Teach English Abroad Series: Why Teach Abroad?

Winter Camp at Bai Da Wei English School in North East China.

Every year thousands of people move away from their homelands to live and teach in foreign countries around the world. Why teach abroad? Hands down, it is the best way to broaden your horizons. There’s no better way to see the world, try different things, make money, learn about culture and learn about living an entirely different lifestyle which most people only dream about. Plus, there’s no shortage to the number of interesting and available jobs here in Asia. My teaching career started off in China, but within months, I was also singing professionally, doing radio work, book editing, television programs, commercials and modeling.

In some countries, like Taiwan, the pay is quite good and living expenses are low, which allow people to save money. In other countries, such as China, the pay might not be so high, but the benefits are awesome and travel is cheap. You’ll have plenty of time to take advantage of it. Either way, you can’t lose. An overwhelming number of people I meet here are able to use the market as a platform for their own passions and interests. Writers, artists and musicians often move to other countries to work. Being a writer, artist and musician and living in Asia has really given me and my work an edge that I might not have had in Canada. I have found that settling into a new place and meeting new people has sparked creative ideas and offered me inspiration that was otherwise unavailable back home.

You might stay for a year to see what it’s all about and decide it’s not for you, but I guarantee that you’ll see and learn and grow more in that year than at any other time of your life. Maybe you’ll end up staying longer, once your love affair with Asia has taken root.  Then, your travels and experiences will start taking you further and further away from home. Whatever your reason for teaching abroad, your experience teaching away from home will change your life forever.

Posted in ESL | 16 Replies

About Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian expat who has been living abroad in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. My husband and I have owned our own business in Taiwan since 2012. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on on Twitter @globetrotteri or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carriekellenberger/.

16 thoughts on “Teach English Abroad Series: Why Teach Abroad?

  1. range

    Teaching in Asia is great.

    New cultures, new ways of living. Less stress and a bit less hassles. It’s like living an adventure, and we haven’t traveled yet around too much.

  2. globetrotteri

    Every day in Asia is an adventure as far as I’m concerned. Even now, after four years, my eyes are still filled with child-like wonder. Every day presents new challenges and new sights to be seen.

  3. jorees

    I have to agree with your comments about racism and the cultural benefits of traveling abroad. Moreover, I would like to hear more stories about your travels and teaching.

  4. globetrotteri

    Unfortunately, you’re right. China has really started to crack down on who they’re bringing in to teach. When I first arrived in China, I met ESL teachers from all over the globe, such as Colombia, Singapore, Phillipines, Malaysia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Spain to name a few. These days, teachers have a much harder time finding jobs because so much of their teaching application rests on the color of their skin.

    I once worked with a woman who was Australian-born Chinese. She didn’t speak a word of Mandarin. When she started teaching with us, parents immediately started pulling their kids out of her classes because they didn’t want a Chinese teacher teaching their child in a foreign language school. Having a white foreign teacher is a status symbol in Northern China, and having a good-looking white teacher is even more coveted. Teachers aren’t always chosen for their teaching credentials, which is really sad. There’s absolutely no harm in having different English accents in the classroom. In my opinion, if a student is exposed to several English accents, it makes them a better student all around.

    Anyways, I’ve rambled long enough. Many thanks for your comments and kind wishes.

  5. globetrotteri

    This isn’t going to be a problem for me Jo. I’ve got plenty more where this came from. Thanks for your continuing support and interest!

  6. Claire

    My teaching experience in China was the best ever, i got to do things i would NEVER have been able to experience back home and it definitely made me a better/stronger/wiser person for it but best of all

    I GOT TO MEET CARRIE and she is now my family.!!!!

  7. Carrie Post author

    XOXO Claire. One of the best things about living abroad are the people you meet while you’re there. The friendships I’ve formed overseas will last forever.

  8. Pingback: Teaching English Overseas, part 5

  9. Julius Ferraro

    Hi Carrie!
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    I am currently considering doing something different with my life and teaching ESL abroad has been forward in my mind. I have heard, however, that things have changed with the new economy, mainly that jobs (not ESL jobs, but other jobs abroad and at home) have become more scarce. As a result, many people who do return home have had a wonderful experience but cannot find a job with which to pay their student loans and living expenses!
    This is the biggest question on my mind right now – with my large loan restrictions, will a trip abroad be little more than an escape, or will it in fact help me to expand my resume and find enriching work at home or abroad once my ESL experience is over?
    If you have any feedback on this, or know anyone who does, I would really appreciate a response. Thank you!
    -Julius Ferraro

    • Carrie Post author

      Hi Julius,

      My apologies for not responding to your inquiry sooner. One of my goals when I moved to Asia was to get rid of my student loans. I was able to pay everything off within three years and I still had plenty of money left over for travel. I know plenty of individuals who have lived abroad for a year and returned home to find a good job that pays well. Whether it expands your resume or not is a hard question to answer, since I don’t know what your background or work experience is. I think a lot of this also depends on what kind of a person you are. If you go out and actively seek other opportunities, you could add some very valuable experience to your CV. My time abroad has done nothing but give me positive experiences that have allowed me to build an impressive resume. Since moving to Asia, I have gained experience as a professional writer and editor, I am a freelance writer and photographer for several publications, I work as a voice over artist, I have worked in the entertainment industry as an actress, a radio host, a singer, and a model, and I have taught at all levels of education from pre-school to university and business professionals. So, yes, I think that when I return home my experience abroad will allow me to find a rewarding job.

  10. Brian Buick

    Hi, i live in Australia i am a photographer though i would love to work teaching english and
    photography overseas (asia).
    I am in my late 50s do you think this would be a disadvantage teaching english in asia.?

    Kind regards

    • Carrie Post author

      Hi Brian,

      I can’t think that this would be a disadvantage. I know plenty of older men who are working here. Where do you think you would like to go? Taiwan, Japan, and Thailand would all be good options to consider.

  11. Christy

    After looking at several sites for teaching jobs, and checking that I have the requirements necessary (experience teaching-check, MA in French – check, etc) I find there are very few for actual TEACHERS in France- as opposed to babysitters (BTW: I did look at Dave’s ESL cafe’…nothing much there either). I am looking for next year – 2013/2014. Am I just too early in my searching? I figured the earlier the better, but maybe not so much??
    Hmmm, Christy.

    • Carrie Post author

      Hi Christy,

      I really wish I could answer your question, but I don’t know many people teaching in France. I’ve heard that the logistics of getting a proper visa can be a daunting task. I will certainly contact you if I learn any information that could help you in your quest for a teaching position. One thing I am certain of is that you need a fully accredited TEFL certificate to teach in Europe. That means you’d need to get a CELTA certificate or a certificate from an organization like International TEFL Academy.


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