Sunday, November 22, 2015

Explore The Philippines


Philippines: An Island for Every Taste

In every family, there’s always an odd one out—and in the clan of Asia-Pacific nations, that member would be the Philippines. This nation of 7,107 islands (about 2,000 inhabited) began as a loose grouping of Indo-Malay tribes, which endured nearly 400 years of Spanish rule, then 48 years as a U.S. territory. Today the Philippines is a mix of tribal pride, Catholic fervor, American pop-culture savvy, and tropical affability.

Most visitors don’t linger in the muggy, traffic-clogged capital, Manila, but you should explore at least one of the Spanish churches in the old, walled center of Intramuros and stroll around Manila Bay at sunset.

Then head to some of the thousands of beaches, from the pink sands of Great Santa Cruz Island to the black sands of Albay. Divers off Palawan, Apo, and Siargao islands delight in hundreds of coral and fish species. On the southern isle of Mindanao, more than 1,300 land species—including the endangered Philippine eagle—reside in Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which recently joined northern Luzon’s rice terraces as a World Heritage site.

If the Philippines is that quirky member of the family, it also is the one that always invites you over for dinner, a uniquely Filipino fusion experience that intermingles salty, sour, and savory flavors. —Erik R. Trinidad

Travel Tips

When to Go: November to February (during dry season)

How to Get Around: Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila is the main international gateway. From a separate terminal, Philippine Airlines provides connections to popular tourist destinations such as Bohol, Boracay, and Cebu. The main modes of ground transportation are "jeepneys" (shared, open-air shuttles built from vintage U.S. Army jeeps), motorized tricycles, multicabs (shared minivans), and buses. The most convenient way to island hop is by ferry; Super Cat, a high-speed catamaran; or bancas, traditional outrigger boats.

Where to Stay: Play and stay in, on, and above the water at Apulit Island, one of four El Nido Resort properties in northern Palawan. Guests arrive by boat and stay in traditional Filipino cottages (50 total) set on stilts above the water. Optional activities include reef snorkeling, cave diving, kayaking, and rappelling.

What to Eat or Drink: Manila's Midnight Mercato Centrale is a Filipino foodie's dream. Every Friday and Saturday night (6 p.m. to 3 a.m.) in the BGC (Bonifacio Global City), market vendors prepare a dizzying array of street foods. Try the Filipino-style bagnet (pork belly) strips, lengua (beef tongue) burritos, and lechon liempo (slow-roasted pork belly).

What to Buy: The Igorot ethnic groups, or Cordillerans, of northern Luzon are known for their carving, brass and iron metalwork, and weaving. In the mountain resort town of Baguio, you can find carved bulul (rice gods) and woven rattan baskets and pasiking (native backpacks) in the Baguio City Public Market.

What to Read Before You Go: When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe (Penguin Books; reissue edition, 2003) is a simple, moving novel set in Japanese-occupied Manila near the end of World War II. It's infused with Filipino traditions, legends, and history.

Cultural Tip: The equivalent of "How are you?" in Filipino culture is "Kumain ka na ba?" (Tagalog for "Have you eaten?")

Helpful Links: Experience Philippines, It's More Fun in the Philippines, and Cultural Center of the Philippines

Fun Fact: With its green meadows and steep cliffs towering over the sea, Racuh a Payaman on Batan Island appears to have been plucked from the Scottish Highlands and plunked in the northernmost province of the Philippines. The lush grasses are communal pastureland where horses, cattle, and water buffalo roam. This home-on-the-range setting is why Racuh a Payaman often is referred to as "Marlboro country" or "the Marlboro hills."

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Become an International Teacher


By Heather Carreiro, April 19, 2010


While I worked for local NGOs and universities in Pakistan, my husband Duarte took a two-year contract as a Physics teacher in an international high school. By connecting with other foreign teachers in the school, we quickly learned that making a career out of international teaching would be an ideal way for us to sustain long-term travel and life abroad.

International vs. National Schools

There are scores of schools that claim to be “international” in name, but what teachers often call a “true international school” is a school that enrolls students from a variety of countries. These schools tend to be located in major cities, diplomatic capitals and international financial centers. Students include ambassadors’ kids, expat kids, teachers’ kids and local children whose parents can foot the bill.

