Coconuts and grammar tenses: Teaching English abroad

Coconuts in the park

I love finding digital nomads to share their stories! Here’s Jessica with Jetlag’s take on working remotely by teaching English. Want to write a guest post? Shoot me an email.

I first left the UK because I had a job abroad. I’d been studying for 18 years and needed out, so found a job in the United Arab Emirates as a field studies instructor – the best job ever, as I spent nearly all of my time outside in the desert, the mangroves, or down on the beach, teaching kids about the environment, dreamy!

That contract finished after 8 months, and I moved to Thailand to continue that kind of work. I found the job before I moved there: that was always the condition that I gave myself: have a job before you get there, that way I would always have financial security.

Unfortunately, life has that tendency to throw curveballs, and the job in Chiang Mai turned out to be terrible. I was absolutely miserable, but felt completely trapped because of the conditions that I had given myself. For three months I toyed with throwing it in and moving home, but eventually had the courage to leave the company – and felt great!

It was then that I discovered the joy of working online as an English tutor. I teach one-on-one lessons to Chinese students over Skype. The pay is ample for Asia, and theoretically I can move to wherever I want. However, it isn’t as rosy as it sounds – my hours are long and I start very early (which means I get to finish early and spend the afternoon in the park drinking coconuts), and you don’t realise how many places are known for having a terrible Internet connection until you are relying on it to earn a living!

Since I started, I have been inspired to begin an online TEFL course, which definitely opens up your opportunities for the nomadic lifestyle in many countries, particularly South-East Asia and South America. Teaching English to students who are not overly confident can be highly satisfying, especially when you can observe them open up and grow over the time that you teach them.

I don’t think that I could do it in the long term, but for a short-term fix it’s great. I received training that taught me so much about the English language, that you just don’t learn as a native speaker: did you know that there are 12 grammar tenses?! I thought that there was only three!

I have been teaching some of my students every day since I started three months ago, and I am going to be very sad to see them go when I leave for the UK next week. You build relationships and friendships, and learn so much about a new culture this way. I will definitely be staying in contact with some of them. Now I know how teaching works, I am thinking of offering my services as a tutor to non-native speakers back in England for the time that I am there (I hear you can earn big bucks!).

Working virtually

If you are looking for an easy and nomadic line of work and you are a native English speaker, there are so many websites out there for teaching remotely. There are also a lot of other language-learning websites and apps if you’re not English. Language is a resource that we all take for granted, but can be a real source of income if we learn how to monetize it.

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