Laura and one of her students in South Korea.

Laura and one of her students in South Korea.

Teaching Traveling: Is it worth it to take an online TEFL certification course to travel by teaching abroad? Here’s an interview with a young woman named Laura Mcloughlin that dives into her experience with exactly this. Laura, tell us about your background.

Laura: I am from Nottingham, England and have taught English for 5 years now. I used to work at the University of Nottingham and got tired of the grind. I wanted to travel and experience new cultures, and although England is a wonderful place, it didn’t fulfill everything I wanted in life.

I had spent the earlier half of 2011 travelling around South East Asia with my boyfriend. We didn’t really have a plan or purpose: just to be enlightened by new cultures, scenery and ways of life. I loved it so much I knew I wanted to return, but next time with a purpose.

Would you like to teach abroad like this?

Would you like to teach abroad?

I mulled over my options for a return visit, and after receiving a recommendation from a girl on a bus between the cities of Hue and Hoi An in Vietnam, I decided South Korea, the “Hermit Kingdom.” as it’s often called (although I felt more of a hermit being despicably unaware of anything Korean, even the demarcation between the North and South), would be an extremely attractive option. So post-travelling I returned to England and signed up for an online course to be certified to teach English abroad.

I was a bit scared to start teaching as I really didn’t know anything about it, but I completed my TEFL certificate online with a course called Global TEFL, and that provided me with the confidence to teach.

Teaching abroad allowed Laura to make great bonds with students.

Teaching abroad allowed Laura to make great bonds with students.

TT: Interesting! How did your transition from the online course to an in-person teaching job go? Did the course help you get hired?

L: The course did indeed help me get a job, and my first teaching experience was in Asia, where I was hired teaching girls at Gimhae Girls Middle School in Gimhae, South Korea. It was a great experience

The students were kind, hilarious and hormonal; teenagers are the same the world over. The regular teaching schedule is built on a foundation of memorizing grammar and improving listening skills. The students could write and understand, but struggled to produce English sentences themselves.

They soon opened up, however, and dug deep down into that unopened box of vocabulary they’d subconsciously stored up since third grade of elementary school. Finding the key to that box often involved sweets! Haha. Beyond candy, though, I managed to create relationships and build bonds with many students that I’ll forever cherish.

The bonds I cemented with students and teachers were so unforgettable that I’m still in touch with many of them now. The same goes for the expat community I connected with in South Korea. This community is so important when your usual support network is miles, countries, and even continents away. I made wonderful friends from New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, America and England, all of whom made my stay incredibly special!

Teaching students about Halloween.

Teaching students about Halloween.

TT: Love it. Tell us more about the travels you were able to take while teaching abroad.

L: The fantastic pay-to-living expenses ratio meant even though I planned to save, I could still afford to travel and explore a ridiculous amount, too. I enjoyed a temple stay in the mountains at Haeinsa, a New Zealand wine festival on the 81st floor of a hotel overlooking Haeundae Harbour, sludging in natural mud at the annual Boryeong Mudfest, and drinking libations at my first ever baseball game.

I ate out at least four times a week: BBQ, live octopus and everything weird and wonderful in between (occasionally ordering the McDelivery scooters to drop off a Bulgogi Burger)! In the winter, I skied in Pyeongchang (not to be confused with the capital of the non-worldwide event hosting North), a venue for the 2018 Olympics, and in the summer I lounged on the bustling beaches.

Beyond all of this, the location and financial benefits of teaching abroad provided me with a fantastic opportunity to travel. During my stay I visited Taiwan (twice), Japan and the Philippines, and went onto to spend two and a half months in India!

Being a tourist in South Korea.

Being a tourist with family and students in South Korea.

TT: Amazing. How did you find these opportunities, and how did you find the money to fund this travel?

L: I found the Global TEFL course through an online search, and after I completed the course, they helped me find a job through a recruiter in South Korea.

I had some funds saved up after I graduated from university, but I had an offer that included some perks and my salary.

TT: Nice. Tell us some moments from your time teaching abroad that were particularly heart-warming and memorable.

