Teach English Abroad
Everything you need to know - and do - to get started with teaching English abroad anywhere in the world this year!
Nowadays, it seems that we’ve all been bitten by the travel bug. If your Instagram feed is anything like ours, it’s probably full of dreamy seascapes, epic mountain scenery and wanderlust-inducing food pics shared by travel bloggers the world over.
Most of us, given half a chance, would love to see the world and experience new cultures. But not all of us don’t know that this supposed pipe dream is more than attainable.
There is, in fact, an unmissable opportunity to work and travel abroad, well within your reach. One where you get to experience different countries around the world, meet new people, make new friends. And on top of that, make lots of money. So what is it?
It’s teaching English abroad.
Yep, you read that right. By teaching English abroad, you can live and travel in almost any country you’ve been dreaming of. From China, Japan, Mexico and Chile, to Spain or the Czech Republic, a job teaching English abroad - and a brand-new life adventure - are just on the horizon.
If you're thinking about taking the plunge and teaching English abroad this year (or even at some point in the far-off future) this guide is a great place to kickstart your research.
We’ve got you covered with everything from figuring out whether teaching English abroad is even a good idea for you in the first place, to the qualifications you need, how to get a visa, advice on choosing the right program for you and the full scoop on the hottest English teaching destinations worldwide. In a nutshell, everything you need to know to find work as an English teacher abroad this year.
Below, you’ll find the most common FAQs related to teaching English abroad:
- Is teaching English abroad the right move for me?
- What do I need to teach English abroad?
- Where can I teach English abroad?
- How can I find a job teaching English abroad?
- I landed a job teaching English abroad: Now what?
Along the way, we’ll provide plenty of resources for your researching pleasure. If this feels like info overload, don’t panic. You can choose to scroll through the entire guide in your own time or jump forward to the section you’re most intrigued by. And hey, if you like what you read, pay it forward by sharing this guide with a friend or coworker.
So what are you waiting for? Your journey towards living and teaching English abroad starts now!
Is teaching English abroad the right move for me?
OK, granted, we don’t know a whole lot about you personally. But if you’ve got:
- A degree (✅)
- Can speak English fluently (✅✅)
We feel pretty confident you’re a good candidate for the job. The best part about teaching English abroad is that almost anyone with a degree of any kind can do it - so long as you can speak and write English fluently.
Fresh out of college and not sure what to do next? Whether you're looking to move into teaching long term, or just keen to travel the world, learn something new and earn some cash in the process, it's well worth considering teaching English abroad. That’s why new grads, career changers - even newly retired teachers - all look to teaching English abroad every year as their personal ticket to international travel and adventure.
While you do need a degree to teach English abroad (for the most part), you don’t have to major in English, education, or linguistics to qualify for teaching jobs abroad. Yes, that quirky astrobiology degree has a little-known second purpose. It also qualifies you to teach English abroad! There are literally thousands of great jobs open for bachelor’s degree holders of all types, all around the world.
You also don’t have to have a teaching degree to teach English abroad - take it from the hundreds of thousands of English teachers currently living and working abroad who don’t have one, either! And you don’t need to have teaching experience (although there are some incredible teaching jobs for those of you who do have experience and/or a degree in education.)
Read this: The best places to teach English abroad when you’ve got absolutely NO experience
So, really, it's not so much a question of whether you can get a job, but which job, in which country, is the best fit for you. More on this topic to come.
Looking to teach English abroad?
Our ESL job board has new English teaching jobs posted daily!
Why should I teach English abroad?
If you want to make any (or even all) of the following goals a reality, then teaching English abroad could be the right move for you:
- Get paid to travel
- Immerse yourself in a different culture
- Gain international work experience
- Learn a new language
- Make a difference in the lives of people around the world
OK, so just how big is the market for English teachers abroad?
It’s pretty ginormous, actually.
By 2020, there will be 2 billion (!) English language learners in the world, meaning English as a second language (ESL) teachers are very much in high demand.
In China alone, for example, over 300 million people are learning English as we speak. That’s the equivalent of the entire US population. And the number of people learning English in China is set to grow by around 15% every year:
Right now, they’re short about 100,000 English teachers. One. Hundred. Thousand. Teachers.
That’s where you come into the picture. But how do you know whether it’s really the right move for you?
Who can teach abroad?
Take it from us - teaching English abroad isn’t just for teachers! Let’s dive deeper into some of the reasons why you should teach English abroad if you’re a:
- College graduate
- New or experienced teacher
- Career changer
1) Recent (or soon-to-be) college graduate
Just graduated? Congrats! Falling short of attaining that so-called “dream job” and not loving life in the real world? We’ve been there!
Finishing university is a scary time. After years spent in a world of structured education, set deadlines and clear goals, you’re let out into the big bad world with apparently unlimited options. Is it exciting? Sure! How about also a little terrifying? Yup!
If you’re already sick of applying for so-called entry-level jobs in the nearest city to you, only to see the dreaded 2+ years of experience listed as a requirement, you’re not the only one! Competition for graduate jobs is fierce. It can sometimes feel like that seemingly everywhere the market is saturated with newly-minted grads, all vying for the same roles.
If the prospect of moving into your parents’ basement after school is out for good fills you with existential dread, then maybe it’s time to start looking into the best Plan B of all: teaching English abroad.
Recommended reading: The best teach abroad programs for recent college graduates
Without a doubt, teaching English abroad is one of the most popular ways for recent college grads to live overseas and check off most of their travel goals. And it can be a great placeholder while you figure the next step in your career out. But don’t forget that it also absolutely counts as professional experience and, depending on your goals, may help you boost your resume and steer your professional career in the right direction.
Read this: Want to teach abroad? Try teaching English online first.
And we get it, you might not want to get into teaching long term. That’s OK. But your experience abroad will stand to you in your career after teaching overseas, in so many ways.
