How to Travel and Teach Abroad

Want to teach abroad but not sure how to go about it?

You’re making a long list of excuses whether or not it will be the right decision for you. Too attached to your sofa, who would watch your dog, not wanting to leave your partner behind, or perhaps you’re scared you won’t make any friends. Teaching abroad is a true once in a lifetime event that will allow you to experience growth and joy. So pack up your bags and leave your excuses at the door.

Who can teach abroad?

Most opportunities offer to teach English abroad if you’re from an English speaking country such as USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and etc. However, if you have teaching experience or even a license in teaching, there’s a wide range of opportunities to teach abroad regardless of your nationality.

Some programs only require a 2 or 4-year degree, while others involve teaching a concentrated profession such as learning English for the corporate world, accounting in different countries, or consultation work in a specific field. Don’t worry about whether you majored in English or have a TEFL certificate. The opportunities abroad range depending on your experience, education, and courage to apply.

Don’t even sweat it. The program/company hiring you will help assist with the process of visa and traveling to your site. Like any job, there is usually a curriculum guide or training sessions to help in transitioning to the position. So what are you waiting for? The world is ready for you!

Here are some of the popular ways and programs to teach abroad:

South Korea – TALK/ GEPIK/ EPIK

Three South Korean International Education government programs targeted in placing English speaking foreigners all over South Korea. Countries they seek teachers from are often USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and Ireland.

All three programs do offer similar benefits: travel reimbursement at the beginning and end of the program, free accommodations, transportation reimbursement, paid holiday leave, annual bonus for contract renewal, settling in allowance, and other benefits.

However, there are slight differences between each program in requirements and benefits.

  • TALK, Teach and Learn in Korea, is an educational scholarship offering part-time work for anyone with a 2-year degree or enrolled in a Bachelor’s Degree Program (3rd year or higher) set in rural villages only.

    Pros: Part-Time time (15 hours), offers 6 months and 1 year contracts, often teaching in after school, more freedom with teaching classes (no curriculum to follow), hours/ classes can be quite flexible according to the school, cultural trip reimbursement, program cultural events, and more time to explore the country.

    Cons: Less pay compared to other programs, only set in specific provinces in the rural areas, no sick days, less holiday leave, holiday leave only during school break, and only teaching in elementary schools.

  • GEPIK, Gyeonggi English Program in Korea, run by the province of Gyeonggi-do school division’s English program. This program serves the public schools with English in this province exclusively.

    Pros: Full time working from 8:40AM-4:40 PM, only 22 teaching hours per week, Gyeonggi-do is a suburb not far from Seoul, notifies teachers ahead of time where they will be placed, Sick Leave, and average teacher salary pay per month.

    Cons: 1-year contract, follow the curriculum, assist with testing materials and extracurricular activities, co-teaching or solo teaching, higher chance of acceptance if you go through their main recruiter – Korvia.

  • EPIK, English Program in Korea, is a full-time professional teaching position set in metropolitan and provincial areas for anybody holding a Bachelors Degree.

    Pros: Full-time position-22 hours of teaching the regular curriculum, 18 hours of office planning. Similar pay to a regular teacher. Sick Leave. Option to teach in elementary, middle, or high school.

    Cons: Have to follow the school’s curriculum book, working at school from morning to late afternoon, and may (sometimes) work at two different schools within a week. 1-year contract.

Japan – JET

JET, the Japan Exchange, and Teaching Program is a 30 year legacy of partnering government ministries’ who have offered over 65 participating countries a chance to work teaching English or Sports in Japan.

Pros: Nice teacher pay, full-time position, placement can vary all around Japan but often times is set in the countryside and cultural immersion program.

Cons: Long application process, very competitive program, often hires fresh out of college students, and a one-year contract.

Fulbright Teacher Exchange
Fulbright Teacher Exchange, a U.S. scholarship program of competitive, merit-based grants for International teachers (Americans and partnering countries) to promote mutual understanding among teachers, their schools and communities in the U.S. or abroad by building global competence and sharing best educational practices internationally.

