Teach English Abroad To Fund Your Travels

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Everyone has different ways of making money on the road. My secret for 5 years before becoming a full-time travel blogger was to teach English abroad!

I’ve taught in lots of different countries, made excellent money and you can do it too!

I have however made some mistakes too and want to help you get the best experience and salary you can. Read on to find out how I funded my travels through the power of vocabulary and grammar!

Teach English to fund your travels

Where and for whom I’ve taught English

I’ve taught kindergarten (nursery), primary (elementary) and secondary (middle) school, University and adults in Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Austria / Poland / Germany and China. Please click on each country below for detailed information on what I did, where, how I got that job and how good it was! Make sure to finish reading this article too though! You need to know the essentials first to teach English abroad!

teacher alice
Teacher Teacake: making the weirdest faces since 2010

Here’s my top advice for you to teach English abroad successfully…

Have a teaching certificate or some experience before you start

If you want to teach, it’s good to know whether you actually like it, can do it and are prepared with a toolbox of tricks up your sleeve.

Many jobs need you to have a TEFL certificate with at least 100 hours put into it these days. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, what’s the easiest and cheapest way you can start?

Get your TEFL certificate

I personally love MyTEFL. They’re professional, supportive and experienced. They provide a convenient and comprehensive 120 hour online course and they have been kind enough to give all of you 35% off their TEFL certification.

Get 35% off your TEFL course here with code TEA35

No degree? No problem!

If you do not have a degree, the good news is that you can still teach English abroad.

No TEFL and little experience? Do an internship!

If you want to get a TEFL certificate and teaching experience at the same time, why not excel in your English teaching and take part in an internship?

Doing an internship (some with a full paid salary) will give you everything you need to get your dream job straight away!

Get a TEFL certificate
Be a good girl and make sure you get a TEFL certificate: you’ll be a superstar teacher in no time!

Find the right job for you!

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

90% of the time, the way I have got a better teaching job has been through word of mouth. Friends have recommended me and forwarded my CV and it’s totally paid off. Most of the best jobs are never even advertised.

Go to the country you want to work in and hunt down your dream job

Nine times out of ten, being already in the country you want to teach in will get you miles ahead of applicants hunting online.  Employers like to hire quick and if you’re literally there for the taking and they can see you face-to-face, they’ll be super happy.  Sure, this means paying for your own flight and needing to have some courage to head there but it’s worth it.

Teach English in Thailand
Want to teach English AND hit the beach everyday? You can do that as a TEFL teacher!

Look online

If you’re not connected with other teachers, cannot afford to fly into the country yourself or want a guaranteed job before you land somewhere, looking online is a great option.  There’s lots of different job websites out there.

MyTEFL have excellent paid internships with a guaranteed job in ChinaThailand and Africa where you’ll receive an introduction to the country, the school system, the culture, the language, survival tips and much more.

Good, wholesome places I have also used are:

Do You Actually Want To Teach English Online?

There are plenty of opportunities for you.

I recommend you read my How to Teach English Online article.

It has lots of information in it about how much money you can earn, what qualifications and materials you need to get started and who to work for. There are many different companies out there and there is one for you. Even if you do not have a degree, there are teaching English opportunities available!

For specific job websites in each country, click on the country links above at the top of this post!

From experience, I recommend not working for big companies. The care, salary and benefits are just not the same as independent schools but still, I wouldn’t knock them completely. Do what you feel is right for you.

Teaching English contract

Read that contract once, twice and thrice

Once you get offered a job, make sure you read the contract very carefully. In fact, make sure you actually get that contract in your hands! (you can read about my terrible mistake with a contract in my Vietnam teaching post).  You need to be clear on a number of things before you start including:

a) Your pay: is it hourly, weekly or monthly?

b) Do you get paid for overtime?

c) What days you’re working: is working Saturday, Sunday and evenings OK for you or are you a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 person?

d) Your notice period: is it 3 days, 3 weeks of even 3 months?  I’ve been trapped before and had trouble getting out of a job that wasn’t for me

e) The expenses you have to pay if you decide to leave your job early

f) Your duties and responsibilities

g) Preparation time: are the materials you need to teach ready for you or do you have to plan and prepare everything yourself?

h) Your benefits! Housing / travel / holidays / health insurance – these are all bonuses that are definitely helpful to have

Do a bit on the side: private tutoring

If your main job allows it, teaching and tutoring privately can really increase your monthly salary. One-on-one lessons are in high demand by students. I will post about how to conduct private tutoring soon.  Stay tuned for this!

Teaching English Private Tutoring

 What are the best countries to teach English Abroad in at the moment?

China and South Korea are definitely in the top 10 as well as countries in the Middle East! It’s not all about the money though. You can teach and earn enough to live, eat and be merry in many places. Go where your interests lie and where you think you can integrate into the culture. Teacake did consider Saudi Arabia once (for 10 seconds) then quickly changed her mind. I wouldn’t last 10 minutes there.

Here’s some great up-to-date articles on where it’s hot to teach at the moment:

Are you looking for a TEFL course on-site rather than online?

