Is English Teaching still viable?

Kelent

Robin
Currently I have a lot more skills than just being a native English speaker that would allow me the chance to become a nomad (or at the very least work and travel), but given that I don't currently have the professional background that most artists do it seems to the best/easiest way out for someone just out of college/university and looking to make a bit of money. Chiefly, I do not have a lot of student loan debt.

These countries seem to have very high ROI for getting a TEFL (or in the case of Taiwan just having a BA?) and saving money. I've heard decent things about the JET program but am unaware of how much Japanese is required to qualify.

The general plan I have in my head is that I go to Taiwan/Korea/Japan (not going to China unless I absolutely have to because fake booze and air pollution) and teach English for 1-2 years while living within my means. Save up at minimum 10k/yr and come back to the US with a healthy amount of money and professional skills built up to where I can conceivably get a job that deals with programming or some other passion of mine. A job that I would feel good about doing to the point where it no longer feels like work, if that makes sense.

My only real worries are if my target of 10k/yr in savings isn't possible given the salaries, and that taking programming work on the side might be problematic. I imagine the work visas of these countries are specifically for English teaching, at least I know that's the case for Korea they have a specific English teaching visa.

If anyone has experience teaching English abroad or learning a skill while abroad, please feel free to share your story!
 
Most of the guys I've met who live this type of digital nomad lifestyle dont have any money, no retirement, no health insurance, no 401K, etc. They just make enough to sustain themselves in the current LCOL country theyre in. For me saving 10k in a year would be absolutely disastrous!!...I currently save around 45-50k a year, but I wake up early everyday, commute and go to work for 8-9hrs a day. Does it suck, yeah I guess I'd rather wake up at 1pm work for 2 hours and then sip piña coladas... but I dont want to be on the wrong side of 40 with $200 in my bank account. My point is if you want to be succesful(i.e.have money) nothing overseas is viable.
 

MongolianAbroad

Ostrich
Gold Member
A buddy of mine taught English in Korea, learned coding online while he was doing that, and then came back to the States to apply for coding jobs, and is now a web developer. There's plenty of resources online, many of them free.

Like the poster above said, you won't run that big a surplus, but I say do it, saving money is overrated.

Being young, happy, making love, and maybe even being in love, is underrated.

Now if you have some investments you want to make and you need capital for that, then work. But if you want to enjoy life, then work is usually diametrically opposed to that. Unless you're one of the few people whose work is very enjoyable.

If you're not, then hey, teaching English abroad is a good balance. Most guys tend to lose interest in it after a few years due to the lack of savings and missing family back home, though. But they generally enjoy it while they're doing it.

One guy on the swoop forum went to Vietnam with a couple of hundred bucks and made it as an English teacher. He's been there a while now and is having a blast. It's doable.
 

Fortis

Crow
Gold Member
I would view teaching english as a stepping stone. I'm using it to get out of debt and fund some things. Other guys are using it to build consulting businesses and the like.
 

the-dream

Kingfisher
Axel99 said:
My point is if you want to be succesful(i.e.have money) nothing overseas is viable.
That's simply not true at all. I myself have had periods overseas where I'm earning more than any professional in the West (I'm making zero right now) and have met many people from digital nomads to expat employees to entrepreneurs making very good money in Manila. Manila isn't exactly a hotspot for that kind of thing and I imagine is much more difficult and there is much less opportunity than somewhere like China or any of the world's developed nations so in those places there would be many more.

You don't meet these people because as your said, you "wake up early everyday, commute and go to work for 8-9hrs a day" so you meet other people doing that same thing. That doesn't mean that there are not other people on the other side of the world living a totally different life to you. There are plenty.
 

the-dream

Kingfisher
Kelent said:
Currently I have a lot more skills than just being a native English speaker that would allow me the chance to become a nomad (or at the very least work and travel)
What are these skills?

Your plan sounds good but I doubt after 2 years you will want to come back to the US and get a regular job.
 

