A year and a half after finishing university, I made the decision to start teaching English in South Korea. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to pan out, or how it would benefit me. But it was a good starting point for me to experience somewhere new and break out my 9-5 lifestyle without having to go down the risky route of quitting my job, booking a ticket and seeing what happens. I’ve been here for 2 years now, and although it’s been a challenging experience, deciding to teach English in a foreign country has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Maybe you’re stuck in a job that you hate, or have fallen out of love with your home country. Or maybe you just want a new adventure! Instead of smashing open your piggy bank and booking a RTW ticket, why not consider teaching English in a foreign country? Here are some of the reasons why I would recommend it for anyone looking for an escape from the daily grind!
Immerse Yourself into a New Culture
Living and working in Korea has allowed me to learn so much more about this crazy peninsula than I could ever have learned from a guide book, or even a 2 week long trip. From having constant interaction with children, I always know who the latest K-Pop band are, what the best animation is and even what the popular snack of the moment is- regardless of whether I want to hear about it or not! By observing my co-workers I’ve learned so much about the many social hierarchies and how they work. And my Korean friends dish all the dirt on dating customs and the pressures of growing up in such a competitive country.
If you’re considering teaching English in South Korea, check out this handy guide on the best cities to teach in.
How much you can save largely depends on where you go. If you are dreaming of palm trees and white sand beaches then I hate to break it to you, but jobs in countries like Costa Rica and Thailand will allow you to sustain yourself, but not much else. If you’re willing to take a step down from paradise, then there are a lot of opportunities to save a substantial amount of money.
English teachers in South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan and the Middle East can expect to save at least half of their salary each month. Plus, most of these countries also offer benefits like free airfare, free housing and huge bonuses. I came to Korea with absolutely no savings except my last pay cheque. My flight was paid by my recruiter so all I had to do was turn up at Heathrow airport with my passport and enough money to get me through my first month.
Since then, I’ve travelled to Japan 4 times, China, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and The Philippines. This is all from the money I’ve managed to save from my teaching salary.
Want to learn my top tips on how to save money? Click here!
Teaching English in a new country can open up the possibility of travelling to a whole host of countries that might not have been accessible to you before. Living in Korea, I can easily just pop over to Japan for a few days to see a new city. Back in Scotland, a trip to Japan would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to go just for a few days. I can also travel easily to China, Japan, The Philippines and Taiwan if I want to and even go further afield to Thailand and the rest of South East Asia.
This isn’t just limited to East Asia. If you’re American teaching English in Spain you could travel around Europe cheaply and easily- something that might not have seemed possible before. The Middle East is a huge hub for a lot of airlines so it’d easy to pick up cheap flights to numerous destinations if you decided to take a job out there. Teaching English in a Latin American country like Colombia would allow you to travel to neighbouring countries like Ecuador and even further afield to places like the U.S.A or Canada!
Do bare in mind, however, that your holiday allowance might not be too generous, so you will probably only be able to take a trip elsewhere once or twice a year. But you should definitely make the most of your time off when you can!
Learn a New Language
If you’re trying to learn a language, teaching English in a country that speaks that language is a great way to improve your skills. I co-teach with a Korean teacher who focuses on translation and grammar. These parts of our lessons are pretty educational for me. I’ve really widened my Korean vocabulary just by listening and watching her board work. Also, being surrounded by native speakers everyday really helps my listening skills and has helped me pick up a lot of weird Korean slang that I would never have heard on my pimsler audio mp3s!
Get Pushed Outside your Comfort Zone
Could you ever imagine yourself standing on a stage singing the happy birthday song to everyone in your whole school? Or eating pizza with chopsticks? Or choreographing a dance routine to the ABC song and teaching it to a class full of 5 year olds? Or being observed by parents while you teach? I could never have imagined myself doing these things either, but these kind of things are common occurrences when you’re teaching English. And after a while, they become second nature! I don’t think I’ll ever be phased by job interviews or public speaking again. When you are standing at the front of the classroom performing to your students and coworkers everyday, there is no room for any inhibitions.
It Looks Great on Your C.V
Employers should be so impressed to see your experience teaching English abroad on your C.V. And if they’re not, then it’s your job to make them! As an English teacher in a foreign country you start to explore so many different methods of communication- do you think you can get a class of kids who don’t even know the alphabet to open their books just buy asking them? No, you can’t so you need to be creative everyday! How about coworkers who can’t speak English? Do you think you can build bonds with them through small talk? No, but you can be mindful to always give them a smile when you see them! These communication skills are transferable all over the world.You’re also going to be a pretty great leader after managing your classroom for a year. And you’ll be spoiled for choice when interviewers ask you you about a time that you overcame a challenging situation.
We live in an increasingly globalised world, and employers are looking for strong, skilled people who can handle it. Experience teaching English will make you a valuable asset to any employer!
Ready to bite the bullet? The first thing to do is get your TEFL. I recommend i-to-i TEFL as they’re one of the longest running TEFL companies in the world, are widely recognised and offer great value for money. Click the link below to find out more!
Want to know how to get a job teaching English in South Korea? Read my handy guide here!
Are you teaching English abroad? What else would you add to tempt someone who is flirting with the idea? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!
I am now an affiliate of i-to-i TEFL. If you take a course with them through my link then I will get a small amount of commission that helps me run this blog (and that I greatly appreciate!) As always, I only work with brands that I love and that I think my readers will love too! All opinions expressed here are my own.