Want to build your teaching career as you travel the globe?
If yes, then jump for joy! Because life-changing experiences await.
But first, let us applaud you for entering into such a noble profession.
After all, teachers play an integral role in molding future generations. Teachers ignite the imagination and empower students to reach their potential. They instill a love of learning that inspires us to solve society’s most pressing problems and create a better future.
In a way, teachers do real magic.
As Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
Now, it’s time to discuss how you can develop your teaching skills while roaming around the world. Let’s get to it.
Is it Possible to Build Your Teaching Career as You Travel?
More than 250,000 native English speakers teach abroad, according to the International TEFL Academy.
From Mexico to Ghana to China, 40,000-plus schools and language institutes around the world employ teachers and aspiring educators like yourself.
As you can see, if you want to build a career in education, you’ll find lots of professional development opportunities for teachers overseas. And if you’re a traveler at heart, working overseas can offer you the perfect way to jumpstart your teaching career – some organizations, like Maximo Nivel, not only provide training, but also help you find paid teach abroad opportunities!
But do note your options extend beyond teaching English. It could involve teaching your subject of expertise, such as math, science, or literature. Or it could involve building valuable teaching skills through volunteer and intern programs in other sectors.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything about professional development for teachers traveling abroad.
What Teaching Skills can You Develop Abroad?
Professional development for teachers centers around improving the skills you’ll need in an educational role. Whether you want to be an elementary school teacher, ESL teacher, a college professor, or another kind of educator, you must have a certain set of skills to get the most out of your students.
So, what exactly are these teaching skills?
Experts say that teachers require a diverse array of talents and a certain personality to succeed. The most important teaching skills and attributes include:
Volunteer with kids in Cambodia with Globalteer, and you’ll learn how to effectively communicate across cultures and languages. This will undoubtedly make you a better teacher.
Want to boost your problem-solving skills? Join Raleigh International in Nicaragua, where you’ll support young entrepreneurs and help with the management of water and other natural resources.
Volunteer as an Amazon guide in Brazil with Fronteering, and you’ll understand how teachers can empower others as leaders.
Passion and Creativity
Naturally Africa Volunteers has lots of wonderful volunteer teaching projects in Tanzania, Malawi, and South Africa. These programs will test your creativity and improve your ability to inspire children.
As Psychology Today describes, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions, as well as the emotions of others. A variety of volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs, such as those offered by A Broader View, will improve your emotional intelligence by making you more self-aware, confident, committed, empathetic, and collaborative.
Technology plays a crucial role in today’s classroom. Learn how to use it to your advantage through programs like this volunteer teaching project in Cameroon (held through Frontier).
While volunteer teaching programs may provide practical experience, you can actually acquire and build teaching skills through other volunteer and intern projects, some of which may not even be in education. You just have to choose programs that can benefit you as a teacher.
For instance, if you want to improve your leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills, you can do a micro-finance internship in Tanzania with Projects Abroad. For this program, you’ll support female entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities as they strive towards financial independence. Your experience will increase your cross-cultural competency, test you to come up with unique solutions, give your empathy a boost, and make you better at inspiring greatness in others.
Clearly, professional development for teachers doesn’t have to occur in the classroom. As you travel the world, you can build a career as a teacher by having transformative experiences and joining volunteer and intern programs that challenge you.
Recommended Organizations and Programs for Teacher Development Abroad
Now that you know what sort of projects can help build your teaching career, let’s highlight the best organizations and programs for you to join. For each organization, we’ll cover teach abroad programs, as well as professional development opportunities that go beyond the classroom.
Note: We’ve included a mix of teach abroad programs and non-teaching volunteer abroad programs. Each program enables you to develop highly-valued teaching skills.
Looking to build your teaching career in Latin America? Then look no further than Maximo Nivel. Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel has become the leading provider of volunteer, teach, and intern abroad programs in the region. They consistently receive positive reviews from participants—a testament to the quality of their programs.
For teacher professional development, you can’t go wrong with Maximo Nivel’s internships or ESL teaching projects.
English Teaching in Latin America
Through Maximo Nivel, you can gain practical classroom experience in the following destinations:
- Costa Rica: As a top tourist destination, English is an important skill to have. By teaching English to underprivileged kids, you can improve their future prospects. And when you’re not teaching, you can enjoy the beaches, rainforests, the bustling city of San Jose, and more.
- Guatemala: Unequal access to education puts many Guatemalans at an economic disadvantage. As a volunteer English teacher, you can make a real difference! During free time, Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, awaits with colonial monuments, ancient ruins, and gorgeous mountains.
- Peru: Enjoy the historical city of Cusco as you provide English lessons to children who need it most. You can even hike in the Sacred Valley after the program!
Want to learn more? Get all the details here!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: leadership, classroom management, cross-cultural communication, empathy, and ESL teaching basics (you can also get TEFL certification before the program)
Price: from $645 for 1 week
Length: 1-4 weeks or longer
International Internships in Latin America
Teacher professional development often includes study and work in your subject of expertise. Choose among various internship programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Fields include:
- Human rights
- Special Education
- Veterinary Science
- Customized Placements
An international internship in Latin America with Maximo Nivel is a good way to get practical experience in a subject you plan to teach, whether that be science or math.
