5 Steps to Teaching English Abroad: A Filipino Backpacker’s Guide

Are you a long-term traveler looking for a job to keep yourself on the road? How to do it? What is the secret? TEACH ENGLISH! I’ve written a long and detailed article about it, here’s the link, but below is the quick step-by-step guide on how you can become a Backpacker Teacher!

Please note that being a Backpacker Teacher is different from being an OFW. Traveling for months might be too hard to maintain if you’re traveling full time without the income of  your 9-5 job. This is a guide for fellow Filipino travelers who want to travel long term but don’t know how to finance their travels.




5. Get your TEFL Certificate – Teaching of English as a Foreign Language.

Can I teach English without a degree? Yes, you can! Some institutions, such as international schools, may ask for a degree, but for the majority, a TEFL certificate is enough. Being Filipino, we are considered as non-native speakers, so when we decide to move abroad to study or migrate permanently, then we may have to take one of these two English language tests that are recognized world-wide: International English Language Test System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Can I teach English abroad when I pass those exams, though? The ANSWER is NO. You need to train and get a teaching certification like TEFL, TESL, TRINITY TESOL or the best and most expensive, the CELTA.




These are not just tests, they are certifications you have to have in order to teach English as a foreign language. Usually, you need to pass 120 to 140 hours of online training: TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESL (Teaching English as a Secondary Language). You can do the TEFL course online – mine was 120 hour Professional TEFL course and I was able to teach in South East Asia and now in South America by using my online certificate.

There are a lot of different companies online, but I think the best one with a great reputation and perfect for the Filipino budget is MYTEFL.NET. It’s a Canadian company based in Taiwan (YOU CAN USE THE DISCOUNT CODE: MYTEFL35 to avail a 40% discount). Usually, online courses are great to take since the time is flexible, especially if you still have a full-time job. Online TEFL providers will give you access to the course and you just have to finish it within 90 days at your own pace. They will provide you a with a certificate that is recognized worldwide and can be used to apply for teaching jobs abroad!


4. Gather experience; VOLUNTEER!

I know that getting teaching experience in the Philippines is hard because of the high unemployment rate in our country and some volunteering opportunities don’t have the same TEFL curriculum that you can use for a teaching job abroad.




Fortunately, a group of Filipino backpackers and aspiring TEFL teachers formed a project called #BackpackerTeacher. The people behind this are a team of teachers, young professionals, travelers, and ordinary private individuals who love backpack traveling and have a burning passion for teaching, so they willingly combined the two with the hope to make their vision accessible in every corner of our country. Their desire is to give back to our country, one student at a time. Since it’s a NON-Profit community organization, you don’t have to pay volunteering fees unlike other organisations. Their goal is for you to experience backpacking, volunteering and of course get a quality teaching experience that you can use worldwide. Check out their website at https://backpackerteacher.twomonkeystravelgroup.com


3. Expand your connections.

Join HELPx, Workaway, and Woofing. These are different websites you can join and pay a premium fee, so you can be directly connected to different language centers as a volunteer. Some of these organizations might require you to commit for a few months.

However, if you want a paid position, then check out websites like Teachaway, Dave’s ESL Café, TEFL websites or maybe ask the company where you completed your TEFL course online. Some TEFL provider companies like MYTEFL.net provide job assistance if you want to work in China, Taiwan or in South East Asia for FREE if you enroll in their course!




If you don’t want to pay, then join Facebook groups related to teaching and backpacking. Feel free to message me, too!


2. Know about the visa!

What about visas and work permits?

This is somewhat of a grey area in the TEFL industry. In some countries, it’s absolutely imperative to have all the correct visas, permits, stamps and security checks in order to do work of any kind. Take Dubai, for example! South America is different, so the majority of schools and language centers will probably hire you on a tourist visa if you only plan to stay less than a month and they can consider you working as an INTERN, but if you decide to stay longer then you have to apply for a BUSINESS VISA then process a WORK VISA. With private students, it’s even less of an issue; just teach them and they pay cash for each class. Our advice is to check the ‘official requirements of the country you want to go backpacking and work in, check some teacher and expat forums in that country for advice and information on what actually happens there, then make your own decision based on what you find.

Remember: you’re a backpacker looking for extra funding for your trip, so I will assume that you’re not planning to work there for longer illegally. NEVER OVERSTAY YOUR VISA! It impacts badly on Filipinos and can lead to visa restrictions for all of us. 




1. Choose the country and just GO.

Each country has different rules. As mentioned above, you have to consider the visa requirements, the pay, the application requirements and the salary. In South East Asia, the best place to teach is in Vietnam. The pay is high ($25 per hour) and the living costs are very low. Another is the Middle East, but you’ll be required to get a work permit there, which is much more complicated. It’s not backpacking there, you know! South America is another place to be. Jon and I have been teaching English in Arequipa, Peru for 6 months now and it’s awesome, but the pay is only $1 – very low compared to Colombia, Brazil and Chile, where living costs are much higher anyway.


Do you have any questions about teaching abroad as a backpacker? Feel free to message me! DREAM, BELIEVE and THRIVE!