6 Ways to Learn a Language (and Get Paid for it)

Learning a language can be hard work but what about combining it with a job? Check out these job opportunities for adventurous types eager to learn and keen to travel.

1) Work as an Au Pair

Most au pair programs include housing and food plus a small stipend for personal expenses in exchange for the care of one or more children. Salaries vary based on the country you are in, but it should be enough for you to enjoy yourself in the country.

Basically, as an au pair, you live with a family as a mix between an employee and a family member. You will be expected to speak English with the children most of the time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up some of the family’s native language as well.

When researching au pair jobs, make sure your housing and food are not the only aspects of your compensation. You should also receive a small stipend so that you have spending money. Most au pair jobs will not allow you to work outside of the home, so without that stipend, you’ll just be eating through your savings for the duration of your placement.

You also want to be careful about agencies that charge you up-front fees for placement but offer no guarantees for you. You should have a grace period to make sure the family treats you well as well as the support staff throughout your au pair residency.

For more information, check out sites such as EuAuPair or GreatAuPair.

Working as an au pair is a great way to interact with kids and get paid to learn a foreign language. Photo: Benjamin Gimmel.

2) Teach English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is an excellent way to get paid to learn another language. Many programs only require you to have a college degree (in any subject) and be a native English speaker. Others require TEFL certificates, which can be earned online or at some universities.

Salaries vary by country, but they should be competitive. If you are working for a licensed school in the home country, you should receive a livable salary at the very least. The best programs also include housing, health insurance and even a flight to the country where you’ll be working.

The highest salaries tend to be in Asia, where the demand is high and the countries are lucrative enough to be able to afford higher salaries. A starting teacher can expect to earn around $1,500–$2,000 dollars per month in Korea while also receiving free housing and health insurance. Not a bad way to live and learn Korean!

For more information on salaries and programs, go to ESL Jobs World.

Teaching a foreign language is an excellent way to interact with locals and get paid to learn a language. Photo: kryukov.

3) Work on a Cruise Ship

Working on a cruise ship gives you the opportunity to travel and meet people from different parts of the world. You will have a chance to interact and converse with people from a specific region (depending on your job placement) and learn their language through that interaction.

The best thing about working on a cruise ship is the variety of jobs. There are positions for performers, bartenders, childcare professionals, fitness instructors, photographers and so many others. The salaries on a cruise ship are competitive with the same salaries of the same jobs on land. However, you get the added benefits of traveling while you work, learning another language and enjoying discounts on trips for friends and family.

For more information, try looking at sites like Cruise Placement and Cruise Ship Jobs.

While working on a cruise, you can get paid to interact with guests in a foreign language.

4) Work at a Vacation Resort

Working at a resort offers a lot of the same benefits as working on a cruise boat, just without the seasickness. There are positions for receptionists, spa professionals, chefs, fitness instructors and so much more. You’ll get a salary that is more than competitive with the same position in your hometown, with the added benefit of living at a gorgeous resort.

Resorts attract people from all over the world, so you would have the chance to be exposed to a wide variety of languages. If you choose a position that interacts with guests often, you’ll get to learn through conversation. You will also have a better shot at promotions if you can impress your bosses with your language skills.

For more information about resort jobs, try looking at the popular resort Club Med or search several resorts at once on Resort Jobs.

Florida Keys Beach Resort. Photo: Edserrano

5) Study Abroad and Work as a Conversation Partner

Studying abroad is not exactly a direct way to get paid to learn a foreign language, but the potential is there. While you are studying in a foreign country, you are bound to encounter students who are studying English.

You can charge to be a conversation partner or supplemental tutor. The salaries vary by country, but you can generally charge a decent amount higher than minimum wage per hour. You can also speak to the university to see if there are any on-campus jobs that will allow you to interact with locals on a daily basis.

Graz University Library. Photo: Dr Marcus Gossler

6) Join the Army

The U.S. Army has several language programs that can help you learn a language quickly and effectively. You can attend the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), which provides instruction in 24 languages. You’ll get the benefits of being in the army, getting paid and receiving some of the best language training available.

For more information, see Go Army.

Army soldier, working on site. Photo: Avenger Crewman

What unique ways have you found to learn a language? Let me know in the comments below.

If you liked this article, you might also like: 8 Steps to Finding Your Dream Travel Job.

Main photo: Cruise ship job opportunities range from performers to bartenders to fitness instructors. Photo by taminator.

8 thoughts on “6 Ways to Learn a Language (and Get Paid for it)”

  1. What about joining the Peace Corps? You get paid to study a foreign language every day for three months and everyone I know who’s ever done the Peace Corps has come away fluent in at least one other language.

    I’ve heard the same about working for an embassy overseas. My friends from Spain were paid to study Japanese 8 hours a day for FREE at the Spanish embassy in Tokyo. I was always super jealous of them. : )

  2. I would like to join the Peace Corps anywhere in the world, learning an extra language and cultures of other countries.

  3. Peace Corps and embassy work are definitely good options as well! Of course the embassy would require a lot more experience to get hired.

  4. I would like to join the Peace Corps too. It would be wonderful to help and gain a language. I was thinking something like that too. I see the world and learn about other language and culture.

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