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The “Application Process” proved to be a LOT more time consuming and difficult than we thought it would be. This is a list of things we needed to get and how much it cost:
Getting Documents Notarized with an Apostille:
Getting things “notarized” basically just means getting them signed by an official whose job it is to say that things are legitimate or not. You can go to a notary and they will check your document (i.e. a diploma), make a copy of it (because you don’t want to send out your real documents), and either attach a form saying that it’s real, or fill out an affidavit saying that it’s real.
Then from there, you have to send the notarized copy and form to the appropriate place – the Secretary of State – so he/she can say that everything is legitimate x2 (their signature is the Apostille). And of course, they tack on an additional $10-$30 fee to basically get their autograph. Each of these processes takes a while to do, unless you can go there in person.
The FBI Criminal Background Check takes about 6 weeks for them to process your request and send back your form saying that you do or hopefully do not have a criminal record. This doesn’t need to be notarized but it still needs an Apostille. Depending on which country you apply to, they might want you to get the Apostille from the US Secretary of State (as opposed to the State office like with your diploma). You can mail it in directly, which will take a few weeks, go in person (or have a friend go in for you) or use a 3rd party. I used authxperts.com and it took them about a week.
TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language Online Course
The TEFL class I took was through iTTT, which is what my agency, Footprints Recruiting, recommended. It’s a $250 online class that takes about 4 weeks if you work on it consistently. You will have an online “tutor” who will email you each unit at a time. You read the 10-25 page unit, fill out the 4-8 page worksheet, email it to him, and he/she will email you back with the appropriate corrections, along with the next unit.
They say it takes around 4-6 hours to complete each unit and they are NOT kidding. You learn all about teaching techniques and grammar, including all the different kinds of past/present/future tenses – which there are a LOT of. Most units require you to create mock lesson plans using different grammar and applying it to different levels.
Getting TEFL certified isn’t always necessary (although it usually is) but it’s definitely looked upon favorably.
The actual application took a lot longer than I imagined. Most of it is your standard app requirements – previous addresses, any experience teaching, previous jobs, etc. It also required an essay about why we thought we would be good teachers, our teaching philosophy, and our take on cultural differences. We would be assessed based on grammar, structure, creativity, and style.
In addition, we had to include a sample lesson plan. Because we started these applications before starting our TEFL course, we had no experience making lesson plans, so this took a particularly long time.
For some reason, my fingerprints are extremely faint. Apparently it’s genetic. That, or I burned them all off after years of serving in restaurants. So I mentioned that it takes the FBI around 6 weeks to get our criminal background checks after we submitted our fingerprints. About 6 weeks later, I did get them back – but with bad news. My fingerprints quality was “too low” so I had to resubmit them.
So after talking to my agency and being informed that even though I was offered a position, I couldn’t go forth with accepting since I was set back 6 weeks, and after talking to the FBI and being told that they wouldn’t be able to expedite a new request, and after multiple mental breakdowns and seeing my future flash before my eyes (dramatic much), I decided that I would still attempt to get everything sorted. My agency told me that there were “late positions” that often opened up later in the year.
I wrote a hand-written letter to go along with my new fingerprints that I got done at the police station (NEVER get them done at a UPS!) begging whoever read it to please please PLEASE somehow expedite my fingerprints so I can teach English abroad.
2 and a half weeks later and my criminal background check was sitting on my lap, along with an email from my agency saying that a position opened up so I could come to Korea ASAP. Ask and you shall receive, my friends 🙂
(you should’ve seen what my rant looked like immediately after this setback when I originally wrote this post.)