We all know traveling makes us more creative, but most people get stumped when it comes to funding an international adventure. That’s why teaching English abroad, fraught with all of its little surprises, is still one of the most popular ways to actually experience a new culture firsthand, while making decent wages. Though you can find a teaching job almost anywhere in the world, there are definitely some places that top our list, based on salary, working conditions and cultural experience. We’ve found six of the best countries to travel to and teach in 2016, so open up skyscanner, download a few travel planning apps and get ready to say bon voyage.
1. Japan: Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics, so there’s already a buzz around visiting this country. But don’t let that overshadow the other perks, like getting to see authentic samurai castles, flower viewing festivals and the famous mountains and national parks.
English teacher and expat Carey Bibb has been living and teaching in Japan for the last three years and has no intention of leaving yet. “Five years is the maximum amount of time that a person can stay with the program that I am involved with, the JET Programme, and I am happy to stay that long.” With government programs pushing for more English fluency, she anticipates a need in the coming years for more teachers, so finding work as a foreigner will be relatively easy.
As with any job, though, she notes there is room for improvement. “I hope that teachers are able to branch out and use more western methods in their teaching to improve students’ creativity and originality, especially if more foreigners come to Japan and share their ways of teaching.”
2. Peru: Heading to South America to perfect the high school Spanish you’ve long forgotten is a dream for many. Peru, with its rich history and a rapidly growing economy, is a slow traveler’s dream. It boasts long- and short-term teaching programs that can fit within any time frame and can easily be adjusted for when you absolutely fall in love or need to find something new.
Take blogger Caitlin Decker’s story, for example. She volunteered for two weeks, “bribing kids into eating and making sure they were bathed, [along with] basic English lessons.” The realities of working and traveling abroad are that some of the best experiences, and come with the weirdest stories. “It was an overall strange experience that made me question how some development works, but I did cry very hard when I left those kids.” Be prepared to leave a part of your heart wherever you travel.
3. France: Most people overlook European countries when thinking of long-term travel and teaching English abroad, but there are opportunities if you know where to look. “I did a lot of research on the website Transitions Abroad,” said Stephanie Tedesco. “I found a program called the Teaching Assistant Program in France. I wanted to go through a program because I didn’t want to start this new chapter completely alone. I wanted a support network in place in case I needed anything, and I didn’t have the money to pay for a TEFL/TESOL course.”
The program accepts 1,100 candidates per year, and gives you prime access to things like the Eiffel Tower and every other gloriously French thing you can think of. Stephanie loved her time in France so much that she returns as often as she can — can you really blame her?
4. South Korea: High wages, guaranteed vacation time and excellent living conditions make this country one of the most gossiped-about destinations in the teaching community. Not to mention, this is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
After Mandolin McConaha got used to the kimchi and differences between public and private schools, she found everything from Scottish dancing classes to exploring Jeju Island while teaching in a small village near Seoul. In addition to beautiful hiking and easy to access public transportation, South Korea’s eccentric culture has everything a true adventurer is looking for.
5. Turkey: Teaching in Turkey is not for the faint of heart. But once you’re in the clear regarding your wages and expectations, you’ll get to experience the beauty of the country. Straddling Europe and Asia, this destination has sensory pleasures galore. Spices, Ottoman palaces and an intoxicating language make this a magical place.
Current English teacher and resident Sara Rubenstein gives us the skinny on requirements, admitting that “at a local Turkish school, you’ll likely be an English or foreign language teacher. But at an international school, the standards and competition are somewhat higher, and there are options to teach many subjects. For this, though, you need a master’s degree.” In terms of location, it’s perfect for taking in the sights of Europe and Northern Africa. Although its neighbor isn’t the world’s favorite at the moment, Turkey shouldn’t be overlooked as a destination.
6. Cambodia: As one of the world’s most popular destinations for 2016, Cambodia should be on everyone’s must-see list. Ruth Lemon has been working full time as an English teacher in Phnom Penh for 18 months, and loves her life there. “The city is fantastic for young expats and has a lively social scene, mostly made up of teachers, as there are so many international schools popping up here now. There are lots of different places outside the city to visit on weekends, and Cambodia is a great country to explore. Living in general is much easier than you’d expect, as Phnom Penh is a rapidly developing city and all modern amenities can now be found without too much difficulty.”
LanguageCorps is one of the most popular resources for getting a certification and access to job opportunities in the country, but since there are so many schools opening, finding a position is fairly easy. With one of the greatest ruins in history, Angkor Wat, in its backyard, and access to beautiful beaches, it’s not surprising there’s a travel boom.
Do you have dreams about traveling or living abroad? Tweet us your bucket list of places @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)