Frequently Asked Questions

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Qualifications & Experience

Is teaching experience necessary?

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For most programs, no. In fact, a CIEE Teach Abroad program is a great way to enter the teaching profession. You do need an interest in teaching, a desire to make a meaningful difference in students’ lives, and a hunger for the new experiences of cultural exchange.

Our partner schools favor individuals with hands-on teaching experience. This can give you an edge, both in selection and when you step into the classroom. You also can gain that experience by taking a CIEE Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification course. Even if you choose not to pursue certification, the CIEE in-depth orientation that's part of every program will provide essential training in TEFL theory and practice before you begin your assignment. Learn more about CIEE TEFL.

Do I need to speak the local language?

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That depends on the program you choose. For our Asian programs – China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam – not knowing the local language actually is considered an advantage. Schools in these countries prefer teachers who are as “foreign” as possible, to set a better example of English for their students.

Most programs in Spanish-speaking countries require knowledge of the language. The goal is to enable better collaboration with local colleagues who may have little or no English skills. The level of fluency required varies; for volunteer programs, basic knowledge can suffice. Other programs require at least intermediate-level skills. Find more details on our program pages.

If you’re unsure whether your language skills are good enough, feel free to email us.

Do I need TEFL certification?

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Not in most cases, but it offers a major advantage. Schools prefer certified teachers, and the skills you gain during the certification course will help your students – and you – in the classroom. You’ll be a better-prepared teacher, making your program that much more rewarding. Plus, it’s a valuable credential to add to your resume.

All CIEE participants get training in TEFL theory and practice as part of their orientation. However, our TEFL certification goes into much greater depth and includes practical experience.

Due to employer and visa requirements, CIEE's TEFL certification course is included in the fee for CIEE’s Teach abroad programs in Chile, China, Czech Republic, Morocco, South Korea, and Vietnam. For our other programs, the course is an optional add-on.

Learn more about CIEE TEFL courses.

What’s included and what’s optional?

What does the program fee cover?

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When you arrive in your selected country, you’ll receive an in-depth orientation, with accommodations and most meals provided. You’ll take part in cultural excursions, basic teacher training, an introduction to the local language, workshops to prepare you to live and work in your host community, and social and networking events. Some programs also offer professional development seminars, mid-program gatherings and workshops, and more – all included. You’ll get all the tools and knowledge you need to be a successful teacher before you step into your first classroom.

We’ll also assist with logistical details. CIEE guides you through the visa process, provides transportation from the airport and to your assignment, and can provide temporary housing while you find your own place. For volunteer programs, we’ll match you with a local family for a no-cost homestay, with most meals included. And for peace of mind, all U.S. resident participants get supplementary iNext travel insurance coverage.

The preparation and help that CIEE Teach Abroad participants enjoy is second to none. CIEE staff members are always available, before and during your stay. We are your advisors and liaisons with your school, ready to help you with any issues that might arise. Consider us your problem solvers and sources of information.

Are my placement preferences guaranteed?

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You can state a preference, but placements ultimately are up to our partner schools, universities, and educational organizations. It’s wise to make requests as early as possible to maximize your chances of getting your first choice. Each program page has more information on locations

Will I be teaching children, high school students, university students, or adults?

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Programs serve students ranging in age from 3 to adult. With CIEE, you can find the age group you connect best with – whether it’s young children, university students, or business professionals. Our program pages provide a profile of who your students will be. Our TEFL-certification course offers an optional age-specific certification, which increases your chances of getting a position working with the age group you prefer.

Can I teach subjects other than English?

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Most participants just teach the English language, but some programs in Asia offer opportunities to teach other subjects if you’re qualified to do so. The subjects in highest demand include science, math, and computer science. Some schools also are looking for physical education and social studies teachers. If you do take on an additional assignment, your pay will be higher, with curriculum and guidelines provided. Let us know if you’re interested in expanding your course load, and we’ll try to find an opening!

Will my compensation be enough to live on?

