the demand. This means that 75% of Ugandan children finish their education at the age of 11 and never return to the classroom.

PEAS is a not-for-profit organisation that builds and runs sustainable secondary schools in Uganda and Zambia. PEAS currently has 30 schools in their network and is educating over 14,000 children – 50% of which are girls. In order to help them educate more young people, PEAS is launching an exciting new schools linking programme called ‘PEAS in a POD’.

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What you receive for joining the PEAS in a POD project:

Your school will be linked with one of our schools in Uganda

Regular ideas and assistance so you can run your own fundraising events

Video updates from your linked school

Lesson plans to help your students learn about global citizenship

What your school will need to do:

Pledge to raise $20 per student in your class

Run fundraising events to help students reach their pledge (with our help of course)

Rally your students to get excited about PEAS in a POD

To download your free schools information pack which contains everything you need to know about PEAS in a POD contact us here.

Why should you get involved?

If you’re looking to spearhead a worthwhile global citizenship project at your school, make your school standout from the rest or just support an amazing charity then please sign up to PEAS in a POD. PEAS will be there to support you every step of the way with additional lesson plans and fundraising ideas. We can also deliver engaging presentations to your class via Skype. This is a great opportunity for International schools and teachers to get involved in a great community service project.

How can you enrol your school in the scheme?

To sign up for the scheme all you need to do is email Sarah on sarah.bayjoo@peas.org.uk or call +44 20 3096 7701. If you are one of the first 20 schools to sign up you’ll be entered into a draw to win your teachers height in books.

Please do get in touch if you have any questions at all about PEAS in a POD. We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by Anna Bella Betts, Teacherhorizons blog manager by night and photographer by day.

Brunei – more than a tax free salary

Tax free salary, healthy work-life balance, stunning mosques, excellent food markets and beautiful nature – see why international teacher Alan chose to live and work in Brunei. We’ve asked Alan a few questions about how his old life in Dublin compares to his latest teaching choice. “If you’re looking for a relaxed location where you can make decent money and travel easily then this is for you.”

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Where are you teaching and what’s your school like? What made you choose that location/school?

I’m currently teaching in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei. I teach in a local school in one of the water villages. The school has relatively modern buildings and the students are well behaved and respectful. Technology is almost non-existent, which has to be one of the aspects I’ve needed to adapt to as I’ve come from the UK where using technology is one the big things right now. I chose Brunei because of the work-life balance. In the UK I was constantly tired and felt like I was always playing catch-up with my work, whereas now I’m never home later than 2:30pm and often home by 1pm. The weather and the tax-free salary are other benefits and the central location in SE Asia along with the Air Asia cheap flights are a real benefit allowing lots of travel to interesting places

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

I signed up with Teacherhorizons and had a chat with them about what I was looking for. They told me to browse their jobs and let them know which ones interested me. After they put me forward for Brunei, I did an interview over Skype, sent all my documents for immigration clearance and then waited for a short while to be approved by the government. Apart from a little patience needed, the whole process was pretty painless.

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Bandar Seri Begawan has a small centre dominated by a beautiful mosque and excellent food markets. It’s peaceful to walk around and has nice cafes and restaurants. The suburbs have lots going on and particular suburbs will often be much busier than the centre because they are better set up for shopping and eating out.There’s lots to do in your free time here. Usually we go to the national parks, some of which are beautiful rainforest that has been preserved. We also go to the beaches and some of them are excellent, though a few have the classic SE Asia issue of litter. We’ve just started SCUBA diving and learning to surf and the warm sea is a fantastic change from what we’re used to. There are lots of clubs for sports, photography, book clubs, cheap restaurants, We also do some distance-learning study as we have the time available now. There are lots of expats in Brunei due to the country’s desire to improve its English and due to the presence of oil. It’s not difficult to meet people and they are always great for tips on what to do or where to go.

Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

Our favourite places to visit have been the parks. Tasek Lama, a park near the city is great for hiking and nature lovers. You’re almost guaranteed to see monkeys and if you’re lucky you might see other animals such as wild pigs, monitor lizards and hornbills. The Rainforest district Temburong is incredible and probably one of the most pristine natural environments left in the world, certainly on Borneo. The two main mosques are eternally impressive and well worth a visit. The skill that went into building them is breathtaking.

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What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

Local Bruneians say Brunei has four seasons, Summer 1, Summer 2 , Summer 3 & Summer 4. The temperature is always between 26 and 33 degrees during the day and about 24 at night. It’s vital to drink lots of water all the time as the humidity also drains you. Air-con is everywhere so you can usually avoid the heat if you wish.

What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

Food is the main interest of many Bruneians. There are more restaurants than you would imagine there could be in a country so small. The local food is delicious and cheap, though sometimes odd when you’re offered fermented rice or Brunei’s national dish ambuyat, which is eaten without chewing. Due to the large number of expats you can get any kind of food you wish, even Burger King or Pizza Hut are available. Mostly the restaurants are excellent quality because Bruneians take their food seriously and upon arrival, foodie blogs will be among the first recommendations from the locals.

