Travel Advice

Travelling and TEFL teaching

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travel full time

Who doesn’t want to travel full time? Yes, please! But how can you afford it? Savings? This is a good idea and it’s common for people to save up for a big trip, but you won’t be able to travel forever on savings, as it’s a limited source of income. So how can you afford to travel full time? The simple answer is having a job while travelling. One common job that travellers have to support themselves is teaching TEFL.

What is TEFL teaching?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It’s also called ESL (English as a second Language) and TESOL (teaching English to speakers or other languages). They all mean the same thing, you’re teaching English to speakers of a foreign language. TEFL is a simple and easy way to get into teaching. It only requires going on a TEFL qualification by completing either online or classroom-based course.

TEFL Courses

The two most recognised courses in the world are CELTA from Cambridge or TESOL from Trinity College London. These both require a degree in any subject and you can choose to do an intensive month course or part time 3 months course. There’s no difference between them in terms of being recognised by employers around the world. The only thing that is the difference is the course structure.

Online courses can last between 2 weeks to a month to complete. They have little to no classroom practice during the course, so they are generally not accepted by all countries. Therefore, if you want to work in Western countries such as Europe, North America and Australia you will need the classroom based courses. Meanwhile, places like Asia and Latin America, generally, accept online courses.

Why teach TEFL?

TEFL is a great way to get paid while travelling, not the other way around: ‘get paid to travel’ as other blogs may lead you to believe. You’re able to live in another country and have a steady income.

Furthermore, English is the second biggest language spoken by native speakers and the first language as a second language. Furthermore, English is becoming an increasingly universal language and more and more non-native speakers require it to gain employment.

The amount of income can depend from country to country. Generally, Asia and the Middle East are the higher paid regions, in particular, South Korea and China in Asia, and Saudi Arabia and The UAE in the Middle East.

The benefits of travelling while doing TEFL

You can truly travel like a local, as contracts are usually are for a year. Thus you have plenty of time to explore the country or area your in and experience the culture and build relationships with locals.

Free flights and accommodation: Asian and Middle Eastern countries provide you with free accommodation and free flights. Not a bad deal! On the other hand, South America and Europe doesn’t pay for flights or accommodation and the pay is so poor that I would consider it more like ‘pocket money’!

Travel and save: again if you’re in Asia of the Middle East you’ll have enough money to save and to continue to travel after your contract has finished. Meanwhile, in South America and Europe saving money is much more difficult, let’s be honest, it’s hard to save pocket money.

The responsible traveller

The reason for this post was due there being are more bloggers and vloggers speaking out about being a responsible traveller. Things like not spending your money on things that are unethical such as paying for an elephant ride in Asia or any other things that involve animals that are not natural to their lives or habit. Also, voluntourism, where you pay to travel abroad and ‘help’ build a house, a well or whatever and be a great ‘help’ to poor communities. Unfortunately, you’re not being helpful by doing this, in fact, you’re taking jobs from local people because you’re offering to do the same job for free.

So what has this got to do with TEFL? Well, admittedly the damage is not as visible as the first two examples and teaching a person to speak another language is not hurting anyone. Which is correct, but TEFL is another form of imperialism. The reason for most people wanting to learn English is to create a better life for themselves and their families. As learners see English as a way to get a job or a higher paid job. You’re not only teaching them English but English (or Western) values and culture. Thus, people from developing countries see their own culture less favourably and aspire to these new values and TEFL is another tool used to spread Western views. In conclusion, be aware of the culture values of your students and be willing to learn from your students. Think of it as a cultural exchange.


Hey, I’m Ylanda and I’m a solo traveller and travel blogger, trying to gain a local experience wherever I travel. I’m an amateur photographer and TEFL teacher.

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