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Women on the Road

Can Teaching English Abroad Really Pay for Travel?

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Finding work teaching English abroad is one of the more rewarding - and least difficult, especially for women - ways of 'pay as you go' travel.

Teaching English abroad - Brazil sunsetMost long-term travelers end up teaching English at some point in their lives - in my case, that point arrived in Brazil

Most jobs will belong to one of two categories: teaching in a classroom (both short and long term) or teaching privately (tutoring young people or adults).

Whichever you choose, you'll win more than once: first because you'll make money but just as important, you'll learn to discover a new culture from the inside, like a native.

Why English?

More than 1.5 billion people speak English, and another billion are trying to.

With this many people wanting to learn, it's no wonder demand for English teachers is so high!

English is possibly the most important language in today's world - after Mandarin and Spanish it's the most widely spoken.

And it is the most often learned second language on the planet - the second language of choice in Europe and the Far East.

Learning English helps people:

  • get a better job, especially in developing countries where English is at a premium
  • stay informed - although many websites exist in other languages, the vast majority are in English, as are most scientific articles
  • network and communicate - two non-English mother tongue people will often use English as their common language
  • do business - English is, after all, the language of international business

Just 10-15 years ago you could simply walk off the street and get a job in most countries if English was your mother tongue. It's harder now. Many schools are asking for qualifications - some of which you can get online, while others require classroom experience. (Readers of Women on the Road get a special 35% discount with MyTEFL by using this SCRIBE35 promo code.)

Still, there are plenty of jobs out there - especially short-term ones, and especially if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

The perfect English teaching job

There are plenty of avenues for finding jobs teaching English abroad, and most of these can be accessed while you're on the road - they're online.

Your first stop should a site that specializes in placing English teachers all over the world (see the Resources section below for useful links). These sites are usually accurate and up-to-date, and they scour the web to find the best listings. Many are organized by country or region, or by type of job, including length of posting.

Find out what the requirements are in the country that interests you most. Do you need TEFL certification? Some countries make it almost a pre-condition.

teaching english abroad - mount FujiYou can teach English in virtually any non-English speaking country - Japan is a perennial favorite

If you already know where you want to go, check out the local job listings or classified sections in your preferred country or city. Most cities have an English-language newspaper, and many of these are online. The closer you are to your source, the better your chances!

Another good way of finding a job teaching English abroad is through expat websites. These are websites dedicated to people who either live outside their own country or who are planning to - and are often full of ads, discussion forums and tips. Many members already live abroad and have access to plenty of useful information about their chosen country (not to mention job tips). Join some of these, and chat around.

Another way of finding jobs teaching English abroad is through general job boards- some of them are so huge that their sections on English teaching jobs overseas are as large as those of specialized sites. But because they cater to all professions, they may lack the finesse and focus of the more specialized sites. These big boards should be your last stop after you've exhausted the specialized and local listings.

One more thing - rather than rely on supply, you could try to generate demand. How? By placing an ad yourself in a local paper or on a local job board, or writing ahead of time to language and international schools in the city where you're headed. Don't neglect local schools - they might well be in the market for some English classes.

Many independent travelers don't know where they'll be next month, let alone next year. But if you're the organized type with a master plan, laying the groundwork before you leave could make things a lot easier when it comes to finding a job.

One last word before you go - talk to people!

Read this wonderful personal account if you'd like to know "what it's like" to teach English overseas, from someone who has been traveling and teaching for more than twenty years.

Many of the links below have forums and discussion boards. Your best tips often come from other women who have been there, done that, or live there.

English teaching resources

How to choose the best TEFL course
MyTEFL (use Women on the Road's special promo code SCRIBE35 and get a 35% discount)
Graduate TESOL Guide
Dave's ESL Cafe - a forum for ESL/EFL students and teachers - for those of you who want to teach freelance
Online Newspapers - list of newspapers worldwide
Expat Exchange

You could teach English in these countries...

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