You’ve made the decision. You’re ready to teach abroad as the next step in your career.
Your next question, perhaps, is this: What country should I choose to teach abroad?
If you’re thinking of moving abroad to teach, Egypt is likely NOT at the top of your list of destinations to teach in.
Often, countries in Asia or Europe are listed as the top places to teach abroad. As for the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has some of the best benefits for expat teachers; high teacher demand, great salaries, and a large international community, just to name a few.
Choosing the right country is not your only task, though.
What will you teach?
Teaching English online seems like the most accessible option.
Yet, how often have you read anyone recommending moving abroad to teach English online?
Don’t let that dissuade you from the idea of teaching online in Egypt just yet.
Teaching online while living in Egypt might not sound typical, but it’s possible. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years.
It can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have if you decide to give it a shot.
How Did I End up Living Abroad in Egypt?
Before I started teaching online in Egypt, I lived in the country as a graduate student from 2015 to 2017.
My journey to Egypt started a while before that, however.
Like many teachers who end up abroad, I was interested in languages. I began learning Arabic in 2008, and that decision eventually led me to Egypt in 2015.
In 2019, when I considered teaching English as a career and doing it outside of the U.S., Egypt was at the top of my list.
It’s common for people in Egypt to jokingly say that “once you drink from the Nile (figuratively, of course!), you’ll want to come back.”
The saying has some weight to it, as I’ve met many foreigners who’ve fallen for Egypt’s charm.
Teach Away Helped Me Find an Online Teaching Job
Though I had tutored in high school and college, teaching was not a career I had thought about pursuing.
Being a writing tutor while studying in Egypt helped me realize that teaching was right up my alley. In 2019, after working for two years in the U.S., I decided to make a career shift into teaching.
Teaching abroad was a perfect combination of my love of travel and languages and my interest in teaching.
Getting a Teaching Certificate
I saved up some money, bought my ticket to go back to Egypt from the United States, and enrolled in a CELTA course in Cairo.
Doing the CELTA course in a teaching center was a great experience. However, pursuing a TEFL would have been just as helpful and less costly.
The truth is, you pick up most of your skills as a teacher in the classroom (virtual or otherwise).
A teaching certificate gives you the skills and confidence to start teaching and is required by most online teaching platforms and language centers abroad.
How I Got My First Job Teaching English Online
I didn’t know what to expect after completing my certificate.
How easy would it be to land a job?
How good would I be in the classroom?
Tons of paralyzing thoughts popped into my head.
All I knew was that I wanted to find a job in Egypt. But how would I go about finding one?
I completed some applications on Teach Away, which has a job board full of available teaching roles for experienced and newly qualified teachers.
Soon, I realized my best option was online teaching. It was the perfect way to start gaining experience and making good money.
Teach Away had helpful information about teaching English online, including the companies hiring online English teachers, and how to succeed in the application process.
I went through the application processes for several companies, and I got hired by a company based in China to teach children online.
Since I started teaching online in July 2020, I’ve worked with several companies and online marketplaces teaching both children and adults from dozens of countries.
A Typical Day for an Online Teacher Abroad in Egypt
Ok. So you’re now thinking that teaching online AND doing it in Egypt sounds like something you might enjoy doing.
But what’s it really like to teach online while living in Egypt?
Besides its famous pyramids and ancient temples, Cairo is a thriving city with plenty of cultural activities to pursue, including concerts at the citadel, felucca rides on the Nile, events at the opera house, and gatherings at cafes along the historic streets of downtown.
And if you venture outside the city, scuba diving and kite surfing along the Red Sea might be enticing to your more adventurous side.
There’s plenty to do if you’re up for it.
And if you prefer a day at home just teaching classes and then sitting to eat dinner watching Netflix, that’s ok too.
Being an online teacher abroad is a unique experience, and the great thing about it is that you can shape your day as you’d like, especially in a city like Cairo.
Scheduling, Planning, and Teaching Online Classes
As an online teacher abroad, your classes are often scheduled a week or two in advance, and you can teach at any time throughout the day.
The advantage of teaching online is that you have access to students from all over the world, with varying learning needs.
I work 4 to 5 days per week and schedule my classes between 10 AM and 6 PM.
Depending on the platform you teach for and on student demand, your schedule can be super flexible. You can teach 4 hours straight, or an hour of classes with a 30-minute break in between.