MongolianAbroad

Ostrich
Gold Member
the-dream said:
Kelent said:
Currently I have a lot more skills than just being a native English speaker that would allow me the chance to become a nomad (or at the very least work and travel)
What are these skills?

Your plan sounds good but I doubt after 2 years you will want to come back to the US and get a regular job.
It's pretty much close to impossible to go back to that after living abroad for any extended period, especially if you're still single and running a surplus.
 

JimBobsCooters

Woodpecker
The hardest part of your plan will certainly be the going back to work a 9-5 at the end as the one thing that long term travel does is break you and the ability to do that because you get exposed to just how much is out there and the idea of putting on a corporate noose and grinding away will just eat at you as you sit at that desk making someone else rich.

To avoid this it's pivotal to develop the skillset so that you can do both.

The English teaching is still absolutely viable. Vietnam is a great spot for it right now, met several folks making $20-30 an hour in Hanoi without any qualifications and Hanoi is stupid cheap so you can save most of that. If you have qualifications you can make a fair bit more, there is actually genuine careers to be had in it if you really wanted to that do pay well, especially if you have some form of business degree/background and can get into the business English teaching area.

Ultimately though it's a great travel and work type gig, teaching adults generally pays better, teaching kids gives you more free time (generally, every scenario is a bit different).

As for doing any freelance work, don't worry about that, if it's going to be internet based then it's not going to impact the work visa as you're not going to be telling them about it.
 

yankeetravels

Kingfisher
This is a good question. As someone developing a plan for location independence relying heavily on online ESL, I'll give you my perspective. Guys on the ground in Asia can speak better about brick and mortar schools. For me, I do think teaching English is still viable. There's still a lot of opportunities out there and more countries seem to be opening their doors. However, I will say the top countries seem to be getting a little tougher. With online ESL specifically in China, there is apparently tougher laws going in place next year that will make it difficult to teach without a Bachelor's (you should really have this anyway) and a TEFL. People are theorizing that in the next couple of years you may need a real TEFL that you get in person for $1000 rather than an online certificate most of us have.

However, if you have your shit together and some actual qualifications/experience, I hear there is real money to be made in the field at particular schools such as international or university ones. But you probably need to go on the ground for the lucrative jobs. I haven't heard of anyone making much more than $20 an hour online.

Kelent, I think three important details that we probably need to know to give you better advice are your age range, if you have any type of savings already or debt for the reverse, and if you have any work or school experience in a certain field.

Spaniard88 said:
Like the poster above said, you won't run that big a surplus, but I say do it, saving money is overrated.

Being young, happy, making love, and maybe even being in love, is underrated.

Now if you have some investments you want to make and you need capital for that, then work. But if you want to enjoy life, then work is usually diametrically opposed to that. Unless you're one of the few people whose work is very enjoyable.

If you're not, then hey, teaching English abroad is a good balance. Most guys tend to lose interest in it after a few years due to the lack of savings and missing family back home, though. But they generally enjoy it while they're doing it.

One guy on the swoop forum went to Vietnam with a couple of hundred bucks and made it as an English teacher. He's been there a while now and is having a blast. It's doable.
I think this is an underrated aspect too. Money isn't everything. I am trying to keep that balance myself. I make about double the money in the US than I think I would full-time abroad, and this is something that has weighed heavily on me. I've been around the elderly and my parents a lot lately, something I have realized is that you don't get time back and when you are a certain age, it really is too late to do some things that you have an opportunity to do in your youth. Not to mention, I've seen a few people die before they could even enjoy the retirement they worked their whole life for, that was a real wake-up call for me.

So, my answer for this part would be maybe go to Asia with a little savings in the bank. I'm ultra-conservative so by the time I make the leap for good, I'll probably have a couple years savings.

