Traveling Asia While Teaching English is One of the Most Fun Ways to See the World – a True Working Vacation
Let’s face it, many of us would love to travel around Asia but don’t have the money to do it. That’s why, as an English teacher in Thailand, I’m here to tell you it is possible to spend a year, or longer, traveling around Asia and not need lots of savings while you do.
It’s called an Asian ‘working vacation’ and, on it, you can see Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, India – so many exotic locations most people will never see.
Asia is the most popular destination for English teachers, many of whom use the job to travel and see the world’s largest continent. If they can, you can too and here’s what you need to do to get there.
Getting Qualified Before You Leave – Before you leave on a working vacation to Asia, get qualified to teach. If you have a university BA degree, in many Asian countries you’re either qualified or close to it. If you don’t have a degree, don’t worry, there’s still ways around it.
Sign up for a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification course,whether you have an undergraduate degree or not. They’re available all over the world, or you can do one online.
To set off your travels around Asia properly though, why not sign up to take a TEFL course in a city like Bangkok, Thailand or Hanoi, Vietnam? The courses are only four to six weeks long, cheaper than doing them in a western country, and it’s a great way to learn about a new culture, while getting certified to teach there. Plus the school will help you get a job when you’re done.
Decide Your ‘Working Vacation’ Route and Time Line – Before you set off, decide which Asian countries you want to visit and plan your ‘working vacation’ and time line accordingly.
I met an American teacher recently who, three years ago, decided there were five Asian countries he wanted to visit but couldn’t afford more than one. So, he decided to do a long-term working vacation teaching English. He planned out his itinerary and, when I met him, he had just begun year four and Asian country number four.
This teacher started out taking a TEFL in Beijing, China then worked for a year at a high school in Hunan province. At the end of the year, he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia and worked there for nine months. On to Cambodia for a year and a half and, when I met him, he was in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
He told me his final stop would be Nepal, then back to the US to get his Masters degree in Education. After that, he planned on doing it all again – five different Asian countries next time.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Asia and How To Get Them – The beauty of traveling in Asia and using teaching to be able to afford it is there are jobs everywhere.In Thailand alone, I turn down a new job every week and have also had job offers as far away as Seoul, South Korea and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With so many types of teaching jobs and schools offering them, Asia is a teacher’s paradise and, for a traveler, it’s heaven.
In Asia, you’ll find everything from teaching jobs at kindergartens, grammar schools, high schools, universities, language schools, companies, and summer camps. Decide what type of teaching and age of students you prefer, and go for it.
Jobs are advertised on websites, usually ones particular to that country. In Thailand, for instance, many teachers who come here to travel find their jobs on a site called Ajarn.com, which is updated daily.
You’ll also find many teaching jobs in Asia by word of mouth. Head to the expat bars, coffee shops and restaurants and meet a few people. You’ll be surprised how easy getting a teaching job is.
Volunteer Teaching – A Great Way To Travel Asia Cheaply – Another wonderful way to see Asia, and to see ‘authentic Asia’ and not the tourist traps, is to sign up with a volunteer teaching agency.
These agencies exist all over Asia and usually offer board and food for free, or for a nominal fee, in exchange for you teaching 20-30 hours a week in a local school. This still gives you time to travel (on the weekends, there are tons of places to visit) and you’ll also meet lots of locals, who’ll be pleased to show you how they really live.
Just a warning on volunteer teaching – paying a fee of between $200-$300 a month, which covers your board and food, is reasonable and a cheap way to travel Asia. Any agency that’s asking you to pay $1,000 and up per month though is nothing more than a money-making operation, and you don’t want anything to do with that.
Thoughts on Traveling and Teaching in Asia – While I use the idea of teaching while traveling around Asia as a wonderful way to see the continent, and it is, don’t forget if you do choose to do this, do it the right way.
Study to be the best teacher you can be, and be that teacher in every class you teach. Many of the people you teach in any Asian country will be the poorest of the poor, and learning English is their way out of that poverty. That’s why they need the best teacher they can find.
There’s no reason why anyone can’t be an unbelievably brilliant teacher, while still getting what they want – a cheap way to travel around an exotic continent, meet incredible people and have adventures most people on the planet will never have.
Choose to teach as a way to travel around Asia and, I promise you, it will be the best experience of your life.
Ajarn.com – Excellent website for teaching job postings in Thailand
Teaching English in Vietnam – TEFL International