They say ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. This is nowhere as true as travelling. It’s a common misconception that you need to be rich to travel the world. Having visited over 60 countries in the past 10 years, I can safely say that is not true. We’ve met dozens of travellers on the road who fulfil their dream of seeing the world by volunteering on farms, leading tours, taking up location-independent jobs, and other such.
Currently we are taking a career break, so our priority is to see as much of the world as we possibly can. But we’re considering slowing down a bit and spending longer periods of time in one place. As you probably well know, we like living comfortably when we travel. Having consulted a lot of our traveller friends we’re beginning to think of taking up a teaching job in an exciting part of the world in order to make this happen.
Teaching English as a foreign language is a popular option because it provides travellers with flights, accommodation, and a stipend. More importantly, it gives them an opportunity to interact and live with locals and understand local culture in a way a fleeting encounter never can. It’s also an easy way to pick up a foreign language. In other words, it’s a bit of a win-win situation for someone who loves travelling.
The agency that we’re currently considering is the ESLStarter. We were drawn to it because we read a fair few glowing reviews of it online. On reading more we discovered they’ve placed over 5000 teachers in the last 10 years. The only pre-requisite for most programs is the TEFL certificate. There are so many choices but here are the 4 countries we’re currently considering. My top picks of the lot are Colombia and China while Vid is veering towards Peru.
My love for South America is endless. I love the chaos, the people, the food, and the culture. South America fascinates me to no end. ESLstarter’s programme in Colombia is also open to non-native speakers of English who are fluent in the language. This is pretty rare and extremely exciting, especially if you’re from a country where English isn’t the first language but is widely taught and spoken. There are over a 1000 openings in Colombia this year and things are a bit different from China because the stipend is quite generous by Colombian standards – USD 500/month.
Internal flights from Bogota are included and the entire programme is carried out in collaboration with the Colombian government, which just makes it that little bit safer. The main draw here is learning Spanish – having travelled extensively we’ve figured Spanish is an extremely helpful language to know since it is spoken in so many countries around the world.
China has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. But I don’t want our skirmish with the country to end in Beijing or Shanghai. I want to get my teeth stuck into Chinese culture and ESLstarter’s programme in China provides the perfect option.
It doesn’t need any teaching experience and even fresh high-school graduates can apply. There are 100s of other interns learning Mandarin or taking TEFL lessons, so making friends should be easy. On getting to China, a number of cultural excursions and orientation lectures introduce teachers to Chinese culture. Accommodation and flight allowances are included as well. On teaching days, even meals are included. In addition to this there is a monthly living allowance of USD 300. Teachers are expected to teach 15 classes weekly so there is plenty of time to explore the area. What excites me is the opportunity to explore little known parts of China and get to know local culture better.
More details can be found here.
I remember visiting Vietnam for the first time three years ago. Almost immediately I was sucked into the Vietnamese rhythm of life. Over the next few weeks I took cooking classes, devoured street food, met locals, went on trips to floating islands, and shopped at little markets. When it was time to leave I just did not want to. That month in Vietnam felt too short, so I’d love to go back and see what staying in the country feels like. I’m not as keen to learn the local language as I am to learn more about Vietnamese customs and traditions.
There’s only 1 reason I’m considering Peru is for all the smiling faces we encountered during the one month we spent there. We explored Peru to our heart’s content last year and saw the cutest kids while travelling around the country. It’s hard to pass the opportunity of educating them while learning Spanish and spending yet more time in the country. Aah decisions decisions!
Visas are usually arranged by the company itself and most nitty gritties are well taken care of. However it’s best to check beforehand before you invest any money in a TEFL certification course or book flights. You can apply here.
So many of our friends are currently teaching English in South Korea and Peru. Do you have friends who’re currently travelling and teaching English abroad? Have you ever volunteered to teach English abroad? 🙂