I’d Like To Go Ahead and Use My Lifeline, Regis – Communication Tips While Teaching English Abroad

December 20, 2010


If you live in the United States, you should be fully aware that when you go to teach English abroad, you will be leaving behind a technological infrastructure for internet and cell phones that is a rare find in other parts of the world. In some cases, you might want to prepare to return to the world of dial-up internet speeds or the urge to obliterate your innocent cell phone for never having a #$%@^! signal. Once you get to your destination, do some research to see how to best feed your tech-addictions.


Cell phones will be a pretty easy here and you can get month-to-month contracts through Vodaphone (the mega cellular provider) for pretty cheap. Signals won’t be a problem in the major metropolitan areas. Internet, on the other hand, is a different story. Stick to web cafes if you can because buying internet plans for your home can be expensive and the speeds won’t seem worth the cost, given what we are accustomed to in the United States.

Central and South America

Internet will be slow and rarely available in private housing so you’ll find yourself spending a good amount of time at the plentiful internet cafes. In some major cities you can find good cellular plans with fair reception, but not always. In Costa Rica, for instance, you’ll likely end up with the phone voted best for a zombie apocolypse (courtesy of Motorola) and next to no reception on a regular basis. Recently, however, the cellular monopolies have been dissolving and with competition sprouting up you may find better deals and better reception.

East Asia

Internet is a bit pricier than it is in the United States, but you’ll get the same speeds which should provide some comfort for you. Cell phones are rarely used as phones here though, so sometimes it’s better just to get a data plan instead of a typical call plan. Most people (especially in the younger generations) just use their cell phones for mobile email in the fashion of American texting. You can get cell phones here that run with the Roman alphabet and English, so don’t panic when you visit a cell phone kiosk (there’s not really anything like an AT&T store, just private vendors here and there).

Random Tips

  • If you plan to have a landline installed, wherever you go, I recommend Vonage. You can have it set up with a US number where you purchase it, and then set it up anywhere. Then you can call in and out to the US without any international call fees! You’re not really supposed to do this, but this is how we always did it in Kuwait and Thailand.
  • Another good way to cut costs is Skype, which allows you to chat, call and video chat. If you call actual phone numbers, there is a charge, so it’s easier to just do it via the web for free. Some cell phones have applications for Skype, too.
  • If you have AT&T (and absolutely cannot give up your iPhone), you can contact them about setting up an international plan to make your roaming charges significantly cheaper as they have partnerships with foreign cellular providers all over the world.
  • In general, internet cafes are the best way to go anywhere you go. They are everywhere and most are free. Besides, it’s always a great excuse to get out and enjoy your new surroundings on a regular basis!

This post was written by Kaye McDaniel.