Pros: Program length varies from 2 weeks to 8 months. The teacher can tailor their program as they apply. Partnering organizations in many countries.
Cons: lengthy application process. Must complete research projects as you teach to meet grant requirements. Only partial reimbursement for plane travel.

Teaching in the Middle East

Most popular for the earning potential and beautiful scenery, the Middle East has definitely become a popular destination for teachers.  If you are searching for teaching abroad openings in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the UAE, or etc. There are plenty of teaching availabilities in public education and private. This is general information and it may vary based on the job posting. However, this will give you an idea of the pros and cons.

Pros: Very good salary, accommodation covered, plane reimbursement for getting to and leaving the country, bonus for contract renewal, paid public holidays and school vacations, an average 2-3 months off during school vacation.

Cons: 1-2 year teaching contracts. Teaching credentials, TEFL certificate, or teaching experience required for most job postings. Cost of living may be high if living in the metropolitan areas.

Private Academies

No matter where you are, there will be private academies concentrating on topics such as English or Math hoping to hire experienced or educated foreign teachers. Although the experience at a private academy/ school depends on the contract and work dynamic between the nationals and the foreign teacher, here is some general information about the pros and cons of private academies.

Pros: Good pay, accommodation assistance, plan reimbursement, health coverage or co-pay, a lot of holiday leave, public holidays off, education and experience can vary and extra will earn you more salary.

Cons: usually take place after school or on weekends. Schools vacations may require participation in class or a teaching camp. Some private academies overwork their teachers without compensation.

TEFL or TESOL – Teach Anywhere

TEFL or TESOL is certificated for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. There are programs for people to earn their certificates anywhere in the world and also practice what they learned into the classrooms in the country they are earning their certificates from. The programs vary on what benefits they offer and contract length. Here are the Pros and Cons.

Pros: Offered in numerous countries. Doesn’t discriminate teachers on just English speaking countries. Earning a certificate and also a job afterward.

Cons: Paying for the TEFL/ TESOL certificate. Less pay.

Volunteer Teaching Abroad!

If you’re hoping for a different experience teaching abroad while also feeling like a good Samaritan helping developing countries and building bridges, try volunteer teaching abroad. Here are some programs and ways to volunteer.

  • VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas

VSO is one of the world’s leading independent international development organizations for volunteers to work abroad to fight poverty in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Volunteers can teach help to improve education by teaching in the schools and training teachers.


Pros: Professionals, Corporate, or youth can volunteer in their different programs. Travel, vaccinations, expenses, and accommodation paid for by VSO. Local living allowance. Support and security by in-country offices. Medical coverage.

Cons: Volunteering means no payment. Commitment length. Not enough training for site placement.

  • For Americans – Peace Corps

Peace Corps – A volunteer program run by the United States government to promote peace. It’s a 27-month commitment set in rural villages in over 60 countries. Often requires a Bachelor degree from its participants.        Volunteers are welcome to join in and teach in different fields such as teaching, health care, youth development, and etc.

Pros: an international government experience, language training, health care, graduate school assistance with the Coverdell Fellowship, Non-Competitive Eligibility for government jobs for 1 year after volunteer service, and a California teacher’s credentials after Peace Corp completion for teacher volunteers. Local living allowance. Support with technical and security.

Cons: 27-month commitment, not earning money, living in a rural village, restricted movement away from the site, and little holiday leave.

  • Religious Missions
    Join your church and raise the funds to go abroad to help teach impoverished developing countries. Volunteers will get a chance to connect with their faith and spread awareness through this chance.

    Pros: getting a chance to travel with community members, sharing religious monologue, and building your development experiences.

    Cons: has to raise the funds for traveling or using own savings. Having to find partnering organizations to assist with traveling and volunteer openings.

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