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Studying to be an English Teacher

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Studying to be an English Teacher

I began an online 100 hour Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL, TEFL) course with International TESOL Teachers Training (ITTT). Nailing this certification will better provide me with another trade that I can ply while traveling. I have taught English before and, although I cannot say that I love doing it, I do not despise the profession. You stand up in front of a group of people that you are interested in talking to and your job is to talk. On top of this you get paid. Not bad.

I have the impression that can ride out the website work for the next six to eight months of travel. After this, unless www.vagabondjourney.com miraculously begins to bring in more money, I think I may need to find an organized job. So I am preparing now by taking an English teaching certification course, which will transform me into an internationally employable teacher of the English language, and not just some scrub who has oft been know to teach under the table lessons.

Teaching English is a great ace in the hole for American, English, and Australian travelers. There is currently a huge demand for native English speaking teachers in nearly every corner of the non-Anglo world, and I know that I can walk into nearly any Asian city and find myself employed within a day. Not bad, I say, especially since these teaching jobs are usually for relatively short contracted periods, provide housing, and pay more than a vagabond’s fare. Three months of teaching English should get me six to eight months of travel.

It addition to the practical – the money – aspects of teaching, it is also a good way to do some spokes of the wheel traveling. The spokes of the wheel travel strategy – which Andy calls the Spider method – is simply when you make a temporary base in a country and then repeatedly travel away from it in two or three day spurts before returning. So your path eventually comes to resemble a wheel in which you have a hub in the center and various spokes jetting out in every direction. It is my impression that this is among the better ways to gain a thorough impression of a country.

From looking over maps, it seems as if I am going to take my return flight to Budapest, leave as soon as possible to Romania, run down through Bulgaria, and then travel around Turkey for a while. Perhaps I will find myself going east to Azerbaijan and Armenia to dip a foot into the Caspian sea before setting out south to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and then trying to settle in Tanzania for a season. I like the looks of Tanzania, almost fully surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Nyasa. I would like to set up a base of a wheel in Dar es Salaam, find a teaching (or another) job, and then travel spokes out to the lakes before carrying on south towards the bottom of the continent.

Now I am preparing for these travels in New York City. By December I will have completed the requirements for my degree, have an internationally recognized English teaching certificate, eight field seasons of archaeology work under my belt, and a good deal of experience as a magazine copy editor and travel journalist.

Though there is one confession that studying to be an English teacher has brought to light: I have realized that I never learned anything about English grammar. I previously closed my ears to these lessons as a youth in grade school, stating ignorantly, “Why do I need to study English, I SPEAK English.” I failed nearly ever grammar class I ever took. I do not believe that a strict knowledge of grammar is necessary for writing, editing, or for learning language, but, I fear, it is necessary for teaching. Writing comes out of speaking, editing comes out of reading, and language learning comes out of listening. Language is music, and it has always been my impression that music is better felt through dancing rather than thinking. But when a student asks “why?” about a point of English grammar, I know that I would much rather be able to answer their question, rather than blithely stating that “it is just the way it is.”

I also know that putting my childhood stubbornness aside and finaly learning the nuances of English grammar will help in all other pursuits.

For the teacher is ever and always also a student.

Get your English teaching credentials now!

I’ve recently partnered with Star TEFL to offer their 140 hour online TEFL certification course for just $199 — a big discount, as it sells for $425 on their site. This certification course offers 140 hours of user-friendly material, tutors to help you through the process, email, chat, and phone support, feedback on your performance, and you can complete the course at your own pace. Upon completion of the course, you will receive an internationally recognized TEFL/ ESL/ TESOL certification. You can buy this course directly from Vagabond Journey at a 53% discount here:

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After you have your teaching certification, send me an email at vagabondsong [at] gmail.com and I can help you find a good job in China!

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Filed under: English Teaching, New York City, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap