Teaching The Children

Deciding to Teach English Abroad

Teaching English while on your next backpacking trip might seem counterproductive to the notion of getting away from work, but it can really help backpackers make some extra cash and, ultimately, extend your travel plans. Two things that are hard to argue with.

Teaching English In India

Backpacker Budget Problems

I’m sure many of us have been in that situation. Well, I certainly have, not forgetting a number of acquaintances, and those random people that a backpacker always seems to run in to while spending a late night comparing travel notes at the local drinking spot of a far away destination, when the night is suddenly interrupted by the need to find more cash to continue said night. Of course, negotiating foreign ATMs is difficult enough, especially after having a few glasses of the local brew. Nevertheless, when the card is spat back out of the machine with no cash, and again after several attempts, you know there is a serious problem.

I would like to refer to this by the means of a euphemism, let us just call this a cashflow hurdle. In real terms, it means running out of money while abroad!

Rule Number 1 – Keep Track of Your Finances

Of course, the point where the bank account is bone dry is an absolute end point and no one wants to get anywhere near this. However, it is easy enough to notice the bank account fast approaching that point. Just don’t wait until the funds have withered away completely.

Budget – I Have a Few Hundred Bucks Left. What Can I Do?

One of the most obvious turning points for backpackers is the world of Teaching English as a Second Language, known to many as TESL, or ESL teaching. English is the world’s number one language of business and is almost essential for cross-language communication. For this reason, in many countries throughout the world, there are endless opportunities available to those who want to learn English. This also means that backpackers have a bucket of choices when it comes to making a little extra cash to fund their gallivanting. Backpackers will be surprised at the sheer choice available to them as they wander the streets on the backpacker trail as to the desire of the locals to improve their English skills.

What Do I Need to Qualify?

Teaching English In Cambodia

To get involved in teaching, the prerequisite for most positions is simply being a native speaker of the English language. This means coming from a country such as the UK, USA, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, or New Zealand. While this is mostly the case, some positions will accept a non-native speaker who has a high level of understanding of the language and can speak it clearly and with confidence. This is the most likely basis of most cash in hand, short-term positions that would be of interest to backpackers.

However, for jobs which require a higher level of knowledge or teacher training, such as at schools or well-known language institutions, a bachelors degree in any field, combined with an ESL teaching certificate, such as a TESOL, CELTA or TEFL, is usually a requirement of immigration and the local country’s department of labour.


These certifications can be obtained in the country of your choice, with some providers even offering an on-line course that can be completed within a few weeks. Most employers are generally in dire need of a teacher and will overlook the need for qualifications and hire a teacher off the street who is a native speaker and wears a shirt and tie.

What Are the Options Available to Me?

The first port of call for those who are interested in teaching is a language school. Language schools are private businesses where individuals pay to enrol in an outside course. The students at language centres tend to be those who are better off financially, and generally have an average understanding of English and take the course purely to get ahead.

Another cash-cow for language centres is children’s classes. Many children are sent to the language school by their parents on weekday evenings or weekends to provide them with extra English skills for their schooling. Children’s classes are probably the most commonly taught by backpackers when they enter the classroom for the first time.


Teaching English at Schools

Children In Landrover

Other options where teachers could find work is either at a school or university. However, these jobs tend to go to the more experienced teachers with higher qualifications. By far, the highest paying positions in the world of ESL teaching are at international schools. These jobs only go to teachers that are registered as a teacher in their home country. These positions are very hard to get, and I would go as far as to say it would be impossible for a backpacker, even one with a degree.

How Much Can You Earn Teaching English?

Obviously, the standards of pay vary from country to country, but a ballpark average that a first-time teacher should look at earning is around US$10 an hour. For a short-term job, cash in hand is the easiest and the best way to go, and most employers would be happy to oblige, but as ESL teachers climb up the food chain, a bank account and monthly payments are something that must be dealt with by you.


Although getting a job while on a backpacking getaway can put a dampener on the mood, like having to forego a big night out on a Saturday because you’re working on Sunday, it is definitely the quickest way to pick up a few extra dollars and add some fuel to your backpacking adventure. And while teaching may have its pitfalls, it is a remarkably easy job and should take away the need to reverse charge your parents and beg for financial assistance.