Axel99 said:
Most of the guys I've met who live this type of digital nomad lifestyle dont have any money, no retirement, no health insurance, no 401K, etc. They just make enough to sustain themselves in the current LCOL country theyre in. For me saving 10k in a year would be absolutely disastrous!!...I currently save around 45-50k a year, but I wake up early everyday, commute and go to work for 8-9hrs a day. Does it suck, yeah I guess I'd rather wake up at 1pm work for 2 hours and then sip piña coladas... but I dont want to be on the wrong side of 40 with $200 in my bank account. My point is if you want to be succesful(i.e.have money) nothing overseas is viable.
I don't think this is true for everybody. A lot depends on cost of living in your local area plus the skills you have acquired. I have talked to guys on the forum in a wide range. Some have used their skills to make it in the US, others gave up the corporate life and were more satisfied with happy youth years and relocating to a relaxed/cheaper country, others went abroad and have better financials than they would in the west, and then some guys are just good no matter where they go.

Ultimately, it depends on what I said above plus how much patience you have for hustling. I can say for me, I don't have patience to be a corporate slave and I live in one of the most expensive parts of the US where I'd have to make a ton of money to get the same returns. I'm in relatively low paying careers right now, but I've never been happier with what I do for a living. And like Fortis said, you could use the entrance of a different path to build something even better.
 

MongolianAbroad

Ostrich
Gold Member
yankeetravels said:
However, I will say the top countries seem to be getting a little tougher. With online ESL specifically in China, there is apparently tougher laws going in place next year that will make it difficult to teach without a Bachelor's (you should really have this anyway) and a TEFL. People are theorizing that in the next couple of years you may need a real TEFL that you get in person for $1000 rather than an online certificate most of us have.
I wonder if this comes to be in China, if it would cause a flood of English teachers in the countries nearby...
 

Kelent

Robin
yankeetravels said:
However, if you have your shit together and some actual qualifications/experience, I hear there is real money to be made in the field at particular schools such as international or university ones. But you probably need to go on the ground for the lucrative jobs. I haven't heard of anyone making much more than $20 an hour online.

Kelent, I think three important details that we probably need to know to give you better advice are your age range, if you have any type of savings already or debt for the reverse, and if you have any work or school experience in a certain field.

Spaniard88 said:
Like the poster above said, you won't run that big a surplus, but I say do it, saving money is overrated.

Being young, happy, making love, and maybe even being in love, is underrated.

Now if you have some investments you want to make and you need capital for that, then work. But if you want to enjoy life, then work is usually diametrically opposed to that. Unless you're one of the few people whose work is very enjoyable.

If you're not, then hey, teaching English abroad is a good balance. Most guys tend to lose interest in it after a few years due to the lack of savings and missing family back home, though. But they generally enjoy it while they're doing it.

One guy on the swoop forum went to Vietnam with a couple of hundred bucks and made it as an English teacher. He's been there a while now and is having a blast. It's doable.
I think this is an underrated aspect too. Money isn't everything. I am trying to keep that balance myself. I make about double the money in the US than I think I would full-time abroad, and this is something that has weighed heavily on me. I've been around the elderly and my parents a lot lately, something I have realized is that you don't get time back and when you are a certain age, it really is too late to do some things that you have an opportunity to do in your youth. Not to mention, I've seen a few people die before they could even enjoy the retirement they worked their whole life for, that was a real wake-up call for me.

So, my answer for this part would be maybe go to Asia with a little savings in the bank. I'm ultra-conservative so by the time I make the leap for good, I'll probably have a couple years savings.

Axel99 said:
Most of the guys I've met who live this type of digital nomad lifestyle dont have any money, no retirement, no health insurance, no 401K, etc. They just make enough to sustain themselves in the current LCOL country theyre in. For me saving 10k in a year would be absolutely disastrous!!...I currently save around 45-50k a year, but I wake up early everyday, commute and go to work for 8-9hrs a day. Does it suck, yeah I guess I'd rather wake up at 1pm work for 2 hours and then sip piña coladas... but I dont want to be on the wrong side of 40 with $200 in my bank account. My point is if you want to be succesful(i.e.have money) nothing overseas is viable.
I don't think this is true for everybody. A lot depends on cost of living in your local area plus the skills you have acquired. I have talked to guys on the forum in a wide range. Some have used their skills to make it in the US, others gave up the corporate life and were more satisfied with happy youth years and relocating to a relaxed/cheaper country, others went abroad and have better financials than they would in the west, and then some guys are just good no matter where they go.