Teaching abroad isn’t just a great way fund your travels, either. If you’re finally ready to start #adulting, teaching English abroad can also be a great boon for your financial goals, especially if you’re looking to pay off some student debt or start saving a nest egg for future life plans down the road.
Along with the team at OISE University of Toronto TEFL, we produced Beyond Magazine - a publication with everything new college and university graduates need to know about fueling their wanderlust by teaching English abroad!
- College grads: The best job you’ve (probably) never thought of
- Why you should teach abroad as a college grad
- Why teaching abroad after graduation is a great career move
- Why teaching English abroad after graduation was the best decision of my life
- How experience teaching English abroad can benefit EVERY career
- Will having a criminal record stop me from teaching abroad
Let the post-grad adventure begin
Sign up for our upcoming live info session and learn how to get paid to travel
by teaching English abroad after graduation!
2) New (or seasoned) teacher
Faced with teaching job shortages in their home countries, more and more recent teacher graduates and experienced educators are getting the urge to take off and explore the world by teaching English abroad.
And if the idea of a working retirement abroad appeals to you, you’re never too old to teach abroad!
3) Career changers
Feeling stuck in a job you don’t like? Looking for a fresh start and new challenges? Teaching English abroad isn’t only the preserve of the post-university job seekers or qualified teachers, you know. It’s also one of the best career changer jobs there is.
It doesn't matter what stage of your career you're in, teaching overseas is always an option. All around the world, mid-career professionals of all backgrounds are in high demand for great-paying English teaching positions abroad.
What do I need to teach English abroad?
✋ Slow down for just a second! Before you get too excited and pack your bags, it’s important to assess the costs and education/work experience requirements first.
This will ensure you’re not left financially hanging once you arrive and that you’ve prepared for what is sure to be a culturally different yet memorable experience.
Want a taste of some of the awesome English teaching jobs waiting for you?
If you haven’t already, create your Teach Away profile
Find and apply for your perfect teaching job abroad on our ESL job board
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Preparing to teach English abroad: 13 questions to ask yourself
1. Am I qualified to teach English abroad?
A TEFL and bachelor's degree (any major!) is usually all you need to qualify for English teaching jobs abroad.
Answer: While the exact job specifications may vary from one school to another, most of the employers look for pretty similar qualifications and skills when hiring English teachers from overseas.
For most English teaching jobs abroad, the qualifications you need can be broken up into two main categories:
|Must have||Nice to have|
If you already have a region in mind, it’s worth doing some research on:
- How high the demand is for overseas English teachers
- Whether hiring schools typically require teaching experience
- Which type of TEFL certification you need (online or in-person?)
Teaching ESL abroad requirements by region
|Asia||Europe||Central and South America||Middle East|
2. OK, but technically I can still teach English abroad without an ESL certification, right?
Answer: Nothing is impossible. Anecdotal evidence tells us that the likelihood is that some school, somewhere, will be willing to hire you without an ESL certification. There’s no one set profile of the ideal English teaching candidate, so it is possible to teach English somewhere, regardless of your qualifications, age or first language.
However, the vast majority of well-regarded language schools around the world will not give your application so much as a second glance if you don’t hold a TEFL or equivalent certification in addition to your bachelor’s degree. Why? Most countries are working on tightening requirements for expat teachers in a bid to improve the standard of English being taught. After all, just because you can speak English fluently doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to teach English grammar! As a result, finding a job teaching English abroad without a TEFL certification is not without its obstacles.
3. You say I need a degree to teach overseas. But I’ve heard of people who’ve landed a job without one?
Answer: This is partly true. University isn’t the path for everyone, and that’s OK. Most countries do have a preference for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, but landing a job teaching abroad without one isn’t an impossible feat - just a trickier one.
If you don’t have a degree, you can still teach in select countries throughout Europe and Central and South America, where employers tend to be more flexible with degree requirements. You’ll probably have better luck landing a TEFL job - no degree required - if you’re willing to network and interview with schools in person.
For a deeper dive into where exactly you can teach English abroad with a high school diploma only, check out our blog on the five countries that don't require a degree to teach English.
4. Do I need to have teaching experience to teach English abroad?
Answer: No need to fret on that front. You can totally teach abroad in the majority of private language and ESL schools overseas without any experience - all you need is your degree and TEFL certification. As always, we advise you to check the country’s visa requirements as well as the job description for the schools or teach abroad programs you want to apply to teach in. But for the most part, you don’t need to have experience to teach in most countries, especially in Asia, Europe or Central and South America.
While you don’t need to have a teaching license, you probably won’t be able to apply to teach at international K-12 schools, department of defense schools or in public school systems/government-run teaching programs in regions like the Middle East and Asia. These jobs are highly competitive and will usually go to experienced educators with a teaching credential.
Of course, if you do have a background working as a teacher, then you’re well positioned to qualify for some of the most lucrative, perk-filled teaching jobs overseas in the Middle East and Asia.
5. Don’t I need to speak the local language to be able to, y’know, communicate with my students?
Answer: Some people mistakenly assume they can’t teach English abroad without knowing their students’ mother tongue. In fact, most overseas schools prefer if you don’t speak the native language. Total immersion in a new language is the proven best way to pick it up faster, after all.
And you don’t need to bilingual to be an English teacher abroad, either. With that caveat out of the way, if you’ve learned a foreign language yourself you will, of course, be well attuned to the specific learning needs of English language learners. And, consequently, a more empathetic, effective teacher.
Sign up with Teach Away today to hear about the latest ESL teaching jobs around the worlds.
6. I’m not from a native-English speaking country, do I still qualify for English teaching jobs abroad?
Answer: First off, many people who speak a first language that isn’t English find work as English teachers. If you can speak English proficiently and have a degree and TEFL certificate on your resume, there’s plenty of great-paying jobs out there for you to apply for.
