Teaching English abroad is one of the best ways to live and work overseas. Essentially, what I’m saying is you can get paid to travel the world.
I taught English in South Korea for 18 months and it was the single best decision of my life (see my Ultimate Guide to teaching English in Seoul). During my time living in Korea, I made enough money to visit 17 new countries in Asia without ever dipping into my savings account. I also made tons of lifelong friends and created unforgettable memories.
I made the move to teach overseas immediately after I graduated college in August 2013. However, if you are not about to graduate from college soon, or you are in your late 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s — it’s never too late to consider teaching English overseas! There was a lady on my program who was 67 years old, and she had the same amazing experience as everyone else.
In this post, I will be sharing the pros and cons for teaching English abroad in general. Please note that I am grouping ALL teaching jobs together, and each job may vary in regards to country, payment, living situations, benefits, etc.
5 Pros of Teaching English abroad
1. You can travel for free
The biggest incentive to teach abroad is traveling for free, meaning you will make enough money on the job to pay for your travels. As I touched on above, my salary in Korea enabled me to travel to 17 new countries in Asia, eat at Korean BBQ restaurants 4 nights a week, and party every weekend in Seoul.
2. You will get out of your comfort zone
The act of moving abroad is the cornerstone of getting out of your comfort zone. You will be thrown into a new culture, eat new foods, see new sights and make new friends. All of this will make you wiser, more mature, and will make you appreciate what you have in life. You will create lifelong memories that you can look back on when you’re older. This is the magic of living abroad!
3. You can learn a new language
This is a great perk to teaching English abroad! Learning a language is much easier when you are living in the country, because you are immersed in the dialect 24/7. Some people even choose which country to teach in based on which language they are learning. I started studying Korean about 6 months before I landed in Seoul, and I stayed motivated to learn while in Korea which made my experience much more enjoyable overall. Until now, I am conversational in Korean, and I love practicing whenever I meet Koreans on the road!
4. You will make a decent living
Need to pay off your student loans? Want some extra cash? As a starting salary, you can make an average of $25K (varying by country). In the Middle East, some countries offer upwards of $60K starting salary (UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc). Not a bad gig, if you ask me.
5. You can start a side job
In most teaching jobs abroad, you will have a lot of free time. If you take advantage of this, you can teach yourself new skills and start a side job. Using myself as an example, I used every minute of my free time in Korea to start a travel blog and figure out how to grow an audience online. I believe that I was able to leverage myself against other bloggers who are just starting off, which put me ahead of the curve. It’s like killing two birds with one stone!
5 Cons of teaching English abroad
1. You might Get Homesick
It’s not always easy to leave your family, friends, pets and loved ones behind. Especially if this is your first time traveling overseas, this can be the hardest part. I craved In-n-out burger and Mexican food for a long time while abroad, but this is a sacrifice that I was willing to take.
2. It’s not sustainable long-term
Unless teaching is your passion and you plan on teaching forever, then you won’t find much long-term success by teaching English abroad. You will have to sign a contract for a minimum of 1 year, and that may leave you 1 year behind life if you are planning to go back home and into the workforce.
3. Culture Shock is real
Everything around you will be new and different. Some things will challenge you more. Many situations you will not be comfortable in, or not know how to get around. There will be language barriers, cultural barriers, and new foods being in your stomach. You might have to see a foreign doctor, which will prescribe you medicine that you are not used to taking. All of these things together are called culture shock, and hopefully you will be able to handle it well.
4. Getting sick is worse
By traveling, your body is at a higher risk for getting sick because you will be eating new foods, adapting to new environments and exposing yourself to different things. If you do get sick, it’s not always enjoyable to see a foreign doctor, so make sure to bring lots of medications with you.
5. You might Feel lonely
For the more introverted type, it’s common to feel isolated and lonely. The only way to make friends is by stepping out of your comfort zone and approaching people, and if you aren’t willing to do this, then you could dig yourself in a dark hole. This is why I recommend teaching English abroad for only those who can easily make friends.
Are you ready to take the leap and teaching abroad? Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi!
About the author:
Drew Binsky is a travel blogger, video maker and social media influencer who has visited 107 countries since 2012. Drew is a people-person, sports-lover and is always looking to have a good time. He is planning to visit every country before turing 30 in 2020!
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!