How I Made Teaching English a Long-Lasting Career in 5 Steps

Is it possible to turn TEFL teaching into a career? Erika from English with Reeka shares her journey in this guest blog post. Keep reading for inspiration on how to teach English long-term.

# 1: I Made My College Degree Actually Worth Something and Moved to South Korea

The recession hit in 2008 after I had just spent 4.5 years in college earning my bachelor’s degree. My career aspirations went out the window. How was I ever going to have a career when no one was hiring?

I also had no job experience in my field of study (Speech Communications with a concentration in Media Studies) and I was simply lost in life.

I thought, “maybe I should try teaching and move abroad.” I had just returned from circumnavigating the globe with Semester at Sea and traveled to 13 countries, but I’d had the opportunity to live abroad before and knew deep down I had always wanted to be a teacher.

My dad was a teacher, and I knew I would be a good teacher too. Teaching and moving abroad sounded like a good idea. So, I did just that in September 2009.   

Teaching in South Korea through GEPIK

My friend had taught in South Korea the previous year, so I wanted to play it safe and went through the exact same recruiting agency as him. I secured my job working for a public school in Incheon, South Korea for a year.

I am thankful to this day that I was never just “thrown” into a classroom. Unfortunately, too many aspiring teachers are just “thrown” into a classroom and expected to teach without training. This is never a good idea for anyone.

Teaching is a skill that takes a very long time to “master.” Having the proper support in a classroom will determine the future of any potential teacher.

Teaching must have been my fate because after teaching 1st-5th graders English for a solid school year, I knew I wanted to continue to pursue the profession. I also knew that in order to continue to travel around the world and make money while doing so (before being a digital nomad was even a thing) teaching was my biggest asset. My goal was to travel the world and live abroad for as long as possible. So, I did just that. 

#2 I Earned a TEFL Online and I Continued to Find English Teaching Jobs All Over the World

After South Korea, I knew I wasn’t ready to start my life over again back in the States. Things had changed since I was gone. I had changed significantly. I didn’t see the world the same anymore. So, I did what all 24-year-olds do when they have no future plans or prospects… 

Teaching in Germany

I moved to the south of Germany, to a village, with my new German boyfriend whom I had met while traveling in Thailand on vacation. The opportunity was there and I took it. I still wanted to pursue teaching abroad, so I decided to earn a TEFL online. I knew it wouldn’t hurt to have it.

Earning the TEFL online was a good decision for job opportunities. However, I do recommend having real-life experiences teaching while earning one and not to just use an online program as your only experience.

Classroom experience and learning “how” to teach English as a second language is very important for becoming a successful language teacher. Most of us never think about how our language works, or why we say things a certain way, etc., but once you have real-life experience teaching in a classroom setting, it will help you grow immensely as a professional teacher.

Eventually, my German boyfriend and I broke up, so I began job searching again. 

Teaching in France and Georgia

While searching for new job opportunities around the world, these main countries kept popping up: Japan, China, South Korea, the Republic of Georgia, and Taiwan.

I knew nothing about Georgia. Like, where was that anyway? Why would I go there?

Incredibly, while searching, a job opportunity to teach French children English with American Village (Amvill) popped up. Teach children in France and I don’t need a visa? Sign me up!  

After teaching in France, I was recommended by a fellow counselor-colleague to give Georgia a chance, so I started teaching in Georgia with the “Teach and Learn with Georgia” governmental program in 2011.

I didn’t realize then that Georgia would not only become my home, but would be the place where I put down permanent roots with a half-Georgian child, a street dog named Luna, and owning property. It’s been 13 years now.

#3 I Built a Social Network of Fellow Teachers and Community While Abroad

The best part about being a teacher while living abroad is that many other “expats” you run into are doing the exact same thing as you. You never feel alone in your profession. You will always find other teachers from around the world that you can network and build good relationships with.

I have friends from all over the world now that are teachers or former teachers. We have a very deep connection because of our experiences working in foreign countries with foreign students in foreign classrooms. These experiences really bring people together.

Although I no longer teach in a classroom setting, I still make sure to share ideas, resources, materials, etc. with my fellow teaching friends because “sharing is caring.” We always bounce ideas off each other on how to improve our lessons and even collaborate. 