Just bear in mind that it can sometimes be more challenging to get hired as a foreign teacher abroad as you’ll have to compete with native English speakers for jobs. Having a TEFL certificate is a great way to show employers that you have what it takes to be a great English teacher, helping you gain an edge over the competition mentioned as mentioned above.
Where it gets a little more difficult is instances where visa requirements stipulate that teachers must be citizens of the seven primary English-speaking countries: the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
But there are still more than enough countries that welcome non-native English speaking applicants. Find out more by checking out our handy articles below:
- Can I teach English abroad if I’m a non-native speaker?
- Are there ESL jobs out there for non-native speakers?
7. Am I too old (or too young) to teach abroad?
Answer: While there is a perception out there that teaching English abroad is only for starry-eyed graduates or people in their early or mid-twenties, that’s simply not true. You absolutely can teach overseas in your thirties, forties, fifties - heck, even in your sixties. Take that, Millennials and Gen Zers!
That said, certain countries do set either minimum or maximum age restrictions for teaching English overseas. Some Asian countries, for instance, set an official maximum age of 60 for visa applicants. Eastern Europe and Latin America, on the other hand, are great picks for more mature teach abroad candidates - especially if you’re already an experienced educator.
On the flipside, if you’re under the age of 21, you might also find it difficult to land a job teaching overseas. Your best bet would be to research volunteer or gap-year teach abroad programs and apply to those instead.
8. How much money can I make teaching English abroad?
Answer: Salaries when teaching English abroad vary depending on the country and area in which you are working. A candidate’s experience level and qualifications will also play a role in determining teaching salary.
Countries in Asia, especially China, Japan and South Korea, are known for offering highly-competitive compensation packages and a high standard of living to new teacher arrivals.
Check out these articles for more on what youb can expect to be paid as an ESL teacher in Asia:
- What's the average salary for a teacher in China?
- How much money can you make teaching in Japan?
- How much can you earn and save teaching English in South Korea?
On the flipside, in Europe and Central and South America, your salary should allow you to rent a decent apartment, eat out regularly and travel in your free time. You probably won’t have a whole lot left over at the end, but you can always supplement your income by teaching English online or taking private lessons in your free time.
While some of the highest-paying countries to teach abroad in include Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it’s always worth bearing in mind the cost of living in different destinations. Yes, you get benefits like free housing, paid vacation, health insurance and round-trip airfare covered, but these jobs are usually only open to teachers with classroom teaching experience who have completed a formal teacher training program.
How much you can make as an ESL teacher abroad will vary by country and employer and can fluctuate depending on your qualifications and experience.
Want to compare teaching abroad salaries by country? Well then, you’re in luck! We’ve created a free ESL salary calculator to help you figure out how much money you can teaching English abroad all around the world!
9. What kind of benefits can I expect teaching English abroad?
Answer: Some schools offer shared housing/accommodation subsidies as part of their compensation packages. In countries in Europe, you will more than likely be on the hook for your own airfare, as well as health insurance. However, many schools and programs, in Asia and the Middle East especially, will cover your health insurance and reimburse you for your airfare if you sign a year-long contract.
10. What are the basic start-up costs I need to save for?
Answer: Whoever said “the best things in life are free” clearly never moved abroad!
Relocating to a brand new place is as exciting an adventure as it gets, but it costs money. If you’re taking the plunge and moving abroad to teach, you’re going to need to do some planning and budgeting for your move.
Let’s start with the absolute basics:
a) Getting qualified
A reputable TEFL certificate will usually set you back anything from $1,000 USD for an online, self-paced, TEFL course, to upwards of $2,000 for a four-week, full-time, in-person TEFL course. While there are some cheaper, shorter TEFL courses out there on the market priced as low as $200, these don’t meet the minimum requirement set by employers globally (100 hours or more).
You’ll also need to pay for any fees incurred during your job and work visa application. And quick heads up, you might need to supply apostilled documents at an additional expense. Most hiring schools happily interview candidates in advance, by phone and/or Skype, so that should help keep your start-up costs to a minimum.
Note: If you opt for an in-person TEFL course, then you’ll also need to factor in travel and food expenses. TEFL courses taken abroad cost around the $1,700 mark, not including flights, daily living and accommodation costs.
b) Getting there
Many hiring schools and teach abroad programs, especially throughout Asia and the Middle East, will cover free airfare for successful applicants. If your budget is tight, consider teaching in countries like South Korea and China. Or, choose a country with a low cost of living, so your money stretches really far, like Thailand or Vietnam.
However, if you’re set on teaching English in places like Europe and Central and South America, you’ll more than likely need to spring for your own flights to and from your new country of residence. So don’t say we didn’t warn you - it’s time to start saving!
c) Getting settled in
Keep a close eye on the exchange rate in advance of the big move. If you’re looking to intend to transfer your savings to a bank account in the currency of your destination, you’ll want to try and do this at the optimum time.
You’ll also need to cover bills and daily living expenses (around six weeks’ worth is a pretty safe bet) while you’re waiting for your first paycheck. These typically include:
- Transportation costs
Of course, if your school doesn’t provide these as part of your package, there’s also rent and your local health insurance plan to think about. Before you go, it’s a good idea to do a cost of living comparison so you can figure out exactly how far your money will go in your new home country. We love sites like Numbeo and Expatistan to compare cost-of-living rates around the world.
You may also want a contingency fund set aside in case of any emergencies when you first move.
11. Will I have to pay taxes while teaching abroad?
We are not tax professionals and this information is only a brief overview!
Answer: Yes, you’ll probably need to pay local taxes in your new country. In Korea, for example, you pay around 3% tax on income earned. If you’re wondering how much tax you’ll need to pay while teaching abroad, check out EY’s Worldwide Personal Tax Guide.
