Teach English

Why you Should Consider Teaching English Abroad

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.

Save Money

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!

Want to save money by teaching but not ready to make the move abroad? Try teaching English online!


Travel Opportunities

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.


Plus, the classroom probably won’t be the only place that you’ll get pushed outside your comfort zone!

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!

Happy New Adventure

Want to learn more about me and my life here in Korea? Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and make sure that you never miss an update!

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!

Save it for later, now on Pinterest!

Save it for later, now on Pinterest!

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.

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  • Reply
    18th April 2016 at 12:18 am

    Teaching English abroad is something I’m considering, definitely. I’ve heard South Korea is a good choice, but I’m still undecided as to where to go – all I know is that it’ll be either Asia or South America. The benefits you’ve listed here are certainly good ones, not least the point about the travel opportunities! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      22nd April 2016 at 9:05 am

      Hey Joe! Thanks so much for your comment. That’s amazing that you’ve decided to teach English. If you have any other questions or hesitations about Korea, feel free to contact me 🙂

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  • Reply
    Paul Newton-Palmer
    28th June 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I am so amazed at you for doing this. Did you need a qualification other than being able to speak English as your mother tongue?

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks so much Paul! In my first year I worked in a cram school and didn’t need any qualification! Just my native tongue 🙂 But, if you want to apply for better positions, such as public school, it’s definitely beneficial to have a TEFL! Most countries do require you to have one, Korea is one of the few exceptions.

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    30th June 2016 at 9:38 pm

    That sounds like an amazing experience for you! Did you need to speak Korean prior to going there?

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Hey Rachel, thanks! It’s been a great experience. No, you don’t need to learn Korean but it’s nice to know a few words to be polite 🙂

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    18th July 2016 at 5:06 am

    I love your article. Where in the Philippines did you go??? I used to teach there.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      20th July 2016 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Karyn! I went to Boracay, Bohol and El Nido. That’s so cool that you used to teach there. Where were you teaching?

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    19th July 2016 at 2:10 am

    Hey Nicole,
    I was wondering what you got your bachelor’s degree in? Also how did you find a job like that out in another country? I’m guessing there not on craigslist or anything like that. Did you go through a certain hiring company or did you look for a school and contact them to go in for an interview? Was there anyone in Korea who spoke some English when you got there that way you could find your way around the city? Have you made any new friends who speak both Korea and English? Thanks for the article it was really good to hear.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      20th July 2016 at 10:15 am

      Hey Tiffany 🙂

      My undergrad degree is in music- completely unrelated to teaching! I think there are some jobs on Seoul Cragslist but I found my first job through a recruiter I found on Dave’s ESL Cafe. For my 2nd job, I went through a recruiter who I found in the country. Recruiters are great because they really guide you through the whole visa process, which can be quite confusing.

      When I arrived in Korea, I had other foreign co-workers who introduced me to their friends. However, this year I have no foreign co-worker. Most cities have expat facebook groups where you can find events for foreigners. I have some friends, both Korean and foreign, who can speak English and Korean.

      Thanks for your comment, I’m glad the article was helpful for you! 🙂

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      8th January 2017 at 4:45 am

      Sounds so cool! I am really interested in doing something like this after I graduate college this semester. What company or school did you go through to obtain a teaching job?

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        Nicole Louise
        9th January 2017 at 9:42 am

        Hi Ali. My first job teaching English in South Korea, I went through an agency called People Recruit. I found their details on Dave’s ESL Cafe. For my second job, I applied through Gyeongnam Office of Education who are part of the Korean government since I worked at public school. 🙂

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    6th August 2017 at 6:56 pm

    A few of my friends are currently teaching in Korea and I would love to join them. Unfortunately, I only have a French passport and even though I have studied, worked and lived in the UK for years, it doesn’t quite qualify me to teach English abroad and French teachers are required to have a teaching degree. I guess visiting my friends for 3 months will have to do for now!
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      Nicole Louise
      8th August 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Elodie- I really wish that Korea would allow non-native speaker with native fluency teach English in the country. Most Europeans who have studied English as a second language have a much higher understanding of grammar than native speakers and are much more valuable in the classroom in that sense. I have a French friend who taught for the Korean Navy. Maybe that would be an option? Have you considered online teaching? I hope you find something and manage to live in Korea one day!

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