Getting a TEFL certificate is definitely the way to start and I highly recommend MyTEFL for their amazing online course. However, there are also some excellent on-site courses too which you may prefer to jump right in and do. I’ll be updating this article with different locations. Watch this space!

North America / South America

If you have your heart set on Costa Rica, Guatemala or Peru, I have heard very good things about Maximo Nivel’s 150 hour on-site TEFL certification prgramme.

Wishing you the best with your future TEFL career and teaching English abroad adventure!

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Teach English Abroad to Fund Your Travels. Teach ESL TEFL CELTA English to work and travel at the same time!

35 thoughts on “Teach English Abroad To Fund Your Travels”

  1. This is a very useful article for everyone thinking of having an extra set of skills that would help them work and travel at the same time. I recommended this article to some friends I met on the road in Japan and they loved it. It got me curious, and I thought I might do it myself too! Just in case one day I pack my backpack and say “I’m out of here”. I do have a question though, in your experience are there opportunities for non-native speakers if they got all their certifications lined up and start gaining some experience?

    • Thank you so much for recommending the article to others! There definitely are opportunities for non-native speakers but with this particular company, I’m not sure. You will have to double check with them!

  2. Great tips!!
    I have considered to do the TEFL to teach while travelling, but I gave up because I`am not a native speaker and I thought it might be difficult to get a job. I have studied English since I was teenager, I even bog and write for magazines in English. I just think that most of the schools will hire only native speaker. Am I wrong?
    Thanks :-D

    • Hi Nat. You can certainly get a job as a non native speaker! Sure, it may be a little more difficult but please don’t rule it out. When they see you over Skype or face-to-face they are going to see how good your English is and be happy to take you on. I have seen many non native speakers working here in Asia. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask and good luck!

  3. I’ve got friends who have done this and found it absolutely amazing – in the sense of earning money to fund more travels but also a great way to meet people too. Fab tips here.

  4. Great article for those interested in earning money while traveling. I can totally see how this might be the best way to save (rather than doing some shitty jobs) and explore the world at the same time!

  5. Brilliant article! Teaching abroad is easier to get into than most people think. Just be open minded, and take the first steps. You may never look back!

  6. Great tips, thanks. I never considered becoming an English teacher abroad, because it’s not my native tongue. But actually, I have some friends from various European countries who got teaching jobs in Asia. If you are really determined, everything is possible, even if you have to compete with native speakers.

  7. Thanks for the tips Alice, I swear it gets harder and harder to go back to work every time I’m back from a trip. I’ve never thought about teaching English but may be an option for the future as it seems to be a great way to make money on road. I’d love to check out Japan!

  8. I wish my English was better :( It’s not my mother language and I’d be afraid that I wouldn’t be good enough… Anyway, thank you for this informative article, maybe I’ll change my mind someday :)

  9. First of all, your blog is super inspirational and the quirky/humorous style stands out among lots of other solo-female-travel-blogging stuff I’ve read lately! (Seems to be a trend these days which is GOOD — need more ladies getting up and out there you know! girl power!) I’ve been teaching English in Warsaw for the last 7 months and I’ve got itchy feet to try somewhere else outside Europe (been travelling and working in odd jobs in Europe for the past year). I was really intrigued by teaching in Asia because of the salaries/benefits of course, but also the adventure-potential!! However, I have a bit of Spanish knowledge and now I’m drawn to S.America travels… so I am considering trying ESL teaching in Chile or somewhere around there! Any tips or acquaintances who’ve done teaching in that region? Or anywhere in S. America really? GRACIAS! :)

    • Hey Cammy! Wow thanks so much! Glad you’re digging it! So psyched that you’re open to trying other places and seeing what’s out there! Let me talk to my travel friends and see what I can do for you. Feel free to add me on Facebook (my name is Alice Nettleingham) and we can see what’s possible! Best wishes, happy travels and see you on Facebook! <3

  10. Wondered where to get the TEFL? I saw your link to New Life; however, I’ve read other articles that most places won’t accept a TEFL from certain institutions – that the cheaper programs ($300 vs $2,000) will not qualify. How does the hiring organization determine what is an acceptable TEFL and what is not?

    • Hi Ila! New Life are a good choice for finding work in China but as far as TEFL courses go, I highly recommend MyTEFL. They are fully accredited and well known in the TEFL industry. 120 hours is an excellent amount of study to have under your belt and will cover you for all TEFL requirements. There is a higher certification that you can get if you want to go the whole hog and this is a CELTA. It’s a month of intensive hands on study but I recommend doing what I did: Get your TEFL first, see if you like teaching and then, if you want to take things further, put your time and money into the CELTA (the CELTA costs considerably more!).

  11. Hello!
    This is so helpful, thank you for this. As someone who is now frantically trying to plot an escape out of the UK post brexit. I’ve been considering TEFL for a while, but now definitely thinking about it more seriously as a passport to the world (and europe) and was just wondering if you think it’s better for someone to do an online TEFL course, over a residential course that you do in say Thailand /Vietnam which includes practical teaching elements and usually a guaranteed job after? Do you think even without practical teaching time i’d be able to go to a country after i’ve got my TEFL and just get stuck in? Just concerned that someone like me who has been office based for 10 years would maybe struggle without that practical element (also i like the idea of having a group of you all in the same boat).

