The University of Iowa

Graduates eye overseas teaching

February 12th, 2010

By Michael Arriola, The Daily Iowan

In a nearly jobless economy, William Boyd has found an alternative — leaving the economy behind and teaching English in Spain.

The UI senior, who is majoring in Spanish and international studies, is one of a growing number of students planning to become educators abroad.

“I don’t have any firmed-up plans for a job right out of school, and this is my opportunity to master the Spanish language,” he said.

The UI Office for Study Abroad has seen an uptick in the number of students interested in teaching abroad, said Janis Perkins, the organization’s director.

In response, the office has designated Aubree Miller as the adviser for students seeking work opportunities internationally.

Miller has firsthand experience teaching abroad; she taught English in Seville, Spain, for two years.
“It was such an enriching experience,” she said.

The Office for Study Abroad saw between 50 and 60 students interested in teaching abroad during a recent six-month period, Perkins said.

The local increase mirrors a nationwide trend.

Derek States, a human-resources representative from Teach English as a Foreign Language International, said the number of people contacting his organization about teaching abroad has gone up at least 50 percent in the past year.

“This is because of the job situation when people get out of college,” he said. “Along with troubled job market, there are literally thousands of jobs available abroad and not enough qualified people to fill them.”

Countries in Western Europe, such as Spain and France, and Asian countries garner the most interest from students, Miller said.

“Although Europe is great, people who do research know there is money to be made in Asia,” Miller said.

Countries in the European Union, such as Spain, only allow Americans to work a minimal amount of hours a week — 12 to 15 — and pay somewhere in the range of 700 Euros per month, after taxes, Miller said.

However, Asian countries can compensate upwards of $30,000 annually. One reason for the difference in pay is because it’s easier for Americans to get a work visa in Asia than in Europe, Miller said.

But pay may not be the only factor students’ decision to teach abroad — they may use it as a transition period for a number of reasons.

“It is hard to get a job when you don’t have experience, but how can you have experience if you no one will hire you,” Miller said.

International teaching is an opportunity to build a résumé that will stand out to employers, she said.
David Fitzgerald, a career adviser in the Pomerantz Career Center, agreed.

“We have become a very international community, and it gives perspective employees the chance to express how they have diversified their background,” Fitzgerald said.

Reposted with permission from The Daily Iowan.