Other schools may be internationally accredited but enroll primarily local students. Teachers refer to this type of school as a “national” school, although both types hire foreign teachers. Some national schools hire only foreign-qualified staff; others hire most teachers locally but employ foreigners for certain subjects like English. The ratio of foreign to local faculty at schools can vary widely even within the same country or city.

School Curriculum

When Duarte and I first moved abroad, we had no idea what O-Levels and A-Levels were. Since he was teaching in a school that offered both the British system and the American system, he had to learn how to teach two different curricula. International schools usually belong to one of the following systems: British (IGCSE/GCSE), American (often offering AP classes), or International Baccalaureate (IB).

Teacher Qualifications

There are schools that will hire teachers without formal qualifications, but to be a competitive candidate you need at least two of the following: a Bachelor’s degree, a valid teaching license in the subject you plan to teach, and two years experience.


In the U.S., each state has its own process for teacher licensing. Many undergraduate education programs provide routes to state certification, but you can also find post-baccalaureate programs aimed at career changers.



The majority of these programs require a one-semester student teaching practicum, a series of education courses based on classroom observation, and a set of exams.

Massachusetts is one state that offers a five-year preliminary license without requiring student teaching or the completion of special course work. You can apply for this license by passing two exams: MTEL communication & literacy and MTEL content area. For either elementary or secondary teachers it costs about $230 for the exams and $100 for a one-subject license. Your license is valid for five years of employment in Massachusetts, so if you never teach in Massachusetts it can remain valid for your entire international teaching career.

Job Searching

Most schools offer two-year renewable contracts, although some offer one-year contracts or require a three-year commitment from new hires. Prime hiring season is from January through April, although hiring is done all the way through August for the upcoming school year.



A lot of hiring is done at international job fairs organized by school placement organizations. At job fairs, dozens of school administrators and hundreds of teacher candidates converge in a major city for the purpose of lining up jobs.

The biggest job fairs are run by Search Associates, International Schools Services (ISS) and University of Northern Iowa (UNI). To attend a Search or ISS fair you need to apply and become a member.

Before the fair, candidates are given a list of schools that will be represented and current job openings. Larger companies like Search and ISS have online databases with detailed information about each school and salary package. The best way to prepare is to research every school, city and country that you might be interested in.

Once at the fair you will sign up for interviews with different school administrators. Between interviews you can go to school information sessions or network with other teachers.





Factors to Consider

Attending a job fair can be expensive, especially if you need to factor in travel and hotel costs. It is worth contacting schools ahead of fair season, in November and December, to see if you can interview via Skype.

Not all schools, even those listed by placement companies, are legit. Before applying for a teaching position, read what other teachers have said about it on International Schools Review (ISR). It costs $29 per year to be a member of ISR, but this will put you in direct contact with other international teachers and expat parents. Reviews posted on schools and directors are anonymous, so be aware that some feedback may simply be venting by teachers or propaganda by school administrators.

When you compare salary packages, compare the cost of living and the local tax rate as well. Annual salaries range from about $15,000 through $70,000, but you can live much better on $20,000 in India than you can on $40,000 in Switzerland.

European schools tend not to offer housing or utilities as part of the salary package, although many other schools around the world do. Benefits to look for include round-trip airfare, medical insurance, life insurance, free tuition for school-age children, daycare for younger children, moving allowance, professional development training, transportation allowance and retirement funds.



Final Tips

Look at the number of contract days and the number of teacher-pupil contact days required per year before applying. An average number of contract days is 180-190; this is the number of days per year teachers are expected to work. An average number of contact days is 170-180; this is the number of days you will be expected to teach. A few days more or less aren’t anything to raise concern, but I was once looking at a job in a new international school that required 250 contact days. Yeah, no thanks. I’d like to keep my summer vacations and my sanity. A side note said that teachers would be required to arrive early in order to create the school curriculum from scratch.

The teaching culture of a given school can vary markedly. Some schools are isolated; some are set in urban centers. Some cater to a young-single crowd of teachers while others prefer hiring couples or pensioners.

For Duarte and I, international teaching is a combination of career flexibility and stability. Once a contract is completed, we can choose to stay or move on to another destination. Currently we’re back in the U.S. pursuing further education, but we’re psyched to find out what opportunities the next international job fair will bring about!


Originally posted on
 http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/how-to-become-an-international-teacher/