Today we talk with Candace from Traveling Strange who shares her experience with Online English Teaching – she is now a digital nomad, using her teaching work to fund her travels! There are lots of ways you can travel and teach, whether you choose to teach online, at international schools like myself, in private organizations or tutoring.
Online English Teaching – The Interview
Welcome, please tell us about your experience as a digital nomad?
Hello, everyone! I’ve been working as a full-time digital nomad for about a month now. (I’m a fledging.) But I’ve been teaching English abroad for about three years now. I’ve been teaching online for about two. Two months ago, I quit my job as a teacher in a brick-and-mortar school and decided to take this show on the road! And even though it has been a relatively short amount of time, I’ve been loving every minute of it!
What made you decide to travel and work abroad?
I wanted to feel like I was really living. I think that so many people, or at least the people I knew, seem like they had fallen into lives. Like life had happened to them, instead of the other way around. I know that there are many reasons for this, so I am not judgmental. However, I want to take advantage of the privileged position that I’m in and explore as much as I can.
Tell us why you decided to teach English Online?
I had been living in Spain and working as an English teacher for about a year when summertime hit. I needed to find a way to make money until the following September. I began by working in an English summer camp. But that only lasted for a month. After that, I was on my own. So, as I was frantically checking Craigslist for any type of remote job, I saw a listing for an online English teacher. The rest is history!
How easy has it been to find work teaching English online?
I am in quite a few forums online for teachers. They are great for passing around information about different jobs and companies. I also feel like the market for it is growing as people gain greater access to the internet worldwide. Every year, there seem to be more and more companies. So, keep your eyes and ears open to more opportunities.
You do also need a TEFL qualification for English teaching abroad, so taking an online course like the ITTT courses or the courses on TEFL.org will really help you get a job.
Where have you traveled to whilst working online?
I returned from Italy a few weeks ago and I worked the entire time that I was there. It was such a fun experience! It was also pretty surreal. I would work in the morning and then spend the afternoon walking down the streets of Florence and Rome.I even took a day trip to Pisa – it was incredible! It is a beautiful little city and the tower and cathedral are far more beautiful than people give it credit for. They are made of this beautiful pink/white marble and in the sunlight, they just sing! I recommend a trip there to anyone. It was literally, one of the best experiences of my life.
Two weeks later, I moved to Granada, Spain! And that’s where I am writing from now. Granada is also incredible but in a very different way. The landscape here is gorgeous and the city itself keeps surprising me. There is always a new neighborhood to explore or discover. And when you get tired of that, you can go take a hike in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Exploring this city has been an incredible ride so far! I’m lovin’ it!
Can you describe a typical day teaching online and traveling?
I teach almost every day and I am usually done by 3 pm. After that, I usually wander around the city or head out to some kind of activity. There is always something to do: visit a museum, take a dance class, or attend a concert. I’ve also been surprised by the cities I’ve visited.
On my second day in Granada, there was a huge festival. It was a wonderful surprise. People were dancing Sevillanas; a type of folk dance in the streets and were dressed in traditional dress. It was an amazing thing to stumble upon. I took so many photos! But generally, I tend to play it by ear. You never know what can happen. I just try to stay open.
Are you able to fund your travels with your work?
I am, but I tend to stick to inexpensive countries. I’m heading to Portugal next. Southern Europe is generally a lot cheaper than the North, so it is a good place to stay while I am figuring it out!
Are you able to save much whilst working and traveling?
Yes and no. I overspent a little in Italy, but that was my own fault. I got a little overexcited in a local boutique. But once I came back to my senses, I easily recouped it.
Where has been the most expensive place you have traveled to?
Rome. The accommodations were a little steep, but luckily the food was really cheap. You can buy a few slices of pizza for less than five Euros and because it is Italy, everything tastes amazing!
Where is the cheapest place you have visited?
Granada is pretty cheap. They also have a really cool tradition here of serving a small plate of food (tapas) when you order a drink. So, you can eat a full meal and drink your fill for less than ten Euros. It is pretty sweet!
Which country is your favorite to spend time in?
France. Paris specifically. Paris feels like a second home. I’ve been there about four times in the past 2 years. In fact, I am heading there in July for a music festival. I can’t wait!
What are your best memories and experiences of teaching online?
I have one regular student from China named Cindy. She literally, lights up my day! And over the years, she has improved so much that I can just have a conversation with her. It is amazing to watch the progress that she has made.
I also teach adults in Turkey. They have also taught me a lot about their history and culture. One student gave me a rundown on the history of the Ottoman Empire. Another told me about the history of transportation in Turkey. It wasn’t as out of the blue as it seemed. All of my students complain about the traffic in Istanbul and he happened to be in charge of public transportation. I’m a huge history buff, so I find the whole thing fascinating.
Teaching students from around the world gives you a great insight into different ways of live, whether you are teaching English online to Korean students or teaching adults in South America, it is always interesting.
What must-pack items would you recommend?
A water bottle with an attached natural filtration system is a must-have. It is a surefire way to always have clean water on hand. Also, anyone who takes on this lifestyle has to adapt to some minimalist qualities or techniques. You just can’t live a lifestyle that requires mobility if you have a bunch of stuff weighing you down. So, try to pack a wardrobe that is as versatile as possible. And leave a little space in your suitcase so that you can pick up a few things along the way!
What advice would you give those who want to travel and work abroad?
Plan as much as you can, then let it go. This journey Is full of ups and downs and for many of us, it will be the hardest thing that we ever do. However, it will also be one of the most rewarding. So, gather your strength for this leap of faith and take off. Your life is waiting for you!
How to teach English online
Anyone can be a teacher online, even those who are looking for teaching English online with no experience roles. Here are a few tips for those looking to get started on teaching online or teaching English abroad.
- TEFL – Firstly, you need to get a TEFL qualification. These vary in length and price but give you a basic understanding of how to teach English to others. Read this guide on How TEFL Works to get a better understanding of what is involved and look around for the best course for you.
- Compare companies – Really spend the time comparing different companies. Some companies require a set amount of hours for you to teach each week, some companies will allow you to set your own price whilst others will have a set price for you. Some companies will ask you to plan your own lessons whilst others will have some resources in place. Look at different options and choose which suits your schedule and needs.
- Decide on your hours – The key to teaching online is consistency. To really earn decent money online, you need to have returning customers. This means they will need to be able to look a similar time with you each week, fitting to their schedule and your own. Choose your teaching availability each week and stick to it.
- Choose your worth – Some companies will pay you a set rate whilst others allow you to choose your own. Before offering your services too low, make sure you are happy with the hourly rate; it can be very hard to increase prices once you have developed a customer base.
- Prepare your resources – There are plenty of free teaching websites online; whether it is YouTube clips, blogs, or English worksheets. Get browsing different games and activities that can be used in your lessons, even if your chosen company has a set lesson plan you should follow – it is always handy to have some lesson fillers!
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- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.