Why You Should Teach English Abroad

David King is a young adventurer seeking to make the most of his dollars abroad.  After completing his degree in Economics, he worked for a consulting company for just a year and a half before the travel bug enticed him to leave.  After teaching English for a year in South Korea he is traveling and documenting his experiences as a free lance writer.  He is currently backpacking through South America, studying Spanish, and indulging in the local cuisines for a fraction of the normal cost.  David takes his time in each location he visits to get a feel for the city, people, and lifestyle.


If you are anything like I was, then teaching abroad is probably something that you have never even considered.  How could you?  Why would you?  You decided sometime before college started what your major was going to be and you had an idea of what career trajectory you were following.  If you did not decide to major in education or to pursue your credential after completing your degree, teaching may be the last thing on your mind.  I concede that sometimes life is structured so that making one decision today will make an infinite number of other options in the future inaccessible.  You may feel that you have already made the conscious decision to not be a teacher. Fortunately, it’s never too late to change your mind. The great news is that having a degree in biology and teaching English are not mutually exclusive.

In many countries, the only requirement necessary for teaching English is a bachelor’s degree, in any subject!  Also very valuable is a certificate for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).  This can be attained through online or in person courses depending on your preference or flexibility.  I’ll write more on ‘how-to teach abroad’ in my next post.

Being paid to move to a different country, to learn a foreign language, to immerse in a foreign culture, and to make life long friends has to be one of the best jobs on the planet.  I never planned to be a teacher but what I did want was an adventure.  Money is hardly a top priority for me but unfortunately we all need it to survive.  Before moving abroad I was searching for a few hours per week for jobs in my sector in another country.  The leads were not looking promising.  Aside from an intermediate Spanish level, I had no language abilities that would permit me to work in any language other than English.  I began to realize the easiest and best way for someone in my position to find employment abroad was to teach.  It was an interesting prospect really.  Teaching was something that I had no experience in, and something that I had decided years ago that I was not going to do.  Taking the plunge into teaching abroad was the best decision I have ever made in my life.  Why should you jump off the deep end?



Fellow English teachers and I “jumping off the deep end” in Jeongsun, Korea.


If you move to a larger city in countries such as Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, or Vietnam – you will have no problems finding home in a sprawling expatriate community.  Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals from English-speaking countries around the world is a cultural experience in itself.  I met more Irish people in Korea than I have ever known in my life.  There’s nothing like being on a karaoke bus after a football (soccer) match with a group of drunken Irish lads.  I think having friends who speak your language is necessary to keep you sane and I assure you they will be there.  The real fun however begins when you branch out of your comfort zone completely and begin to make local friends.  Sure, there are locals who have a working proficiency in the English language but make an effort to learn their language too.  It opens so many doors when you can speak the local language.  Older people will admire your interest in their culture and younger people will find your feeble attempts to woo them at the bar in their native tongue hilarious.  Exchanging culture, ideas, and perspectives will open your own mind to a different way of living and different philosophies of existence.  It’s not necessary to change your own beliefs but it is a beautiful thing to turn on new lights in your brain that you never knew existed.



After a huge away win in the Korean Foreigner Football League (KFFL) with the formidable Daegu Deer squad.


Consider what is happening 9,500 kilometers away from your home on the opposite end of the world.  There is an ecosystem of humans who are interacting, laughing, crying, growing, and loving without the slightest inclination that you are out there.  It’s a rewarding experience to be implanted into a new network of friends and coworkers and make an impact in the lives of others who you previously would have never known.  Especially as a teacher, you have the opportunity to inspire and love hundreds of students who will touch your heart and affect your life just as much as you will theirs.



My 5th grade class gave me a cake, flowers, letters, and a slide show for my birthday!


Don’t be afraid to consider something completely different from what you are doing now.  Teaching abroad was an amazing experience that I will be forever thankful for.  No matter where you are in your life now, consider a new adventure on any scale and remember anything is possible.



  1. Not everyone should be teaching English – think of the students. Being an uncredentialed English teacher overseas is not all expat fun. Please write more balanced articles in the future.

  2. My son has been in Japan teaching English for two years and staying for a third because he is moving to a better location at his request. It has it’s ups and downs but overall has been a good experience for him.

    • I definitely agree it has its ups and downs. That’s awesome that your son is enjoying it so much that he is in his third year! I loved my experience but one year was the perfect amount of time for me. I had the pleasure of visiting Japan earlier this year and I would love to live there someday as well.

  3. I’ve spent time in Korea and learned enough Hangul to get around town a bit. I’ve often thought of going back and think teaching English (and learning more Korean) would be a wonderful way of getting to know the culture. I think I would be interested in learning more about making that happen.

    • That’s awesome. While I was teaching I was able to take classes twice a week for relatively cheap and the quality of courses was good. I learned a decent amount of Korean in one year and it was a lot of fun. Stay tuned for my post next week which will be a how-to guide for teaching abroad!

      • I look forward to it. I take it that it is fairly easy to live off the salary? I don’t care to become rich, but saving for retirement should always be a concern, I think.

        • Definitely. Obviously everyone has their own spending habits and financial goals but the salary is very fair considering the cost of living and it is easy to save a decent amount of money in one year. I’ll touch on financials more too in the next post. Thanks for reading!

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