When it comes to lesson planning, you’ll have some work to do depending on the platform you teach for. Some companies have available lesson material which only requires a quick review before the class.
For classes through online marketplaces, you’re usually tasked with preparing a lesson based on your student’s needs.
And When I’m Not Teaching?
Before I start my classes, I might go to the gym, then have a large breakfast to give me energy during my teaching time since I only snack between classes.
When classes are done, and after doing lesson planning if I have any, I enjoy scrolling through social media and watching tons of YouTube videos.
And on days I don’t have classes, I LOVE going to my favorite mall and spending my day in Starbucks writing or eating out.
During the summer, I like to travel to a sea town – Nuweiba, Dahab, Sokhna, Ras Sedr – all great beachside towns where locals, expats, and tourists enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
As an online teacher in Egypt, you have the power to shape your day as you wish. A typical day as an online teacher abroad doesn’t exist!
Facts About Life as an Expat in Egypt
Life as an online teacher abroad sounds fun, doesn’t it? How about living as an expat teacher in Egypt?
Life Abroad Has Its Ups and Downs
The pace of life in a foreign country can differ quite a bit from that back home. Cairo is no different. It is a very vivacious city with tons to see, hear and do, and of course, some headaches.
Noisy streets and blazing, hot weather half the year are sometimes tough to deal with.
You’ll also face a bit of culture shock. Despite being a tourist country, living as a teacher abroad in Egypt will require learning a bit of Arabic and understanding the culture.
Getting around the city is not as simple either. Uber can get quite expensive, and trying to figure out the local bus system takes effort. The metro in the city is a great option, but it does get crowded, and it doesn’t stretch as widely as a large metropolis like Cairo-Giza requires.
As you get to know Cairo, you’ll realize how different the people, sounds, and lifestyles can be from one neighborhood to the next. This will help you determine what neighborhood is best for you to live in.
My Favorite and Least Favorite Parts of Living in Cairo
Depending on your background and the environment you grew up in, there will be things about living in Egypt that you’ll love, and other things that will be a bit tougher to deal with.
The best part of living in Egypt for me, besides the lower cost of living, is feeling safe to move everywhere at any time. This is especially true in Cairo.
In most neighborhoods, a woman can walk outside very late without incident. Taking Uber at any time of the day is also perfectly fine.
Most buildings in Cairo have a bawab, or a doorman, who keeps watch over the safety of the property and its residents.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to life abroad as an online teacher in Egypt.
Dealing with the sometimes unreliable internet is also tough. There’s only one main internet provider, and getting internet set up in your house might require several visits and phone calls to the company.
The internet can often be slow, and it might be interrupted several times a week.
Luckily, and if you’re prepared, you’ll always have access to the internet. It is best to have a home internet plan and data on your phone as a backup.
It’s also a challenge to meet new people if you don’t make the effort, especially foreigners.
Facebook groups for expats are a great way to meet fellow travelers or nonlocals that are living in Cairo. You might also build relationships with your foreign flatmates.
One of my good friends, who is from France, was actually a flatmate here in Cairo.
In terms of daily life, being a pedestrian in Cairo is challenging. Sidewalks are narrow if they’re there at all, and crossing high-traffic streets is an art. You’ll need to zigzag through the slow, yet never-ending traffic, or you’ll have to run to get from your own side to the other as cars speed toward you.
Don’t worry, though. Doing a bit of research before you travel is a great way to prepare for life abroad in Egypt.
Next Steps as an Online Teacher Abroad
Online teaching abroad is exciting, but after a few years, you might wonder what’s next.
The great thing about teaching abroad, online or otherwise, is that you’ll gain knowledge and experience that will serve you both inside and outside the classroom.
Online teachers can transition to teaching in the classroom. They can move to different roles related to teaching, including creating teaching materials, writing about teaching, or fulfilling another role within the education sector.
And if you’ve been teaching in Egypt, the connections you build may lead to a job in a different sector, or you can think about teaching in another country or back home.
Teaching in the classroom in Egypt or any other country is not something I see in my future. I love the flexibility of teaching online much more.
As an online teacher, you can decide to move from one country to the next without interrupting your work.
And the opportunities to teach online in the future are plenty.
According to a recent report, the online language-learning industry is expected to grow rapidly in the next four years. There will be much more demand from students wanting to learn English and other languages online.
Are you ready to start your teaching journey abroad?
Check out this post about the Best countries to teach English abroad in 2022.