Some of us are fortunate to have grown up with English, a language both widely spoken and in demand around the world. That means language instruction is perhaps the easiest way for young people to get abroad. Some schools and national governments will even pay your airfare before any work is done (South Korea, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Russia, and Japan).
However, navigating the best approach and location can be daunting. Along with salary, visa, and security considerations, one may also need to complete a TEFL certification program in advance. There is a knowledge gap that many people face as they consider this option.
Before lining up guests for this episode of The Stateless Man, I polled people through the show’s Facebook page as to where they would be most interested. Latin America came out way ahead with 42 percent, with Europe and Asia tied for second with 19 percent each. Africa got 15 percent, and the Middle East, well, let’s just say people were not so hot for there—3 percent.
Fortunately, I was able to line up people with expertise in precisely those areas: Corey Coates for Latin America (Costa Rica), Travis Howser for Europe and Asia (Poland and China), and Bruce Jones for an overview of many locations. Rather than simply wisdom and experiences, Jones (email him) offers personal guidance through his organization, the International TEFL Academy, based in Chicago. Here are the articles he recommended to get people started:
- World Comparison Chart (with the top 50 countries by region);
- Top Five Countries to Make the Most Money;
- Best Six Countries for Teaching without a Degree;
- Tips for Finding English Teaching Jobs;
- Tips for Evaluating a TEFL/TESL School.
Given the time difference, midnight over in Warsaw, Poland, I had Travis Howser on first, and here is a 9 minute highlight from that segment. Howser, who now works for the Academy of New York, left China after two years of teaching there. He shared how a beautiful Polish lady may have had more than a little to do with his decision, and he admitted that one can make a better living from teaching in Asia.
Here is the full first hour of the show, including an interview with Bruce Jones in the second half (MP3). A particularly interesting point he made was that demand, almost worldwide, is for the American accent and dialect of English. Sorry Brits, but you, along with people from down under, will most often have to cater to the demand for American English.
Corey Coates (pictured), formerly of Canada, has been living in Costa Rica for more than five years and was the final guest. A host of This Week in Costa Rica, another show on the Overseas Radio Network, he recruits and trains English teachers there on behalf of Inlingua International.
He too had plenty of wisdom to share and strongly encouraged people to get training before heading in his direction. Presumably on account of the relaxed atmosphere and tropical surroundings, many people are in Costa Rica wanting to teach, and he has no problem finding people with sufficient training. A cursory glance at the job offerings in Central America also suggests that if you are not in a school of high standing, the pay on offer is just a few dollars an hour, so hardly anything to get excited about. Click below to hear from Corey (MP3):
A Gem of an Idea for Getting Started
Originally, my plan had been to interview one of my best friends from New Zealand—an old rowing colleague—since he has taught English without a degree in both Ecuador and New Zealand. Unfortunately, the timing did not work out, and he was teaching during the show.
Ollie McGlone did, however, share an excellent idea for certification. While he still does not have a degree, he has completed the University of Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) in New Zealand, and that certification alone enabled him to get work.
He recommends that people consider completing the month-long CELTA course, perhaps the world’s most recognized TEFL certification, in Montañita, Ecuador, a beautiful coastal village, for $2,250 (including tuition, accommodation, and food). That is about half the price he paid in New Zealand, and the certification will open doors to teaching English in basically every country on earth. (Corey Coates echoed this sentiment, recommending that prospective teachers complete a CELTA in Costa Rica as well.)