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Overview of different programs
There are many different programs that exist to help people to teach abroad. Three often-used paths for American teachers are teaching at a Department of Defense school, teaching at an international school, or working independently at any school accepting foreign applicants.
U.S. Department of Defense
Teaching at a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) school is much like teaching at a school within the United States. The schools enroll the children of military and DOD civilian employees. There are currently 222 public schools in “13 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico” (DOD). There are 8,785 teachers working in these schools. The DOD works to keep the school atmosphere and level of learning comparable to schools within the U.S.
The DOD hires only teachers with bachelor's degrees (which must include some course work in education) and teaching experience. Most placements are for one or two years; teachers are placed at the discretion of the DoD and cannot choose their location.
International volunteer programs
Numerous volunteer programs exist in which teachers can teach in foreign schools. Costs to participate as a volunteer vary depending on the organization, the country and the length of the program. International volunteer programs usually vary in length from 2 to 12 months. Volunteers most often teach English but other subjects can also be covered, such as computer skills, AIDS/HIV awareness, science, math, etc.
Volunteer English teaching programs exist in almost all corners of the world. Some countries with prominent English teaching programs are Chile, Spain, France and Georgia. Many programs are sponsored by the host nation's ministry of education, such as the Chile's English Opens Doors and Korea's EPIK program.
International schools are private schools that cater mainly to children who are not nationals of the host country, including the children of the staff of international businesses, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions, or missionary programs. Teachers are often hired on contracts which typically last two years  Research has indicated that teaching experiences abroad contribute positively to the intercultural development of teachers (Savva, 2013).
Many teaching positions overseas are for teachers of English, and can involve teaching to all ages, including both children and adults. Programs are organized by individual schools, national governments (such as the JET Programme in Japan and English Opens Doors in Chile). Some programs require teaching credentials and/or TESOL certification.
There is some dispute about the claimed usefulness of brief courses (TEFL, TESOL, etc.) in either becoming an effective teacher or finding employment. Such courses are sometimes advertised as being important or even required, without stating that they are no substitute for a university degree in teaching English as a foreign language.
- DoDEA: The Department of Defense Education Activity
- Savva, M. (2013). International schools as gateways to the intercultural development of North-American teachers. Journal of Research in International Education, 12(3), 214-227.