How To Teach English Abroad & Is it Worth It?, Wondering how to teach English abroad? Learn more with Sabrina’s insights. She is an English teacher and she should be able to answer all the questions you may have. If you are wondering if teaching English abroad is worth it and/or if this is for you, you should get your answer by the end of this post.
Like a lot of people, I always knew I wanted to travel. But like a lot of people, I didn’t know-how.
I had finished high school and went straight to university, where I stayed for five years until I finished my degree. All the while, I watched friends go on these incredible trips to countries and places I dreamed of seeing. I saw their pictures on social media and I was racked with jealousy. I didn’t understand how people who went backpacking for weeks or months could afford it.
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How To Teach English Abroad & Is it Worth It?
I sat in the back of my classroom, pretending to take lecture notes while looking at maps of the world and dreaming about the places I’d like to see. But it remained that: a dream. I thought my ideas of travel would stay in the far off place where all my dreams lived, a world that consisted of things I wanted that I’d never actually get.
Does that sound familiar to you?
I finished university and I was no closer to achieving these dreams. Instead, the debt I’d acquired and the complete absence of money or job prospects pushed those dreams even further away. It wasn’t until I fell on a poster at my university that I learned how I could finally turn them into a reality.
Deciding to Teach English Abroad
On the poster was a woman. Her back faced me and she was sitting on steps that reminded me of the Great Wall. The poster read “Want to travel the world? Teach English Abroad.”
I went home later that day and researched how. It astounded me that there was a whole population of people who had left their homes to live in other parts of the world, and had done so just by teaching English. It seemed too good to be true. Surely, it could not be as simple as that?
It turns out it was.
How to Get a TEFL Qualification
Knowing virtually nothing about ESL, I registered for a TEFL course. By the end of it, I knew where I wanted to teach, I’d networked and heard first-hand accounts from people who had lived and taught abroad, and I had an arsenal of teaching knowledge and classroom experience.
Nothing could have fully prepared me for the experience that awaited me abroad, but having a TEFL allowed me to walk into it believing I would survive.
If you’re looking to take the first step into the world of ESL, The TEFL Org is a great place to start whether you want to take a TEFL certificate in Australia, US or UK. It’s one of the most experienced TEFL qualification providers and it’s founded and run by actual TEFL teachers, providing invaluable first-hand experience.
How to Pick your Destination
There are opportunities to teach ESL all over the world, so it’s up to you what part of the world you decide to live in. I decided on South Korea as my first destination, as I was told it had the biggest demand for ESL teachers.
Asia continues to dominate the ESL market, with high paying jobs found in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. There are also plenty of high paying opportunities in the Middle East, and many more opportunities throughout Europe, Africa, Central, and South America.
If you’re looking for experience before you pack your suitcase, wherever you live, there is likely a community of newcomers looking to learn ESL. These communities can provide good working and volunteer opportunities to prepare you for the move abroad, or also a place to land if you ever choose to return home.
In the four years, I have been involved in the ESL industry, I have met people who have taught in South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uganda, and Mexico. And with the emergence of online ESL companies, you’re now able to teach English from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a laptop and a wifi connection.
How to Get Paid
Most of us want to travel, but what stops us from doing so is the same thing that stops us from doing most things in our lives: money. My excuse for most of my life had always been, “I can’t afford it.” How was I going to travel long-term, when I was stuck in my job, working in my home country of Canada?
Even with a job waiting for me in another country, moving abroad still seemed impossible. How would I afford to get there?
That was largely part of the reason I chose South Korea as my first destination. It is common practice in Korea for your airfare or flights to be included in your pay. On top of that, your rent is usually paid for, or you’re given a monthly allowance to help cover the cost.
I had zero dollars in my bank account when I got to South Korea. I paid for my flight on credit and was reimbursed upon arrival, providing me with the spending money I needed until I got my first paycheque. The apartment I moved into was paid for by my school. It was the perfect situation for someone in the financial state I had been in.
On top of my monthly pay, at the end of my year contract, I was given a bonus (equal to a month’s pay), and I got my pension refunded to me. Depending on your nationality, you pay into a pension plan in Korea, and upon completion of your contract, you’re eligible to get it all back. I didn’t save a dime that year, but I walked away with enough money to go backpacking for four months.
This kind of payment culture differs from country to country. Therefore, it’s useful to understand your financial situation, what you want from the experience of living abroad, and which country will help you achieve that.
For me, I moved to South Korea with no expectations or desires, other than to lean into the experience and take from it any lessons it provided. It had nothing to do with the money. But I quickly learned that I wanted to continue traveling, and I was lucky to have stepped into an opportunity that allowed me to do that.
Travel the World
At the end of the day, what a lot of us are looking for is nothing other than travel. For many of us, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re exposing ourselves to a new culture, and learning from the experience of being there.
If you want to travel the world, be immersed in a new place and meet new people, one way to do it is to teach English abroad.
Although, there are many other options when it comes to travel jobs. Think of scuba diving instructors, tour guides, cabin crew, etc.
☑ Book your flight: If your flight isn’t booked yet – check out the flights on Skyscanner or via Google Flights. My top saving tip is flexibility. If you’re flexible, you should be able to find a cheaper flight.
☑ Book your accommodation: I always use Airbnb and Booking.com. If you’d rather stay in a hostel, you should take a look at the options on Hostelworld. Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, sign up for Worldpackers to get free accommodation in exchange for work.
☑ Protect your cute face: Oh, you may want to protect your cute face with travel medical insurance. I would suggest SafetyWing as they offer the best rates, especially for long-term travelers. Otherwise, you can also take a look at World Nomads.
☑ Pack the essentials: You can consult this list when it’s time to pack your bag! Do not leave without a universal charger, a power bank and your passport!
☑ Do you need a visa? If you aren’t sure if you need a visa, it would be a smart idea to take a quick look before you go. You can use iVisa – it’s super useful and easy to use.
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