Why Teaching English Abroad is Your Ticket to the Adventure of a Lifetime
Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Few endeavors provide more avenues for traveling, living and working overseas than teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) abroad. From Beijing and Bangkok to Barcelona and Buenos Aires, tens of thousands of schools and language institutes are paying full-time, professional wages to hundreds of thousands of English speakers to teach English in more than 100 countries around the globe.

And guess what?  You don’t have to have to be a professional teacher or hold a degree in education to get hired to teach English in Japan, Chile or Spain. Heck, with an accredited TEFL certification, you don’t even need a four-year college degree to teach in such great international destinations as Argentina, China and Costa Rica.

So, if you want to travel the world and live abroad, here are five reasons why teaching English abroad can make your dream of international adventure come true.

1. Earn Money to Finance Your International Adventures

Most people don’t travel the world to make money, but for most of us spending $10,000 or $20,000 on international travel just isn’t an option. As an English teacher abroad, however, you can make a comfortable, living wage that enables you to cover your bills and to enjoy life in the country where you teach, whether it be Turkey, Mexico or the Czech Republic. Most English teachers around the world break even financially, meaning they aren’t putting money in the bank at the end of every month, but they aren’t dipping into retirement accounts or begging from their parents either. They’re simply living life and paying their bills, only it’s in Madrid, Prague or Santiago, rather than in Seattle, Chicago or Los Angeles.

If you have student loans or other financial commitments that you need to meet while living abroad; or if you just want to save money for additional extended travel, consider teaching in an Asian or Middle Eastern country, where most English teachers typically make enough to save 30%-50% of their income after expenses. Schools in some of these nations will even provide you with free housing and fund your airfare. In countries like Vietnam or Taiwan, that means saving up to $6,000 after a year of teaching, or in South Korea, you can save $10,000 – $15,000 a year.  With those savings, you can fund months of travel virtually anywhere in the world, and you’ll do it while living in the one of the most fascinating regions on the planet.

To learn more about where you can make and save the most money teaching English abroad, check out the Top 5 Countries to Make the Most Money Teaching English Overseas.

2. Be a Local!

As an English teacher in a foreign country, you aren’t just experiencing that country from a tour bus or even with other international travel addicts at the local hostel – you are a true member of the local community.  From your students and colleagues to the people you encounter on your daily commute and meet at the local market, you are constantly interacting with local folks from all walks of life.

In all likelihood, you will live in a typical apartment in a middle class neighborhood where you will shop at the local market and become a regular at the corner coffee house or sake bar. The opportunities to experience the local culture and befriend people you would never meet otherwise will prove both countless and priceless!

3. Convenient and Affordable Travel Opportunities

Do you want to spend the weekend in Portugal?  Chances are that if you are living in San Diego or Boston, that isn’t possible.  But, if you’re teaching English in Spain, travel to any number of great European destinations is likely a convenient train ride away. While teaching English in Turkey, you can practically swim to Greece.  Or imagine teaching English in a place like Vietnam where nations like China, Cambodia and numerous other fantastic countries in Asia are within affordable and convenient reach.

4. High Demand for English Teachers = Mobility and Countless Opportunities

Demand for English teachers is so high globally that an American can realistically gain employment as an English teacher in dozens of countries around the world. That means when you gain your TEFL certification, you can have your cake and eat it to.  Want to live for a year in Asia and then spend a year in Europe or Latin America?  Great. Teach English in Shanghai, Tokyo or Bangkok, and then spend a year teaching in Russia, Poland or Peru.

5. Make a Difference!

Like international travel, teaching can be one of the most rewarding endeavors one can undertake. As an English teacher – volunteer or professional – you will provide a public service that will enable others to achieve their personal, professional and academic goals.  For many around the globe, learning English isn’t just a school requirement, it’s the ticket to world of better jobs and lives for themselves and their families.  As a teacher realizing your own dreams of living abroad, you are helping others achieve their dreams too – what could be better than that?!

What’s the catch?

The catch is you have to go do it! The other catch is you have to know how to do it, that comes from being professionally TEFL certified.  You will need to take an accredited TEFL Certification class so you can hold a qualification to get hired and will possess the skills necessary to provide you own students with a rewarding educational experience.

To learn more about what you need to look for in a TEFL certification program, check out 7 Key Tips to Evaluating a TEFL/TESOL Training School.

John Bentley is a Senior Admissions Advisor at the International TEFL Academy, which trains and certifies nearly 1,200 people a year to teach English abroad and provides lifetime job search guidance to all students and graduates.  He holds a BA from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies and a MSJ (Masters in Journalism) from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.  While at Harvard, John was a primary author for the Egypt-Israel edition of the famous Let’s Go! travel guide series and he has worked in the field of international travel and education throughout his career.  He also grew up overseas in Egypt and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe.

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