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

There are differences but none that are too extreme. The one most people notice, but are well aware of before they arrive is that alcohol is illegal. Short drives over the border to Malaysia are common and expats are allowed to bring some back in for personal consumption. The religion is always at the forefront of people’s worries but actually even the much feared Shariah law does not seem to impact life very much and is certainly not imposed on non-Muslim expats. The level of English spoken in the country makes it a relatively easy transition. One thing is that you need to adopt a laid back attitude to things getting done. Always think about your own circle-of-control.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

Most things are quite cheap compared with the UK. Only food and clothing have been surprisingly expensive. Our shopping costs almost as much as the UK and clothes can be more expensive. However due to the tax-free salary and accommodation provided for us, we are able to live well on about half my salary, the other half going towards savings and travel.

What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

The work-life balance is definitely the best part. It’s so refreshing to feel as though you have nearly a whole day ahead of you when you finish work. I also have a lighter timetable for teaching, which means I can easily do my planning and marking in school and so rarely do anything at home. Exploring different restaurants and the weather allowing a much more outdoor lifestyle have been great highlights too. Also seeing animals like monkeys and lizards regularly is a real novelty that I don’t see fading quickly.

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

The only drawbacks people seem to find here are that it’s quiet. The lack of alcohol means there is not a club-scene and nightlife is generally up to yourself which means house-parties and eating out are the most common forms of socialising. People often drive to the border for a night out as well so there are always options. Personally I’ve found the lack of online-shopping an adjustment as I bought everything online in the UK and now I have to learn what shops sell what again, but it’s a small inconvenience and helps me to explore the place a bit more.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

Bring Sunblock! Other than that, if you’re looking for a relaxed location where you can make decent money and travel easily then this is for you. If shopping and partying are your main interests, this is probably not the place for you.

You too may be ready for change this year. Teacherhorizons team will be happy to guide you through the process of selecting the destinations and schools best suiting your qualifications and requirements. Get in touch with us, sign up and embark on a new exciting journey of teaching abroad.

Written by Alan Doyle, Alan is an MFL/English teacher from Dublin. Having taught in the UK for 5 years, he decided to make the move into International teaching.

Teaching in Chiang Mai

International teacher Camilla decided to try teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand… “And so we are now preparing to move to the Kingdom of Smiles. I’m back in the UK for the time being, and each drizzly day makes me congratulate myself on my decision. Teacherhorizons has opened a door to the world for me, and I’m really excited to explore it.”

I first heard about Prem Tinsulanonda International School in 2014 when Alex from Teacherhorizons contacted me to ask if I would be interested in teaching in Thailand. I hadn’t really thought about Thailand as a place to live, but something about the opportunity was intriguing. Perhaps it was the exotic-sounding name of the school, maybe it was the fact that the Headteacher Mr Alun Cooper once led the innovative Think Global School and was clearly someone with interesting ideas about education, potentially it was the idea of being able to eat Thai food all day, every day. In any case, my interest was piqued, and I chatted to Alun on Skype about the position. It transpired that the role wasn’t actually available after all as the member of staff who was going to leave had decided to stay. I filed the interaction under ‘Well That Was a Fun Dream for a While’ and stayed happily in my role at an education charity in London.

Thai street food

Thai street food

A year later, having decided to take some time out of my professional life to travel a little and to try my hand at writing, I found myself in Thailand. In a lovely flash of serendipity, Alun contacted me at about the same time to tell me that the role in Chiang Mai was available again. I fixed a day to visit, jumped on an overnight train from Bangkok, and found myself preparing for an interview in a very small and busy backpackers’ hostel.

This is not something I would recommend you do. Firstly, I had come away with almost nothing in my backpack, and certainly not anything resembling professional dress. I was told that the best place to find some smart clothes in Chiang Mai was Chinatown, so I jumped in a tuk tuk and headed there. After a tricky few hours’ shopping, (an activity I find hard enough at the best of times, let alone in 32 degree heat, attempting to speak Thai, and doing my best not to be distracted by the street food) I finally found a suitable outfit. Elated, I went to pay for it, only to be told that in fact they were only for sale in bulk. That was how I ended up with a small shop’s worth of ladies’ fashion wear and significantly less money for noodles.

That night presented more challenges. My hostel was very small, the people very friendly, and every other evening I had been there I had enjoyed a few bottles of Leo and a bit of dancing like the best of them. The night before my interview I went to my room early and found out that the walls might as well have been made from candyfloss for all the soundproofing they provided. I prepped for the interview with my headphones on, got myself all tucked up in bed by 10pm, and then was kept awake until three in the morning.

Luckily, the excitement of the next day did away with any tiredness I might have felt. I was met by a driver in the car park of a temple (a novelty), and driven to the school through increasingly green and mountainous countryside. I had seen a video the school had posted on their website to give prospective visitors a sense of what the place was like, but nothing prepared me for the beautiful grounds I discovered there. I was taken around the school in a golf cart(!), visiting the auditorium, the library, the swimming pool, the tennis courts, the lake, the golf course and the cricket pitch. Then they showed me the farm, with lemongrass, kaffir limes, rice, pigs, and even water buffalo. It’s fair to say that I was greatly impressed.

