Is it possible to teach abroad as a couple or with a friend? It’s a question our TEFL advisers are asked all the time here at The TEFL Org, and the answer is quite simple: yes! It’s actually more common than you might think.
Embarking on a TEFL adventure with your partner or best friend means that you always have someone there for support, to share in new experiences, and there can even be financial benefits as well.
So, obviously, there are advantages to TEFLing with a partner or friend. However, there are also a few things to be aware of before diving in. What are the requirements? How do you find teaching positions if there are two of you? Where are the best places to find TEFL jobs?
Travelling the world and working as an English teacher doesn’t always need to be a solo mission! Let’s get into it.
Both of you must have a TEFL qualification. The days of English speakers being able to walk into a job without any experience or a single qualification are pretty much over. The employers that are willing to recruit unqualified teachers these days are best avoided .
What you need is a 120-hour TEFL qualification from an accredited TEFL course provider. Accreditation is key here. It ensures both the quality of the TEFL course and its recognition by employers abroad. It’s why we’ve worked hard to become the most accredited TEFL course provider in the world, gaining our accreditation from a range of established bodies .
It almost goes without saying that you need an excellent level of English in order to teach it. If English isn’t your first language then it’s still possible to find work but it can be a bit more of a challenge. This is because of non-native English bias and visa requirements that can restrict your options for teaching English abroad. If one or both of you are non-native English speakers then it’s absolutely essential to be aware of the possible restrictions so you’re able to focus your job search appropriately.
It would help if you had either a TOEFL or IELTS certificate in your arsenal. Both of these qualifications are proof of proficiency in English, with different grades and levels to demonstrate your ability. This removes any doubt in an employer’s mind if you’re not a native English speaker.
To find out more about how to find work teaching English abroad as a non-native English speaker check out our previous blog post !
Visa requirements can vary wildly from nation to nation, and it’s essential that you research them. Depending on the country, there can be restrictions based on the following: age, degree status, criminal record, native/non-native status, and more. It’s important to note that there is absolutely no flexibility when it comes to visa requirements – if you don’t meet the criteria then there’s no way around it.
Establishing where you can both teach at the very start avoids disappointment later down the line and it’ll help focus your job search.
There are TEFL jobs to be found right across the globe. But where are the best countries to find work together?
Your best bet? Go where the demand is. This means countries in Asia like China, Japan, South Korea, and many in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are very popular TEFL destinations, and that’s because there’s so much demand for English learning there.
There’s also healthy demand in South America and in parts of Europe.
Because you need to find not one, but two jobs, you want to focus your search on big cities. This gives you the option of finding work with the same employer or at different schools but still being able to live in the same place. Rural areas and countries with highly competitive job markets are going to be a challenge if there are two of you.
Finding a teaching job together can be more challenging than it is for an individual, so here are some tips to help you find what you’re looking for.
To be in with the best chance of finding a job together you want to focus your job search on areas where there’s a strong TEFL jobs market. If you want to teach somewhere more rural or off the beaten track then it’s going to be much more difficult to do this as a couple or friends.
Instead, focus on big cities where there’s a huge demand for EFL teachers – you’re much more likely to find employers recruiting for more than one position and it also gives you the option to work in the same city but in different places of work.
It’s important to have an idea of where you want to work but you also need to be flexible in your approach. If you’re set on working at the same school on exactly the same contracts then that’s going to limit your job search.
It’s good to be open to the idea of working in different schools in the same location – in some cities, there are hundreds of language schools!
If you’ve moved abroad together with the intention of exploring the country then you’ll want to carefully consider any contract before signing it. If you’re working for different employers then ideally you’ll want to secure the same time off. Put it this way: it’s going to be a bit of a problem if you have Saturdays and Sundays off but your partner/friend has Mondays and Tuesdays!
It’s possible to negotiate your contract to ensure this doesn’t happen. Additionally, if you’re in a country where accommodation is included then you can request a stipend instead if you plan on living together to save money.
We feel like a broken record sometimes but research is so important . You need to make sure you both meet the visa requirements for any country you want to work in and understand the demand for teachers in those countries. What’s more, it’s worth reading about contract and employment law in each country, to put your agreement with an employer into context. In short, don’t get a bad deal just because you haven’t read up beforehand!
Hiring seasons vary depending on the country (in some there are plenty of jobs to be found year-round!). Being aware of these and applying at the right time will make it easier to secure a job together. Find out when school terms tend to be - it can vary widely - and know that hiring seasons tend to be a few months before the school year begins!
Setting out on an adventure abroad with your loved one or best friend has a whole host of benefits, beyond the joy of just being together. Let’s take a look at some of them!
Teaching together can work out well for the bank balance. Sharing the cost of things like accommodation, bills, and food is going to work out a lot cheaper than for a single person.
It stands to reason the sharing financial responsibilities is a great idea. Not only can you have a more varied experience while you’re abroad, but you can also save up for projects at home; a wedding, a house, or another sojourn abroad, for example.
Moving abroad to start a new job is a huge step for most people. A new job, a new country and a new culture are a lot of new things to adapt to! Having a friend or partner with you who’s going through exactly the same thing can really help you settle in.A word of advice, though: don’t fall into the trap some couples do and not make the effort to make friends in the country you’ve moved to! It’s easy to become isolated within your own little bubble, but that prevents making the most of being somewhere new. Whether you’re a couple of pals or you’re a long-term couple, get out there and mingle!
Not everyone is made for solo travel. Teaching English abroad together means that you’ll always have company during your time off to get out there and really experience the country you’re in.
One of you might have loads of ideas, and the other might be better with directions. Maybe there’s an organised one and an idealistic one within your two-person unit. Combining your best attributes will make for a really exciting journey!
If you’re moving abroad to teach English with someone else then it’s going to really bring you together. There are challenges you’ll face and overcome, new experiences you’ll share, and so much more. It can be a real test of a relationship!
We’ve trained over 120,000 EFL teachers, including many couples! Some of them have written about their experiences teaching abroad together over the years and here are a few of our favourites.
The idea of being able to travel across the world with a skill that would provide the means to live in different countries and cultures seemed too good to be true. We had both considered a TEFL before we met, but we’d each also had our own worries that being in our early 30’s we’d left it too late. It seemed something that people did when they first left University. However, we signed up for the 150-hour TEFL course, and everything started falling into place. [ read more ]
Joel and Menna have been teaching in China since 2017 and it’s impressive just how much travel they’ve packed in since then! The except below was written just six months after they moved and they’ve been to many more places since then.
Thus far, my TEFL certification has enabled me to travel to: Beijing, Xi’an, Harbin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin and Wuhan. As we sat on The Great Wall of China, stood silently in Tiananmen Square, peered into the rows of Terracotta Warriors, gasped in awe at the Harbin Ice Festival, wandered around the West Lake in Hangzhou, I reminded myself and Menna how lucky and fortunate we were to be in such a mesmerising and captivating location. [ read more ]
In early 2018, Sarah and her husband moved to South Korea to take up jobs in an elementary school. It was a completely different and very welcome change of pace compared to life back home.
I think we have such an amazing job and I love our school and all the little munchkins we’re lucky enough to teach. In my previous job I worked as an administration manager for a health care company, and I was under a massive amount of stress that was really affecting my mood. I was working long hours each week, with barely any time or energy left over to spend time with my husband. My schedule couldn’t be more different now, especially as we are the only native teachers at our school so we spend pretty much all of our time together!
Now you know how to do it, get out there and do it! Teaching English abroad is one of the best ways of experiencing the world, why wouldn’t you want to share the adventure with your significant other or a friend?