Have you ever considered living abroad and teaching English?
I quit my job two years ago and moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Writing used to be a small hobby of mine — something I did when I had the chance. Now I work on my writing every day.
Here are 4 reasons why you should consider teaching abroad if you want to be a writer.
1. You’ll have new experiences to write about
Ernest Hemingway said it best: “In order to write about life first you must live it.”
Living abroad gives you new experiences to build stories from. There are nights out with friends watching the sun come up over stunning landscapes, motorbike trips through towns you didn’t know existed, or even just a cup of coffee, watching a strange way of life weave around you.
Good stories come from tension and conflict — change fuels both. If your life is an interesting story, it will seep into your writing.
2. You’ll meet new characters
People who leave their comfort zones to live abroad are full of good stories.
They’ve dealt with corrupt police, unexpected immersions into a community, deplorable transportation, dangerous wildlife and much more. An international assortment of characters live in all the popular teaching destinations, so you’ll hear about the adventures of people from around the world.
Their stories could be the seeds for your own. Those people telling you the stories will also become new characters in your writing. You’ll meet the weirdest people you couldn’t possibly have imagined — the full spectrum of motivations and eccentricities.
3. Your English will improve
It wasn’t until I had clever students asking me about the intricacies of English grammar that I realized I had gaps in my own understanding.
Students need you to explain things in simple language, which you can only do if you know what you’re talking about.
By helping others learn your language (and learning a new language yourself), you will appreciate the power of conciseness. Much of what we intend to say comes out by superfluous means, through methods such as metaphor and irony. You don’t have those luxuries when you are learning a new language. Brevity is all you have.
4. You’ll have more free time
A future as a writer is wishful thinking for most.
It isn’t a secret that it’s a tough way to make money. Nobody in their right mind would quit their day job to write unless they already had a serious readership, a freelance clientele, or they won the traditional publishing lottery. You have to scrape and claw for those precious few hours where you can focus on what you want to do.
Wouldn’t it be nice to work less?
In many of the countries that are popular destinations for teachers, the cost of living is minuscule relative to average wages. Because of this, you don’t have to work as much. In my current job, I teach about 20 hours per week. I could work more, but I use my free time to write, edit and whatever else my heart desires. If you’ve been dreaming of a year off work to write your novel, teaching abroad could be a realistic compromise.
Think about how much better your writing could be if you had more time to devote to it. Teaching abroad gives you that time. When I read the stuff I wrote two years ago, I cringe. It’s bad. Since then, I’ve invested thousands of hours into writing and studying the craft. I’m not a great writer, but I am improving because of the hours I have to work at it. It’s inescapable that you have to devote thousands of hours of practice to become a master at any craft, so why not give yourself the time to work on your writing?
Teaching abroad is a low-risk way to take your passion and develop it — but instead of investing money into a new company, you’re investing time into an idea of your future self. If you want to grow as a writer, consider teaching abroad.
I didn’t move across the world intending to become a writer, but you could.
Have you ever taught abroad or considered teaching English in another country?