How to Pay for Travel, Part 4- Teach English Abroad

Monday, February 3

In case you missed it…"How to Pay for Travel" {Part 1} {Part 2} {Part 3}

One of the easiest ways to kickstart your traveling career is to actually MOVE abroad! Now obviously if you move abroad, you will need to work abroad (unless you have a secret stash of unlimited money…in which case, we should be friends:) haha, j/k!)

Teach English Abroad:
Without a doubt the easiest way to find a job is to find a position teaching English. English is the international language of the world and therefore English teachers are in high demand, specifically in Asia. Fresh out of college, I accepted a position teaching English in Thailand. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. If you are at all considering teaching abroad, DO IT! Living abroad lends itself to the convenience of traveling to new places, meeting new friends, and experiencing culture in a profound way (all while getting paid! Yee-haw!).  

Here are a few things you need to know if you are considering teaching English abroad:

1.    Are you TESOL certified? Typically to teach English, you need a certificate that states you have completed a course on how to teach English. These courses are referred to as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Lanugages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Fortunately for us, getting a TESOL certificate really is not that hard! I chose to move to Thailand through a program called TEFL International. I was trained and certified in one month, and then moved on to teach at a school. There are also TESOL certificates you can receive through online programs. Some schools will even train you as part of their package. Just check into different programs and see what the best way to earn your certificate might be! Just as an FYI, getting certified does cost money, but in the end it absolutely pays off!! {And as a tip, I have seen these types of courses on sale through third party discount sites like groupon! So keep your eyes out if you are interested!!} 

2.    Some Countries offer Higher Pay than Others: In considering where you want to teach, you must keep in mind that different countries offer different salaries for their teachers. Japan, South Korea, and China offer some of the highest paid positions, while Thailand and Cambodia offer lower rates. However, it is good to keep in mind that places like Thailand, while they offer lower rates, also have a cheaper standard of living. I’m sure I got paid way less to teach in Thailand than I would in Japan, but eating out for meals was usually a $1 and transportation was very economical. Some of my friends that have taught in South Korea were able to use the money they saved to pay off student loans! Do your research on different jobs to see how much income you will be earning!

3.    Do you want Part-Time Work or Full-Time Work? If you are looking to live abroad AND save money and pay off debt, than working full time fits the bill (no pun intended!). It truly is a great way to kill two birds with one stone! However, if you are looking to live abroad and travel as much as you possibly can, then working part-time is a killer option! I worked part-time in Thailand, which gave me the luxury of soaking in the sites around Chaing Mai where I lived, AND allowed me to explore a lot of cities off the beaten track! Most full time positions will be at government and public schools {some privates!}, and most part-time English teaching positions will be at private schools (at least this was my experience in Thailand. If you are a teacher in another country, feel free to tell me how that works for you!).

My own experience teaching English in Thailand was wonderful. Yes, it is a lot of work, takes a lot of energy {teaching alone is hard enough, much less in a language the kids don’t understand!}, but the relationships you forge and the adventures you have far outweigh the difficult parts! I will say this, I realized once in Thailand, that while I love teaching, English was not the subject for me. And I realized, that’s ok too! At least I got an amazing journey out of the deal:) 

If you have any specific questions about teaching English, or about teaching in Thailand, feel free to send me an email! I lived predominantly in Chiang Mai (Thailand's second largest city…and very beautiful I might add!). I worked at a private school and taught English part time. I had a class of beginners, and tutored advanced students. The great thing is that you really can vary the avenues in which you teach. 
While in Thailand, I also taught at: 
- Summer Camps: Thailand has a variety of English and Summer camps for school kids. These were a fun way to get involved in Thai culture! One particular camp I was the only native English speaker on a bus with 200 Thai Children, yep, and I had a jolly but clueless old time! We rolled up to a gorgeous resort and I taught my classes on the patio overlooking the ocean (not too shabby, eh?). I also got to participate in all the crazy exciting games the Thai counselors had planned for the kids, like laser tag on the beach and scavenger hunts. Most of the time I had absolutely NO idea what was going on (like for REALS!) but I suppose that's what made up the adventure!! 