    Not sure if any of this makes sense, but thank you in advance for reading! :)

    • Hello Hannah! Don’t worry you make sense >< Both ways have their advantages for sure. If you can get out and do a course with hands on experience, it's definitely not a bad thing! Just make sure you're with a good company. MyTEFL do internships that may be more your thing!

      This is more expensive though. Most importantly, without an internship, you will still most certainly be able to get stuck in! Countries need people like you! I congratulate you on wanting to learn the right way with a TEFL as some people turn up and teach with no qualifications whatsoever (that’s how much demand there is). Do the right thing and get a certificate whichever route you take :D

  12. I can only agree! Both my partner and I fund mainly our travels by teaching abroad. Have you also considered teaching online? That’s what we’re doing at the moment. We just finished teaching during a summer camp in Turkey. This was in exchange for food and accommodation and it was a great experience!! We can only recommend to teach abroad if one wants to keep traveling AND learn more about the culture he or she is in. You also give great tips when it comes to searching for a job and especially before you sign that contract. I’ll now check your posts about teaching in Korea, China, Thailand and Vietnam as these are the countries we have in mind to make a next stop to work :) Thanks a lot for sharing!!

  13. Hello!

    Just as many others have said before, this article is really great. I’m really enjoying your website and find it’s voice stands out with a lot more personality than other travel blogs.

    I’ve been traveling SE Asia for the past 5 months and funds are running quite low so I’ve been considering teaching seeing as I am currently already in Vietnam and have a made a few connections already. The culture shock etc. isn’t what scares me though…it’s the kids… I, similar to you, don’t plan on having kids. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that they’re not adorable and wonderful and bundles of joy and all that (heck I even held a baby today and didn’t break it!) but I’m not very familiar or experienced with them at all. Therefore a class of 20 of them all coming at me is rather intimidating… did you have any similar hesitations? I find a lot of articles giving technical information or discussing adjusting to a new culture but none really describing the experience of teaching itself.

    Would love to hear your thoughts/experiences!

    • Hi Holly! Naturally, stepping into the classroom for the first time is definitely a bit of a worry! I will gladly write a blog post for you. I’ve got a ton of tips and tricks up my sleeve that will help you out. Give me a couple of weeks to get it all down and I’ll let you know when it’s published. By the way, I’m heading to Saigon today if you’re around :)

  14. Great article. I have a TEFL and a degree as well as having experience teaching English to adults in the US. I would like to hear about your tips and tricks of teaching though, especially for teaching kids.

  15. Hi :)
    Interesting article!

    I’m thinking about going over to Vietnam to teach, but have a few questions.

    When you have a class, is there a set curriculum you follow or a text book you teach and supplement that with games/activities or is it mostly up to you?
    How much prep time do you have for a class? Do they have a lot of homework?

    The how’s and why’s of teaching are probably covered in the TEFL course. But sitting here at home I’m unsure what to expect of the work and what’s expected of me. I’ve worked part time as a supply teacher at my local elementary school, so it’s not totally unfamiliar to me. But it’s definitely different teaching Norwegian students English when you speak the same language.

    Do you think I’ll have a hard time finding work not being a native speaker? I have a pretty strong American accent, but I just don’t have the passport to match it.

    Do you know how long the discount code for the tefl course is valid for?

    • Hi Arild! EVERY job is different so look carefully when applying and ask questions :) If you want a job which is straight from the textbook you can certainly get that. If you want more creative freedom, there are certainly jobs out there which give you full reign too. If you’re just starting out, I recommend taking a job which is guided to help you pick up tips and tricks first.

      The prep time you’ll have depends on what type of job you take. You will admittedly find it a little harder than a native speaker to find a job but DO NOT let this put you off. Your English is just as good as anyone else’s. You will find a job, you might just have to hunt a little deeper.

      The discount code is there for you whenever you need it! :) All Teacake Travels’ readers can take this offer when they wish!

  16. hi! I noticed myTEFL doesnt place people in Europe, how did you get to work in Europe? That’s where I’d love to teach english!


    • Hi Jayne. I worked with a a company called English in Action which were fantastic. MyTEFL will give you the course and certificate you need then you’re free to go job hunting yourself. Make sure to check out the TEFL job websites I’ve listed in this article. There’s plenty of great opportunities in Europe – happy job hunting!

      • Excellent thank you! I was also wondering what do you think about buying a TEFL course off groupon? The discount site. It’s 39 bucks and seems to be the real deal. I did part of the course a couple years ago but it expired. Would you recommend something like myTEFL more because it helps with placement afterwards?

      • Hi Jayne, I had a look for you and want to offer this advice. I know it’s tempting to go for the budget option but it really won’t serve you well in the long run. You will get what you pay for when it comes to the quality of training, the accreditation of the course, and services like job placement assistance, which should be included with the tuition of your course. MyTEFL are well-known, reputable and produce high quality teachers. I’m not sure if I can say the same for Groupon :/

      • Thanks so much!!! All the best with your journey :) I’ll be using your promo code for myTEFL, I’m very excited!

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