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A great way to travel the world and fund your travels is to teach English overseas.
If you want to spend a long time in a destination, teaching English is a popular option for overseas travelers looking to earn funds and reside outside of their home countries.
English teaching offers individuals the chance to travel to exotic locations, learn a new culture, and earn some extra cash.
We both had the good fortune to teach English overseas in Bangkok, Thailand for six months. Caz went through one of the teach English abroad programs and got her TEFL certification, whilst Craig had no experience and no certification.
Some schools want to submerge their students in English and want your Western presence in their schools.
Teach English Abroad Programs (mentioned at bottom of this post) are numerous and do not require that you speak the local language.
Even if you have no teaching experience, you can still find work if you get your TEFL certification.
Your ability to teach English overseas varies tremendously around the world. Your best bet would be to consider Asia as they have a wide availability of jobs, the pay is better than anywhere else, and the cost of living is generally low.
Teaching English abroad is not always easy and there are times you wish you never got involved, but if you place yourself in a location which you are interested in, it makes it so much easier to get out and explore, to meet local people, and to deal with any culture shock issues.
Even if you don’t intend to make teaching a career, the experience of teaching English overseas looks great on your resume, and the experiences of interacting with the locals will last a lifetime.
Depending on where you go and what type of job you want, the qualifications needed will vary as will the pay. In some of the top positions, benefits can include airfare and housing.
Here is a detailed list of the ins and outs of teaching English overseas…
1. What are the requirements of teaching English overseas?
2. What is TEFL, ESL,TESL, and TESOL?
3. Where to Teach English overseas
4. Benefits of teaching English overseas
5. Can I teach without a degree?
6. Types of Schools
7. TEFL Tips
8. TEFL courses.
9. Jobs boards, Teach English Abroad Programs, and Volunteering.
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language.) is a certification course to teach English around the world.
The TEFL program
ESL stands for English as a Second Language. It’s basically the study of English by people who speak a different native language.
TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language.
TESOL is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Locations for teaching English overseas include:
Teaching English abroad is a big industry and demand for teachers is growing, with the peak hiring season being around July for a September start.
When choosing a destination there are factors that you need to consider.
For example, if you are British you have a good chance of finding work in Europe without any visa or political issues, and also Africa. Whereas an American would find it easier in Asia and Latin America.
Now this is not set in stone, and as long as you are a native speaker, have TEFL certification or a teaching degree, then the opportunity to teach English abroad anywhere there is a demand will be greater.
Salaries and benefits range from country to country, town to town, school to school, and if you are going through one of the teach English abroad programs, then program to program.
There are SO many variables like your qualifications and experience, the school’s budget, how many hours you work, the type of school etc.
Generally, you can earn from $0 as a volunteer, up to around $60,000 per year for elite private schools. And most of the top paying schools expect you to sign a 2-year contract.
There are always exceptions, but generally this is the norm.
Not all schools and countries offer you benefits, but some of the better ones do (especially international schools).
Benefits can include:
Don’t forget to research what sort of tax you will be liable to pay and if you are entitled to receive any back. A lot of people overpay tax without realising it. You could be due tax back if you worked abroad or were taxed incorrectly or perhaps didn’t work for the full year. TaxBack.com can check out your details and tell you for free what you’re owed. They provide tax refunds for 16 countries worldwide including Ireland, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
It’s possible to be in the right place at the right time and to find work without a degree. This is rare and not a recommended path.
There are people working without degrees or TEFL certification, and generally in the rural areas where it’s harder for schools to recruit qualified individuals.
Government schools are probably the most reliable. You will get paid, have some level of support, and the school probably won’t close anytime soon! However, they are usually the worst paying jobs.
You should get much better pay here than a government school. For example, Caz worked at a language school in Bangkok on a Saturday, and her pay for one day there was equivalent to half-a-months pay from her full-time government school position.
Also, your schedule and curriculum should have more flexibility, and the resources will be much better. The negatives are that your job may not be as secure and they don’t always deliver what they promise so do your research.
Private schools offer better pay than Government schools, and the students may be slightly better, but you will probably have less flexibility than a language school. Once again, there are good and bad private schools, so do your research and try and speak to current or former teachers.
Usually, international schools are the top of the range schools.The students are children of international expats, diplomats, or very rich locals. Curriculum should be close to or the same as your country of origin.
Teaching should be similar to at home, and obviously, most of the students should speak fluent English and be motivated. The pay at International schools should be the best you can get, with added benefits like airfare, accommodation etc thrown in.
The negative is that competition for these jobs is tough, prospective teachers are highly qualified, you are required to sign 2 year contracts, and openings are few and far between.
And like other schools, there are good and bad International schools, and “fake” international schools.
A good guide as to whether it’s a “true” international school is to look at the enrollment of students and the ratio of international kids to locals.
Some International schools advertise themselves as such, but they mainly have local students and are therefore a glorified private school.
These jobs typically pay very high, the students will be adults who want to learn, your schedule can be somewhat flexible, and the work could last a few months. Hours are usually before or after business hours. These jobs are also typically hard to get and require experience.
TEFL Institute – all your TEFL courses and information.
i-to-i – the world’s leading online and short course TEFL provider.
EBC International TEFL Certificate – accredited online and residential courses.
TEFL International – accredited courses and job placements.
Oxford Seminars – the leading provider of TESOL, TESL and TEFL certification.
American TESOL Institute – internationally recognized teacher training organization.
ESL Job Project – made by ESL teachers for ESL teachers.
ESL Jobs World – created by David Rogers, who’s been active in the field of ESL since early 90’s.
Dave’s ESL Cafe – the ONE and ONLY for everything ESL.
Ajarn – Thailand’s number 1 TEFL site.
International Schools Services – learn about International schools.
Council of International Schools – more info on International schools.
Teach English in Asia – TEFL jobs around Asia.
Serious Teachers– International alliance of Teachers & Employers.
Working Abroad – how to become a traveling English teacher.
World Teach – volunteer teaching in Developing countries.
CIEE – teaching Chile, China, the Dominican Republic, South Korea, Spain, or Thailand.
The Beijinger -focused on China
Cross Cultural Solutions – a non-profit with over 25,000 participants.
Transitions Abroad – K-12 and University jobs.
Want more tips and insider secrets for working abroad? Check out our ultimate travel guide.
Do you have any other tips on how to teach English overseas?
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