Are you looking to move overseas but don’t know where to start? Teaching English abroad can be a great steppingstone, as well as a solid career builder. By starting out as an English teacher, you’ll already have a built-in community while you ease into learning the language of your new home.
Working abroad is a fantastic way to broaden our cultural horizons, and starting out as an English teacher can serve as a roadmap to build your résumé and start networking.
But what is teaching English abroad like? To give you a better sense of the requirements and process, here’s some general information on teaching English abroad.
Requirements for teaching English abroad
While requirements will vary by program, there’s a few common denominators to keep in mind.
- A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent. You’ll need to have a completed college degree, but this can be in any field. That means that no matter what your long-term career plans are, you can definitely make use of an English teaching experience abroad. This can be a welcome gap-year option for students heading into long graduate programs.
- A TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification. The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification is the most targeted for those looking to teach English in a country with a different primary language. A TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification includes training for teaching both in English-speaking countries and in countries with different primary language. CELTA is a TESOL equivalent issued by Cambridge.
Native vs. Non-Native
An important requirement for many programs is citizenship from an English-speaking country. Citizens from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the US will have an easier time getting a job teaching English abroad. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any options for non-natives!
If you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree and an English-teaching certification, it’s a matter of finding programs that are open to applications for non-natives. Some countries, like Brazil and Mexico, are laxer when it comes to native vs. non-native, while other programs may be more forgiving if you already have experience.
Types of programs for teaching English abroad
1. Schools. These programs are often Government funded or done through some sort of partnership between governments. On a year-by-year basis, you’ll be placed in a specific public school to work as an auxiliary English teacher or as the primary language instructor. Usually, you don’t have much of a say on where you get placed, though it’s easier if you want to renew your stay at the same school or locale. As an auxiliary, you will conduct conversation practices and help the primary instructor during their lessons.
2. Academies. These programs can be part-time or full-time, in which you are hired by an academy and then dispatched to different schools based on demand.In essence, the academy ‘sublets’ your services to other institutions, a good option for those who prefer moving around but don’t want to go through the process of finding their own customers.
3. Teaching in corporate. While this can also be done in liaison with academies, many international companies have job placements available for an in-house English teacher. Your job will be to bring new hires reach the desired level of fluency to work within the company. Teaching in corporate can also help you network if you manage to land a job within your industry of choice.
4. Online. Although most people want to teach English abroad for the sake of traveling, this might not always be an option. On the other hand, you may simply be interested in finding a supplemental gig to make ends meet while abroad.
Best places to teach English abroad
- South Korea. The country is known for taking in many first-time teachers and for offering great benefits like free housing. Many consider this to be a safe option if you’re looking to save money.
- Japan. Although a fan-favorite for many, Japan can get on the expensive side. Major cities have a high cost of living, which means you might be spending everything you make. However, the country does offer better compensation if you’re staying for longer periods of time.
- Thailand. It’s cheap, there’s beaches, great food, and a vibrant atmosphere. If you’re more into the experience than into making a lot of money, Thailand is a great option. That being said, you could land more lucrative English teaching jobs in international schools in Bangkok or the like, which would be easier to get once you’re there.
- Costa Rica. Not only does Costa Rica have one of the largest job markets in the region, there’s also great demand for online teaching. There are options available even for those who haven’t completed a university degree (as long as you have a certification).
- Spain. The Iberian country has a robust English placement system, which you can apply for through your government if you’re from an English-speaking country. Many choose Spain as a destination for teaching English abroad because the cost of living isn’t too high and you’re a stone’s throw away from all major European cities.
- Morocco. There’s high demand for English teachers in Morocco, and its location offers the same traveling ease as Spain. Keep in mind that a bachelor’s degree is a must, and you’ll likely be placed in one of Morocco’s major cities such as Marrakesh and Rabat.
These are just some of the many, many places where you can find international teaching jobs. Our recommendation is to look into a country or region you’re already interested in culturally and looking at the English teaching programs available. We all have different priorities, so make sure you’re looking into location, benefits, and compensation.
And there you have it! Hope this snapshot on teaching English abroad have opened your eyes to new possibilities.