Camilla's school from bird's eye view

Camilla’s school from bird’s eye view

I had a good conversation with both Alun and the Head of Secondary. Other members of staff were also kind enough to give me their time and answer my questions. I saw a lesson taking place with two different year groups exploring forces through the use of oversized Angry Birds and massive catapults. Most importantly, I hung out with some Grade 6 students at lunchtime who told me lots of jokes and agreed the best thing about the school was the teachers who apparently were ‘brilliant’. I was sold.

Happily, I was offered the job a few days later. The next step was to encourage my boyfriend to buy a ticket to join me in Thailand for Christmas and New Year to see if he would be up for moving there. I did little to persuade him on the phone, knowing that the country, city, and school would speak for themselves. They shouted joyfully and he liked what he heard.

And so we are now preparing to move to the Kingdom of Smiles. I’m back in the UK for the time being, and each drizzly day makes me congratulate myself on my decision. Teacherhorizons has opened a door to the world for me, and I’m really excited to explore it.

If you’re interested in teaching in Thailand, sign up or sign in to browse current vacancies and set off on your next adventure.

Written by Camilla Cook, a British teacher who has taught in London and El Salvador. She will be moving to Chiang Mai to become Head of English at PREM in August this year.

5 tips for managing your money when you teach abroad

The ability to save money can be a make-or-break factor when you’re sizing up where to live and work. So once you’ve settled on a location, how can you make sure that you put some pennies away without sacrificing your quality of life? International teacher Annie Surdi shares her tips on making it all add up.

Firstly, you have to remember that you are working abroad and not on holiday. As most of us know, when we are on holiday, money is sometimes not such a big issue and we want to indulge ourselves.

From my own personal experience, this is the area that I really struggled with initially and it took me some time to adapt and change my spending habits. But, having said that, I also didn’t want to constrain myself from enjoying myself whilst teaching and living abroad. Here are some tips that helped me.

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1. Food shopping

I remember at the initial stages I hated the prospect of heading to the market, which was the best option to save money on fresh fruit and vegetables. I just didn’t want the hassle of bartering and I didn’t feel very confident so I opted for the big food chains, without doing any prior research that some were renowned just for their brand identity. I ended up spending way over my budget on basic produce. Nowadays there seem to be a lot of foreign chains that have discount prices so it’s worth considering. And some large supermarkets even have store cards so it is definitely a must have as you can get a discounted price if you are a store card holder.

2. Mobile and Internet services

I found this quite daunting at first as there’s so much competition and where do you start? If you’re foreigner it could be a nightmare if you don’t speak the language. However, the best option is not to rush into it – do some research and stay away from contracts as contract plans are much longer and there is too much bureaucracy attached to them, as I found in Italy. It’s best to stick to a pay as you go option where you can monitor your spending and they do have many deals on this service too. Customer service abroad is not at its best, they are extremely well trained when selling at stores but not as good and helpful when it comes to customer complaints, which are normally dealt with through a phone service. In my case, to avoid any misunderstanding I opted to take a native person along because as soon as they see that you are or you sound like a foreigner they seem be less eager to assist you regardless of your language command.

3. Wining and Dining

It’s quite normal at first – the full experience of both immersing in the culture and of being abroad starts off with eating out. In my case it’s Italy which as we know is renowned internationally for its cuisine. Italy, like Spain, has an “Aperitivo” culture which is similar to “Tapas” so you pay for a drink and there’s normally a huge buffet with various types of finger food. This saved me a fortune as I ended up eating out. When teaching abroad, depending upon where you teach, the work-life balance does vary a lot. And with the use of modern technology there are many websites that cater to offering you last-minute deals on dining. I discovered a site called “Groupon” which offers last-minute deals from dining to spas in each region. I found that I could both save a small fortune and enjoy the luxury of being overseas.

4. Hairdressers/Barbers

It’s best to check out prices and do research beforehand. I found I spent more in salons abroad. They have a tendency at times not to stick to the price list or don’t seem to have one. Locals generally go to a place based on word of mouth or if they find it’s too expensive they decide to take their custom elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to check out prices beforehand or even go online on last-minute sites which also offer “hot deals” on hair and beauty.

5. Accommodation

In most countries there isn’t the tendency or culture of house or flat sharing unless you are in a big city. So, before you make the move it’s worth researching cost of living as I was completely oblivious to this aspect. Although I could afford to pay the rent, I found the cost of utilities rather sky high. This could be down to the fact that if you are not a resident or citizen you pay a different rate.

For more money tips, why not read our related articles on how to earn extra income as a teacher, and how to save money on international bank transfers.

Written by Annie Surdi, an international teacher who has lived and worked in Honduras, Australia, and Italy.