Teaching English Online vs Teaching English Abroad

Feb 19, 2020

Are you dreaming of spending your days traveling the world?

Would you like to do so while earning a decent wage?

What if I told you I can help you make that happen?

Are you now laughing at me, thinking that would be impossible?

Or maybe that this wouldn’t apply to you?

Or maybe that I’m going to try to sell you some outrageous scam because that would never be possible for yourself? 

I promise you that’s not the case!

Enter teaching English, whether that be abroad or online.

Teaching English opens up so many opportunities for you.

Even if teaching English isn’t your end goal, it’s an excellent way to change your life! Firstly it helps you get to where you want to live or travel in the world. But also changes the time constraints you may experience at home.

I was working a 40 hour week in London. Include an hour each way for your commute to get pretty much everywhere in London! Add your hour lunch break, (which let’s be honest most of us work through that most days) that’s 55 hours a week committed to working! That’s not even taking into account any overtime.

With social commitments, hangovers on the weekend, or just much-needed wind-down time, you don’t really have much more to give to start even implementing how to change your life to how you want it to be.

Welcome to teaching English Abroad.

I decided to move to Cambodia, and I can’t tell you how much I love it! Especially with the opportunities in doing so has opened up for me.

Working and living in Cambodia, the amount of free time I now have in comparison to living in London is outrageous. All this free time I used very wisely to become a digital nomad and begin traveling South East Asia. WHILE BEING PAID. (Obviously as well as making time for a beer or multiple…)

What will you need to start teaching English?

A TEFL certificate.

That’s it! There are other routes to consider such as CELTA which is designed for teaching adults, so if you’re looking to work in schools or for some of the big online companies a TEFL is fine.

Obviously this will depend on where you plan to work in the world. For instance, Cambodia, no degree needed, and my TEFL hasn’t even been checked while working out here.

Places like Thailand and Vietnam are a little more strict about a degree in some schools, so make sure you do your research fully about where in the world you can teach if you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree. But like I said, Cambodia, very easy!

But what about teaching English online?

This might surprise you, but you can actually teach English online with only a TEFL certificate.

Most of the large online teaching platforms do require a Bachelor’s degree, but a company called Palfish accepts teachers with only a TEFL. They’ve got a pretty cool teaching set up which is all done via an app, so you need minimal equipment to get started.

Let’s have a look at what might be the better option for you.

Teaching English Abroad;


  • It’s way more sociable – you’re going to be around other expats, local teachers and students all day 5 days a week. These expats are more than likely going to be the first friends you make in your new country, and will more than likely introduce you to their friends, so being new in town, this is a really important step to take
  • It’s a lot of fun working in a school. You see the children every day, and you teach them for longer periods of time, so your bond is much stronger. In Cambodia especially, a lot of the children don’t see their parents much, so you become a really important figure to the children, and they will show their love to you.
  • Socialable hours – you’ll start pretty early. Usually between 07:00 and 07:30, BUT then you then get a really long lunch break! So if that early morning has beat you, you’ve got a couple of hours for a little nap. You should then be finished pretty early so your whole evening is free, and you don’t have to work weekends (all the time).
  • Public holidays – There’s a ridiculous amount of public holidays in Cambodia, so make the most of that and use your time to travel the rest of the country or surrounding countries


  • There aren’t employment laws in South East Asia like you’re probably used to back home. So if your school wants to enforce extra hours on you with no extra pay, they can do it. And you have no option other than to accept it or leave. 
  • Inconsistent pays brackets! I was earning $1450 a month, while my friend started on $1000. His school was miles out of town, so had to pay for his commute, he worked longer hours than me, AND had to work a lot more Saturdays. Do your research before accepting a job, and understand what you should be earning before taking a low paying job. 
  • Travel restrictions – this is more relevant to Cambodia, but flights are expensive to get around Cambodia, therefore you will want to rely on coach travel. However most places take about 6 hours to get to, so to get away on a random weekend without taking extra holiday, is quite hard to do. 

Teaching English Online


  • The pay! It’s a lot better than working in class, for example with Landi, I went straight in at $21 an hour. You can use my link here if you would like $21 an hour, plus an $80 referral starting bonus for yourself! Palfish starts at $16, but the more hours you work the higher your hourly rate gets. You can also sign up using my link here.
  • Flexibility of hours – with companies like Palfish, you can set your schedule to the hours you want to work. Obviously you need to work these around core Chinese student hours. These are 18:00 to 21:00 CST. This is especially true to start with, while you’re building your profile. The great thing with Palfish is you can work as many days as you like, and close off the hours you don’t want to work. Landi is a little more restricted. You can read more about the 2 of them here. 
  • Fewer working hours for the same or higher salary! Working 3 hours a night with Landi, 6 days a week is a monthly salary of $1,512. That’s half the workload, for more money, and I didn’t even need to leave the house for that.
  • You can work anywhere in the world teaching online, you just need a good internet connection.
  • So much free time! This is when you can maximize your traveling. Depending on where you are in the world, you will have all-day free to do what you want. Just as long as you’re back to wherever your staying (and making sure it has good wifi). Then just do your 3 hours of work, and you can continue with the rest of your day or evening. 
  • Become a digital nomad. Technically you already are if you’ve started teaching online as your only income, which is absolutely feasible in South East Asia.


  • You won’t be given full-time hours straight away. Landi will gradually build you up, whereas Palfish you have to put the work in to get more students. Palfish is kind of like a social media platform! I’ve written a detailed comparison of the 2 here.
  • It’s unsociable. You will be locked away with only the students online for 3 hours each night. If you’ve just moved to a new country, it’s not the best way to meet new people, and if it’s your only job without other interaction during the day, that will get pretty lonely.
  • The hours can work out to be a little unsocial too. Depending on where you live in the world, and you need to be available from 18:00 – 21:00 CST. This can get in the way of your social plans on occasions. For those in America, it can be hugely disruptive to sleeping patterns. For me personally, it’s really messing with my dinner time, and if anyone suggests a day time drinking session, it’s always a heavy-hearted no from me except on Saturdays.
  • In my opinion, it’s harder teaching students online. I’ve found it’s been much easier making good relationships while you’re working with the kids face to face in a classroom environment. Other online teachers will disagree with this. However with a 25-minute timeslot, and an emphasis to get through the slides, it doesn’t leave that much room for building the same foundations you do in a school.

Think about what’s best for you, and go from there. If this a route you’re interested in, my personal advice would be to make the move to your chosen country first and get a school job.

This is great if you’re new to teaching, as the process is a lot easier. If you want more information on just how easy, read this blog….. If you then find it’s too restrictive, start building up your online teaching hours in the evenings, get a feel for both, and what each will do for you in terms of what you want from living abroad.

If you decide neither are right for you like I did, but love living abroad, and love the idea of working for yourself even more, check out 5 Side Hustles You Can Start Today.

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you use them, I may be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale at no extra cost you. Please note that I only recommend tools that I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

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