If you need to work while you’re travelling to finance a long-term trip, getting a qualification to teach English to speakers of other languages is a good place to start. In this episode, Craig and Linda talk about the benefits of Celta and TESOL. It follows up on a previous episode, teaching for long-term travel to talk more indepth about various qualification options.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 71 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

We get a lot of emails from people asking how we fund our travels, including this one from Conrad:

My name is Conrad and I’ve had my mind set on traveling and backpacking for a long time now. I’ve been wondering: how do you pay for the travel and accommodation costs? Do you find a job, work for a few months to earn some money, before moving on to your next destination? What kind of job do you usually do? How do you earn money to keep going for an extended period of time?

At the moment we make more than 95% of our money teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), English as a second language (ESL), English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or any other strange combination of letters which means teaching people English.

An ESOL qualification will allow you to teach in private language schools or in government schools in some countries.

An ESOL qualification will allow you to teach in private language schools or in government schools in some countries. If you want to make a serious go of English teaching, we recommend a CELTA or Trinity TESOL. They are the two big names in ESOL qualifications and, when added to a University degree, will pretty much ensure you are qualified for any ESOL job. That said, you don’t need a University degree for many of the jobs out there.

These qualifications are normally awarded after a full-time four-week course involving lectures, assignments and practical classroom time.

Both the CELTA and the Trinity are quite pricey, but well worth the investment in terms of opportunities, especially if you want teaching to be a main income stream or something you can pick up anywhere with few problems in getting a job.

There are also good online and short-term courses available (along with lots of cowboy operations). I’ve heard good things about i-to-i which can also arrange interesting volunteer and paid work opportunities when you’ve finished your course. They offer a free trial of their online TEFL course.

If you don’t want to get any qualifications, but you want to do some teaching, you could try finding one of the many Summer and Winter Camp opportunities that allow you to “volunteer” as a native English speaker in return for accommodation and food allowances. Some of these opportunities include a short course in English teaching before your contract begins to ensure you have some idea of what to do.

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Your thoughts on "Teaching qualifications for travellers podcast"

  • Hi guys! Thanks for the great article!!! I would really love to travel and teach English =) I am living in Auckland, New Zealand at the moment and was hoping you could recommend some schools here where I can become certified to teach English, as you do. However, I don't have a degree. In your experience, would this be much of a problem? I would like to teach English full time and travel anywhere and everywhere! I'm thinking of doing Asia first and then going to Europe, but I don't really want to start my travels only to get rejected for not having a degree! This is also a bit of a personal question, but do you find it easy to transfer money back to New Zealand from wherever you are for student loans, etc? Thanks for any advice you can give =)

    on September 8, 2008 at 7:58 am Reply
  • Hi Tiara, The place we did our qualification has closed down. I'll email a DOS I know in Auckland and forward her response on to you. Not having a degree won't stop you getting jobs in many countries if you have a good teaching certification. I think it's compulsory in Japan though. You'd be best to have a look at the job boards to see what people are asking for in the countries you want to travel in. We managed to pay off our student loans before coming away. If it's a matter of delaying your trip a year or so I can't recommend that enough. We've had limited success in sending money back through the mainstream banks: transactions take up to two weeks and fees work out to around NZ$80-100 each time. Of course, the bank's margin on the exchange rate is also disgusting. Next time we're going to try moneygram, western union or some convoluted paypal trick.

    on September 8, 2008 at 12:00 pm Reply
  • I keep hearing from my program's administrators that with a MA TESOL, I should be able to get near US salaries as a teacher abroad, if not get a job for a US school (such as becoming Stanford faculty in Beijing.) I find this very hard to believe. Have you met instructors or school administrators who have a MA in TESOL? Or bumped into anyone with a MA in TESOL in the expat communities where you've traveled? I'm very curious to hear how they actually fair and if it's worth any more weight in the job market than CELTA certification. Thanks so much for Indie Travel!

    on September 26, 2008 at 7:43 pm Reply
  • In short response: everyone I've met with an MA in TESOL have been my bosses. I haven't met anyone with one who's actually teaching. They tend to crop up as DOS's and, with business experience or degrees, as School Directors. Although I've seen lots of ads online, I have never taught in a University -- contracts are too long for me. I don't know what the pay is like, but it seems that you have to be above a DOS to start earning real money; and at that point you're quite far away from the students/course delivery. So, keep up with it, I'd say. I keep feeling tempted to do one; but I also want to keep teaching as a way to fund travelling, rather than having to sign long contracts which keep me in one place. Then again, if we "settle down" for a few years I'd consider it. Good luck with your studies!

    on September 26, 2008 at 7:44 pm Reply
  • Hey Craig, I have just completed the CELTA from San Francisco. The trouble is that I don't hold an American, Brit, Australian or NZ passport. Though I'm Indian, I am a native English speaker (hard to believe for most people in the ESL world). I don't have strong Indian accent but it is a mix of the American and the British (blame it on a British educational system and living in the States). Now, what do you suggest I do? Do you think anyone will offer me an ESL job? The situation looks quite bleak to me. Any advice will be much appreciated. :)

    on July 22, 2009 at 8:09 am Reply
    • I'm afraid we can't answer that one Pulkit. We've worked with several European and Asian colleagues that aren't from the "traditional" English-native countries, so there are definitely possibilities. On the other hand, we have a few qualified friends from places like Germany and Austria -- people who are more qualified than us -- and struggle to find teaching work. Good luck!

      on July 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm Reply
  • Hi Craig and Linda :) Thank you for posting this great article and podcast, I found it to be immensely helpful. I am currently looking into taking a TESOL course; however, I am located in Los Angeles and there doesn't appear to be any TESOL centers in my area. The closest center is in San Francisco. I saw online (http://www.tesolonline.com/courses/140-hour-dvd-course.php) that there is a 140hour TESOL certificate course with a tutor. My question is, do you what the difference is between earning a TESOL certification from the online course versus earning the TESOL certification from the on-site course could effect me in terms of job opportunity? In your experienced opinion, do you think I would be able to find competitive work all over the world with a 140 hour online TESOL course certification? Any tips/advice would be most appreciated :) Thanks!

    on August 5, 2010 at 10:31 am Reply
  • Hi Francine, I guess it all depends on where you want to teach; some places have very high standards (like Japan), but you might find an opening there. If you want the most flexibility, you'll want a CELTA or Trinity TESOL -- they're the highest recognised ones. All the other courses seem to fight it out amongst themselves. I know one of our TEFL affiliate partners has a promotion running until 31 August, so that might be worth checking out. Nomadic Matt also wrote an ebook on teaching English overseas; he might have some other ideas for you.

    on August 6, 2010 at 3:41 am Reply
  • Thank you for the suggestions! Much appreciated :)

    on August 7, 2010 at 8:14 pm Reply

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