Itchy feet, empty wallet? Teach English as a Foreign Language!

by May 5, 2021

Travelling the world is an adventure many of us dream about. Unfortunately, often finances hold us back from acting on these dreams.

So what if I told you that you can travel the world and earn money at the same time? Well you can, by teaching English as a Foreign Language.


Teaching what where?

Teaching English as a Foreign Language – or TEFL as it is known – is big business at the moment. With more than 1.5 billion English language learners all over the world, it’s no surprise there is a huge demand for TEFL teachers right now. Which is why more and more people are looking into TEFL as a viable career option.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language can be done both abroad and online. If you are a qualified TEFL teacher, you can teach English to English language learners all over the world – any ages, any levels, any nationalities. Or, if you prefer the digital nomad life, you can teach English online, either from the comfort of your home or from anywhere in the world you choose to be (once international travel is more viable, of course!)


Count me in! How can I be a TEFL teacher?

There are a few requirements to be a TEFL teacher. You need to be at least 18 years of age and speak Advanced level English at least. Some jobs require you to have a Bachelor’s degree (in any field) but many don’t, though what is essential is a TEFL qualification.

A TEFL qualification you get through a TEFL course. This is a course of at least 120 hours. It can be done online or face-to-face, or a combination of both. The course will teach you everything you need to know to be able to teach English as a Foreign Language. You will learn about teaching methods and techniques, theories of learning, discipline issues and classroom management. You will also get a crash course in revision of English grammar and language skills.

120 hours might not sound like a lot but take my word for it, it’s no walk in the park. After all, would you want to be in charge of a classroom full of learners if you weren’t fully prepared? Probably not, and the TEFL course has a short space of time to help you go from zero to hero. But it’s possible!


And the money?

Aah yes, let’s talk business. When it comes down to it, TEFL is a job. Yes, it allows you to experience living in countries you had only ever hoped of visiting in a way you never can as a tourist, but it is fundamentally a way of earning a living. And it’s a totally feasible way to earn a (very) good living.

Exactly how much you are going to earn depends on which country you decide to work in and if you are working in a school, university or private language school. Teaching salaries will differ but so will the teaching packages. Some jobs will offer accommodation and flights, some salaries will be tax-free, some salaries will involve more working hours. And remember, the cost of living in the country will affect the buying power of your salary.

To give you a general idea: TEFL teachers in South Korea earn between US$1,500 and $3,000 a month, teachers in Saudi Arabia between US$3,000 to $4,500 a month, and those in Thailand around US$1,000 to $1,500 a month.

But, of course, the working hours, packages and living costs vary from country to country, so you can’t judge a TEFL salary on a number.

You can also expect to earn good money if you are teaching online. Whether you work as an independent teacher or for an online company, you can expect to earn between US$15 and $30 an hour. But again, there are extraneous factors you need to take into account, such as the fact that you will save both time and money on commuting.

Whichever way you look at it, teaching English as a Foreign Language can earn you money. But the cherry on top is the lifestyle it allows you to have. There are few jobs which offer the travel opportunities that TEFL does. So if travelling is your vibe but your wallet is looking a little sad, have a look into being a TEFL teacher and get ready to live your best life.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Kirsten Colquhoun

Kirsten Colquhoun

Kirsten Colquhoun is the blog writer for The TEFL Academy. Though she is a South African, she has taught English as a Foreign Language in Thailand, China, England, Spain and Qatar. Now she is a full-time freelancer who divides her time between teacher training and writing. She plans to travel again as soon as she can.