Two Traveling Teachers Share What It's Like Teaching English Abroad as a Couple
Teaching English abroad is a thrilling and self-fulfilling job, not to mention the benefits it has upon your students. However, leaving the comforts of your hometown can be quite a difficult thing to do but luckily teaching as a couple helps iron-out those small worries before leaving. Here I have put together an article of my experience of teaching abroad as part of a couple.
Life Before Becoming a TEFL Teacher
It was never my aspiration to become an ESL teacher. Back in England, I was well on my way to becoming a police officer. My better half, Katie, who has experience working with children and troubled youth, longed for an adventure far from the mundane lifestyle she was used to back in the UK.
Before being bitten by the travel bug, I was content with my life at the time. After some convincing, I was more than willing to put my dreams on hold and support Katie's vision of teaching abroad for a year, along with some added backpacking around Southeast Asia. It's been almost 3 years since making that decision and I can't imagine myself returning to the life I was once content with.
I like to joke to people we meet that Katie is dragging me around the world against my will. This is merely an exaggeration of the fact that Katie is the driving force and the brains behind our escapades so far.
Where We Decided to Teach
We decided to settle and teach in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after falling in love with the country's delicious food, friendly locals, and amazing scenic locations, during our first holiday abroad together the previous year. Not long after returning home, Katie finished her university degree and I quit my job. We finished our online TEFL certificate and just like that, we were on a one-way flight to Vietnam again to start our new job as English teachers.
Also read: How much can I earn teaching English in Vietnam?
The Pros of Teaching as a Couple
First time experiences: I can't imagine how daunting this adventure would be for a solo teacher. Being together every step of the way has given us the confidence and reassurance that we're doing something worthwhile. Due to the fact we're both going through the same first-time experiences together, having that support is vital to overcoming any doubts and worries we each may have had.
Lesson planning ideas: When it came to lesson planning, having each other to bounce ideas off was a massive bonus! We could feed off each other's energy and put our heads together to create fun and creative ways to teach English to children. Once we established a small network of teachers through social media, other teachers could join in on the brainstorm too!
Also read: Top 5 Icebreakers for New TEFL Teachers
Saving money: Saving money during our teaching contract was much easier and manageable as a couple. We met many other couples teaching English who decided to keep their own separate accounts. However, Katie and I pooled our money together after each month's paycheck and worked out our income and expenses from there.
Accommodation: Being a couple and sharing accommodation has allowed us to save a little extra each month. A luxury not afforded to solo travelers living alone. Our advice to them would be to find shared accommodation, preferably with other teachers.
Travel opportunities: Ultimately, our ability to manage our money over the course of each teaching contract was the main factor that enabled us to travel for the length of time that we have! Each year during the 4-month summer holiday in Vietnam we have managed to jet off to other parts of Asia. This year we are exploring Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Creating friendships: Once you decide to take the plunge and move to a foreign country to teach English, making and losing friends comes very easy! Let me explain...Everyone's in the same boat. We're all in unfamiliar territory, away from family, friends and the comforts of our hometown. Connecting with other homesick teachers has never been so easy!
Sticking with the boat metaphor still; not everyone stays in the same boat forever! Some first-time ESL teachers don't make it past the first few months and decide to jump out and swim back to shore. It's difficult to watch those around you leave due to various personal reasons, which is why being part of a couple can help overcome a lack of confidence, money issues or homesick jitters to name just a few.
Are you ready to teach English abroad?
If you are reading this as a solo traveler thinking of teaching English abroad, don't be put off by what I have said so far. There are many happy solo teachers soon to start their third school year, with no sign of stopping!
Check out Katie and Jake's blog Untold Wanderlust and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
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