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Paid positions offer fair rates given the time commitment. We do all we can to negotiate wages that will allow you to live comfortably, if not luxuriously. Volunteers get room and board but no monetary compensation. In Asia, there may be opportunities for you to save more money since pay tends to be higher and rent-free housing is often included.

How competitive is admission to CIEE Teach Abroad programs?

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While global demand for English teachers is strong, we have many applicants, and programs often fill up fast. The best way to secure a position is to apply early; applicants are considered on a rolling basis in the order applications are received. Extra qualifications such as TEFL certification and teaching experience certainly help.

Getting there and staying up-to-date during your stay

Does CIEE arrange my international flights?

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In most cases, travel is up to you, and it’s a good idea to book your flight after your school assignment has been confirmed. Some programs include flights, and in a few cases, there’s a completion bonus that helps to offset the cost of your return trip.

Can CIEE provide information and advice on travel to and living in my chosen country?

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Our aim is to help you settle in easily so you can enjoy your stay. Your orientation covers many details of cultural adjustment, work, and daily life in your host country. However, it’s always a good idea to get additional information, especially regarding official travel alerts. Make use of the Internet, pay attention to media reports about the country, and be sure to consult the U.S. State Department travel advisory for the latest bulletins. New alerts are posted regularly; make sure you visit often as your departure date approaches. You also can sign up to receive regular updates.

Program Regulations

As an applicant to a CIEE Teach Abroad Program, I am aware that my participation on the Program is contingent upon my understanding and agreement to uphold the CIEE Teach Abroad Program Regulations below.

