How to Become an English Teacher Abroad
Where can you teach English abroad?
The answer to that question is almost anywhere. English is the clear number one international language and so people all over the world need to speak it. It is a simple game of demand and supply. In most countries the demand for English seriously exceeds the number of people capable of teaching it.
If you understood that last sentence then you could meet that demand, have hopefully a great experience abroad and maybe even save up some money. Some countries have a preference for Americans, others prefer European teachers. Some countries require you to have a degree, some require you to have a TEFL qualifications, others require neither and a few require both. Whatever your situation if you can speak English there is a country and a job out there for you.
Some of the more popular countries & regions for TEFL
PROs – Some of the highest salaries in the world and a great place to save money. Many schools will even pay for your return flight there and you can use it as a base to explore other countries during your lengthy holidays.
CONs – Korea has a somewhat unfair reputation for being a bit boring. It certainly lacks the appeal of places like Thailand or Japan in the eyes of most teachers and travellers.
PROs – More exciting than Korea and less likely to get nuked! The JET programme enables you to work for a shorter period than your typical TEFL contract. High salaries too often including accommodation.
CONs – Japan is a very expensive country to live in so it would be a very brave or very rich person who heads out there without a job lined up.
PROs – Huge and increasing demand for teachers. Salaries are also increasing rapidly and there is lots of university work available which many teachers prefer.
CONs– Outside the more popular cities you might be one of very few foreigners in the town which some teachers find very isolating. Chinese is hard to learn and you need to know some to get by in most of the country.
Spain and Italy
PROs – Laid back lifestyle, some of the funnest people in Europe and a larger demand for teachers than other parts of the continent.
CONs – Limited chance of saving any money as wages are generally fairly low. Americans and Canadians will struggle to get a work visa without holding an EU passport.
Southeast Asia – Primarily Thailand and Vietnam
PROs – The same reasons so many people travel to the region. Intriguing culture, fantastic food and beautiful destinations.
CONs – It’s fairly popular with teachers but you should be able to find work. Many schools aren’t great though and you can get messed around.
South America – Chile and Ecuador amongst the most popular
PROs – Opportunity to learn Spanish cheaply and use it as a base for exploring South America.
CONs – Some of the lowest paying TEFL salaries in the world.
The Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE etc
PROs – Fantastic Salaries. Comparable to those of a highly skilled profession back home.
CONs – Living in a country which adheres to strict Islamic principles isn’t for everyone. It’s also really really hot!
PROs – A famous man once said that wherever there are billionaires there are English language schools. Okay we made that up but it’s probably true. Russia is an emerging market with lots of demand for English teachers.
CONs – It’s difficult unless you speak some Russian and getting a visa to go there is a hassle.
NEXT – FIND TEFL JOBS
This article was published in September 2014.