Oliver Lynch

Oliver Lynch

Content writer, language nerd and aspiring screenwriter. Usually found wandering old European towns or trying to snowboard.

Travel & Get Paid: Teaching English (TEFL)

You’ve probably heard about TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language). And you’re probably also aware that its a good way to travel and get paid while you do. But is it worth doing? And which course is best?

English has become the global lingua franca, the language that most people default to for business and leisure. With this has come a huge demand for qualified English teachers in pretty much every non-English speaking country on the planet.

Chances are you know someone who has gone and done a TEFL course and found a job placement overseas. Or, you’ve at least heard of it.

Is it really as glamorous as it sounds? Can you really travel the world and get paid by teaching English? There are a few home truths which we will come to. But put quite simply, TEFL, or teaching English overseas, is a very useful skill to have.

Do I need a TEFL certificate?

In theory, you can just go out into the world and advertise yourself as an English teacher. You will likely get clients and make a decent living, but…

With proper TEFL training you learn a lot about how to do the job. From creating a lesson plan, to the techniques of teaching language through to handling students.

Another good reason to get your TEFL certificate is that most institutions, such as schools, like to see that you have those skills. Some countries, especially those in Europe and some Asian countries, are very specific about their teachers being TEFL certified.

How long does it take to get your TEFL certificate?

In general, there are several TEFL courses of different lengths. The common course lengths are:

120-180 hours A Level EquivalentApprox 8 weeksOnline or in class
240 hours Foundation/DiplomaApprox 15 weeks Online or in class
300-320 hoursDiploma/Foundation degreeApprox 15-20 weeks Online or in class

When done in a class, of course you’ll be more focused and you’ll know when your class completion date is. There are also often live classroom scenarios to help you prepare for being a real teacher…

You can also do TEFL courses online. This can be useful if you’re working a full time job, or if you have other commitments.

Being a TEFL teacher is a great way to travel and get paid
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

How much can you make as a TEFL teacher?

The income you make as a TEFL teacher will vary hugely depending on factors such as your location, experience, the establishment you work for and the demand in your chosen location.

Bear in mind also that the income could be relative to your chosen locale. For example, you might make $600-800 a month in one village, or make $2000 a month in another city.

Using anecdotal experience, as in people I know, I can say that countries in Asia such as Thailand and Vietnam will pay you around $1000-1500 a month. That is a very solid wage in those countries.

If you head to a global business hub like Shanghai, Seoul or Dubai, you could be making in the region of $4000 a month.

Do you have the freedom to travel as a teacher?

If you find a permanent placement, you’ll likely be working full time hours, albeit in an exciting new country. This means you’ll be using your weekends and holiday days to explore and travel.

What some people do is work in one place for a year or two, then move on. With their savings they have the freedom enjoy the region before they need to get a job again, maybe a year or so later.

Can you work as a freelance English teacher? Absolutely. Good English teachers are in demand all over the world, and you will usually find somewhere or someone in need of your expertise.

OK, whats the worst that could happen?

Yes, there are some TEFL stories that could put you off. The most common problem is finding a placement with a school or institution that then decides not to pay you, for whatever reason.

Others involve holding official documents, such as your passport, or refusing to give work permits.

Some work cultures might be a lot more extreme than what you’re used to, and you’ll be expected to adapt. Fast. Countries like Korea and Japan in particular put a very high value on hard work. Yes, you will get paid more, but it could be at the expense of your free time.

Studying hard to learn english as a foreign language
Image by ludi from Pixabay

How much does it cost to get a TEFL certificate?

Doing a course from an authorised TEFL school is the best way to get your certificate. Yes, you will spot options on sites like Groupon where you can get a TEFL certification for something like $50-100.

Although these are genuine courses, users tend to report low quality lessons, outdated and slow websites and non-existent customer support. If you’re serious about being a TEFL teacher, invest in a good quality course.

One of the longest established, and best quality TEFL courses is with i-to-i. They offer the choice of online courses or on site courses in popular locations like Thailand, Hong Kong or in the UK/USA.

You can sign up for the 60 hour i-to-i foundation course here.

Or, if you would like to check out all of the options, click on the banner link below (yes, it is an affiliate link – no extra cost to you, but we make a small commission).

Teaching English overseas is a fantastic adventure and a great way to travel the world and get paid. And, i-to-i area trustworthy and reliable option for your TEFL certification.

Good luck, and feel free to share your thoughts about TEFL or travelling and getting paid below!

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