Can I teach English abroad in my gap year?

There are many reasons why people take a gap year and there is no particular best time to do it. You might have just finished high school or university and are unsure what you want to do next. You might already be in work, but are bored of the daily routine and looking for a break. Whatever your reason for taking a few months, a year, or even longer away from your existing life, it could be the best decision you ever made. After being away for a while you should find you have time to reflect on the past, enjoy your present, and most importantly, make well thought out plans for your future.

Why should you teach English abroad during your gap year?

Initially many people assume that teaching English during a gap year is simply a good way to earn some cash while traveling from place to place. However, there are many reasons why teaching abroad is a great idea during a gap year, including:

  • Yes, it is a really good way to earn money and travel the world.
  • You get to experience new countries in a way that normal tourists can’t.
  • You are certain to meet a wide range of interesting people from all over the world.
  • TEFL is a flexible job that allows you to move around when you decide you want to.
  • Teaching English provides a whole new range of skills that are transferable to other jobs.
  • You might even find it is a new long-term career that you had never even considered.

How should I prepare for my gap year?

The most important step before heading off abroad is to complete a reputable TEFL certification course. By completing a TEFL course you will learn all the basic skills you will need to navigate those tricky first few weeks in the classroom. A TEFL certificate is valid for life and is your passport to good quality teaching jobs in almost any country you would want to visit. They can be completed online, in a traditional classroom, or as a combination of both. In many cases they can be completed while you are still studying or working, so you don’t need to waste time or lose money.

Once you have finished your course and have received your all important TEFL certification you can seriously start looking for potential jobs. Of course, you might want to do a bit of traveling first, but planning jobs ahead of time can be a really good idea so you can arrive at the right time to get started in the classroom. At this stage it is important to do plenty of research as some countries have tighter restrictions than others when it comes to obtaining a work permit or visa. For example, if you have a degree you will have few problems finding potential jobs, while those without a degree might need to narrow their expectations a little. There are still plenty of options out there, but you need to be aware of the limitations in some areas.

Also read: Can I teach English abroad without a degree?

Another potential restriction you need to be aware of is that some countries and individual employers only hire native English speakers. However, there is no need to speak any other language than English as your TEFL course will teach you how to use the immersion method of teaching where nothing but English is used in the classroom.

Also read: Where can I teach English abroad as a non-native speaker?

How do I find a suitable TEFL job?

First you need to decide on where you want to live and work, whether it is in one specific location or a broader region. Next you need to start researching those areas for available jobs via online job boards. A quick online search will reveal a number of different options such as which covers over 50 different countries, or country specific job boards such as which covers only Thailand.

In most cases you will need to send in a CV and a cover letter, as well as an application form. After applying for all the jobs you like the look of, simply sit back and wait for the responses. Assuming one or more employers get back to you, the next step is usually an online interview via a messaging service such as Zoom or Skype, etc. The interview could be just a quick chat or it might involve a demo lesson or a video introduction of yourself and what you have to offer. If successful you should receive a contract to sign and then it is time to sort out your travel arrangements.

Many TEFL job contracts last for 12 months, which is perfect for some people as you get to immerse yourself in the local culture, people and language. However, if your time away is only short or you are keen to keep moving on, there are other options. Some standard schools will offer short contracts, but the most popular option for short-term teaching are summer schools or camps. These usually last anywhere from four to twelve weeks, offering you a good income in one place before moving on to the next destination.

Also read: Can I teach English abroad in the summer?

What about teaching English online?

Another popular option to consider is teaching English online. If you choose this route you can work from anywhere you want and you are not restricted to any particular schedule. As long as you have the right equipment and a stable internet connection you could be teaching in Thailand one day and in Vietnam the next!

Also read: What is the best platform to teach English online?

What are the benefits of teaching English abroad in your gap year?

The benefits of teaching English during a gap year are many, but at the very heart of it is an adventure. During your time away you will get to explore fascinating countries, meet extraordinary people, and make countless memories that will last a lifetime. Another real benefit is that working and traveling overseas always looks good on a CV when applying for jobs in the future. Potential employers in any field will be impressed with your ability to be independent, adaptable, responsible, and organized. Of course, you might find that teaching English suits you so well that you don’t want to give it up. Many people head overseas to teach for a few months, only to find they love it so much that they choose not to return home when planned.