A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

Spouse and Kids in the TEFL Life?

Does a TEFL lifestyle fit well
with a family?

Teaching English Overseas - as an occupation - presents special problems for those with partners, spouses, and/or kids.  Let's talk about kids first.


Unless you have a relevant graduate degree and can land a good TEFL job in the Middle East or are qualified for teaching at an international school, children can be an extreme financial burden.  If your kids are too young to go to school and your partner is going to stay home to take care of them then perhaps no problem.  However, many international schools charge fees that are sometimes even greater than your monthly salary as an EFL teacher.


There are exceptions to the rule.  The better jobs in the Middle East will provide for an international school education for two (sometimes more) children as part of the benefits package.  Also, international schools often provide free tuition for the children of their faculty.  It never hurts to ask if such benefits are provided - but they are unusual in most EFL jobs.

Home Schooling?

I am aware of at least two families that used home schooling as an alternative to the costs of an international school education.  While I am sure it can be done well, the working schedule and burden on the parents to provide such instruction - I think - ultimately lead to a very poor education for their children. 

These two families rather quickly headed back to their home country.   I can't recommend this as an alternative to a "real" education.

Spouses and Partners

If you have a "working" partner in EFL, it only makes things even easier!  Some schools even look for couples, as it reduces their cost of housing: providing only one apartment versus two.  One caution though, working with your partner all day can add stresses to your relationship.  And these stresses will come at a time when you are already a bit stressed by moving to a new country, culture, and job.  I've worked at the same school with my wife before, and at least for me, wouldn't recommend it.  But, I have known many people for whom it worked just fine.

Non-Working Partners

Some spouses or partners will have difficulty adjusting in a country where they don't know the language and even TV offers limited English language programming - if they have nothing to do.  It may be best if they come either to work - or with a specific project in mind: Writing a novel?  Setting up a website?


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