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5 tips for teaching English as a couple

While TEFL is often touted as a wild solo adventure that’s away from the comfort zone, hitting classrooms from Colombia to China doesn’t mean burning all your bridges. In fact, teaching English as a couple is way more common than you might think. Loads of folk plan to head off as a duo and start a life together somewhere more exiting and exotic every year.


If you’re one of them, this piece is for you. It runs through a few top tips for making it work as a pair. From the all-important job search to the simple basics of living together, it’s essential reading for any twosomes embarking on a TEFL trip around the globe…


teaching English as a couple


Don’t pin your hopes on working in the same school


Demand for teachers in the most popular TEFL destinations can be fickle. Sometimes a school will need five new placements a year. Sometimes they’ll only need one. Be sure not to miss out on scoring that perfect job in Beijing or Bratislava or Bangkok just because your travel compadre couldn’t find one in exactly the same institution. In fact, you might find that having a separate workplace is better. That way, you’re free to be your creative self in your new job without the strings of a relationship attached.


teaching English as a couple
Bangkok | myTEFL/JRF


Try to focus on destinations where you both can get work


It’s hardly a secret that TEFL jobs in Japan are more competitive beasts than, say, TEFL jobs in Cambodia. While one needs a BA and all sorts of experience, the other is fairly loose with requirements. If you’re hunting for positions as a couple, then you’re going to want to play to the lowest common denominator of qualifications. For example, if one of you has a degree and 10 years’ teaching under their belt, it’s safe to assume work should be easy to come by. But if the other is a non-native with no experience, you still might want to consider aiming at destinations where you both have a realistic chance of sliding into a job.


teaching English as a couple
Two people in a boat | myTEFL/JRF


Think about online teaching


There’s been a huge boom in online teaching in recent years. For the so-called digital nomad tribe, it’s a boon; letting you earn dollar bills from pretty much anywhere on the planet (internet connection permitting, of course). For traveling couples, it’s also a gift. No longer does one half of the relationship need to convince the other that it’s the buzz of Bangkok that’s the place to be. There’s no need to wax lyrical about Colombia’s coffee towns every time you have a cuppa’. Bag a job online and you’re both free to check off the destinations you’ve always dreamt of, all while plying your TEFL trade via the web.


teaching English as a couple
A couple on a headland | jason thomas/Unsplash


Keep a strict work-play divide


When two sides of a couple are involved in the very same industry, it can be easy to let work life seep into playtime. But the whole point of enjoying a TEFL adventure is that you can indulge that passion for travel and new experiences. That means it’s important to remember the reasons you’re heading abroad. Yes, a part of it is to share your knowledge of gerunds and grammar. But it’s also for you, as a couple. So, be sure to plan weekends on the glinting beaches of Thailand. Be sure to jet off to the Indonesian jungles on school holidays. Be sure to spend quality time snorkelling in Philippine reefs and tasting local Thai street food. You get the idea.


teaching English as a couple
Couple in a van | Toa Heftiba/Unsplash


Don’t ONLY be a couple


The TEFL industry is a welcoming one. It’s a people-facing profession, which means you’ll not only be working with learners but also working alongside likeminded native speakers and travelers. Remember that when you start teaching English as a couple, because you definitely won’t want to sacrifice the important friendships and bonds that come from your business. That means nights out in Banglamphu with other teachers shouldn’t be swapped for a Netflix and chill sesh. It means work trips to the surf beaches of Bali should be made in lieu of long weekends involving just you and your other half.



Have you been teaching English as a couple? Do you have more tips to add? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Alternatively, if you’re ready to get qualified and head off together, check out our courses page

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