Example 1: How taxes work for US teachers abroad ?
If you’re a US citizen (or a green card holder) and earn over $10,000 USD living abroad, then you’ll need to file an annual US federal tax return for every year you’re abroad. There’s no dodging that particular bullet!
However, unless you’re making serious bank teaching English abroad (think $100,000+), then you won’t be on the hook for US income tax - all thanks to a provision called the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE).
Example 2: How taxes work for Canadian teachers abroad ?
Canadians English teachers are required to pay Canadian taxes on income earned while living abroad. The upside is that, so long as the country you’re teaching has a tax treaty with the Canadian government, then the local taxes you pay are deducted from your Canadian tax bill. Do your due diligence by checking out the full list of countries that have a tax treaty with Canada.
Not from the US or Canada? We recommend you do some research on the tax implications set by your home country for expats abroad.
Read more: Tax timeout: tax responsibilities for teachers heading overseas to teach
12. Can I teach abroad with my family?
Answer: Absolutely! However, it’s super important to do your research on the programs that offer great packages with family-friendly benefits like subsidized tuition for dependents and group health plans. You can also teach overseas with your partner - there are many teach abroad programs and hiring schools that will hire teaching couples!
More often than not, these are usually international schools or government programs, located in regions such as the Middle East and Asia. Countries like Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan and the UAE are all good places to kick off your teach abroad job search.
13. Is it possible to teach English abroad with my pet?
Answer: Pet passports, vaccinations and microchips, oh my! While you can teach abroad with your favorite furry friend, most countries require some sort of entry permit for pets, so we hope you’re not afraid of a little paperwork.
The application process varies quite a lot from country to country, as well as your personal country of origin. Word of warning - entrance requirements could also include a quarantining period for your pet.
If you’re not sure whether you’re allowed to bring Fido along for the big adventure, you’ll usually find that your new country’s government website will have a handy info page dedicated to transferring pets of all types - from dogs and cats to the more exotic, scaly varieties.
The transportation process can be a bit of an upheaval for your pet, so think carefully about whether it’s worth all that stress if you’re only planning on teaching overseas for a year. And if you love bringing your dog everywhere with you, it’s worth doing some online sleuthing to figure out if the place you’re moving to is dog-friendly.
Read more: Teaching abroad with your pet: What you need to know
How to teach English abroad: Your foolproof 5-step plan
You’re just a few steps away from landing your dream teaching job! But before you start looking for jobs, there are steps you can take to help make the rest of the process easier.
Step #1: Get your ESL certificate.
If your goal is to teach English abroad, then TEFL is the most commonly recognized of the four options above in the eyes of international employers.
You will need to make an initial investment in the necessary training before you can get a job teaching abroad. Just like there’s a perfect GIF to sum up every mood, there’s the perfect ESL certification for every type of English teacher.
When it comes to teaching English abroad, the ticket to landing a great-paying job virtually anywhere on earth is a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.
A TEFL is what most hiring schools are looking for from their candidates. That’s why you’ll see it crop up time and time again as a requirement on most overseas teaching job listings. Put simply, employers invariably prefer job candidates who are TEFL certified - even if it’s not explicitly listed as a hard-and-fast requirement.
Looking to learn more about all things TEFL?
Teach Away’s Ultimate Guide to TEFL certification is the perfect place to start! It includes an overview of the different types of ESL certifications out there (and which one you need to qualify to teach English abroad), where you can teach with your TEFL, tips on choosing the right TEFL course, the real deal with TEFL course accreditation and much more.
Here’s a quick rundown of the other types of ESL certifications out there:
A TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification is the qualification you need if you’re looking to teach English in your home country.
A TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification or CELTA (Certificate in Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages) course is your best bet if you’re looking for the flexibility to teach English abroad and in your home country.
The two biggest cons with TESOL or CELTA courses?
One: TESOL is not as well known a qualification overseas as TEFL.
Two: TESOL and CELTA course are also a good deal more expensive and time intensive to complete than your average TEFL course. As a result, people who are pursuing a long-term career plan teaching English language learners are the ones to tend to stump up the extra cash for a TESOL or CELTA course.
Have questions about which TEFL course is right for you? Book a time to chat with an OISE University of Toronto TEFL course advisor today!
Tight on time for a chat? Shoot us an email instead!
Step #2: Figure out where you want to teach.
Now that you’ve decided to teach English abroad and know what qualifications you need to get started, you’re faced with probably the hardest challenge: where the heck should you go?
It can be difficult to choose one destination, especially if you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust and want to explore the whole world. And that’s actually a good thing. Being flexible with your location just means more programs and job opportunities to apply for!
Depending where you want to teach, the interview options range from in-person interviews to phone/Skype interviews.
Looking for something a bit different, read this: How to get a teaching job on a military base overseas.
Step #3: Apply for jobs and accept a job offer.
(Psst: Before you can start applying for teaching jobs abroad, of course, you’ll need to get that ESL resume in ship shape.)
As the majority of candidates prefer the security of securing a job offer before their departure, most teach abroad job searches start online. The Teach Away job board is a great source for a large number of jobs teaching English abroad (across more than 60 countries, to be exact).
Many schools hiring English teachers from overseas choose not to conduct in-person interviews. Instead, the hiring process, including interviews, take place remotely, either over the phone or via online video. Candidates will also need to deal with different time zones as well as a potential language barrier when applying for English teaching positions abroad.
When applying to teach English abroad, it’s important to select a well-established recruitment company. Teach Away is committed to placing teaching candidates with the most reputable education institutions, offering b compensation packages and a great working environment. Additionally, there is also no fee for candidates placed in a teaching job abroad through us.
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the most challenging part of the job hunt. All the job applications and interview rounds have paid off and you have a job offer in the bag.
