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Can I teach English abroad if I'm a non-native speaker?

Reader’s Note: we have improved this blog to reflect appropriate industry-specific terms for how we address people whose first language is not English. The terms “Native and non-native English speakers” have historically been linked to discrimination. As per the International Schools Service mandate, we are working towards eliminating this language and, more importantly, the implied bias it suggests.

People from around the world always ask us, “can I teach English abroad or online if I’m not a fluent English speaker?”

Yes, you absolutely can teach English abroad or teach English online as a non-fluent speaker!

We’re happy to debunk this myth.

At Teach Away, we support teachers from all over the world, including people whose first language is not English, in lots of great teaching jobs abroad. Too many to count!

The best part is, demand for English teachers worldwide is skyrocketing right now.

Wondering if you have what it takes to teach English?

Do you:

  1. Have a bachelor’s degree?
  2. Speak English proficiently?
  3. Hold a TEFL certification?
  4. Have a knack for teaching?

If you check all of these four boxes, you’re ready to teach English!

Where can I teach English as a person whose first language isn’t English?

Anywhere! For anyone interested in teaching English, there’s going to be the perfect English teaching job overseas or online for you.

The right opportunity for you has more to do with availability, like in China, where English language learners are plenty.

Don’t forget, English is a global language and in many instances, having more than one language in your repertoire can actually give you an edge over your competition.

Why’s that? Well, just think of how inspiring you can be to your students as an ESL teacher.

teaching english abroad for non native speakers

As a bilingual teacher, you have so much to offer.

For one, you’ve been in your students’ shoes before. You also worked hard to learn English to a high level, so you know what it’s like first-hand to learn a language from scratch.

Secondly, you have a depth of understanding of English grammar concepts that English as first language speakers won’t have, having learned the language intuitively from birth.

Remember, it’s your grasp of the language and your passion for teaching others that make excellent English teachers.

Discrimination has no place in the classroom and your nationality should not bee seen as a barrier to achieving your dreams.

Which countries speak English as a first language?

While positive change is happening, there are still some countries that have employers who hire only candidates from what was formerly referred to as a fluent English speaker country. Specifically, the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Of course, there are myriad other countries that speak English as their primary languages, such as the Caribbean, the Philippines, and India to name a few.

The reality is, there are a few countries, such as the UAE, South Korea and Japan, that still have strict visa requirements, meaning teaching candidates need to hold a passport from one of the seven countries above.

teaching english abroad for non native speakers

So where can I teach abroad?

Don’t be discouraged by the above. The reality is that these barriers are changing, and Teach Away is doing its part to help schools remove bias from hiring.

There are still plenty of job opportunities at popular teaching destinations overseas.

The list is long: Thailand, Cambodia, countries in Central and South America like Mexico and Brazil, countries in Europe and Turkey, among others, all welcome applications from anyone who speaks English fluently.

How can you make sure that you’re as qualified as possible for teaching positions in these countries?

How you can boost your chances of being hired to teach English abroad or online.

As with applying to any job, show you’re the right person for the role.

It’s essential to know the qualifications beforehand.

Step 1

Head on over to the Teach Away job board and browse some job postings in the countries you’d like to teach in.

This will help you figure out any gaps in your resume that could cost you that dream English teaching job interview.

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Sign up to Teach Away today for access to the latest
teaching jobs around the world.

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Step 2

Ensure that you’re as qualified as possible for the English teaching jobs you’re interested in.

  • Take a TEFL course to boost your chances of landing a job in one of the many countries that welcome applications from anyone who speaks English fluently.
  • Keep working on your English language skills. Read books, listen to English music and watch movies with the subtitles turned off.

All of these daily activities will help you refresh your English skills!

teaching english abroad for non native speakers

So get applying!

Don’t let your bilingualism keep you from realizing your dream of becoming an English teacher abroad or online. As we said, it’s an asset.

You can be an ESL teacher in various countries or for online teaching companies.

Give it your best shot–get your resume up to scratch, figure out where the best places to teach abroad are and keep an eye out for the right opportunities on our job board.

Good luck!

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