Creating a Facebook Group for Teachers

I created a group on Facebook called “Freelance Teachers and Entrepreneurs in Tbilisi” because I wanted to create a safe space for people to find teachers and vice versa.  I also wanted people to feel comfortable promoting their entrepreneurial endeavors.

A big rule in my group is that businesses must state their salaries. We want to ensure that people feel supported in our group and that local businesses will not try to take advantage of them. Unfortunately, it’s a huge issue in Georgia and we are trying to help mitigate it as much as possible. 

   #4 I Started Using Social Media for My Benefit 

During 2020, I started seeing a huge shift in how people use social media. More “everyday” folks were starting to use Tiktok and Instagram to make fun and creative videos. People were going viral for following trends, but also for showing their “authentic selves” online.

Before, everything felt so curated like you had to look a certain way, photoshop all of your photos, or make every video this huge production. But the years of the pandemic started to change all of that. Being stuck at home all the time and wanting to connect with people in a real way, made apps like Tiktok a huge success story for so many “everyday” people.

People who never thought they would have a career as an influencer were now legit influencers. It was all about relatability. Curation was dying. I realized this in 2022 when I had moved back to Georgia after living in the US for 1.5 years with my daughter. I knew that I could use the power of social media to become “popular” in Georgia and I didn’t need to be anyone but myself.

Tiktok showed this magic and Instagram showed me that I could create a platform to promote myself as a teacher. Facebook was also a big part of this, but I now refuse to use this app to promote myself. Long story, but having to constantly “pay” for ads to promote yourself instead of the algorithm doing its magic is all that Facebook does. Paying for ads  is part of the social media game and to also use social media managers, however, once you create a following, your content should always be reaching your audience.

Facebook doesn’t allow for this magic to happen anymore, but is great for starting groups and promoting yourself throughout many expat groups. Once you become part of this social media game, you will see how the power of the internet can really be used for your advantage. 

#5 Starting my Business English with Reeka

“English with Reeka” was created because I knew I had the ability to go the distance with my teaching career.  My teacher name has always been Ms. Reeka, not Ms. Erika. I always wanted to stand out.

In 2022,  I realized with the power of social media. I no longer needed to work jobs that paid me the bare minimum and run around Tbilisi completely exhausted and broke. I also did not want to work for any more international schools and become burnt out again.

I wanted a calmer life as a teacher and I wanted to be able to take teaching with me anywhere online, whether I was in Georgia or not. Basically, I wanted a stress-free life as a teacher. To put “stress-free” and “teacher” in the same sentence is almost laughable, but I had a feeling that I could make it happen.

I knew I needed to switch from teaching only children to teaching adults. Adults have more of a flexible work schedule and I can have lessons with them throughout my day. Adults are less stressful to teach and you can become friends with your students. Adults are paying for their lessons and know the value of their money. Teaching adult students has changed my life.

The Power of Social Media to Attract Students

I still have a few students who are children, but I try to focus on advertising to mainly adults. I attract students now by just being myself on the internet. Whether its dancing, showing my life as a single mother, traveling, etc. people seem to gravitate towards me because they see I am being my authentic self on the internet.

I do not go through 3rd party websites to find students. There is no need to. Social media has been my gateway to everything. Living in a country like Georgia is also great too for digital nomads because I only pay 1% tax and was able to obtain permanent residency. I suggest that if you want to be a digital nomad, enjoy connecting with adults or children from around the world, and want to live a pretty chill and calm lifestyle, come to Georgia and start from here. I don’t think you will regret it.

I have officially completed 15 years of teaching in 6 countries and now onto year 16.

In the past 16 years, I have taught in:

South Korea: GEPIK program 2009-2010

Germany: Homestay (2010) 

France: American Village: language immersion camp (2011-2013)

Georgia: English with Reeka (my own small business)/Teach and Learn with Georgia/ British International School of Tbilisi (2011-2024) 

USA: Long and short-term substitute teaching 2021-2023

Poland: Angloville: adult language immersion experience 2024

Connect with Reeka

To follow me on social media, you can add me as @englishwithreeka on all platforms

For advice or mentorship on how to teach online, you can send me a DM on Instagram or an email at

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Certified Teacher & Founder of ESL Teacher 365

I am passionate about helping people teach abroad & online so they can live a life of adventure!

I’ve taught in 6 different countries and love sharing my teach abroad (and online) tips and tricks.

The world is yours to teach and explore!

– Jamie 

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