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» Tips before Moving to the Middle East to Teach English as a Second Language Tips before Moving to the Middle East to Teach English as a Second Language – West Teacher

Tips before Moving to the Middle East to Teach English as a Second Language

We asked a bunch of teachers to help with this information survey we were working on for our website.  We said to the teacher, what tip(s) would you give to other people before they go overseas to teach English in the Middle East?

From these responses we were able to create this post to go over tips from actual teachers who are teaching or have taught in the Middle East.

# 1 Teaching in the Middle-East has definitely been an amazing learning experience. If you’re interested in teaching here the best advice I can give you are:
1. Come with an open mind and be flexible! It’ll take you a long way.
2. Sharpen up on your classroom management skills!
3. Bring your shorts, tank tops, and bikinis! It’s not as strict as people make it seem!

Katicia Rhoden – Abu Dhabi, UAE.



#2 Learning a little bit of Turkish can take you a long way when you get to Turkey. I don’t just mean for getting around, directions, and buying fruits and vegetables. It actually really helps you in establishing rapport with your students. It shows the students that you took some effort in learning their culture and language and that way it is easier for them to return the favor and feel more interested in learning English. The trick here is to not let the students know you know too much Turkish otherwise they will obviously switch to Turkish. Just know or pretend to know very basic Turkish, like greetings, popular idioms maybe to make students laugh, and in case you have to explain a grammar point, it wouldn’t hurt to know how Turkish grammar compares to English grammar.

Moaz Mohammed – Turkey

School Name: Yildirim Beyazit University, Ankara, Turkey


#3 Teaching overseas is definitely not the same as teaching back home (i.e., Canada). I can literally write a book filled with tips for teachers who are looking to work overseas (specifically the Middle East). However, one piece of advice that is extremely important for anyone who wants to reside in the Middle East is: bring all your legal documents with you! I currently work in Kuwait and was told to bring a list of documents such as my passport, attested degrees, driver’s license, etc. However, nobody told me to bring my birth certificate, and since that wasn’t in the list of documents, I left it in my safety deposit box at my Canadian bank. Little did I know that this would cause a problem for me; it took me three months to get my residency! National Security randomly selects new residents and has interviews with them before giving out the residency. In this interview, people are asked about their entire families (names, ages, occupations, addresses, etc.). In addition, being from Canada makes it a bit harder because some people who live in Kuwait have a “stateless” status and they usually immigrate to Canada. Hence, National Security wants to make sure that if these same people are coming back into Kuwait, they are coming under the correct names, and so on. Anyway, it took me forever to prove that I was the daughter of the name I gave as my fathers’. The people that I was dealing with at National Security were nice enough to accept an email scan of my birth certificate, which I found searching through 7000 emails. Some people reading this might think it would’ve been easier to go to the Canadian Embassy and request that they issue a birth certificate for me from there, but this wasn’t possible because the embassy of Canada in Kuwait only issues visas and deals with renewing passports.

So, please please please, make sure to bring all legal documents with you if you’re looking to work overseas.

Sarah Hassan – Kuwait



#4 “My advice to teachers who want to teach overseas is to be patient when it comes to adapting to a new place and culture. Adapting to a new curriculum, while also adapting to a new school, new colleagues, new students, a new country and a new culture, is going to be tough. However, with time things will improve, and you’ll start to enjoy and savor the new experience. The most important thing is to reflect and learn something new about the culture.”

Maya – Location Private


#5 Female teachers who have gone out to teach in the UAE United Arab Emirates (the teachers mostly go out to teach English and are paid tax free) have found that to drive a vehicle in the UAE they must take a local driving test.

Generally in the UAE women are driven by chauffeurs and it’s something of a rarity for women to drive themselves, women who take the driving test (both local women and foreigners) will be failed many times (as many as ten times) as the authorities really don’t want women drivers.

Michael Baker – Dubai, UAE.



If you have a tip or two to share about teaching English in the Middle East please let us know.  Use the contact form to reach us.  We’ll include your tip (if it’s good) along with your name, location where you taught, a recent picture and a link to a site of your choosing if you so choose.

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