Teaching abroad may be commonly seen as something that young people do, but there are many reasons why teachers in the later stages of their career might want to head overseas. However, the options for finding an international school job start to narrow once you’re approaching your 60s. The good news is, getting the job is certainly not impossible if you’re prepared to be a little flexible.
Here’s the Teacher Horizons team‘s round-up of tips on teaching abroad at a certain age.
1. What age is too late to start training to be a teacher?
Anisha: As long as you are eligible for a visa for the country you want to teach in, then age doesn’t have an impact, as long as you have the right experience and skills for the position you wish to apply for. However, being older than 60 will have an impact on visas.
Alexis: It depends completely on the country. In some countries it is never too late and teachers start developing their careers in their 60s. However, if you want to teach abroad we’d advise doing your training in your 50s at latest to maximise your chances.
2. How old is the oldest teacher you’ve ever placed?
Alexis: 69, I’d hire him any day – cracking Biology teacher!
3. Which countries, to your knowledge, have an especially low age limit?
Catherine: Brunei – 53!
Alexis: Most non-English speaking countries do, sadly; some are as early as 55.
Anisha: It varies widely. I tend to refer to this article as a guide.
4. Which countries accept older teachers?
Caroline: From my own teaching experience, Kenya (and probably most of Africa) hires teachers over 60. My friend who was over 60 and a teacher had so much experience to offer the school. And I suppose she was a cheap option as she didn’t have family with her. She was also great company amongst the teachers who, when you all live on compound, become a family so it’s good to have a mix of ages. I also think that any candidate over 60 who is looking to teach abroad is probably open minded and dynamic and so would also be looking to innovate in the classroom and take on new ideas (against the common assumption that older teachers are stuck in a traditional style!)
Alexis: Europe, Africa and Latin America seem to be less concerned about age whilst it is tricky for older teachers in Asia.
5. What concerns might a school have about employing older teachers?
Anisha: Use of technology in the classroom, being out of touch with new and dynamic teaching techniques, being stuck in their ways and not able to adapt to changes in schools.
Catherine: Health, loneliness, outdated teaching practices, not as easily able to adapt to a new culture.
Alexis: Older teachers may be presumed to be set in their ways, unwilling to learn, struggle with technology, have lower energy levels, struggle to relate to children, and have dated training. However, there are many teachers we interview in their 60s who are way better in all these areas than the much younger teachers.
6. What advantages could there be to employing older teachers?
Anisha: Experience teaching in the classroom, excellent subject knowledge, excellent rapport with students.
Alexis: Experience in a wide variety of schools, ability to read people, examination practice, tried and tested methods, patience, careers advice, respect among parents and children in many countries, tend to face less behaviour issues than the younger teachers, stability.
7. I’m over 60. Am I too old to teach abroad? What are my options?
Anisha: It’s not too late, however you may encounter issues with visa applications in some countries.
Catherine: Consider ESL teaching instead. Also, many countries (China comes to mind) have a higher age for school administrators.
Caroline: If you can’t get into international school, then over-60s candidates can sign up to be Skype grannies teaching children in remote and marginalized locations!
Alexis: Go for it, find schools and countries that are open minded then the options are definitely there. You’ll just need to persuade them you are still a dynamic, open minded and hard working teacher – the references, a dynamic CV and a personalised covering letter should help with this. You may also need to be a bit more flexible about location.