Program Regulations

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  1. The applicant agrees that all the information provided in the application is true to the best of their knowledge and acknowledges that any false or misleading information may lead to immediate dismissal from the Program.
  2. CIEE reserves the right to refuse any applicant who does not meet the specific Program eligibility requirements or any applicant that CIEE does not deem appropriate to accept in the general interests of the Program. In the event that CIEE refuses an applicant acceptance on the Program, the application fee will not be refunded.
  3. CIEE makes no presentation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the Program for any participant and CIEE disclaims all such warranties to the full extent permitted by law.
  4. While CIEE can recommend matches and specific placements to the hosting authorities, CIEE does not have the ability to make placement decisions. All final placement decisions are made by the local officials and communicated to CIEE.
  5. The participant must be prepared to accept the placement offered by CIEE. While every effort will be made to fulfill placement requests, CIEE cannot guarantee that all requests will be met.
  6. The participant agrees to pay all fees in full at least two weeks before departure, in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Application Process and Placement Process.
  7. The participant is required to attend the Program orientation in their host country.
  8. All travel arrangements, including flight bookings, are subject to the terms, conditions and cancellation policies of the travel or tour organizer or airline. Under no circumstances is CIEE responsible for any flight cancellation or flight change charges incurred.
  9. In the event that a participant does not complete the term of his/her contract with the host institution for any reason, CIEE is not obligated to refund any part of the participant’s fees.
  10. CIEE reserves the right to dismiss from the Program any participant who is deemed, by CIEE, the host institution, or local authorities, to be a danger to themselves or others or whose conduct is deemed to be detrimental to the Program or their host institution. In the event of such dismissal, CIEE shall not be held responsible for any airfare, charges, or any other expenses incurred by the participant, and shall not be required to return any fees paid by the participants.
  11. All conditions of contract and the availability of all positions are subject to change without notice.
  12. The participant shall be responsible for and held liable for all of his or her acts along with any loss or damage that results from those acts while he or she is on the Program. In the event that CIEE, its affiliates and overseas cooperators, the host institution, and or any respective employees, agents and representatives of any of these entities suffer any loss or damages as a result of the acts of the participant, then the participant agrees to indemnify the party that suffered such loss or damages. Such claim for indemnification shall cover any and all reasonable claims, causes of action, judgments, losses, costs or expenses which may be made against any of the parties listed or which said parties may suffer or incur as a result of or relating to any acts of the participant.
  13. The participant is responsible for considering his or her personal health and safety needs when applying for or accepting a place on the Program. If the participant suffers from any health or other condition that would create a risk for them while abroad, he or she should not apply.
  14. The participant must supply CIEE with the name and contact details of next of kin, to be contacted in the case of an emergency.
  15. Once the participant arrives in host country, he/she is required to provide CIEE Teach Abroad Staff with his/her local contact information, including a local cell phone number, for emergency purposes. CIEE is unable to contact participants or provide emergency support if the participant does not provide his/her local contact information.
  16. The participant is responsible for reading and carefully considering all materials made available that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural and religious customs and conditions in their host community; and must be aware of local conditions that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions. Each participant must take full responsibility in the event that laws, regulations, or customs are broken, regardless of foreknowledge.
  17. Participation on the Program begins on the first day of orientation in country or the first day a participant is required to be at their assigned school, whichever date is earlier, and the Program ends on the last day of a participant’s (initial) teaching assignment.
  18. It should be understood by the participant that the working and living conditions abroad are likely to be very different to those in the participant’s home country, and in some instances may be quite basic. Much of the information concerning the Program, the host institution, and the host country is provided to CIEE by the host institution or others. While CIEE believes this information to be generally correct, CIEE cannot guarantee its accuracy or timeliness and thus makes no representations or warranties about these statements or the actual conditions.
  19. Certain host institutions may be in isolated locations and may have limited facilities and transportation links. The participant agrees to accept his or her living conditions and to respect the host institution’s guidelines and policies, including those with regard to conduct, delinquency, salary and terms of employment.
  20. Although CIEE operates this Program, other terms and conditions applicable to the participant will be contained in a separate contract between the participant and the host institution. CIEE will endeavor to monitor compliance with the contract by the host institution; however, CIEE has no power or authority to enforce compliance by the host institution, and shall not be responsible for any failure by the host institution to comply with such contract.
  21. All travel before, during and after the Program is at the participant’s own risk. Any participant who chooses to operate motorized vehicles is responsible for obtaining the necessary license, permission and insurance and does so at his or her own risk.
  22. While CIEE will always endeavor to fulfill its responsibilities, CIEE cannot accept liability or responsibility for any alterations, delay or cancellation caused by threat of war, fire, sickness, bad weather, acts of government or public authority or other circumstances amounting to a “force majeure”.
  23. Withdrawal and Refund Policy
    1. The $50 application fee is non-refundable.
    2. The $500 ($1000 with TEFL) commitment deposit is non-refundable.
    3. If written (e-mail) notice of cancellation is received by CIEE Portland within 30 days of receiving a placement or job offer and more than 45 days prior to the program start date, 50% of the final fee installment can be refunded; otherwise it is non-refundable. The commitment deposit remains non-refundable in this case.
    4. CIEE will not refund fees should a participant decide, after arrival in country, that he or she is unsuitable for participation on the program.
    5. After the commitment deposit is paid, CIEE allows a one-time deferral of acceptance to the next program departure if written (e-mail) notification is received at least 60 days prior to departure. There is a deferral fee of $250.
  24. Completion Bonus for Teach in China/Teach in Thailand Applicants: The host institution is responsible for covering the return flight stipend or contract completion bonus, if indicated in the contract between the participant and the host organization. This applies to Teach in China participants who depart in either February (two-semester) or August (academic year), but for Teach in Thailand, it only applies to those who depart in May (academic year) and teach for two consecutive semesters at the same school. Host institutions are not bound to cover one-way flight costs to those participants who agree on an initial one-semester contract and extend for a further semester at the same institution. Participants who agree to work an academic year contract and change host institutions during that time forfeit any covering of the cost of the return portion of their flight.
  25. On some programs it is possible to extend your participation on CIEE’s program for an additional semester or year. Should a participant choose to renew on the Program for a further term, the participant is responsible for paying CIEE an extension fee of $550 in order to remain a participant on the Program. The extension fee includes insurance coverage, in-country support, and in some cases placement at a new school.

All applicants must confirm acceptance of the above conditions through their online CIEE Teach Abroad application to participate on the program.

Questions? Do not hesitate to contact a program specialist at teach@ciee.org or by phone at 1-800-407-8839 ext, 4.