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Are you wondering if teaching abroad is worth it? Well, at one time I wondered that too. I spent almost 8 years living and teaching English in China, Korea and Taiwan and Japan.

Was it fun?

No, not always.

But what kept me there for that long?

Living abroad is fun (at least temporarily)

I like traveling and that was what got me into it. The more I traveled the more I wanted to actually live abroad. I had been all over North America and Europe and teaching abroad seemed like a way to extend my stay abroad which I wanted to do.

I denied the teaching part for a long while. I never thought I was a teacher or wanted to teach. I wanted to travel and make art, but making money as an artist was tough.

The first time I was considering teaching abroad was actually in the Czech Republic. I met a woman who worked in a school and I guess they were looking for a teacher. I actually went and sat in on a class.

The students seemed like a cheerful bunch of young adults. But I decided then to go back to the States. The thought of teaching abroad didn't go away, because the travel bug didn't go away.

I decided to go to Taiwan to get a job teaching. I took one of those TESOL courses before I went. My parents thought I should learn something about teaching. I'll tell you more about that later.

Eventually I landed in Taiwan without a job or home and gradually pulled it all together. It was awesome being in Asia at first. It was interesting and there were many attractive females. I was learning a new language and immersed in a new culture.

But the teaching was not so fun, at least in the beginning

Teaching English was not so fun especially in my first few years.

That's right..


It wasn't so fun because I didn't really know what I was doing. I wasn't a natural teacher and I didn't learn much of anything useful from that course I took.

With time I got better with the teaching, but you have to apply yourself. You don't just get better doing it.

That's a myth.

Because if you do the same thing you always do you are going to get the same results.

You have to apply yourself and then you will learn.

That means you need to watch other teacher in videos or at your school, read books, attend workshops, take a course, etc.

Then you apply what you learned.

Then things can improve.

Teaching English abroad is not travelling abroad. I got into teaching abroad basically because I liked to travel which is probably like you, but it's teaching English as a foreign language.

Do you have any interest in teaching English in your own country?

If your answer is no then that might be a clue that you won't like it that much. I mean maybe it could grow on you. And/or it might be exciting for the first 3 months or so, but that's going to wear off.

The abroad part is what appeals to you I bet. Or maybe it's the benefits. But consider the teaching part because that's going to be your day to day life. 


For many the abroad part is appealing because:

  • you get immersed in a totally new culture
  • you get to learn a new language
  • you get to explore new lands
  • you get to taste new foods
  • you get to make new friends

It's exciting because of all those things. But you might not like it. I mean for some people those things are difficult. They don't like change. They want to keep things the same.

So if that is you, stay home.

But if those things appeal to you then that is a start. Remember though the other side of the coin. Free housing, airfare, benefits or a decent salary all sound good, but remember the work.

Teaching is what you are going to be doing most of the time. And if you don't like it you won't like teaching abroad much.

Is teaching English a skill that anyone can learn?

Almost anyone can learn the skills, but only you will know if you are a natural or not. With time I got better with teaching and I started to enjoy some of my classes more and more. But notice how I said, "some of my classes".

There were always classes that I didn't like and then there were some that I did like. That's the nature of the beast. Some students are difficult and others are not. In the beginning and if you don't have adequate training you're going to have a difficult time and it is not going to be fun.

Unless you are a natural.

Then you'll pick it up quicker.

But early on I would invest in learning about teaching. Take courses, read books, watch videos and learn from other teachers. Teaching is a job and the more you learn about it the better off you will be.

Even if you are only going to do it for a year. It will be worth it. It will make your year better. There are more resources out there now than there were when I first started in 2004.

Will teaching English abroad be worth it for you?

I don't know. It depends on you and a number of factors. Oh yeah, the people... It's not only students. There are other teachers in the school where you work, bosses and maybe managers.

There are other personalities and just like a job in your own country there will probably be problems. I mean you may be lucky and find that perfect job, but most people have problems. For me, I usually work well with no supervision and a lot of independence.

But sometimes you have work with other people. It's just like in your home country now but in a different country.

Is teaching English in Japan, China, Korea or Taiwan worth it?

Do your research. I would go where you are most interested in. Is there a language you want to learn? Is there a culture that interests you? Go there. Don't just do it for the money (if you want to be happy).

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