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Teach English Abroad: Destinations and Valuations

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Nov 15, 2022 09:05 PM EST

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Serious schoolgirl with tutor doing homework

(Photo: Gustavo Fring)

Have you caught the travel bug? A whiff of wanderlust, perhaps? If so, teaching English abroad might be just the ticket for you. There's no better way to fund your travels - but there are a few initial costs to consider. 

Think about wages, costs, qualifications, and many other important aspects of traveling while teaching. We've broken it down for you.

Qualifications

Before you jet off, it's vital to get yourself qualified. There was once a time when finding a job teaching English really was as easy as walking up to local schools and offering your services -  alas, this is no longer the case. 

As demand grows around the world, so do industry standards. This means that schools asking for at least the basic TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) qualifications are becoming the norm..

The TEFL Org is one of the most accredited providers in the UK and US, which means you can trust their courses to be of the highest quality and recognized by employers worldwide. On top of that, they offer some of the best prices in the industry. Take a look at their 120-hour online course - not only is it well-priced, but it can open up many doors and help kick-start your TEFL adventure. 

The average cost of a TEFL course: $400 - $800

The TEFL Org's 120-hour Premier Online course: $509

The TEFL Org also runs plenty of other courses including 168-hour online ($579) and a 120-hour combined course ($709). 

Contract Types

As is the case with a lot of the TEFL world, how long you work in a role depends on the employer. There are three main types of contract to be aware of, each with its own pros and cons: 

Full-time

Like it says on the tin. Most positions are full-time, working between 20 and 40 hours a week. Contract lengths can vary from several months up to a year or more. 

Part-time

Positions will generally be less than 20 hours a week. These are best seen as ways to supplement income.

Summer Camps 

These are temporary positions during the summer (obviously). Usually, you will be teaching young learners, helping organise activities and day trips. Great for a little extra pocket money and work experience.  

Count Your Costs

Travel

The cost of travel to your desired destination can easily leave a big dent in your savings. Luckily, it is not totally uncommon for employers to offer either flight 'assistance' or even reimbursement. 

Living costs 

The average cost of living varies massively from country to country. Even within a single country, accommodation, groceries, and other costs can differ from one town to the next. Generally, more developed nations will come with higher costs; cities will be pricier than rural areas. 

Numbeo is one resource for comparing countries and cities with user-reported data. if you ever need reliable data. 

Documentation 

So, you've spent the best part of the last few months toiling away to become the most experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified teacher possible. You're good to go and live out your teaching dream, right? Well, no, not exactly.

Criminal Background Check 

If you're UK-based then the cost is only £25. For those in the US, check with either the local police or the FBI for costs.  

Legalization 

Yes, more paperwork - don't worry, we're getting there! You are going to need to get your documents, including your certificate, authorized and legalized. It shouldn't cost too much; the entire process is (US$20). 

Visa

Visa fees can range from around $30 to $200. Government policies differ regarding nationality and requirements so make sure to research prior to finalizing commitments!

Destinations

Below is a brief overview of some popular teaching locations.

Asia 

Most demand; opportunity for higher wages; demand high enough for a year-round hiring period. 

China

  • Biggest job market. 

  • Wages: $800 to $2,500/month. 

  • Degree required. 

South Korea

Europe

Demand is varied between countries. Hiring periods are specific to countries, too.

Spain

  • Most active job market in Europe. 

  • Wages: $700 to $1,500/month. 

  • TEFL certificate required, degree preferred. 

  • Hiring period: September and January. 

Italy

  • High demand. 

  • Great for summer camp jobs. 

  • Wages: $700 to $1,500/month. 

  • TEFL certificate required, degree preferred. 

  • Hiring period: September and January.

Latin America 

Demand is growing. Most lax requirements out of the three continents. 

Mexico

  • Strong jobs market. 

  • Wages: $700 to $1,500/month. 

  • TEFL certificate required. 

  • Hiring period: July and December. 

Ecuador 

  • Growing demand. 

  • Wages: $600 to $1,400/month. 

  • TEFL certificate usually required. 

  • Hiring period: February and July. 

Overall, not too complicated, eh? If you've become infatuated with the idea of traversing the globe, earning as you go, then becoming a TEFL tutor could be for you.

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