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Distant lands have lured a lot of people to the ESL EFL industry, whether they take up the job for a few years or make it their career.  After all, a life abroad sounds - and is! - exciting.  But the choice to teach English overseas can affect your future plans, both professional and personal ones, particularly if you intend only to take some time off from your current career.  Beyond the allure of adventures overseas, what should you consider?

Begin with a serious assessment of your personal and professional plans over the long term.  If you teach abroad, how will it help or harm your career prospects back home?  Many companies view a few years meeting the challenges of a foreign country as a great boon to the organization.  But spend too many years there, and you could find yourself relegated to the bottom of the resume pile.

The cultural climate of the country you intend to call home proves equally important.  So research, research, research!  Start with Wikipedia or another encyclopedia for basic information about the country, but definitely move on to travel guides for a richer, more interesting read.  The first twenty pages of a guidebook often contain a quick and easy summary of the history and culture.  Move on to magazines and newspapers, even if you can't read the language.  Thumb through the pictures to get a sense of what's hot, and what's not.  Surf the net, listen to the country's radio stations, and give the local embassy a call.  A lot of embassies have libraries, and offer language and culture classes.

But these resources only provide information on the country as a whole.  You should also get on message boards and websites to learn about the teaching conditions.  What do people say about the track record of the schools there?  Do most people describe positive experiences, negative experiences, or a mix of both?  What warnings should you keep in mind when choosing a country, region, city, or even school?  These are only a few questions to consider.

It's also important to think about the support you'll get.  Some schools will arrange nearly every aspect of the transfer, from visas to accommodation and transportation.  Other schools won't even set up an interview unless you hold a valid working visa and can start immediately.  Both schools and systems have their positives and negatives, and you need to research which best fits your needs and personality.In addition, it's a very good idea to have read and learned at least a little about teaching. Books, articles, and short courses all provide a good start.

Get advice from others who have made the jump.  Again, message boards and websites often prove the most valuable sources of information, so visit them again and again.  Prepare a list of questions you want answered, either from the boards or from the schools.  How many students are there in each class?  How many classes am I expected to teach?  What kind of training does the school offer?  All are important.  Ask about living conditions, too.  There's nothing worse than arriving in your new apartment with no gas, electricity, or water!

Lastly, talk about the decision.  If you're married, have a significant other, or if kids are on the scene, involve them in the decision as much as possible.  They'll be sharing in the experience, so they need to support the decision and be equally excited.  Friends and family will also be able to give you honest advice unclouded (initially) by the dream of living abroad.  They'll help you see the difficulties you need to hurdle.

Good luck on your new adventures overseas!