Updated: Jan 21
Looking for a summer job abroad for teachers? I interviewed Kristin who has been a CIEE Global Navigator program leader twice! She has worked abroad in many different teaching settings, both long and short-term.
The traveling teachers series is all about people who travel and you guessed it – teach! Each interview features a different teacher, traveling to a different place, and teaching a unique group of students. So often we hear of people teaching abroad, but what is it really like? How do you find opportunities?
There are many questions surrounding traveling and teaching. Through this series, I hope you are inspired by the good work going on around the world, learn, and start to think about ways you can travel and teach abroad yourself. I’m excited to share a story about becoming a language assistant in Spain with you.
If you plan to be a traveling teacher, a TESOL certification is a great way to start. I got mine through International Open Academy for just $19! Highly recommend this as a first step in your traveling teacher journey.
This week I am excited to bring you a story about Kristin’s experience in a summer job abroad - being a CIEE program leader! She has taught in six different countries and lead students in 7 more. She loves helping teachers bring the world to their classrooms through language and social studies. She shares her travels and ideas for teaching abroad on her website Growing Global Citizens.
What inspired you to start teaching?
I actually started as a French and Spanish teacher and later got my Masters in ESL. I had always done things related to teaching like being a lifeguard/swim instructor and camp counselor. After I graduated I did the English Assistant Program in Madrid, Spain. I saw the teachers in action and it was basically like a year of student teaching, so I decided that I could do it. As I was getting my license I knew that I wanted to teach abroad and was fortunate to find a job as an intern in a boarding school in Switzerland where I ended up teaching for four years.
How long did you teach and where?
After Switzerland (French and Spanish) I went to Singapore for two years and taught Spanish and Social Studies. In both of these jobs I was able to teach the IB curriculum, which I really like. After a few years back in the US teaching in public school I went to Colombia to teach at a private school for a year (Social Studies and French)
How did you find the opportunity to start working with CIEE as a program leader?
I had been aware of CIEE when I was looking for study abroad programs in college. I saw that they had programs for high school students and needed language teachers to be Global Navigator Summer Program Leaders (PL) for these four-week programs. I applied for both French and Spanish programs and was placed in Rennes, in the Northwest part of France, in Brittany.
Once I had been a PL once, I had more choice in where to go and wanted to try a new program so I did the climate change program in Denmark for three weeks. It was the first time CIEE did that program and Copenhagen was the perfect location to learn about climate change and sustainability.
PLs for language programs have to be teachers because they are supposed to be speaking in the target language but PLs for the theme programs don't have to be teachers but should have experience with high school students.
Were any of your expenses covered by the teaching experience?
Yes, CIEE covers transportation, flights, and all meals and housing, plus a stipend of around $400 a week.
Were you able to spend time traveling and exploring the country while teaching?
Yes, with the program. All programs have two day trips and an overnight trip. PLs usually have 2 days off during the program, so they could explore on their own on those days.
What were interactions with students like?
Students on the programs are usually great! They are there because they want to learn about a topic or learn a language and they want to meet new people. CIEE does a great job of DEI and there is a lot of scholarship money available, so the participants are very diverse.
On the language programs, students are with host families (and usually PLs are also) so students go to their host families in the early evening. On the theme programs, students stay in dorms or hotels with the PLs, so you are with students more. In both instances, you are on duty 24/7 in case of emergency, so it is pretty intense.
What is your favorite part of your teaching experiences?
I love working with students from all over and staff in the host country. I get to explore a different country and I also get to see my students learn the language in a real-life situation, which is not something that most language teachers get to experience.
What is one piece of advice you have for someone who wants to teach abroad?
There are so many different ways to teach abroad, whether it is teaching English, teaching in an international school or traveling with students for a summer program. Keep your eyes open for opportunities and you will find something that is right for you.
You can find more specific advice and information on becoming a CIEE Global Navigator Summer Program Leader, teaching abroad, and more by reaching out to Kristin on Instagram or following her on TikTok! Find more about other traveling teachers on my resource page.
Want to hear more stories of summer jobs for teachers abroad? Here are some to consider: