If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like teaching English abroad, what’s the salary for teaching English abroad or if you can actually make enough money while teaching English, then read on to find out first-hand from teachers who’ve taught all over the world.
When people think about teaching English abroad, many times they think about China or countries in Asia, and while there is no shortage of opportunities in Asia, there are also a lot of teaching English abroad opportunities all over the world!
Ever dream about exploring Europe? What about South America? Japan anyone? You could teach in any of these places!
Alternatively, if you don’t want to teach English abroad you could also do a working holiday visa in many countries around the world. Working holiday visas are great because they allow you to legally work and travel in a country for up to 1 year!
These teachers will share with you their experiences teaching English in a foreign country as well as if it’s possible to save money while teaching abroad.
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What’s it like Teaching English Abroad?
The Foreign Language Assistant program in France covers elementary through to high school levels. Although the title suggests “assisting” I found that after a week, the teachers were very open to me running the class. If you speak French, it’s sometimes easier to take charge of the lessons.
This program is open to these English partner countries: South Africa, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Kenya, member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), United States of America, India, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago.
The teacher must be a native English speaker and between the ages of 20-30 years old. They must have completed secondary school and be enrolled in some form of higher education (college, university) in the country from which they are applying.
They must have a good knowledge of French – the specific requirements for this can be found here.
I taught kids between the ages of 6 (CP) and 11 (CM2). In general, the children in French schools are respectful to their teachers.
France may not be the cheapest country to teach English but it’s doable. Once you’re placed in a school district, the Ministry of Education will help you find affordable accommodation. I had my eyes set on Paris but was accepted to schools in Reims (45 minutes away by train). I have to say, this ended up being better for my budget.
My advice is to not be blinded by the flashy lights of Paris. Accommodation is extremely expensive and you’ll likely be squatting in a room with a shared bathroom at the least. Getting placed in the countryside will allow your money to go further.
Regarding the money saving – I struggled to save. I think with good budgeting, and if you’re not living in Paris, you may be able to save a couple of hundred Euros a month but it’ll be tight.
Even though I couldn’t save as much as I hoped to, it was still worth it for me because in the year I was teaching, I was able to vastly improve my French. I traveled throughout France and gained insight into the French education system.
I now consider France a second home. I’ve developed travel guides to the Loire Valley and Paris with more to come later.
I taught English in Kobe, Japan for over three years and loved every minute of it. Japanese students can be shy to speak, but when they became comfortable with me, they were really happy to share about their culture.
Teaching English was a great way to connect with the country, culture, and people much more than I could have as a casual traveler. I got loads of tips on how to stay in a ryokan, cultural no-no’s, tips for best places to visit, etc.
The cost of living in Japan is fairly high, but companies typically pay for your transportation to and from work. I did some overtime work subbing for other teachers who called in sick to help earn extra money.
With this salary, I went out every week, traveled somewhere new in Japan at least once a month and still managed to save enough money to backpack around Latin America for a year afterward.
Even when I worked part-time, I could live comfortably. I kept my rent cheap by living in a small Japanese-style apartment with a roommate.
I highly recommend teaching ESL in Japan but it may not be for everyone and you will almost certainly experience culture shock. Some people left before they got through to the final “acceptance” stage of the culture shock process.
There are several ways to find a job here, the Jet program is a popular government-sponsored program in which you get placed in a public school anywhere in the country.
Some countries like Australia have working holiday visas, on which you can work part-time. I arrived on a working holiday visa and within a week, I found a job. After working for a year, I was able to change to a full-time working visa.
As long as you are from one of the major native English- speaking countries, getting a working visa is easy. Visas are not company-specific, so you can change schools if you want.
Be sure to arrive in Japan with several thousand dollars in hand because you need pay for everything – including a hefty deposit for your apartment and rent – in advance. You get paid in arrears, so you will need to have enough to tide you over. After that, you can start saving.
I spent 3 years teaching English in China, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
For 2 of those 3 years, I taught in a University so the conditions were really good. I never worked over 20 hours a week and got the same vacations as the students. It gave me a lot of time to explore China, and although I considered the hours part-time, it was technically a full-time job.
Many things were included with my contract, like medical insurance and my furnished apartment with basic amenities (like wifi). I was paid well enough to live comfortably and I even managed to save about 500USD a month.
In the university everything was easy, but leaving that “safe zone”, even just to dine out, was always an adventure. I frequently ate things that were definitely not what I thought I ordered.
But it gets easier once you get into the swing of things, and soon enough getting your dirt cheap weekly massage followed by BBQ and beers will be a piece of cake.
Traveling in China is challenging but rewarding. It is a large country with lots of different things to see, do, and eat.
One of my favorite cross-country trips was visiting the provinces along the border lines. I got a taste of Tibet in Xinjiang, Mongolia in Inner Mongolia, Russia in Manzhouli, and North Korea in Dandong. Although I never entered these other countries, there was definitely a heavy influence from their cultures in the border towns.
For me, the hardest thing about living and traveling in China, especially in my first few months, was dealing with Chinese bureaucracy. Even after 3 years I still didn’t have a solid grasp.
It taught me a good lesson though – if you can’t change something, there’s no point worrying about it.
When I decided to travel to Chile and teach English, I didn’t know that I had signed up for one of the most challenging but also one of the best travel experiences of my life.
Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The English Open Doors program (EODP) which is run by the Chilean government in collaboration with the UN gives the perfect opportunity to anyone who wants to explore Chile and South America.
As part of the program, any native or near-native speaker can teach English in Chile in exchange for free food and a homestay with a Chilean family. Unlike any other volunteer/exchange programs, EODP doesn’t ask for money.
Teaching English to native Spanish speaking students on a remote island in Chile was a rollercoaster ride. Some days the students participated happily in the games and exercises I had designed, but at other times they just laughed or refused to participate. Overall I was able to encourage some of them to learn and speak English which is the aim of the program.
Chile is stunning beyond words, and the Chilean people are one of the most helpful people that I have met on my travels. Chile has a stable economy and while it’s one of the more expensive countries in South America, I found the prices of basic things such as bread, fruits, vegetables, toiletries were fairly affordable.
Restaurant meals start from a few dollars and can go up to over $20. Though people will tell you that Chile is an expensive country, if you stick to basic meals and simple stays, you can manage every day in under $15 for just your food and accommodation.
If you add expenses of tours, buses, etc. the daily spend on an average would be a little more. It also depends on the place you are in. For example, if you’re in San Pedro De Atacama, you’ll end up spending a lot more because it’s very expensive. But in regular cities, transportation was very cheap, and collectivos or regular taxis are easily available
So what are you waiting for? Visit Chile and experience the beautiful country yourself.
♥ Priyanka | Onmycanvas.com
I taught English in Spain for almost two years, mainly in the small northern region of Cantabria and spent my summers in La Coruña and then Valencia.
The first company I worked for organized my bank account, NIE (residence card) and other documentation. Fortunately, I didn’t require a visa, but that could all change once the UK leaves the EU.
Most of my time working as a teacher was at an academy with children, teenagers or adults in small groups (up to eight students) and one-to-one classes. The level of English in Spain is one of the lowest in Europe and pronunciation can be poor even at a high level.
The country is somewhat insular and Spanish culture takes a high priority. For this reason, I frequently added cultural elements to my classes, teaching students about other countries. Particularly the UK, as British English is the standard taught language.
Teaching children has its challenges and in Spain, they can be difficult to control at times. Talking loudly is common in Spain, so raised voices have little to no effect to gain control of the classroom. What I found worked better is simply remaining quiet until they realize you’re not saying anything and then they calm down before continuing the class.
The standard wages for teaching in an academy tend to be around €1,100 a month while the cost of living is generally cheaper than elsewhere in Europe. The companies don’t generally provide any kind of support with finding accommodation, but there are plenty of websites around that make it easy to find.
While I had to be reasonably careful with the money I earnt, I didn’t struggle to save. With a shared rented flat/apartment I would generally save around 40-50% per month after living expenses. 40% is the minimum I would save per month with 50% being more typical.
For me, Spain is an easy country to live and work in. As with anywhere, receiving support when you first arrive is beneficial, but after that, it’s relatively simple to navigate and find your way around the Spanish lifestyle. ♥ Stuart | StuartFahy.com
Three years into teaching in South Korea, I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to teach English abroad.
Working in the countryside, I got stared at a lot, and when I arrived there was a huge language barrier. Even with these challenges, it was an amazing experience because of my adorable students, a great salary, and really safe surroundings (an underrated consideration).
It’s also possible to visit any city on the mainland of Korea for a weekend trip, so it’s been really easy to thoroughly explore my adopted country.
Every teaching situation is a little different, but public school English teachers have an average of 4 to 5 teaching hours per day and stay in their office the rest of their 40-hour work week, free to do as they please.
Friends have taken up language study, knitting & Netflix, and blogging (like myself). I’ve also kept a budget for the entire three years I’ve lived here. Excluding any travel, if you move to the Korean countryside, you could get by on as little as $500USD per month because rent is included in most every contract. You could also splurge and live your best life for about $1000USD a month.
In the end, this means that with little effort you can save over half your salary, plus the ~$4500USD in bonuses for each year you work as an English teacher in Korea. I loved teaching English in Korea and definitely recommend it to everyone as a great way to make a lot of money and explore this beautiful country.
Teaching English Abroad is one of the best ways to intimately get to know a country more than if you were just visiting on a vacation. After the initial culture shock that is likely to happen, you’ll start to understand local traditions and culture. Eventually, it will start to feel like home.
It’s a challenging experience that will allow you to grow and get to know yourself and what you’re capable of doing. Also, depending on the country you choose, it can also be quite lucrative.
Whether your goal is to be immersed in the country to learn the language, make money or just experience a different way of life abroad, teaching English in another country is an excellent choice to accomplish these things.
I hope this has helped you see that there are many places other than Asia where you can teach English and has opened your eyes to the literal world of possibilities!
Would you ever teach English abroad? Where would you want to go? Let me know in the comments below!
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