Ultimately, it depends on what I said above plus how much patience you have for hustling. I can say for me, I don't have patience to be a corporate slave and I live in one of the most expensive parts of the US where I'd have to make a ton of money to get the same returns. I'm in relatively low paying careers right now, but I've never been happier with what I do for a living. And like Fortis said, you could use the entrance of a different path to build something even better.

My age range is 20-25 and I am just very unsure about my job prospects post graduation given my political science degree. No student loan debt. I have a passion for the field, but I just don't see the viable avenues in the private sector that I did going into my program. I have viable skills in audio engineering/music production and web app development, with numerous projects under my belt but can't seem to find junior dev positions that would allow me to get my foot in the door. Additionally with audio engineering it helps to have a degree in that field, which I do not. Going into college I didn't really know what I wanted to do, and political science was something I felt passionate about, and I wasn't really encouraged to go into other fields. It was always my folks pressuring me to go into law school before backing off and saying "oh but you can do whatever you want"... English teaching, in my head, feels like a safe bet to where I can make decent money in a relatively HCOL area and not have to worry about making rent and being able to save money on top of that, while also working on those music and programming skills on the side.


With regard to taking time to fall in love, I don't see it happening right now. Granted, it could be that I'm jaded but I genuinely can't see myself falling in love these next few years. My social life in college is virtually nonexistent, not for a lack of trying. I have friends but I often only see them once a month, once a week at best, and outside of that most of the people I consider friends already have careers so we can't totally relate. I would love to find an LTR, and it's not as if my game is bad it's just that in my eyes the biggest influence on you is your immediate surroundings, and mine socially just aren't good for me. I feel that getting to teach English abroad or just go abroad using my programming skills (despite not having a CS degree) is a good stepping stone and would be a good break before I head back into the US.

With regard to the whole earning money thing, I feel a compulsive urge to keep earning and work at getting myself off the ground, to a point where I won't be jobless post-grad. Sure, I can enjoy my youth but given my terrible social environment right now I really don't know how to just throw caution to the wind, if that makes sense. Outside of a few instances I've never really given myself the chance to just be free, whatever that actually means. I know what I enjoy doing for fun, but when people say that now is the time to enjoy my youth I really don't know what they mean besides partying in Greece or Croatia, or going backpacking in SEA.
 

Kelent

Robin
Fortis said:
I would view teaching english as a stepping stone. I'm using it to get out of debt and fund some things. Other guys are using it to build consulting businesses and the like.
That's how I see it too, or at least it's a gap to get my bearings and work on the hard skills I have learned over the years and continue to foster. It just doesn't seem viable right now that I can make money programming or in music, so teaching English seems to be the safest bet.
 

Fortis

Crow
Gold Member
Honestly, you're not gonna get much done in 1-2 years of ESL in my opinion. Unless you're very familiar with your new country you will probably spend the first few months getting your bearings. Even if you have some brilliant plan for how you're gonna conquer the place and make a bunch of money building your own business, you'll probably get sidetracked hard as hell with all the bullshit that comes with immigrating to a new country.

Perhaps it's just me, but it took me about 2 years to really buckle down in china and figure shit out, then it took me another year to start getting into a real money-making groove. Now I could scale up a bit and really start making cash but that's nearly the same amount of time it takes to just get an advanced degree in a lucrative field.

I'm not trying to be a naysayer but you need to think of things in relation to one another. What's to stop you from using your skills back home and doing the same thing you'd do abroad? He'll you'd probably make more money staying home.
 

the-dream

Kingfisher
Kelent said:
I have viable skills in audio engineering/music production and web app development, with numerous projects under my belt
Is it these fields you are planning on getting a job in once you go back to the US or in political science?