Interested? Apply here!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: communication, leadership, critical thinking, ability to empower, and subject matter knowledge
Price: from $1,495 for a 4-week practicum
Length: 4 weeks or longer
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)
IVHQ began in 2007 and has become one of the most respected names in volunteering. They’ve successfully sent more than 105,000 volunteers abroad and have been featured by major publications like National Geographic and Culture Trip. For every program, IVHQ ensures high standards of safety, quality, and social impact.
When it comes to professional development for teachers, IVHQ has lots of wonderful programs across exciting destinations, including many teaching abroad projects.
English Teaching in China
Journey to the ancient city of Xi’an, where you’ll teach English to young Chinese students. Your main task will be to improve the spoken English level of students through games, activities, and conversation. This requires creativity, patience, and enthusiasm on your part.
During free time, Xi’an, with incredible sites like the Terracotta Warriors, delights with its history, culture, and entertainment. Ready to go?
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: lesson planning, classroom management, cross-cultural communication, confidence, and ESL teaching basics (you can also get TEFL certification before the program)
Price: from $310 for 1 week
Length: 1-24 weeks
Business and Community Development in Jamaica
Work alongside startup enterprises in and around Saint Mary, a parish in northeast Jamaica. As a business mentor, you’ll provide guidance and support for entrepreneurs. Depending on your skills, your duties will include IT support, financial planning, social media marketing, business planning, and more.
When you’re not working, relax in Ocho Rios, a popular port town, and explore the beautiful scenery.
Interested? Reserve your spot here!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: communication, understanding of technology, ability to empower, organization, and leadership
Price: from $395 for one week
Length: 1-8 weeks
Plan My Gap Year (PMGY)
Established in 2011, Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer abroad organization that places more than 4,000 people in programs each year. PMGY features meaningful, affordable, and sustainable projects across South America, Africa, and Asia.
PMGY offers plenty of professional development for teachers, including through their excellent teaching projects. Look over the two projects below!
English Teaching in Cambodia
Teach disadvantaged students English, and give them a skill they can use to open economic doors. As an English teacher in Takeo province (south of Phnom Penh), you’ll craft lesson plans that include storytelling, crafts, games, and other natural ways to learn the language. And you’ll have a blast with the children, who are eager to learn!
When you’re not in the classroom, you can plan trips to popular cities and sites in Cambodia, such as Phnom Penh, the capital, and Angkor Wat, a massive temple complex.
Want to teach English in Cambodia? Register here with PMGY!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: ability to empower, classroom management, lesson planning, cross-cultural communication, and ESL teaching basics
Price: from $609 for two weeks
Length: 2-24 weeks
Medical Volunteering in Ghana
Open to all volunteers, regardless of your work experience and education, this medical volunteering program in Kumasi gives you the chance to observe Ghana’s medical system and the issues people in the country face. You’ll come across cases you may not usually encounter, such as typhoid and polio. You’ll also see how under-resourced hospitals make use of what they have to treat patients.
When you’re not at the hospital, explore Kumasi, an awesome city that’s known as the center of Ashanti culture. You can also combine your medical volunteer work with community development volunteering.
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: empathy, cross-cultural communication, resourcefulness, willingness to learn, and adaptability
Price: from $714 for two weeks
Length: 2-24 weeks
Committed to transparency and affordability for volunteers, Love Volunteers ensures their programs have a positive impact on local communities. They run initiatives across more than 34 countries worldwide. Past participants give Love Volunteers an average rating of 96%, which shows the quality of their volunteer abroad projects.
For teacher professional development, Love Volunteers has a range of opportunities, from childcare volunteering in Tanzania to teaching English in Honduras. Have a look at two other projects below!
Special Needs Volunteering in Sri Lanka
Travel to Badulla, Sri Lanka, where you can assist children and teens with disabilities at a care center. As a volunteer, you’ll help these youngsters live more independently. Tasks include socializing with children, teaching life skills, playing games, and helping with general chores.
Badulla, a historic town surrounded by the Namunukula range of mountains, offers peace and tranquility during non-volunteer hours. So, are you ready to go?
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: empathy, patience, mentoring, cross-cultural communication, and technical education skills (you’ll do some vocational training)
Price: from $229 for 1 week
Length: 1-12 weeks
Creative Arts Volunteering in Brazil
Venture to the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s Rocinha favela, and teach art to disadvantaged youth. By doing so, you’ll provide students with a creative avenue for exploring their emotions and imagination. And as you lead community art projects, your students will see their potential as they create something truly beautiful together.
When you’re not teaching art, Rio de Janeiro, with its dining and entertainment, comes ready to please. So, are you ready to make art and relax on the beach?
