Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Want to teach English? It takes more than being a native speaker

Several years ago, while stationed in Okinawa, I was hired by a group of Japanese neighbors at a local community center.

The experience was fun and rewarding — I learned as much about Japanese as they did about English.

But it was also a challenge. With no Japanese language skills of my own, and no textbooks or formal training, I scrambled to think of a lesson each week.

Often, I’d bring in some sort of food or American item, such as peanut butter or a popular magazine, to use as a starting point.

In other words, what I thought would be an easy way to make a quick buck overseas turned out to be much harder than I anticipated.

Such is often the case with teaching English as a foreign language — it’s not as easy as it looks.

“It is a demanding profession that requires accredited certification and a degree, and a thorough understanding of principles of learning,” said one Army spouse who has taught English in Germany. “Many people think that because they are a native speaker of a language, they can teach a language. If that were the case, we would all be medical doctors, because we have all applied Band-Aids.”

Her job was teaching professionals at international companies such as IBM and Bosch. She spent about 20 hours a week working and another five hours a week prepping at home. The pay? About $60 an hour.

I, on the other hand, collected $10 per student for a two-hour class once a week on Okinawa. The difference in our experiences is training and education.

She has a teaching degree, a certificate in instructing English as a Second Language, plus a master’s degree and several years’ experience.

I was flying by the seat of my pants.

Experts recommend those who want to teach overseas first get educated. Many employers require an ESL or Teaching English as Foreign Language certificate. These are available from several accredited institutions online but typically require an undergraduate degree first. The number of hours and cost varies according to the institution.

You also can get a general teaching and education certificate online from various institutions, including Bryant & Stratton College, which may help you get a teaching job overseas.

The money you make might not offset the training costs, however, unless you plan to stay overseas for several years or use your education in another position once you return to the United States, either teaching English or working as a school teacher.

Virginia Hagin, an Army spouse who taught English in Korea, said she heard about the job from a friend and was hired to teach all ages, beginning at 3-year-olds through high school students at a small Korean hagwan, or “cram school.”

“That actually led to a job teaching English at the Korean Military Academy,” Hagin said, which was more pay and more fun.

Like any other job overseas, you need to do your homework about what the host nation rules are on spouses working and paying taxes. Rules vary according to the Status of Forces Agreement with each country. Details are available from your local civilian employment readiness coordinator.

Information on English instructor positions also is available on websites such as Be aware, though, that those listings will be in the host-nation language. Local websites aimed at foreigners living overseas, such as www.toytowngermany.comor, often have message boards with links or information on teaching English.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Weekly Poll

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?