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Can a Couple Teach English Abroad?

Do you have your sights set on living abroad teaching English and travelling the world, but have a significant other you don’t want to part ways with?

Have no fear, you don’t have to give up your long-term relationship to live the TEFL dream! It is becoming increasingly popular for couples to make the move abroad to teach English together. And you can too!

With a loving companion by your side, it may be easier to navigate the daunting process of applications for essential documentation, finding housing, and learning a new culture. 

As a single TEFL teacher living abroad, one can easily feel lonely, especially when just having moved to your new land of residence. However, with a partner, you have a built-in friend and sidekick to assist with fending off homesickness, loneliness and you’ll be sharing experiences and memories together. 

So here’s what to consider when making the decision to take on TEFLing together.

Essential Elements

All current and future TEFL teachers, whether single or as part of a duo, need to have the following in order to apply for EFL/ESL teaching positions abroad:

  • An internationally recognized TEFL or TESOL certificate;
  • Native English proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking;
  • A clean criminal background check,
  • And some countries may require a degree in any subject. 

Meet these requirements? Excellent! Let’s check out the first step of becoming a qualified TEFL teacher.

Taking the TEFL Course Together

Both partners will need to be TEFL certified in order to teach English overseas. Why not take the TEFL course together, like our iTTi alumni Camry and Chase.

They decided to do the 220-Hour TESOL Course together as Camryn was retrenched and Chase wasn’t happy with his then employment situation. They saw becoming TESOL certified as a good way to help them achieve their dream of moving to Portugal as a home base and becoming independent, travelling teachers while uplifting their students’ English communication skills.

Chase and Camryn shared: “It has been a huge help being able to do the course together. We use each other for ideas and checking our work together. I was able to use Camryn’s experience with teaching in class and how to construct fun and vibrant exercises and lessons. We are our biggest critics and motivators. We would highly recommend it to other couples. We have been able to work together and encourage each other to do better and grow as teachers.” 

Research, Research, Research

Moving abroad to teach English is not a rushed process. It takes tremendous research many months before even booking the flight. Prioritize researching the following:

  • Countries with a high demand for ESL/EFL teachers
  • Best regions to teach in
  • Types of schools or organizations seeking TEFL teachers – including part-time or full-time, or freelance tutoring options.
  • Hiring seasons
  • Necessary qualifications and documentation
  • Approximate salaries and living costs (including transport, food, housing, etc.)
  • Country specific visa requirements
  • Current affairs taking place in the country
  • Other TEFL teachers’ experiences – many of which can be found on YouTube, Facebook, or the internet.
  • Support systems – including medical resources in the chosen country.

Living Together but Working Separately

Couples who teach English abroad save on rent and amenities. In fact, many overseas companies or schools may offer a housing stipend as part of the package deal. But while you may save on living together, like other jobs, be prepared to have different schedules and workplaces. It is rare for partners to work in the same school or company when abroad. With different personalities, skills, education and employment backgrounds, you’re bound to land up at different organizations, who may rightly not want couples teaching together as couples tend to leave together, and they’d be losing two teachers at once. So, expect to teach separately but live together. At least you’ll always have something to talk about!

Living Together Legally

When it comes to selecting the right country in which to teach abroad, be sure to brush up on the laws. Not all countries require a cohabiting couple to be married, but many Middle Eastern countries, such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, do. Marital status may affect visa applications, and may determine whether you’re living legally or legally protected. 

Check out this article for essential tips for unmarried cohabiting couples. 

Necessary Negotiations

When you finally receive an offer, do the maths. Will it be enough to support one or both of you? Chances are, it will only cover one partner’s living expenses, meaning you’ll both need to be employed. With all the offers on the table and armed with your dutiful research about expected expenses and the normal salary rates, negotiate with your company or school to work out a deal that will be mutually beneficial. 

Are you excited to take the plunge and live the travelling TEFL teacher dream? We can help! Start by signing up for one of our internationally accredited online TEFL courses. Get your TESOL certificate and ticket to the world with iTTi South Africa.