How to Get Started: Traveling the World Teaching English

September 4, 2014 Updated: September 4, 2014

Original article at

These days many people travel the world by teaching English as a second language (ESL). Whether you’re fresh out of college or university, taking a career break or just desperate to escape the same old routine at home – there are many incredible opportunities for you out there.

If you already have a university degree and/or a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate, then your chances of receiving offers are naturally increased. However, it is possible to gain employment with on-the-job training and no experience –or qualifications – required.

Because we are fortunate enough to be raised as native English speakers, we (allegedly) already know the language inside-out. What’s more important is often the applicant’s attitude and personality. “Teaching experience and relevant qualifications are useful indicators of an individual’s potential in the classroom, but the most important thing for us is a teacher’s personality,” says a manager at one of the English-teaching schools in China. “A friendly, bubbly and outgoing personality is more important than anything else.”

Thankfully, I decided to head to China after a brief stint volunteering as a journalist and part-time teacher in India. Some friends had told me that, as a native English speaker, there are many jobs available – despite my lack of qualifications or solid experience.

I posted a message on Dave’s ESL Cafe stating clearly that I had extremely limited classroom experience (just a few days) and no relevant qualifications, but I am a native English speaker and I was available to start immediately.

Within a few days I’d had two Skype interviews and received two offers of work in China. I would be expected to cover the flight costs and they would then be reimbursed upon completion of the one year contract.

On the Job

Teaching kids English is often about presenting and practising language in a fun and exciting way. Essentially, most classroom time is spent playing games that highlight various aspects of the language. The average teacher has a maximum teaching time of just 20 hours per week; however, this can often be topped up with training sessions and lesson-planning time.

For me, and most teachers I’ve met, it feels like a part-time job. The average office job is around 33 hours a week and is nowhere near as much fun. In the classroom, sizes can vary from one-to-one personal classes to groups of up to 30 students. Typically, though, classes are around ten to fifteen kids.

Show Me the Money

For China specifically, you could expect to earn anything from 8,000 – 15,000 RMB per month (approximately $1,000 – $2,500). Some companies offer free accommodation and end of year bonuses of up to 10,000 RMB ($1600) as well.
The cost of living in most cities, outside of Beijing and Shanghai, is incredibly low. Rent here is usually no more than $230 per month; a bus journey around the city is less than 25 cents. Incredibly delicious meals can cost as little as $4; and with beers and cigarettes less than a buck and two bucks respectively, it’s not easy to spend to your monthly pay-packet – if you live wisely. Some people manage to save anything from $3,000 to $10,000 each year.

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Copyright © 2014 by Vagabond Journey Travel. This article was written by Owen Daniel and originally published at