What are your numerous projects? Personal or for somebody else? What was the concept/idea of them?

What genre of music do you produce/engineer?

I think you are a lot more capable than you give yourself credit for. Tell us the specific details and we can help you out with a plan.
 

Kelent

Robin
Fortis said:
Honestly, you're not gonna get much done in 1-2 years of ESL in my opinion. Unless you're very familiar with your new country you will probably spend the first few months getting your bearings. Even if you have some brilliant plan for how you're gonna conquer the place and make a bunch of money building your own business, you'll probably get sidetracked hard as hell with all the bullshit that comes with immigrating to a new country.

...

I'm not trying to be a naysayer but you need to think of things in relation to one another. What's to stop you from using your skills back home and doing the same thing you'd do abroad? He'll you'd probably make more money staying home.

Nothing is really stopping me from making money with the skills I have back home on my own, I'm just unsure about how to break into the market without an actual degree in the related field. Sure, I've got the projects but what use are they without a degree when that is what most companies want as a baseline to work with them?

With my music, I'd ostensibly need to hunt for projects which is fine and I'm willing, in audio engineering despite a combined 12 years playing and recording music digitally and on physical instruments not having a degree can be a detriment.

These next two years, no- one and a half- are crucial in my eyes. I need to graduate with high marks, potentially get into a good grad school program, and get my skills up to the point of being hire-able right out of university. I don't want to be living at home anymore, for one, and for two I have extremely high standards for myself. Minor mistakes in assignments that my roommate or friends brush off, to me, should never have crossed my mind to make.

the-dream said:
Kelent said:
I have viable skills in audio engineering/music production and web app development, with numerous projects under my belt
Is it these fields you are planning on getting a job in once you go back to the US or in political science?

What are your numerous projects? Personal or for somebody else? What was the concept/idea of them?

What genre of music do you produce/engineer?

I think you are a lot more capable than you give yourself credit for. Tell us the specific details and we can help you out with a plan.
My numerous projects include working on two Wordpress-based blogs in which I designed the theme. With music it's primarily personal until very recently where I've been selected to submit tracks for a gaming project of a friend. Outside of that, they're all personal with the concepts being based around heavy use of stringed instruments (think something like Blind Guardian with half the percussion). If I had to pick a genre I'd say I primarily produce EDM/House music and folk-inspired pieces. Nothing that I think would sell, but who the fuck knows since I've never tried.


Ideally I'd like to get back to the US to work in political science, but I'd be happy to work in tech or music once back. In all honesty I went into my program thinking it would help me with getting abroad. I have an intensely international focus in my work and I abhor the American political climate- hence why I study international governments which are relatively more stable/predictable. Something to focus on in grad school, I guess.
 

zoom

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Better to stay at home and find a minimum wage job. A lot of states have passed laws to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
 

Kelent

Robin
Not where I'm living it isn't, and even then I don't really feel that living in a car-centric place is viable for someone who can't reliably drive due to a disability. Possible with Uber or something? Definitely, but I'm not sure about the practicality
 

flyinghorse

Woodpecker
I've done this over the last few years whilst earning more teaching qualifications.

When I was teaching the youngsters I was earning around 2,100$ per month working about 22 hours per week. I saved around 1000$ per month while I was living in Vietnam. I could have saved more but I like to go out for beers and do the odd weekend away.

If your knowledge of grammar and testing is high then you can also teach IELTS. The pay is usually around 25$ per hour if you are good.

You wont set the world on fire but by many peoples measure; saving over a thousand dollars a month while only working part time is pretty good going.

I've another friend who is a digital nomad and they earn around 2,000usd per month and they are location independent.
 

Fortis

Crow
Gold Member
Teaching Chinese as a foreigner is usually not a good move. You're competing with a billion people who outright speak the language better than you and have a yellow face to boot.
 
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