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  • William Davies

5 Reasons Why TEFL is the Best Way to Travel

Updated: Apr 26

Teaching English as a foreign language is a fantastic opportunity to supplement your income, develop a career, and see the world. However, many people are unaware of these benefits or simply think that it’s too good to be true. 


But the hype is true, teaching English abroad can enrich you emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.


Many take their English proficiency for granted. While many of us have grown up speaking English habitually, our native language is a highly sought after skill, making English teachers valuable across the globe. 


While the whole process seems daunting, teaching abroad is as simple as becoming TEFL certified, applying for a job, obtaining your visa, and jetting off to your new destination.  


What is a TEFL certification?


TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is the act of going abroad and teaching English to students whose first language isn’t English. A TEFL certificate is a requirement to teach in many countries, among other requirements such as native or near-native English proficiency. Becoming TEFL certified is your first step towards opening doors to not only travelling - but living abroad - while earning a salary. 


Here are 5 reasons why TEFL is the best way to travel, and how the TEFL certificate is your passport to endless opportunities abroad. 


1. Maximise cultural insight and immersion 

“A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”


A girl wearing a traditional Hmong outfit

As an English teacher abroad, you’ll be in the perfect position to experience true, authentic cultural immersion. Rather than being a fleeting traveller who barely scratches the surface of a country, you’ll become an active participant in its community and culture. 


Whether you teach for a summer, a semester, or indefinitely, working abroad allows you to witness the cultural cogs, embrace foreign etiquette and quirks, and engage with members of the local community. Teachers are also highly respected in many cultures, and you will be able to experience this once you’re in-country.


The difference in approach from a local who thinks you’re merely a tourist and one who knows that you’re a respected teacher and member of the community is polarising. While many countries welcome tourists, they are more reluctant to form lasting connections with someone who may leave shortly after.


However, as an English teacher abroad, going to your local coffee shop, restaurant, food market, or bar will allow you to turn fleeting encounters into meaningful interactions. You’ll learn more about the local population and their unique stories within this foreign environment, making you more emphatic and self-aware.


2. Travel the world sustainably and ethically


Green spaces in Singapore

Obtaining a TEFL certificate allows you to travel the world sustainably and ethically. As an English teacher abroad, you won’t be jetting off from one destination to the next, increasing your carbon footprint tenfold within the span of a few weeks. 


In the age of climate anxiety, slow travel is key to lessening the impact of our international excursions. However, with their limited annual leave, most people don’t have the opportunity to travel at this steady pace.


As a TEFL teacher, you’ll become the master of experiential travel, and can worry less about the environmental damage of frequent flights. While “must see” sights are scattered all across the continent, many of these natural and historical wonders will be on your doorstep as a TEFL teacher.


3. Earn a salary while seeing the world 


Teaching English abroad isn’t a holiday. You’ll be teaching children, administering tests, homework, and more. However, as with any respected job, you’ll be compensated handsomely for your work. 


While you’re living abroad, whether you’re teaching English in Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Spain, or Costa Rica, you'll earn a good salary for your position. 

Popular TEFL countries come with a high demand for English acquisition, and the salary and benefits often reflect this. Teaching English in Vietnam, for example, a country which offers a high salary for English teachers when compared to its low cost of living. Although developing, these countries recognise the importance of English acquisition and are willing to pay high salaries for those who can facilitate English learning.


Developed countries which have a higher cost of living such as China or South Korea offer benefits such as free accommodation, reimbursed airfare, and more for your efforts in their schools. 


Earning a salary while seeing the world not only sustains your travels, but can help you prepare for the next step and your long-term plan, wherever in the world you envision yourself. While many teachers seek teaching English abroad as a “gap year” style adventure, many make the most of their TEFL certification to save up abroad. 


How much does TEFL pay?


Teaching English as a foreign language pays well, in some countries more than others. While there isn’t a single answer to this question, English teachers are valued all across the world. However, your experience and qualifications will affect your salary. Being TEFL certified, a native speaker, and having a bachelor’s degree will optimise your earning potential abroad. Be sure to take into consideration other factors such as cost of living when making a decision to teach abroad. 


Here are the typical monthly salaries for popular TEFL destinations around the world: 


  • 💵Teaching in Vietnam salary: $1,200 - $2,000 

  • 💵Teaching in Thailand salary: $900 - $1,300 

  • 💵Teaching in China salary: $1,500 - $2,500 

  • 💵Teaching in Spain salary: $1,300 - $1,600

  • 💵Teaching in Costa Rica salary: $600 - $1,000 

  • 💵Teaching in Japan salary: $1,700 to $5,000


4. Enhance your resume while travelling

 

Very few people venture outside their comfort zone with international work experience, and this will make you stand out among a competitive crowd for future opportunities. Whether your future is in teaching, business, or another field, gaining international experience enhances your resume significantly. 


As a TEFL teacher, you need a range of social skills. Employers will recognise your TEFL certificate and international work experience as examples of your independence, sociability, cross-cultural adaptability, and willingness to venture beyond conventional paths. Without having to tell future potential employers of your personality and characteristics, your TEFL experience abroad will exemplify many desirable qualities. 


Even if you’re planning on becoming a full-time teacher in the long-run, your TEFL course and international teaching jobs can enhance your resume by providing you with insight into foreign classroom teaching methods, and with experience in classroom management when language barriers are present. 


5. Empower and increase accessibility through language 

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.


A rural southeast Asian village

English is considered to be the lingua franca - or business language - of the world. With many international business Goliaths seeking English speakers to be able to communicate with other foreign companies, the demand for English is constantly soaring across the globe.


As an English teacher abroad, you’ll be increasing opportunities for future generations. Whether you’re teaching grammar, business English, or IELTS exam preparation, for example, your knowledge and expertise will increase opportunities and prospects to your students significantly. 


Living abroad also allows you to learn a new language. While language apps and online lessons are great for maximising language acquisition, nothing is more effective than cultural and language immersion. Constant exposure to a new language will dramatically improve your skill level, and will allow you to gain insight into the relationship between language and culture. 


While you can certainly get away with only speaking English abroad, it is a fantastic opportunity to improve your bilingual skills. Whether you’re learning Mandarin, the most spoken language on the planet, or Spanish, the fastest growing language in the world, improving your bilingual abilities not only increases professional prospects for yourself but also allows you to form new connections. 


Many English teachers settle abroad after forming lifelong friendships and connections with people they’ve met abroad. Learning a new language allows you the potential to network and communicate with a whole new demographic. 


Start your TEFL Nomad Experience Today


While it seems too good to be true, becoming TEFL certified is the first step towards a life changing experience. Not only will you gain skills through your TEFL course, you’ll meet countless new people, diversify your resume, and embrace vastly different and unique cultures across the world while teaching abroad. In a sense, your TEFL certificate can be your passport to living and working anywhere in the world, and a gateway to personal, professional, and spiritual development.


Become a TEFL Nomad:

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