Guide to teaching English overseas & abroad

Every few months or so, I usually have to fight the increasing urge to quit my job, grab my backpack, and wander the world for an indefinite amount of time.  

If you’re in the same boat and you’re looking for a way to work abroad, teaching English has always been a great option.  

Here is’s Guide to Teaching English Abroad: a round-up of myths, what you need to know, what to avoid, the best places to teach english, and more.  Get more great travel tips: How to Avoid Food Poisoning & Diarrhea When Travelling; find out How to Bargain & Haggle in Markets Around the World; or Backpacking 101: Essential Tips & Resources.

Teaching English abroad & overseas: What you need to know

Teaching EnglishTeaching English Certificates (TEFL) and courses can help you get your foot in the door to more places to teach english – however, not every language school requires this for you to be hired.  Look for a credible (not just the cheapest) school teaching the TEFL: the course should be 4-weeks or 100 hours minimum, be a face-to-face classroom setting (not online or by distance education), and offer at least 6 hours of practical experience.  

Pay & contracts.  It’s a bit of a myth that you can go teach English and Asia and get rich.  The pay scale for teaching English abroad can range from low to high, usually affected by: country, your experience, whether your employer will offer a stipend for housing/food/transportation, whether that stipend comes out of your pay, and etc.  The best case scenario is to work in a country where the pay is good (you can still save each month) and the cost of living is low – South Korea is a great example.  Don’t just go for the highest-paying position and be ready to bargain for what you want in your contract.  

Work visas & permits.  A 4-year degree is required in most places, as this helps when applying for a work visa or permit.  An English degree or teaching degree as well as teaching experience can also help you land a job more easily. For some countries, it’s easier to visit first as a tourist and then try to get a job (Thailand, Taiwan).  In other countries, it’s easy to find a job and sign a contract with a language school from home.  When looking for a teaching English abroad position, check to see if arranging a visa is part of a potential employer’s offerings.

Most popular spots to teach English overseas, especially in the past few years has been in Asia: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China.  South East Asia countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and more recently Cambodia and Laos are also popular spots for teaching English.  Outside Asia, Mexico is another good option.  

More difficult places to get a job teaching English abroad.  It is much more difficult to teach English in Europe since most countries allow EU residents to work in EU countries without a work permit or visa.  So if you want to teach, it’s likely you’ll need a graduate degree or expertise in a specific field.  If you have your heart set on Europe, then you will more likely be teaching in Eastern Europe.  Teaching English in the Middle East has similar limitations. 

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