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A Mom Teaching ESL in China, and at an International School in Laos

Candice: "Mom Most Traveled"
Candice: “Mom Most Traveled”

Is it possible to get a job teaching abroad in Asia as a mother with young kids?

What a cool guest we have today! Candice Broom is a world-traveling teacher who is currently educating in Laos!

Teaching Traveling: Candice, tell us about yourself.

Candice: I am from Birmingham, Alabama. I finished my Mass Communications degree in 3 years at the University of Montevallo, got married, and went to a Mayan Indian reservation in Belize (near Xunantunich) for 3 months, followed by a year teaching 1st grade in Beijing, China.

Currently I live in Vientiane, Laos, where I have been since 2003. I earned an MA in Teaching in 2006 and now I work at the International School in Vientiane. I have two boys who are 6 and 3. I teach 3K, this year my youngest son is in my class! I blog at

TT: Fantastic! Please explain some of the travel adventures you have undertaken recently as a mom.

C: I have tried to take advantage of my location in Southeast Asia and have traveled to Xi’an and Shanghai, China, Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia, Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Luang Prabang, Savvannakhet, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane, Laos, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Yao Noi, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, and Nong Khai, Thailand.

The most exotic voyage was to the Ubud region of Bali. I learned how to surf there, and I also visited a 4,000 year old nutmeg forest inhabited by a bunch of scary “sacred” monkeys.

Orange-clad monks in beautiful Vientiane, Laos.
Orange-clad monks in beautiful Vientiane, Laos.

TT: Amazing! What is an organization that helped launch your Teaching-Traveling career as a parent?

C: I taught in China with an organization called English Language Institute China, or ELIC. I learned about it from a friend who had also taught with ELIC and ended up signing on for 4 years in Mongolia.

TT: Excellent. How do you fund your travels?

C: I have funded some of it through fundraising, but currently I get a normal salary as a teacher at the international school.

TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.

Sweet youngsters in Candice's class in Laos.
Sweet youngsters in Candice’s class in Laos.

C: Well, my experience teaching in China was very “sink or swim.” I rotated between four Grade 1 classes every day, teaching them English. 99% of the students were Chinese and they were very much used to sitting in rows of desks and learning by rote. I tried to teach Western style but they just went berzerk.

So in the end we did flash cards for a part of every day and they were really comfortable with that and learned a lot. I did get stressed a lot though; I had 130 students in all.

It was a boarding school though and they were absolutely in love with me. I would be swarmed in the hallways to the point that I was afraid they would cause me to fall down during our group hugs. I always tried to get in a door jam for stability. :)

TT: Love that image! How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?

C: As a person, I think I have a connection to “outsiders” now. Living as an expat has given me a really good perspective about what it is like to have very little understanding of my surroundings. It feels so helpless to not know the local language or how to do normal tasks like go to the grocery store.

When I lived in China I always needed help to do these things. I was like a preschooler in an adult body! When I went back to the states in 2007 to have my second child, I found that I really clicked with a group of Kenyan immigrant women and ended up eating delicious Kenyan dinners as a guest in their homes several times. I felt like we had a lot to talk about.

Candice handing out tasty treats while teaching.
Candice handing out tasty treats while teaching.

And, I did get really burnt out on ESL/EAL initially, but I think I will always have a soft spot for ESL students.

TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?

C: I feel really empowered. I never thought I would live outside of the US for 10 years, but I have! I have learned different languages, navigated difficult and unfamiliar situations; I really feel like I can handle anything life throws at me.

TT: So great! What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?

C: I would say for certified teachers, the world is your oyster if you go to an International School job fair. Try groups like “Search Associates.” Most schools give you a relocation allowance, full salary, health insurance, and they pay for housing and round trip travel every year.

Usually the minimum contract is 2 years. It is the best way for teachers to see the world, and the schools are in a much better state than public schools in the US as far as classroom management situations.

TT: Candice, thanks so much for your fascinating story and helpful insights! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?


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Ra Perumal

Saturday 9th of January 2016

I am presently teaching English at a private school and Business subjects at a polytechnic. Keen to explore opportunities to teach in places like Laos. It is not at all easy to teach English to foreign students and esp so in a foreign environment. I take my hat off to Candice and others like her. Her enterprising spirit is fantastic.


Sunday 6th of November 2011

Nice story! I am an ESL teacher in Seoul. Rote learning is prevalent here, but not as much as China. I have heard so many amazing things about Laos - will be there in April 2012. What a treat to teach there. My boyfriend is a certified teacher looking to teach at an international school in Asia. Great opportunities!


Tuesday 30th of August 2011

would like to know if any school are hire for teaching English or get a job while coming to live in Laos..


Thursday 19th of May 2011

It is very compelling to see a teacher teaching around the world in different places. You must feel so honored to have all the children love you! I bet it's amazing teaching abroad. You are able to see and learn so many different incredible things! It must be so fun!

Genesis Lumahan

Tuesday 3rd of May 2011

I didn't know there was a such think as "3K." I think it's great to see teachers of other races teaching in other countries. Candice seem really open minded. Candice's life sounds so cool! Especially surfing and the monkeys.This article made me see that teaching doesn't seem easy. Especially trying to find the styles to teach the kids!

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