Now, it might be tempting to jump right in and accept it without so much as a second thought, but hold on, for the more grueling decision is yet to be taken. More on that below.
Step #4: Get your visa.
Pretty much everyone will need a valid visa to teach abroad, though the specifics for being granted a working visa can depend on your nationality and the requirements set by the country in which you want to teach.
Filling out copious amounts of visa paperwork is nobody’s idea of a good time. But you will need to check your new country's government website to see what supporting documentation you will need to send in for your application.
For a quick overview of the different types of visas for overseas teachers and some examples of how visa practices work in different countries around the world, check out our blog:
Read this: Do you really need a visa to teach English abroad?
Step #5: Pack your bags!
OK, so we’ve made this sound easy peasy - but it’s not just about remembering to pack your sunscreen and camera tripod. There’s lots of prep involved at this juncture - after all, upending your life to move to a whole new country is no easy task.
- Before you leave, you’ll need to tie up any loose ends back home, especially any legal and financial stuff. Talk to your bank about any outstanding loans or recurring bills. They can also advise whether you should apply for an international credit card, so you don’t get stung for foreign transaction fees.
- At the same time, you’re probably going to want to save up as much dough as possible to cover any start-up costs you’ll accrue in the first couple of months abroad. And don’t forget to check with your phone provider before you leave - they can usually help you unlock your smartphone before you leave so you can just buy a local SIM card and pop it in when you arrive.
- To protect yourself against diseases that are common outside of your home country, you should also have a chat with your doctor and explore which vaccinations you may need to get before leaving to teach English abroad.
- Have a think about the logistics and costs of shipping any belongings overseas, too. If you’re planning on teaching overseas for a year or two (at most) maybe moving abroad with two suitcases and a carry-on is better, especially if your employer is setting you up with accommodation and all that good stuff as part of your compensation package.
- Now’s also the perfect time to do even more research on the exchange rate and cost of living in your new home country so you can prevent confusion when you get there.
Getting acclimated to the culture before the big move is also something we highly recommend. Research things like the history, culture, etiquette and social customs of your new country. Learn a few key words and phrases. We all want to feel like a member of our community, which is why learning about some of this stuff can go a long way in ensuring the settling-in process goes as smoothly as possible.
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Start living it by signing up for our free info session, covering everything you need to know
about qualifying to teach English abroad this year (plus bonus surprise for attendees!)
Where can I teach English abroad?
Ready to spin that globe (figuratively speaking)? Here is every country you can teach English abroad in, right now!
634 ESL vacancies live right now for TEFL graduates.
Teaching English abroad is a unique and wonderful experience. It provides insights into a country that isn’t your own. It exposes you to a different culture. And it allows you to learn a new language, meet new people and get a new perspective on the world. It’s an experience not many people get a chance to have.
There’s a whole wide world out there, so how do you choose the best places to teach English abroad?
First off, do you want to work in a place that’s a little culturally familiar (think Europe, if you’re from a western country) or somewhere totally different to home?
Do you want to teach in a foreign country to learn a new language or do you prefer somewhere where many of the locals speak English?
What about work visas - are you eligible to apply for one in your dream country?
Many factors come into play when picking the right destination. Do you love the hustle and bustle of a big city or are you more of a country person? Do you prefer hot climates with beaches or do you love mountain hikes and more moderate temperatures?
How far do you want to travel? Maybe you’d prefer to stay closer to home so you can go back for visits, or maybe you want a real adventure far, far away. All these personal preferences will help you determine your perfect destination.
It’s also important to think about what you want to achieve from your time teaching abroad. For instance:
- Do you want to make lots of money (to save up a nest egg for your future, travel, pay off loans, etc.)?
- Are you happy with funding a new life adventure abroad and breaking even at the end?
- Do you want to learn a new language?
If teaching abroad is a stepping stone into a long-term career teaching internationally or back home, you might decide to head to Asia first, where the job market is particularly strong right now, and head to Europe or the Middle East afterward.
Take the quiz: Where should I teach abroad?
Where are English teachers most in demand?
Central and Southeast Asia are by far the regions with the fastest-growing number ESL jobs worldwide. The market in countries like China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand is booming. Accordingly, English teaching jobs in the region offer lucrative salaries on top of attractive benefits, like housing and airfare reimbursement.
PS: Want to teach English online to Chinese students? All you need is your bachelor’s degree! Check out these companies hiring now:
While there are lots of opportunities to find English teaching jobs in places like Spain, Italy, Germany and France, countries like Poland and the Czech Republic are also emerging as hugely popular destinations for those looking to teach English abroad, mostly due to the comparatively lower cost of living.
Central and South America
Some of the places with a high demand for English teachers in Central and South America are Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica. While salaries and benefits packages aren’t quite as high as other regions we’ve mentioned, low living expenses in Central and South America make these countries great spots to live and travel in on the cleap.
The Middle East
ESL teachers in the Middle East enjoy lucrative salaries. English teaching opportunities in the region range from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Egypt.
Where are the highest paying TEFL jobs abroad?
Each country is different when it comes to salaries for English teachers - there's no standard ESL pay scale globally. How much you get paid all depends on your credentials, your employer, the country you’re teaching in, how much experience you have and the standard of living in the country you teach in.
Plenty of jobs teaching English abroad come with some sweet side perks that will boost your overall salary. So bear in mind when doing your research that if a teaching salary seems initially underwhelming but the hiring school is throwing in free accommodation and airfare, then that’s your take-home pay for you to spend however you like! How many jobs in your home country can say the same?
