There are so many ways you can supplement your income while on the road. One great way to do this is by teaching English abroad. Emma from Gotta Keep Movin helps explain how to get started.
Teaching English abroad has become a very popular way for travelers seeking location independence to earn money on the road. Teaching can suit almost anyone, allows you to be creative and have fun, and it’s common for teachers to hop around the globe moving from job to job. Once you’ve decided you want to travel and teach, it can be really difficult to know where to start, so here are 5 starting out tips that should help you decide.
Consider getting qualified at Teaching English
While many people teach English purely based on the fact that it’s their native language, some employers want to see that you have a qualification. If you decide to teach without a certificate, you might be limited on places you can go and not be accepted for well-paid jobs. Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL are the most thorough and internationally-recognized certificates, but are expensive to complete at around $1800 for a one-month intensive course. Online certificates are possible but leave you with a theoretical understanding of teaching instead of practical, real-life classroom techniques. Experience can sometimes speak more than certificates, so consider some volunteer teaching before deciding which level of qualification is best for you.
Decide where in the world you want to go
Which certificate you have, if any, can dictate where you can go, but opportunities are open everywhere to people with the right attitude or experience. Asia has the biggest job market for English teachers, with China and Japan as the forerunners, and the Middle East have a huge demand as well. Europe and South America have excellent opportunities for teaching, and are easy to travel round if you wanted to move on a lot. While there are jobs in Africa, paid ones are hard to come by as many of the countries just don’t have the resources to pay teachers, which makes it the perfect place to volunteer and really make a difference with your teaching. Don’t rule out countries where English is the first language, as many people go there to specifically learn it.
Think about the kind of lifestyle you want
Some teaching jobs will have you working all hours of the day with hardly any holiday a year, but earn you the big bucks, and most of these tend to be in places like South Korea or Japan. The money is obviously an advantage but before entering into a contract you might want to have a think about whether that kind of life is right for you. Having a social life outside of these jobs can be difficult, so if that doesn’t suit you, do some research into where you could go to balance a social life and work. European contracts, for example, offer around 20-25 hours a week, which gives you enough money to live and plenty of time to explore your new home. This is exactly the lifestyle I had when I was teaching English in Spain.
Figure out how much you want to get paid
Obviously most of us would love to be paid a fortune for as little work as possible, but pay rates all over the world change drastically when it comes to teaching English. This usually comes down to a question of getting by, or saving money. High paid jobs in Asia will take up lots of time but pay huge amounts, leaving you plenty of opportunity to save. In these jobs you could work for a year and take a year or more off and travel afterwards. Jobs in South America are on the other end of the spectrum – they pay just enough so you can live, but won’t give you much of a chance to save. Consider going for the well-paid jobs first to boost you savings, then go to the thriftier countries later when you can afford it.
Decide what kind of students you want to teach
With this category you have to consider the age of students, and to a lesser extent, the level. In my experience you’d be very lucky to find a position only teaching adults, but university and language schools can have these. If you want to teach kids you’ll be able to find work almost anywhere as countries are desperately trying to lock down their children’s English skills for future generations. You will normally have a range of levels to teach in any job, so be prepared to teach anything from absolute beginner to advanced.
All 5 of these tips are dependent on each other, as your certificate will depend on where you want to go, your pay changes due to your location, or lifestyle will depend on your pay. The best piece of advice would be to get out there and gain some experience to see where your strengths lie and how you initially get on with the lifestyle. This ‘suck it and see’ approach will eventually get you to a job that is in the right place, with the right hours, pay, and lifestyle. With TEFL, there is always a job out there somewhere in the world that is perfect for you.
Have you every thought about teaching English abroad?