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In An Introduction to Teaching English Abroad, I gave readers a broad overview into becoming a traveling English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor. It’s a fun and profitable way for young, and not so young, people to see the world! You work where you want and teach who you want. Your work will pay enough to cover basic living expenses, although in some locales lucky ESL teachers are able to sock away a significant sum of money.
I always encourage readers to do their research into the infinite possibilities! One thing you will have found perusing the job boards is that some schools will pay your transportation to the location, maybe help with accommodations… that kind of thing. These are serious expenses that you should take into account when you make the decision to teach abroad.
Financial Considerations to Ponder
What about the myriad other expenses you won’t get reimbursed for, though? Obtaining a passport will cost over a hundred dollars. Any required visa? You will probably have to pay for that, and they aren’t cheap, either. What kind of wardrobe will you need given the climate (political and/or religious, not just temperature) you are headed to? How will your in-country transportation be taken care of? Will you be able to, you know, eat? And when you have the time to travel around the area, will you have enough savings to enjoy yourself?
As a starting point, even before taking unanticipated expenses into account, let’s consider that it is always wise to ensure you will love what you intend to do. This is true whether you’re teaching ESL, enlisting in the military or signing up for a grueling college major. I want to help you ascertain whether you’re cut out for living several months or even years working overseas.
Research… and Research Some More
By now I hope you’ve combed through the resources in my Intro post as well as understood the important characteristics of a successful ex-pat. You are now well armed with valuable information to help you decide if ESL teaching overseas is a viable pathway for you. Let’s zero in on what you’ll be spending 30-50 hours a week doing, which is teaching your native language!
I already alluded to the fact that you can teach English virtually anywhere in the world, including in your own living room. Let’s look into doing exactly that! By teaching English online before you set foot out the door, you’ll not only gain valuable experience, but you’ll also get paid, and you’ll know whether this is a path to personal fulfillment for you! Want to dip your toes but still not fully commit? Why not set up a vacation in a European country where you are fed and housed while being on hand to converse in English! None of these programs require any training or experience, but you must be at least 18 years old.
Get Paid to Speak!
As of this date there are a few reputable organizations that will allow you to earn money teaching English online without any experience other than being a native speaker. If you have access to the Internet and Skype, and consider yourself “globally savvy” and intellectually curious in addition to reliable/punctual, you may wish to consider signing up with Spoken English Practice. Once approved you will be matched with individuals looking to converse in English. You don’t have to teach it, per se, but corrections are welcome and expected.
A similar English conversation outfit, which uses an app as a teaching platform, is called Cambly. They promote the fact that you can work as many or as few hours as you like. Any native speaker is welcome to apply. Like Spoken English Practice, your conversation partner will not be a total newbie to English.
Maybe Teach Adorable Chinese Kids in your very own Living Room?
If you wish to move beyond conversation into actual teaching, you can even do that online. With no teaching experience of any kind, you can still sign up to teach very young children at Qkids. Lesson plans are provided, and you must commit to a minimum 6 hours per week. They pay you while you learn their unique instructional system! The actual teaching pay, at $16-20 per hour, is generous, but you must be available very early weekdays or late on weekends.
Footloose and Fancy Free!
Ready to get out of town, and have a few bucks saved up already but no experience or training yet? If you think you would enjoy a vacation of a week or nine conversing with English Language Learners in their own breathtakingly beautiful backyards, why not check out Angloville?
You’ll still have to arrange your own transportation to the locale, along with your passport and a few other pesky things. But Angloville will provide you room and board during your stay in the scenic countryside in eastern Europe in exchange for some hours conversing with eager English learning youth. You won’t have to sit in a stuffy classroom; Angloville allows you to have a blast with your conversation partner playing sports, arranging arts and crafts, hiking and biking, and enjoying games. Prior to kicking off each week-long program, Angloville takes you on an engaging day-long tour of the city, such as Prague, nearest to the area in which you’ll be serving.
Angloville bills itself as “laid back” so that everyone enjoys themselves and has a blast participating. If you get to your requested post for a week or two and find you don’t enjoy propagating your English language skills, at least you’ve surely had a fun, engaging vacation making new friends in a fascinating part of the world. If, however, you’re ready to move forward teaching English abroad, Angloville provides a means for you to pursue obtaining your formal TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification for no additional cost beyond a small deposit that’s returned to you upon completion of study.
In conclusion, there are several avenues you can consider in order to kick off a fulfilling career as an ESL teacher. I would recommend pursuing at least one of the programs listed above before committing to taking a TESOL class and moving overseas to teach English. Once you’ve spent some time helping students improve their English, TESOL classes will impart infinitely more meaning to you. You can be confident you’re heading down a fulfilling path in your life now that you have experience under your belt and a desire to share your knowledge and love of English.
In the comments, tell me:
- How many foot-related puns I used to write this post?
- Whether the saying “Get Your Feet Wet” is considered a) a gerund; b) a dangling participle or c) an idiomatic expression?