The best places to teach English abroad in 2023 (in no particular order)
Wondering what the best countries to teach English AND save money in are? The table below outlines our top picks! We’ve gathered info on the average monthly salary, upfront costs, general cost of living standard and the best cities to secure a teaching job:
|Country||Salary||Extra perks||Start-up costs||Cost of living||Best cities for English teaching jobs|
|China||$2,500 USD||Airfare, housing allowance, vacation time, health insurance||TEFL certificate, initial daily expenses||Low||Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen|
|South Korea||$2,000 USD||Airfare, health insurance, end-of-contract bonus|
TEFL certificate, initial daily expenses
|Low in rural areas||Seoul|
|Spain||$750 - 1,950 USD||Paid vacation||TEFL certificate, Airfare, initial daily expenses, travel insurance||Lower in rural areas||Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid|
|Czech Republic||18,000 - 24,000 KC||Housing allowance||TEFL certificate, Airfare, initial daily expenses, travel insurance||Very low||Prague|
|Mexico||12,000 MXN||Housing allowance, health insurance||TEFL certificate, airfare, initial daily expenses, housing|
|Mexico City, as well as rural areas|
|Argentina||2,600 - 10,400 ARS||Assistance with finding housing||TEFL certificate, airfare, housing, initial daily expenses|
|Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza, Mar de Plata, as well as rural areas|
|UAE (United Arab Emirates)||$4,100 USD, tax-free||Airfare, health insurance, housing, tuition, end of contract bonus||None||Housing costs are high||Abu Dhabi, Dubai|
|Saudi Arabia||$2,600 - 4,000 USD, tax-free||Airfare, housing allowance, health insurance||None||High in urban areas||Riyadh, Jeddah|
The definitive list of teaching English abroad programs
Got the itch to drop everything, fill up a suitcase, and set off on a global adventure? Once you’ve decided where you want to teach in the world, the next step is deciding on the best programs and schools to apply to.
In additional to the list below, there are hundreds and even thousands of private ESL and international schools looking to hire TEFL qualified English teachers year round. Check out the Teach Away job board, quickly filter by location or teaching job type and get applying today!
Teaching English in Asia
Programs for teaching English in Thailand
- Greenheart Travel (semester program)
The best places to teach English in Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai
Programs for teaching English in Vietnam
- Greenheart Travel
- COMPASS Education
- Center for Cooperation and Human Development (volunteer program)
- Trellis (volunteer program)
The best places to teach English in Vietnam: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Programs for teaching English in China
The best places to teach English in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou
The best places to teach English in South Korea: Seoul, Daejeon, Incheon
Keep reading: Everything you need to know about applying (and getting hired) for the EPIK program
Programs for teaching English in Japan
The best places to teach English in Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima
Programs for teaching English in Taiwan
The best places to teach English in Taiwan: Taipei
Teaching English in Europe
Programs for teaching English in Spain
The best places to teach English in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Bilbao
Read this: Teacher talks: What it’s like living and teaching English in Spain
Programs for teaching English in France
The best places to teach English in France: Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Le Havre, Marseille, and Bordeaux
Programs for teaching English in Italy
The best places to teach English in Italy: Rome, Milan, Florence
Programs for teaching English in the Czech Republic
The best places to teach English in the Czech Republic: Prague, Brno
Programs for teaching English in Central and South America
The best places to teach English in Mexico: Mexico City, Ecatepec, Guadalajara
The best places to teach English in Colombia: Botoga, Medellin
Programs for teaching English in the Middle East
As you can see from the list above, there are a variety of options out there when it comes to paid teach abroad programs worldwide. How will you ever hone in on the right program for you?
When you need help picking out a new book, tech gadget, hairstylist, or even dentist, what do you do? Turn to online reviews, of course!
So it should come as no surprise that there are quite a teach abroad program review sites, like Go Abroad and Go Overseas, that provide a window-shopping experience for the modern teach abroad job seeker.
Sites like Reddit and Quora, as well as company Facebook pages, are also a good source to help you get better informed about different teach abroad programs.
And beyond online research, you can also try kicking it old school. See if you can get some personal information from an acquaintence who taught abroad or ask for a referral to a friend of a friend! Don’t be shy about approaching people on social media either.
Teaching English abroad region overview
Wondering what kinds of English teaching jobs are in highest demand in each region and when the best time to apply is? Keep reading for our rundown of some of the most common ESL job types and the major hiring seasons in each region!
English teaching jobs in Europe
Most English teaching jobs in Europe are in private language schools, that specialize in after-school and evening classes for English language learners. Teaching contracts typically run from September all the way through to June. Public schools have a preference for hiring EU citizens who can speak the local language, so private language schools are generally the best bet if you’re interested in Europe.
For anyone looking for short-term teaching jobs, there are also language camps running over the summer throughout Europe. You can also choose to teach private lessons or tutor, however, the job market is pretty competitive so this is likely a better option if you’re looking to supplement your existing income.
To teach English at an international or IB school in Europe, you will need to be a certified or licensed teacher in your home country, with some classroom teaching experience under your belt.
The best time to look for a job
Peak hiring season at a glance: September/October, January
February is usually a good time to start looking for jobs teaching English in Europe. However, plenty of jobs do become available as the new school year approaches. There are always last-minute openings throughout the year as well.
English teaching jobs in Asia
As we mentioned, Asia is a prime destination for ESL teachers the world over. Schools in Asia teach English from primary school onwards. Therefore, the demand for ESL teachers is practically insatiable. For example, there are government-run teaching programs that seek to hire TEFL qualified teachers from overseas to teach in both private and public schools.
Language and ESL schools are also ubiquitous throughout Asia, offering Business and conversational English lessons to both kids and adults. These positions are the ideal fir for TEFL certified, inexperienced teachers. There’s also a huge demand for private tutoring and online English teaching in Asia, if you’re looking for a more flexible teaching schedule.
As is the case with European international schools, international schools in Asia predominantly hire experienced, certified teachers. If you don’t have a degree, there are also volunteer teaching opportunities available with Asian NGOs in select countries.
