The short answer is, “Yes, absolutely!”
The British Council had previously estimated that by 2020, two billion people around the globe would be speaking English or studying how to use English. The popularity of the language is only going to increase in the future. While Covid-19 may have temporarily put the brakes on travelling, once restrictions ease, the demand for English teachers will return.
There are Two Main Ways of Teaching and Travelling
The first way is by getting quite long-term jobs in one country-such as for a year- and then moving to a new country every year. The second way is to work online, which will leave you free to travel as much as you’d prefer. Let’s examine both of these options in more depth.
Option One: Year-long Contracts
In most countries, ESL positions will come with a year-long contract. This allows you to really soak up that local culture, put down some temporary roots and immerse yourself in the life of the country that you’ve chosen. You’ll even be there long enough to learn the language.
Reasons why this is a good idea:
- Flights are expensive – the more you move around, the more expensive it becomes.
- Accommodation is included in many positions.
- Having a range of longer-term experience in different countries looks good on your CV.
- A year-long contract will often offer more opportunities for career development. Be sure to ask a prospective school what they offer teachers when it comes to continuous professional development.
- Your company should help you to get a work visa and arrange all the necessary paperwork.
- You will have the opportunity to make good friends by staying in one place longer.
Option Two: Teach English Online and Move Whenever You Like
Would you like to become a digital nomad – someone who works and travels at the same time? Would you like the world to be your oyster?
When it comes to teaching English online, all you really need is your equipment and a good Internet connection and you’re all set. You could travel around with as little as a phone to teach on because some online teaching companies operate as phone apps.
Yes, that’s right. All you may need to teach online is your phone! Realistically, though, you’ll probably opt for a tablet as teaching teeny tiny humans on a teeny tiny screen isn’t that great.
Examples of companies that operate on a phone or tablet app are Palfish and The Talk List. An added bonus is that you won’t need a degree for either of these companies. For other online companies that don’t require a degree, have a look at these here.
For the companies that operate via a website, you’ll need a laptop and a good quality pair of earphones with a built-in microphone.
Another thing you’ll probably want to pack into your luggage is a ring light and your teaching background. This is what you’ll put on the wall behind you while you’re teaching. This could consist of laminated pictures and the company or you could have it printed onto a sheet or piece of plastic.
Things to consider when teaching online and travelling:
- Expect the unexpected. Your location could be noisy, and you may even find yourself having to teach in the bathroom.
- You’ll need to scour the reviews for the accommodation you’ve chosen to ensure the Internet is stable enough for you to teach on. Does the property offer good Wi-Fi? In some locations, you might need to purchase a sim card and a router.
- What’s the time difference between the country you’re travelling to and the country where your students are? Are you happy to get up in the middle of the night to teach them? This is where the above-mentioned ring light becomes really handy. The vast majority of students to whom you’d be teaching English online will be based in Asia and probably in China. This makes it difficult to travel around North or South America and teach online. Peak online English class times for Chinese students are between 6 and 9 in the evening. Beijing time is a whopping 15 hours ahead of California, 12 hours ahead of New York, 13 hours ahead of Mexico City and 11 hours ahead of São Paulo. Due to these time zone challenges, most travelling online English teachers prefer to move around Europe or Asia. In Europe, you’d be teaching in the afternoons and in Asia in the evenings.
- Which countries can you enter on your passport without a visa? Make sure to factor into your travelling budget the time needed and the cost involved in visa applications. It’s helpful to plan your travel route around countries for which no visa is required. PassportIndex.org is a handy website that will tell you exactly where you can go without a visa on your passport.
To recap, there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Write down a list of pros and cons and think about what makes you the most excited. Are you going to become a digital nomad teaching online, or spend some time in a brick-and-mortar school in an exciting new county? Whichever one you choose; you’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime.