The global market for English language learning reached $35.5 billion in 2013, and $33.7 billion of that represents classroom and print educational environments, according to Ambient Insight. Government policies promoting English education and the need for language skills in business are among the factors driving the market. To help meet this demand, there are more than 250,000 native English speakers working as language teachers abroad, according to the Diversity Abroad Network.
For many Americans, teaching English abroad is a great way to travel while getting paid. If you’re considering teaching abroad, you might be wondering about how to finance your plan. We have some ideas to get you started:
Create a Budget
The first step is estimating your budget, so you know how much money you have to work with and how much you’ll need. Start by comparing the cost of living of your current hometown to almost 2,000 global cities at Expatistan.com. Generally speaking, Asia is going to be the most lucrative region to teach English abroad at this point. In countries like Cambodia, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, where demand is consistently strong and the cost of living is very low, teachers can typically comfortably cover living expenses while still having money leftover for savings, travel, etc.
For budgetary purposes, you should consider the overall relationship between what you’ll be earning each month and what you’ll be spending.
Another budgetary factor is startup costs. If you’re participating in a program like LanguageCorps, you need to have some savings to rely upon during the four week TEFL training and certification program, and to tide you over until you start working and getting paid. Startup costs vary by location, but it’s always better to budget more than you think you’ll need!
Teach Abroad Programs
One way to make sure your income will be sufficient to offset expenses is to work with a TESOL program geared toward the country where you want to teach. For instance, LanguageCorps offers training, certification and job search assistance for people interested in teaching English abroad. Salaries average the equivalent of $800 to $1,500 in U.S. dollars per month, with adjustments for specific locations that can include accommodations and other expenses.
Salaries for these teaching jobs are geared toward covering living expenses, but vary in how much they leave for savings. Currently, Asian countries such as Taiwan, China and Thailand often represent the greatest opportunity to save after expenses. International Living provides suggestions on other ways to build savings while abroad, such as travel photography and writing. If you receive regular payments from a structured settlement or annuity, you may be able to sell your future payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth and use the cash to help cover expenses abroad.
Scholarships and Grants
Some scholarship and grant opportunities are available for those who want to teach abroad. For instance, the GO! Teach Abroad Scholarships program distributes three $1,000 awards per year to teachers who need financial assistance to teach English or another foreign language abroad. The Fulbright Program includes English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grants. The American Political Science Association reviews additional resources.
Fundraising is another way to finance teaching abroad. You may be able to find sponsors, organize your own private fundraising event or raise the money through crowdfunding. Forbes has a great roundup of the top websites for crowdfunding. The most popular sites to raise money for travel expenses are Fundmytravel.com, GoFundMe.com and Kickstarter.com. When using any of these methods, make sure to follow best practices, including doing an accurate breakdown of projected expenses.