The best time to look for a job
Peak hiring season at a glance: Year-round
Pro tip: When it comes to connecting with the right English teaching job opportunity in Asia, timing isn't everything. The best approach is to submit your applications all year round if you can, and to as many companies as you can, as hiring takes place year round, on an as-needed basis.
Some notable exceptions include the JET program, who like to start their recruiting from April until June and again from October through to January. They also favor a fairly lengthy hiring process of six months or more. The EPIK program in Korea also kicks off its major recruitment drive in the spring, so mark that one in your calendar.
English teaching jobs in Central and South America
Most positions are in private language schools that cater primarily to adults. There are lots of onsite TEFL certification course providers that offer guaranteed job placements to graduates. You can also try your hand at volunteer teaching (no degree required) or teaching English in developing countries. If you’re a certified, experienced educator, you can also apply to teach at the many international schools located throughout the region.
The best time to look for a job
Most countries in South America hire English teachers at the start of their school year - usually March. Central American countries tend to concentrate their hiring efforts in either June or July. In contrast to Asia and the Middle East, where hiring in advance is standard practice, face-to-face interviewing is the norm in Central and South America.
English teaching jobs in the Middle East
English teaching positions are plentiful in the Middle East - you can take your pick from a laundry list that includes:
- Government programs
- International schools
- Private language schools
- Vocational schools
- Colleges and universities
There’s no shortage of jobs teaching English at language schools in the Middle East for TEFL certified teachers.
Public school jobs are a great option for newly-qualified educators with little to no experience. English teaching jobs at international schools in the Middle East tend to be highly coveted due to their lucrative salary and benefits packages, and tend to go to more highly qualified, experienced international educators looking to teach English abroad long term.
The best time to look for a job
Peak hiring season at a glance: Year-round
Positions are usually open throughout the year, however, the prime application time for many public school English teaching jobs happens during the spring and early summer.
How can I find a job teaching English abroad?
What if you could make money while traveling the world? What if you could call a village in Southern Italy or a beachside town in Thailand home and build your resume while you lived there?
Rather than just spending a weekend somewhere checking out the sights, you get to immerse yourself fully in life in a brand-new country. It’s a dream come true for people interested in long-term travel.
And a job teaching English abroad is how you can turn that dream into a reality.
What kinds of English teaching jobs are out there?
While there are a wide range of English teaching jobs abroad, including internships and volunteer and summer camp teaching jobs, the vast majority of teaching positions overseas fall into one of the two categories below:
|ESL teaching jobs||Licensed teaching jobs|
Teaching English in either private or public schools as well as language schools abroad.
Teaching your subject area of expertise in private, public or international schools abroad.
There are also a few other, less common, categories that overseas teaching jobs can fall into, including college teaching and school administrator positions.
Teaching jobs will on offer will vary depending on the country and your qualifications and experience.
For example, as a graduate with a TEFL certificate in Japan, you could work as any one of the following:
- Assistant language teacher (ALT) in a public school
- Native English Teacher (NET) in a private language school
- Business English teacher
However, if you have a degree in education and have classroom teaching experience, you could also teach at an international school, kindergarten or even at a Japanese university.
What types of education institutions hire for English teachers abroad?
You can find jobs teaching English abroad in a variety of institutions, including
- Private ESL/language schools
- Public schools
- International/IB schools
- Department of defense overseas schools
- English language camps
- Volunteer organizations
- Business English classes
There are also lots of opportunities for one-on-one tutoring with private families or individuals, the list goes on! The type of teaching job you take will depend on how long you can commit to a contract, your experience teaching and your own interests and goals as a teacher.
What kinds of ESL teaching contracts are out there?
Your contract will vary depending on where you end up working. If you’re looking to build a career as an ESL teacher, definitely look for full time, long-term contracts. If you want some more flexibility and the ability to move from country to country, look for freelance, shorter-term contracts or jobs as an ESL tutor.
If money isn’t your be-all-end-all and you’re looking for a way to make a summer abroad or sabbatical more meaningful, it could be an idea to check out volunteer teaching opportunities in developing countries.
Read this: 9 key things that should be in your teach abroad contract
What are the typical hiring seasons for English teaching jobs abroad?
Peak hiring times will vary from region to region and country to country, as well as the type of educational institution hiring. While it’s possible to find a job teaching English year round, in general, interviews tend to coincide with the end of winter and summer vacations and the beginning of a new school semester.
It’s worth doing some planning and research on the countries you’re most interested in teaching in, to ensure you don't miss out on any upcoming recruitment drives.
In countries with a major ESL market, such as China, South Korea and Thailand, thousands of jobs teaching English at private language schools are open year round. If you’re looking to teach English abroad this year, applications to teach English in China are currently being accepted from candidates interested in teaching English in China through the Explore Program.
How long do typical English teaching contracts last?
Teach abroad contracts can be short-term (ranging from a minimum of three months to a semester) but more often are at least a year or more in length.
Teaching English abroad: 5 strategies for a successful job search:
We’ve been placing tens of thousands of you in awesome English teaching jobs abroad for over 15 years (boy, do we feel old).
Here, we lay every aspect of the teach abroad job search on the table, including insider tips and trade secrets from hiring pros and real people who’ve taught English overseas.
Read: Teaching English abroad: A step-by-step plan
1. Decide which type of ESL teaching job you want.
When you think of teaching English abroad, do you picture yourself in front of a class of:
Or maybe a mix of all three? Perhaps you feel you don’t have the patience for a room full of excited six-year-olds, or you think teaching adults sounds like dull work.
If you’re torn between these options, then keep reading for the main differences and pros and cons of each. The age group you prefer to teach could factor into your choice of teaching destination so you’ll need to figure this part out before you start your teach abroad application.
