Here’s How You Can See the World by Teaching English Abroad

Wish you could travel but don't know how to make money doing so? Here's why you should consider teaching English abroad.

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Long before I traveled the world full-time, I did a lot of sitting.

Sitting at my desk, crushing my soul into oblivion with every key click. Sitting in my car, fighting to keep my eyelids open on my endless commute. Sitting on the sofa in the evenings, decompressing before repeating the process.

I was stuck. Passion waning. Craving change with no idea how to do it.

But one evening, I came home to my partner fidgeting with excitement on the sofa.

“What do you think about moving to China?”.

My life was never the same again.

She’d been in communication with International TEFL Academy (ITA) , which offers English teaching certifications for adventurers hoping to live abroad and explore the world on their terms.

After a few weeks of deliberating, we signed up.

Six months later, we were qualified TEFL teachers with online jobs, and on our way to teach English in China. (TEFL stands for “teaching English as a foreign language.”)

Another four years and we’ve lived in over thirty countries, camped on the Great Wall of China, explored Mongolia with nomadic farmers, trekked to Machu Pichhu, sailed through Egypt, and lived in the Amazon rainforest.

We couldn’t have done it without ITA.

Teaching English abroad funded that lifestyle for over two years. And nothing is stopping you from doing the same thing. Are you ready for a change?

Who can become TEFL certified?

Anyone with the time, commitment, and passion to become TEFL certified can do it.

ITA grads vary wildly in age, background, career, race, and orientation. Fresh-faced college grads, middle-aged professionals, and new retirees have all gone through the program. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s a wrong time to do it.

But I don’t have a teaching degree and can’t speak another language

That’s okay. You don’t need an education degree to teach abroad. In fact, you don’t necessarily need a college degree. While it certainly helps in some markets, there are over fifty countries worldwide where a TEFL certificate is the only requirement.

As for your linguistic chops, TEFL teachers don’t need another language under their belt. You’re being hired for your native English–not because you can speak Chinese, Spanish, or German.

Confused as to how you can teach without knowing the local tongue? Don’t worry; it’s all covered in the TEFL course.

Where can TEFL take you?

The language you speak every day and may even take for granted is an invaluable skill for billions of people. It can unlock new avenues of income and education, earn promotions, and even jumpstart social mobility. This value means opportunities for English teachers are endless and span every continent. 

You can teach English online anywhere with an internet connection. I worked online, moving from country to country. But not everyone wants the nomadic life I lead. The vast majority of graduates from ITA’s certification program teach in person, in schools and English centers worldwide. Many who work at a school in countries ranging from Costa Rica to Taiwan also teach English online to supplement their income. 

Each destination offers its own selling points and challenges. Some countries offer better pay and cover living expenses, while some may pay less but have a lower cost of living. Work visa requirements and hiring procedures for teaching jobs will vary from country to country. Where you choose will depend heavily on your lifestyle preference, but ITA will do everything possible to help you find somewhere you’ll be happy.

Here are some popular countries and regions ITA grads work and live in.

South Korea, a popular destination for ITA grads, represents both a fantastic and sensible destination. Aside from the obvious lure of its vibrant culture, the demand for English teachers is high. On top of a salary, teachers usually have their airfare and accommodation covered, allowing them to save up to $15,000 a year. Naturally, with perks this great, requirements are stringent, but South Korea is certainly one of the most attractive countries in the world to teach abroad.

Other major teaching markets in Asia that also offer higher salaries and benefits include, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.

Central and South America are increasingly popular for ITA grads, too. While pay here doesn’t reach the heights of some other regions, the comparatively low cost of living and more relaxed requirements make it a top choice for many. It’s also an excellent opportunity for teachers to turn student and pick up another hugely valuable language– Spanish.

Europe is a dream for many Americans. Armed with a TEFL certificate, that dream needn’t be limited to a two-week whirlwind tour. Well-structured governmental and visa programs allow teachers to live in some of the continent’s greatest cities, like Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague, or Milan. As Eastern Europe continues to shift its focus West, countries like Poland, Bulgaria, and Hungary are becoming prime spots for teaching abroad.

Many teachers make the most of the demand for English by moving to a new country after one or two contract periods. Imagine a year in Prague, followed by one in Vietnam, before heading to Colombia the following year.

Why ITA?

ITA is not the cheapest TEFL certification program. Nor is it the shortest.

But it is the gold standard, and employers recognize that.

ITA is world-renowned for its quality. The most popular course option is the 11-week (part-time) online TEFL course led by decorated instructors, using live lectures and webinars to maximize the 150 hours required to complete it. On top of that, a 20-hour practicum (live practice teaching)is required, something few (if any) other TEFL certification programs require. This course is popular because it offers award-winning training with a part-time format that accommodates those working or going to school full-time. 

But ITA’s job isn’t done once you receive the certificate. They commit to lifetime job search guidance, so you’re never alone when looking for your next contract. Their experienced advisors have all taught abroad and with more than 40 thousand graduates teaching in over eighty countries, they know what they’re doing.

Why should you drop it all and leave?

Let’s not beat around the bush. This article is a paid collaboration between two companies. But understand, I suggested a partnership with ITA because I believe in them, and I know some of our readers feel the same way I did four years ago.

I’m no longer a teacher. I never wanted to be a teacher. I thought we’d travel for a year, come home, and get on with it. But I’m still on the road and have unwittingly stumbled into my dream job of travel writing. I adore my life in ways I never thought possible.

And I wouldn’t be here without TEFL certification and ITA.

One call was enough to pivot my life’s trajectory away from the corporate world’s static expectations into one exploding with vibrancy—one where experience, adventure, and curiosity replaced familiarity, mundanity, and idleness. I don’t think I can ever go back.

It’s more than a certificate. It’s a nudge in the direction you’ve been yearning for. It’s a reminder there’s no single way to live life. And it’s a key for a door you’d never even tried to open. I promise it’s worth it.

Get up.

Go see the world. Go speak to ITA and find out how simple it is.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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