Each year, the number of students exiting a four-year university has been on the rise. As more college graduates make their way into corporate America, employers are faced with choosing from a larger applicant pool. The number of job candidates vying for the same position can often be a discouraging realization for someone who is fresh out of college. Because of this, an increased number of graduates are turning to other options as a means of either bolstering their resume for future work or finding employment elsewhere while they wait for the economy to straighten itself out. In the last three years, many recruiting companies that specialize in placing teachers overseas have seen an increased number of applicants, some even reporting growth of more than 60% than in previous years.
But as this previous rare occurrence in employment gives way to being more common (chances are you either know someone personally or have heard of someone who has taught overseas) an even newer trend is beginning to occur. While teaching overseas, many of these teachers were still thinking to the future and their eventual return to the United States. Even in a competitive job environment, certain factors will always be an essential component of being a successful candidate, one of which is education. While working as ESL teachers more and more E2 visa holders are pursuing graduate level certification abroad. Many institutions in Japan, Europe and South Korea have programs in place which allow for teachers who are working in their country to apply for spots in their respective programs. These programs often accommodate a wide variety of schedules with courses offered both in the morning and evening. With a few courses a semester, that two years abroad has the potential to not only give you valuable skills that will be transferable to many workplaces back home, but also the chance at receiving your master’s degree (often at a much cheaper price than institutions back home). Below is a list of countries that employ the highest amount of ESL teachers and the graduate level programs which they offer.
Seoul, South Korea
Arguably the most popular (and highest paying) of all the countries who utilize ESL teachers, South Korea has a myriad of Universities and colleges that not only offer graduate courses to foreigners, they readily encourage foreign applicants.
Seoul National University: Perhaps one of the most esteemed institutions in Korea, and ranking 4th from US News and World Report for universities in Asia, Seoul National offers the most variety in terms of courses and degrees offered. While the application and entrance for Korean nationals is quite competitive, the process for expats is slightly more relaxed. Individuals heralding from the United States have a slew of scholarship options that the Korean Government has made available. Spots at Seoul National are still very competitive and fill up quickly, so being proactive about enrollment is usually a good thing. To get the ball rolling while you are still in the US, head on over to their admissions page and inquire with the email address that is listed there.
Korea University: Located in the heart of Seoul, this university offers a robust selection of graduate degrees from courses offered in international studies to bio-medical science. The KU campus sprawls some 182 acres and boasts an eclectic mix of nearly 10,000 graduate students from all parts of the world. Filling out an application is relatively easy and can be done both overseas and in the individual’s home country. The form, located on their website can be submitted via the internet, fax or mailed. Prospective students of KU simply need to indicate which area of study they are interested in and ensure that they have a letter of recommendation from a professor in their undergraduate program back home, a copy of their transcripts and although a cover letter/letter of interest isn’t required, it’s generally a good idea.
Charles University in Prague: A popular destination for ESL teachers in Europe is Prague. Known for its beautiful architecture and abundance of teaching opportunities, prospective ESL teachers who wish to attain a job in Prague must first pass a TEFL course as set out by their government. Once certification is obtained, a wide variety of jobs open up both at the adult and adolescent level. Charles University offers graduate degrees in the areas of chemistry, geography, geology and environmental protection. Depending on your program of choice, up to three years may need to be devoted to the degree, but with the abundance of history and architecture that Europe has to offer, it’s sure to be some of the best years of your life.
Prospective candidates of CU need to make sure that they have cleared all the necessary legal hurdles before applying to the program. These include proper visa documentation, notarized school documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation and proof of undergraduate work will all be necessary too. The application process can be started via their website but will need to be mailed in once completed.
Sophia University: Sophia University, located in the Chiyoda-ku district of Tokyo, is the perfect University for the English minded graduate course seeking expat. Offering one of the few programs in linguistics, Sophia University, students will also have the option of pursuing a Ph.D after completion of their graduate work.Tuition prices can be steep though, with about $15,000 for the first year and $13,000 for each subsequent year, most students will want to explore scholarship options in order to offset fees and the relatively high cost of living in Japan. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships available, to see which ones you might qualify for, take a look here.
After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education,Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master’s degree.