Should You Do An Internship Teaching English Abroad?


Travel expands your mind, helps you find purpose and opens your life to new and wonderful experiences. As I am studying a language degree, I had the amazing opportunity of working for a year in France. This is not the case for everyone, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to explore the world whilst furthering your career. An internship teaching English abroad could be the one for you!

Whether you’re a natural born teacher or just have a serious case of wanderlust, teaching abroad can be extremely fulfilling, allowing you to immerse yourself in new cultures, make new friends, and see the world as a local, not a tourist. Also, if you are curious about teaching English as a future career, a paid internship is a stress-free, savvy way to get a taste of life in the classroom and explore another country.

But how do you get started?

What’s great about paid internships is that although you will be paid a little less, you don’t have to have a degree or be a qualified teacher to take part in one. Their ideal audience is someone out of school who may not even know if they want to go to university, or may be looking for a career-oriented experience to add their gap year.


An important piece of advice when choosing an internship, and it’s a big one to note if you’re considering one, is to approach it as if you’re buying a service, and not applying for a job.

In other words, you need to look at what each provider is offering and make sure it’s something that you value enough to pay for – remember that even when a placement is free, you’re still paying through taking a reduced salary. Things to look out for include:

  • Free, pre-arranged accommodation – If they’re going to take the stress out of looking for a place to stay and putting you up for the length of your placement, that’s one big weight off your mind!
  • Orientation in your new country – If it’s your first time living in a new country, it can be quite a cultural adjustment from the UK or the US. A good internship will hold your hand through you first weeks to help you avoid potential financial and cultural shocks that may await a green cultural tourist. Also, look for other perks, like ongoing language training, that will help you settle into your new home as quickly as possible.
  • Building your confidence – If you’re looking to learn more about teaching, make sure that you choose a programme that will support you in the classroom too. As an intern, you should expect fewer working hours than a fulltime teacher anyway and, ideally, a level of on-the-job training or in-class support, such as taking a back seat as teaching assistant and simply observing for some sessions.
  • Constant support network – The support you receive should continue even after you’re settled in. Whether you need help with admin like visas, professional or personal issues, you have bought a service and should expect the provider to have a network there for you.
  • Sets you up for a fully paid job – If you love the experience and want to stay, will the organiser help transition you to find a full teaching contract? If you don’t have other teaching experience or a degree, this can be invaluable.
  • Does it give you a TEFL certificate – This is just a difference in placement approaches but it’s something to be aware of. For example, the TEFL Academy’s internships are open to anyone who is already TEFL certified, whether you’ve done one of their own TEFL courses or trained with a different provider. This brings the cost down and gives you more freedom. In contrast, other providers charge more for their internships but include their TEFL course in the package.


When is an internship not right for you?

There’s no need for an internship if you have a degree, are TEFL certified with at least 120 hours of training, and are confident moving to a new country. This goes double if you have solid teaching experience on the top of the baseline qualifications as you can command a much better salary.

Even if you have no teaching experience, there are still loads of ways to find a job and travel too! The great thing is, you can go anywhere, not just Europe (though there are so many beautiful places here). China for example has really high demand for teachers – it is estimated that there are 300 million Chinese learning English – as well as decent pay and a cost of living that makes real savings possible. Plus, imagine all the new discoveries, friends and cultural adventures you could make in country with so much to explore.

Did you take an internship? What would you look for in a placement? Let me know in the comments below! 

*This is a collaborative post.

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