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: passion and creativity, ability to inspire and empower, leadership, communication, and organization
Price: from $459 for 1 week
Length: 1-8 weeks
Established in 1992, Projects Abroad now sends more than 10,000 volunteers, interns, and travelers overseas each year. They run hundreds of projects across South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia. As one of the most trusted names in volunteering, they’ve been featured by the likes of the BBC and The New York Times.
Projects Abroad has lots of wonderful opportunities for teacher professional development, including the two below.
Computer Skills Teaching in South Africa
Volunteer to teach IT skills in South Africa, and give disadvantaged children and adults a better chance at success in the digital age. Held in Cape Town, a world-class city, you’ll gain practical teaching experience and learn how to tailor lessons to individual needs. You’ll teach skills like how to use Microsoft Office and do research on the internet.
When you’re not working with students, enjoy Cape Town. Hike Table Mountain, tour Robben Island, and more.
If this sounds like the right program, click here to apply!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: subject matter expertise (teaching IT), ability to personalize lessons for students, communication, empathy, and classroom management
Price: from $3,755 for 4 weeks
Length: 4-52 weeks
Conservation Volunteering in Nepal
As a conservation volunteer in Nepal, you’ll protect the incredible biodiversity of the Annapurna Mountain Range. Main tasks include monitoring wildlife and performing environmental research with your team and expert leaders. You’ll also get to teach local communities about protecting the environment.
During the program, you’ll stay in the charming rural village of Ghandruk. So, do you want to shout for joy on top of the world (literally)?
Reserve your place in the program here!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: teamwork, resourcefulness, leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence skills (especially self-regulation)
Price: from $2,565 for 2 weeks
Length: 2-52 weeks
Global Vision International (GVI)
Global Vision International began in 1998 with a focus on ethical volunteering and sustainable progress. Today, GVI has numerous award-winning programs in education, community development, and conservation.
GVI’s projects align with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, so you can be sure their volunteer teaching projects offer high-quality professional development.
Women’s Empowerment in India
Improve access to education for young girls and women in Kerala. As a volunteer for women’s empowerment, you’ll help women overcome poverty and the social inequalities they face by providing them with an education, job training, and healthcare.
Held in Kerala, a gorgeous state on India’s Malabar Coast, this program gives you the amazing chance to give women and girls a voice, make a difference in their lives, and ultimately transform their communities for the better. So, are you up for the task?
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: ability to empower and inspire, lesson planning, cross-cultural communication, literacy instruction capabilities, and technical education skills
Price: from $437 per week
Length: 2-12 weeks
Community Development Internship in Mexico
Want to intern at Save the Children? Then travel to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, where you’ll gain practical experience in sustainable development and education. Activities can include reading books with children, conducting health workshops, and assisting children with homework. You’ll also undergo leadership training, which will greatly benefit you as a teacher.
When you’re not interning with Save the Children, you can study Spanish, enjoy the long beaches of the Riviera Maya, and more. Sounds amazing, right?
Apply to this internship here!
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: leadership, communication, organization, lesson planning, and classroom management
Price: from $567 per week
Length: 6-12 weeks
A leading ecotourism company, GoEco was recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization in 2018 by GoAbroad and they’ve also been featured by The Guardian and The Boston Globe. If you’re looking for adventure as you travel and teach, then GoEco has suitable projects.
Founded in 2006 by a team of experienced volunteers, GoEco currently has more than 150 community, educational, and environmental projects around the world. Many are great for teacher professional development.
Teaching Children in Fiji
As a teaching volunteer in Fiji, you’ll help children of the Dawasamu Islands develop intellectually, learn English, and explore their creativity through music and art. You’ll build a lot of teaching skills to put on your resume, like how to create lessons, motivate students, and communicate effectively with different kids.
When you’re not teaching, you can climb Mount Tova, play in the sand, swim, and more! Fiji brings the fun! Want to sign up for this volunteer teaching program?
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: classroom management, lesson planning, ability to inspire and motivate, communication
Price: from $2,490 for 2 weeks
Length: 2-12 weeks
Wildlife Volunteering in Zimbabwe
Head to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where you’ll volunteer at one of Africa’s most successful wildlife rehab centers. Help all sorts of majestic creatures recover, such as cheetahs, vervet monkeys, and hyenas. You’ll also get to assist with releases and promote ethical wildlife interactions to the public.
During off-hours, explore Matobo National Park, a majestic natural area known for its rock formations and Stone Age cave art. So, are you ready to pack your bags?
5 teaching skills you can build for your resume: empathy, adaptability, public speaking, teamwork, and subject matter expertise (science)
Price: from $1,580 for 2 weeks
Length: 2-12 weeks
Travel the World and Build Your Career as a Teacher
You should now have a good idea of all the teacher professional development opportunities available to you overseas. Any one of the programs we’ve covered here will build your teaching skills and get your career in education off to a great start.
To make your travel more fun and affordable, and to ensure you get the most out of your volunteer teaching experiences, take advantage of our other resources:
Best Teach Abroad and TEFL Programs
Best Places to Volunteer Abroad
All that’s left to do is go. Best of luck on your adventures abroad!
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.