Backpacking through Asia is a once in a lifetime experience. You can form new friendships and stunning memories, but there is one incredible way of keeping your finances intact and adding a meaningful touch to your travels.
TEFL courses are becoming ever-more popular, and for good reason. They can set the tone for a lifelong teaching career, they can take you to beautiful countries, and they can be a wonderful way of giving back.
Getting your TEFL while backpacking through Asia can be tricky, but there are some important steps you can follow to help you on your way.
Consider your qualifications
The first step towards getting your TEFL accreditation is to make sure you have the appropriate qualifications under your belt before you apply. Most, but not all TEFL courses in Asia require you to have a Bachelors degree. This is largely because many, better-paid teaching jobs in locations like China and Korea won’t accept job applicants without one.
These days, this isn’t always the case. In fact, as long as you can complete a highly valued TEFL course, you won’t need a degree to get a job. The most important skill you can have is being fluent in English. For many undergraduates or hopeful English teachers without a degree, this makes the dream of teaching abroad even more attainable.
If your qualifications match up, make sure you’re fully able to commit to your TEFL while backpacking. TEFL is as much about passion as it is about previous experience.
Volunteer in local schools
Arguably the most amazing part of getting your TEFL is having the chance to work in local schools. Though you’ll be doing this a lot when you’ve finished your course, volunteering before you apply is a great way of bolstering your experience and your passion.
Like many backpackers, you’ll have plenty of chance to volunteer in schools as you travel through Asia. In locations like Thailand, it’s easy to volunteer, even if it is just for a few days. Not only is it a great way of turning your trip into a more memorable one, but it’s an undeniably fun step towards getting your TEFL.
The only issue here is making sure the work you are doing in schools is with a reputable company. By going with a recommended or local company with ethical values, you can avoid this problem completely. If you don’t want to work in schools, volunteering with businesses in each location can give you a good idea of what it’s like to teach English to adults.
Choose an online course
It can be difficult to commit to a full-time, or even a part-time classroom course when you’re backpacking from country to country. This is often why travelers choose to complete an online course to help them on their way. It’s the cheapest, most convenient way of becoming TEFL certified at your own speed. And the best part is that you can do it from anywhere.
With hundreds of course providers to choose from, it can be overwhelming deciding which one is best for you. Some of these courses may also not offer the high-quality accreditation you need to get a job. Avoid this problem by not going for the cheapest course available. Instead, do your research by looking at some trusted reviews and ratings.
It is recommended that you combine this kind of course with some classroom experience, so your prospects of getting a teaching job are much brighter when you enter the world of work. Yet, you might never need to step foot in a classroom after you’ve completed TEFL, due to a growing number of available, online tutoring roles with Chinese companies.
Or complete one in the classroom
The thing with TEFL is that classroom courses are usually more favored by employers than online ones- especially in Asia. That isn’t to say online courses aren’t valuable; they are. It’s just that classroom experience is a key skill you need to keep a whole class focused.
Although doing one of these courses can be trickier when you’re backpacking, they are a great way of getting to grips with working life in a new country. Most classroom courses last only a month, so can be relatively easy to incorporate into a trip. In this time, you’ll make lifelong friends, get some valuable teaching qualifications, and you’ll figure out what kind of teaching role you want to go into when you’ve finished.
Booking into one of these courses can usually be done online, where you can choose from a range of popular locations like Thailand and Vietnam. Most good-value courses will include lodging and support in the course price. This kind of support is essential if your course takes you to a remote part of Asia, or a bustling metropolis. If you book in advance, you can usually fit the cost of your TEFL course into your backpacking budget.
Make time to celebrate
You’ve done it: you’ve finally completed your TEFL. After many weeks of hard work, you’ll need to set some time aside for celebrating. A night out with your TEFL course buddies is a great way to bring your course to a close, but another popular option is relaxing with an exotic getaway.
If you want to book a vacation to celebrate, you’ll need to make sure it fits in with your backpacker budget. Looking at deals online, booking as a large group, or sticking with a local vacation are all easy ways to do this. Just make sure you choose a relaxing location to de-stress and unwind.
Mountain escapes and beach retreats are the perfect destinations to relax. Fitting in some spa days and fun activities will help you to come back to teaching feeling refreshed and ready to take on the job hunt.