Regardless of the age group you plan on teaching, you can never go too far wrong with patience, some formal ESL training and an understanding of your students’ goals and needs.
Teaching English to children abroad
Teaching English to adults abroad
Teaching kids comes with a lot of upsides. Not least, the fact that a child’s brain can soak up information like a sponge, meaning you’ll get a real sense of accomplishment seeing them acquire a new language under your incredible tutelage.
Of course, you’ll need to be adept at managing a classroom, as young kids can be quite the handful. Kids also tend to be less self-conscious than adolescents or adults, meaning you can have a whole lot of fun with them - and they won’t be too put off by making mispronunciations or mistakes in front of the class.
OK, so the idea of teaching kids breaks you out into a cold sweat. That’s totally OK, there’s no shortage of jobs teaching English to adults overseas. More often than not, your students will be working professionals or college students looking to learn English to further their careers.
We all know that the older we get, the more conscious an effort we need to put into learning a language. Adults are usually paying for lessons out of their own pocket. As a result, they’re super driven to learn as much as they can from you. This means far less time will be spent keeping your students in check. And less effort in making your lessons more imaginative and creative, as you would do for kids.
Where can I teach kids abroad?
Where can I teach real-life grownups abroad?
If teaching kids appeals you to, then you’ll find plenty of jobs in countries throughout Asia, especially Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
Europe is also a great spot for English teachers looking to teach children.
Some great regions to explore teaching English abroad in if the idea of teaching adults appeals most to you include:
2. Narrow down the programs and schools you want to apply to.
Hate being confined to one place? Teaching English abroad gives you the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and explore - and the freedom to find a great-paying job in a place you absolutely love.
That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of our top teach abroad programs. Check these out below today and feed your wanderlust.
If you have any questions, just talk to one of our teach abroad experts. They’re here to answer your questions, explain your options and describe how the process of getting certified and hired to teach English abroad actually works!
Read more: Dreaming of teaching abroad? Here are the 5 best programs hiring right now!
3. Craft a killer teach abroad resume that will get you hired. ✍️
Before you do anything else, we advise you to read the job posting carefully. That way, you can make the connections between your experience and the requirements of the position apparent in your resume.
Next, grab your current resume, or pull together your work experience and education information to date, and give it a bit of a boost with these tips:
ESL resume tip #1: Don’t forget to include personal information.
Include your name, contact details, nationality, your native language, residency/visa status relevant to the job posting, gender, age and marital status. While this might seem like way WAY too much personal info for a North American applicant, it’s pretty standard fare for international employers.
A professional headshot is also typically included as part of the application process in countries in Asia and parts of Europe. As is a brief mission statement - two to three sentences, max, should do the trick.
ESL resume tip #2: Highlight your education and credentials.
If you have a degree in education, teaching license or ESL certification, be sure to put these up top, listing your highest qualification first. List some of your most relevant hobbies and interests at the end - have you learned a new language, for example? Try to bring as much of your personality to the resume as it gets.
ESL resume tip #3: Include all relevant experience.
Don’t forget to list relevant teaching experience, if you have some.
If you’re a fresh graduate without much concrete experience to show, then you could include any experience you have working with children, whether volunteering or coaching and be sure to explicitly call out any achievements and skills you’ve gained from that experience.
Be sure to mention any international experience, for instance, a study-abroad program. If you don’t have any of that, then emphasize your passion for traveling in general.
ESL resume tip #4: Edit your resume carefully.
When hiring schools scan a resume, the first thing they look for are mistakes. Funky formatting, poor punctuation, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes are a big no-no, especially for English teaching jobs!
Your resume could be fantastic, but if you violate a rule like using an unprofessional email address or improper grammar, it’s going to go right to the bottom of the pile. Regarding fonts, colors and design - it’s always better to keep it simple, clean, and easy to read. It’s also worth asking a trusted colleague, friend or family member with an eagle eye to give your resume a once over.
ESL resume tip #5: Keep it snappy.
Unless you’re applying for a leadership role, your teach abroad resume doesn’t need to be any longer than two pages, max.
Keep reading: How to write a great teaching resume for anywhere in the world
4. Get applying.
There are so many great English teaching job opportunities abroad, and a large part of the work comes before you even find the right position. Combing through job sites can be a full-time job in and of itself, along with perfecting your teach abroad resume to make sure that your name makes it to the top of the pile.
Some ESL job boards require you to create an account when applying for jobs. It's a good idea to start your online job search by creating an account on Teach Away and applying for the latest jobs on our handy ESL jobs board.
Other great places to find English teaching jobs online include:
- Go Abroad
- Go Overseas
- Dave’s ESL Cafe
- Transitions Abroad
- Teaching Nomad
- Total ESL
- ESL Jobs Lounge
- ESL 101
- ESL Employment
- ESL Job Feed
- TEFL Search
- ESL Teachers Board
- Total ESL
- ESL Authority
- Bridge TEFL
- Global TEFL UK
- TEFL Jobs World
- TEFL Express
Read this: What does it mean if my application is “closed”?
5. Ace your ESL teaching job interview
Consider this list of resources your ultimate teach abroad interview guide:
I landed a job teaching English abroad: Now what?
For this info, we’ll direct you to the following posts and resources!
- 5 teacher blogs to get you excited about teaching abroad
- The ultimate packing checklist for teaching abroad
- How to avoid cold feet: The teach abroad edition
Settling into life as an ESL teacher abroad:
ESL classroom teaching tips and resources:
- 10 tips for teaching in ESL classrooms
- Assessing your cultural competence: A checklist for culturally responsive teachers
- 5 steps to becoming a culturally responsive teacher
- Teaching across cultures: Being mindful of cultural differences in the international classroom
- 11 teacher podcasts you need to listen to right now
Life after teaching English abroad:
Looking to make your life an adventure? ✈️
Teach English abroad and get paid to see the world.