Travel A Lot By Teaching English: A lot of people ask how I travel so much, and I don’t really have ONE answer, as I’ve gone through many different venues to do it — the military, volunteering, studying abroad and now teaching English. But if you want to travel long term, and get paid too, teaching English is the best way to go.
Qualifications to Travel a Lot by Teaching English
It’s actually quite easy to get into. The only real qualification you will need is a Bachelor’s degree- in ANYTHING. If you want to make above the minimum, and have more opportunities, you can also get a certification to teach English as a foreign language. It’s not a necessity, and actually some places will even pay for you to get certified. I personally wanted to know what I was doing, so I chose to get a Maximo Nivel TEFL cert before I went.
One thing I always get asked is if you need to know the country’s native language to teach. The answer for 90% of jobs is no. They prefer the students to be completely immersed in English so it’s an added bonus that you are not conversant with their language.
Do you need experience
Experience doesn’t matter for most jobs. But if you do have teaching experience, you will likely get paid a lot more. For example, someone with a Master’s and two years teaching experience can make $5k+ per month in the Middle East.
Note: There are a few countries that will let you teach with only an Associate’s; Taiwan and the Philippines, I know off the top of my head. However, you should do a lot of research on the school beforehand if they’re willing to hire you with an Associate’s, because often you won’t be teaching legally. I decided I would rather not end up in another country’s prison, deported, or extorted for being an illegal immigrant, so I chose to play it safe and get a BA.
Mostly, your pay is dependent on where you work, so that will likely be a big part of your decision of where you want to go. Here’s a list from most to least pay. (In general, obviously there will be exceptions):
- Middle East: Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia (Flights, housing included, plus great pay)
- Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan: (Flights, housing included, plus decent pay) Note: Japan’s English teaching market is pretty saturated, so those jobs are much more competitive. Not impossible, but not as easy to get as others. Before teaching in China, check out these apps.
- Europe: (Pay might be better than some Asian countries, but cost of living is higher and flights might not be included)
- Other Asian countries: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia (Pay is decent, but generally you pay for your own apartment and flights)
- South America: This small heaven has low standards of living. By that I mean your normal utilities will be cut into half not to mention rent will be low. With a bit of penny wise practices you will be living the dream.
- Africa: The pay is not all that great but the people and culture is AMAZING! Many opportunities there are volunteer-only.
This is just an “in general” list to start your job search if you’re interested. Some countries can’t afford to bring in foreign teachers, so you will be working on a volunteer basis only. A great way to explore an area first is through a study exchange programme.
How to find a job teaching English abroad
As far as looking for jobs goes, Dave’s ESL Café is a great site for it. (It looks shady, but it’s not!) If you post your resume, you will wake up the next day with 20+ job offers in your email. You can also find some sponsored posts on Indeed or any “normal” job board. But Dave’s is the best website to find a variety. There’s also a lot of other helpful info there too — forums, scam lists, even helpful links for lesson planning.
Types of jobs
Most job availabilities are for teaching elementary- high school students, but if you don’t like kids, there are many opportunities to teach in universities or adult language training centers as well. For me, it’s easier to teach kids because I can incorporate games without feeling like I’m patronizing them. Also, they’re generally less nervous to speak than adults.
Another option, which you can do from the comfort of your own home, is online tutoring. I know 51 Talk is a legit company, and is currently hiring, but there are tons more out there.
I found a job, what’s next?
You’ll get interviewed via Skype. Some places even require a teaching demo. If they decide to hire you, they will begin the legal process on their side. They’ll likely need copies of your degree, your teaching certification, medical checks, and a “non-criminal” certification. You will also need to sign the contract. Read it many times, and read it carefully.
Most contracts are for a year. Some are six months. A few even offer 3–4 month contracts. But shorter contracts are hard to find because they don’t want to invest in someone who is going to stay for such a small period of time. Likely those positions will be volunteer based or very low pay. You can break your contract, but often there is a monetary penalty. For example, if I break my contract before 6 months, my flight is not paid for. Also, if I don’t give notice, I’m charged hundreds of dollars.
What of the teaching experience?
Italian student Caterina di Mascio, 19, has learned most of her English through TEFL-based techniques. “Learning English with a native teacher isn’t like formal education,” she says. “It’s fun and interesting, and your teacher becomes your friend.” The characteristic TEFL emphasis on spoken language quickly breaks down inhibitions and forces each student to pay close attention throughout the lesson.
TEFL teachers are forced to step outside of a failed academic system that never helped them speak a language at school, and do things completely differently. It proves that learning a language can indeed be fun and not all about grammar, vocabulary and mistakes.
Travel by teaching English
The secret to TEFL methodology is simple: Teachers create natural situations for students to interact in. Every student speaks throughout the lesson, and physical movement is exploited to avoid boredom and fatigue. The experience of a TEFL student is completely different to that of a British language student. Traditional grammar tables and confusing linguistic terminology are often abandoned, but that doesn’t mean it gets ignored. Grammar is explained by use of examples in such a way that it doesn’t feel like grammar.