Have you ever wondered what it’s like to get paid to live and work in a foreign country? I’ve taught English for the past three years now in both Thailand and Korea. I haven’t loved every second of it, but it has been life-changing. If you want to see the world, immerse yourself in a new culture, and sharpen your foreign language skills, teaching English abroad is one of the best ways to do it.
Check out my blog post on the pros and cons of teaching in Thailand or Korea.
Think about which country you would like to live
Approximately one billion people are learning English abroad, so the possibilities for places to teach are vast. However, you need to examine your own qualifications. Some countries require a degree in education, and some require nothing more than being a native speaker. That being said, virtually anyone can teach English. It just depends what kind of salary you are looking for and where you would like to go.
Once you choose a country, make sure you learn when their school year starts. It is much easier to find a teaching position at the beginning of the school year.
Decide How Much Money You Want To Make
Korea, China, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia are some of the countries that pay the highest for native English speakers. This fact is well-known among English teachers. If you want to make money, head to Asia or the Middle East. If you head to a country in Europe or Latin America, plan to break even. Salaries differ drastically by location. For example, an English teacher in Korea can expect to make at least 2,000$ per month with benefits like paid housing, flights, and pensions. In Thailand, native speakers without an education degree can expect to make about half this with none of the benefits.
When choosing a country, really consider what it is you want to get out of the experience. For some people, the goal is to travel the world and have a more laid-back lifestyle. Others are more interested in saving up money and getting experience for their resumes.
Many people ask whether it is possible to teach English abroad without a college degree, and the answer is yes. However, expect to make less money than you would with a degree. Your options are also more limited when in regard to which countries you will be able to work in.
Get a TEFL
Although a TEFL is not necessary to teach English abroad, it can certainly be beneficial. Not only does it help with job prospects, it can also give you the skill set that you need to teach English. When I first moved abroad, I had no idea what I was doing and did a demo class at a kindergarten in Phnom Penh. Needless to say, I had no experience and the demo class was a disaster.
After that, I went back to Chiang Mai and obtained my certification through SEE TEFL. An in-person class is more useful than some of the online courses offered, and is looked upon more highly by prospective employers.
Consider Whether You Will Go Independently or Through A Recruiter
If you take an in-person TEFL course, many schools do offer job placement help. However, this isn’t a guarantee, and it’s very important to do research beforehand. In countries like Thailand or Vietnam, you can get a job simply by showing up and applying at a school. However, for some people this is extremely daunting. In countries like Korea, recruiters can help you to obtain a job before you fly to the country. This takes a lot of the stress of you in terms of visa paperwork.
Daves ESL Cafe – My go-to jobs site. They update their listings daily. Both recruiters and schools post positions.
ESL Job Project– Daily job postings for ESL teachers.
Ajarn – The best site for job listings in Thailand.
CIEE– A teaching abroad agency with great listings and placement help.
Tips and Tricks
- If you are looking to teach abroad, make sure you go with an open mind. Make an effort to expand your friend circle and interact with locals and other expats.
- Take the time to learn some of the local language. No one is expecting you to be fluent, but knowing basic phrases is very helpful and appreciated by other people.
- Don’t go into living abroad with a negative mindset. Some expats get into the habit of complaining about their chosen country rather than remembering why they came there in the first place. See the positive in all things.
- Take your time abroad as an opportunity to travel other places. Living abroad is an excellent chance to explore surrounding countries and to experience new things. Don’t miss this awesome opportunity!
Have you taught English abroad, and where? Let me know via message or in the comments below.