- Refugee Camps: To the west of Thailand is the country of Burma. The instability of the government and its violent treatment of many ethnic groups has contributed to a rise of Burmese refugees to Thailand. While there, I spent some time teaching English in a large refugee camp for the Karen people group. I will admit it was one of the most humbling and difficult places I have ever traveled to, but it changed my life in a profound way. Volunteering your English skills, and more importantly your friendship and listening ear will go a long way:) 

- Language centers: For a time, I supplemented my hours at the private school by also picking up a job at a language institute. Typically Thai families will take their children to these institutes to be tutored in English for an hour (give or take). My job would be to create cohesive lesson plans for kids once a week, and personally tutor them. This is a great option if you want to pick up a few more hours in your schedule!! 
Lastly, you don't have to be an English major or a grammar pro to teach English. I am neither, and yet was able to get the hang of it! Schools are just so grateful to have a native English speaker on staff. So be kind and generous, work hard, and open your heart, and you will be terrific! {and have COUNTLESS hilarious stories from your students to pass on to your friends and family!}

And you will get to travel like crazy! 
Teaching for the WIN!!!!

{to see more Thailand pictures, click here

love Katie 


  1. I've been to Chiang Mai before! Here's an interesting fact we've learned in our research as we plan to move: Malaysia requires that anyone who wants to be a foreign English teacher must already have 2 years teaching experience. Which is a bit frustrating when you don't have the experience already....oh well! :)

  2. I've been researching different options for teaching abroad (specifically in Asia) and this just gives me so much more encouragement!

  3. With my Linguistics degree I did a lot of TESL work, but I never got certified. I'm thinking if we are ever stationed somewhere overseas I will definitely look into this option, but a lot of times you have to have some work under your belt before they'll just give to a classroom.

  4. I've been really looking into this lately so it's very nice to hear from someone who has actually been through it! Your work is inspiring! :)

    xo Elle

  5. I got my TEFL certificate right out of high school but never used it, I ended up moving to England to be an au pair instead, confused the heck out of my Grandma, she kept telling everyone I went to England to teach English. Haha, she's a funny lady. I would still like to teach English in Asia one day. Did you find most places required you to have a degree as well? I have one so it's not a problem for me, but if I could ever convince Jared to do it, he doesn't have one. :)

  6. How fun it must have been to teach cute little kiddos! I know two people who are teaching English in Spain right now and they are having a great time!

  7. I am going to check this out! Sounds like a great way to work/travel the world. Thanks!
    Anita Hendrieka

  8. This is the second post I've read today which makes me want to go and teach abroad in Asia. I'm living in France but TEFL jobs are hard to come by here so I would be very keen to do it in Asia!

  9. Yeeees! This is exactly what my parents did when we were in China!! :)

  10. Great post. Have been thinking about teaching abroad for a while now, the more I read the more I want to do it! I'd only really considered teaching at schools, but it's great to hear about the other options like summer camps and refugee camps! Thanks :)

  11. What a great, thorough post. I'd love to consider this for my next abroad experience. Thank you! :)

  12. Love this post and your pictures. Teaching English abroad sounds like a great way to pay for travel and see the world!

  13. What a great idea. I dont think there Will be much interest in Dutch teachers. Lol. But it's a great idea to get to travel some more...

  14. teaching abroad is one of the best decisions we ever made! while we weren't able to have as much time off as other countries offer, korea offered us the best way to save up for traveling AFTER our contracts were done. i love hearing about others experiences teaching overseas!

  15. Dan and I have talked about doing this but not sure we ever will. But it has been placed on the table and certainly prayed about. Maybe when the time is right! But thanks for sharing yout experience Katie!


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