L: I can recollect Class 3-3 throwing Kyeongseon and a teacher’s day party with cake and balloons. A first grade student, Min Kyeong, imitated my jumper and procured an exact copy. Jung Hyeon, a third grade student left a note on my desk declaring she’d finished Jane Eyre, “England’s book” in one day! Jun Hyeok’s Mum embroidered my initials on a homemade pencil case, and Seung Min always apologised for his bad English, perfectly. I went from addressing them as merely “students,” to “my students.”

Happy faces with students!

Happy faces with students!

TT: So beautiful. How have your travels impacted you?

L: The bonds and friendships created will be with me forever. I will miss my students… and the food, too! I learned more than what my students may have learned from me.

TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?

L: I would say that having a TEFL certificate does open doors and also provides you with an opportunity to travel and experience life in other countries. The TEFL course I took provided me with training I needed, and the support to get a job abroad.

TT: Thanks, Laura! Readers, are you interested in online TEFL certification? Teaching Traveling has partnered with Global TEFL to offer you 35% off (click to see) a wide range of TEFL courses. I hope this opportunity helps your teaching traveling endeavors!

How to pay for travel around the world by getting TEFL certification through an online course to earn money teaching abroad!

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Posted by Lillie

Lillie started TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share the infinite ways to combine education and world exploration. Lillie has been a Boston teacher since 2003, and chronicles her own travels at AroundTheWorldL.com.

14 Comments

  1. Really Great information to know about TEFL certification course.Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us.

    Reply

  2. Laura you have truly inspired me. I am a senior in High School trying to decide between teaching and hospitality/communications. I currently have been an intern at an Elementary school for the past year which I love, but I also love traveling and helping others. I spent the day trying to figure out my future plans with college deadlines emerging and typed in traveling for teachers , but did not expect anything to come up… until I found this link! You have inspired me above and beyond, and I hope to be able to get my TEFL after going through college and getting my degree, and be as successful as you.

    Reply

  3. Thanks for giving us the inside scoop on teaching abroad. If I had multiple lives to live, I think I’d like to teach English in a foreign country.

    Reply

  4. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do TEFL for a couple of years. BUT…I was attracted to the money of Wall Street. C’est la vie. I think it’s an awesome way to see more of the world with a job under your belt. Great resource.

    Reply

  5. It sounds like you’re living your life at its best! I’m happy for you and I hope you can inspire more people to pursue the same path as you. The bonding and fun is what matters, to me at least. And teaching kids is always both a satisfying responsibility and source of inspiration. And I think you have that at its very abundance!

    Reply

  6. Harold Bratovich July 18, 2016 at 11:07 am

    A TEFL certificate is definitely the best way to travel… it certainly opens doors and it is not that difficult. I agree as well, teenage students are always hormonal!

    Reply

  7. Always love these articles about Teaching Courses. I wanted to take the TEFL now since a couple of years, but something always comes inbetween. Hopefully next year in summer. Would be nice to be able to teach internationaly and earn some money by doing so.

    And this really makes me want to go to Korea now 😀 Thanks for sharing^^

    Reply

  8. What a fantastic experience. Good for you for following your dreams and transitioning to teaching English in person. It sounds you have great students and are having a wonderful time. Great interview and wishing you continued success.

    Reply

  9. One of the biggest advantages of being able to work abroad is definitely the possibility of more travel. I love that she is not only able to do something amazing while there, but also save money for a rainy day + save money to travel all by teaching.

    Reply

  10. A great way to learn more about the process. Thanks for the interview. Will have to save this to pass along to some friends who are looking into teaching abroad.

    Reply

  11. This was a great interview! My partner and I have been teaching in Asia since 2011 in both China and Cambodia, and we absolutely love it. Learning about a new culture by living in it, traveling throughout the year and saving money for bigger trips-what’s not to love?! Sounds like teaching in South Korea was a wonderful experience!

    Reply

  12. Asia is the perfect place for this, expecially SE Asia. “The students were kind, hilarious and hormonal” Lol that pretty much summarises the experience! 🙂

    Reply

  13. This is my dream! The next step of my travels when the money runs out. I’ve always wanted to teach abroad and Asia’s always been top draw for teachers cause of the high savings potential. Great interview – really inspiring 🙂

    Reply

  14. I know a bunch of people who teach English all over SEA and absolutely love it! It’s a great way to travel and experience a new culture. Great post!

    Reply

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