Teaching English overseas is the dream job for thousands of native English speakers whether they’re from the UK, the US, Australia or other English-speaking countries. Learning any new language will increase education, travel and employment opportunities and as English is the most spoken language globally, you can rest assured that there are plenty of English teaching jobs abroad.
Teaching abroad can be a daunting prospect, but if you want to teach English abroad, you’ll be in good company. There are numerous online resources (both paid and free) and plenty of groups by level, role and location on various social media platforms, to support you in your teaching journey. Salaries can vary hugely by qualification, experience, location and much more, so it always pays to do your research before you set off on your teaching adventure.
Benefits of teaching English as a second language
The world is your oyster – If you teach English abroad you will never be short of job prospects. The market for teaching English is highly competitive and growing every day.
Plenty of time to travel – As with most teaching jobs you will generally have weekends and school holidays off work. This gives you free time in your new country to explore and enjoy the sights, cuisine and adventures that await you.
Broaden your horizons – You’ll be in an excellent position to learn a new language yourself should you choose to. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of your new country and take advantage of the fact that you’re being paid to be in a situation where you can learn as much as you teach!
You choose what’s right for you – If you’re after the highest possible pay in the shortest amount of time you may want to take up a position in the Middle East. If you want to discover more about the history and ancient civilizations, you could consider teaching in China. If you want to discover new cultures a little closer to home, why not look for your next teaching job in Europe? The choice is yours and your options are vast.
What qualifications do I need to teach English abroad?
Some Asian, South East Asian and South American countries will allow you to teach with only a firm grasp of English but as with any career, it’s beneficial to have a degree as you will have more opportunities and land better roles. If you want to become a reputable and reliable teacher, we recommend the following:
You must have…
- Bachelor’s degree – This can be a BA, BSc or equivalent.
- English fluency – If English is not your first language you will need certification to provide evidence of fluency. A TEFL certificate is one option but there are many others and this point is worth further research if it is applicable applies to you.
It is beneficial to have…
- ESL certificate - A minimum of 100 hours of study is generally considered to be the basis of a reputable certificate. Don’t be too tempted to settle for less when investing in your ESL certificate. A reputable provider and a good certificate will help you later.
- Teaching experience – Any amount of teaching experience will reassure your potential employers about your abilities.
What kinds of qualifications are there for teaching English abroad?
Some of the best qualifications are those that students in English speaking countries would expect. A Bachelor’s degree and a PGCE (or equivalent) are ideal. There are multiple qualifications which would also allow you to teach English abroad:
- TEFL - typically measured in hours, an industry standard TEFL course is about 120 hours long. You can gain a TEFL qualification online or combine it with some classroom experience, this will depend on the provider you choose to study with. A TEFL qualification from an accredited provider are recognised across the globe and most entry-level positions will look for a TEFL qualification with at least 100 hours of study.
- CELTA - Like a TEFL course, CELTA is an entry-level qualification excet the CELTA is a month-long intensive course. Typically, the course costs approximately £1,000. These qualifications are highly regarded but they are no guarantee for securing your perfect role. Experience will help you land the best jobs but a CELTA certificate will certainly show employers that you are invested and dedicated.
- Trinity CertTESOL - Similar to the CELTA but with a dedicated module focused on teaching English to young learners. The CELTA is more geared towards adult learners of English. Both are month-long intensive courses and both will help kickstart your career as an English teacher.
- Delta - The Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (or Delta) is intended for experienced EFL teachers. At least one year of teaching experience is required for this course. This is the ideal course for English teachers looking to advance their career.
Where do I start?
Get excited! Teaching abroad is an experience like no other. Do you want to go to a new country every year or would you like to settle down somewhere? Do your research on the country you intend to move to. Find out about things that matter most to you (maybe that’s art and history or music and nightlife). Then find out about the practical things like cost of living, legal requirements for teaching in that country (such as visas), places to live and much more.
Narrow your search. Focus your job hunt to a few particular areas. This may still mean looking at multiple countries and that’s perfectly fine. If you expand your geographical area you have a wider range of jobs to search.
Speak to experts. Trust reputable companies to set you on the right path and don’t hold back in asking lots of questions and sharing your view of the ideal English teaching job for you. Helping you find your perfect job is their job after all! Never be afraid to speak to experts.
Still not sure? Why not visit Eteach’s Location Guides to find out more about different areas? If you can’t find the perfect role for you in the area you’re interested in, you can set up Job Alerts for free. These will let you know when new jobs come up in your area of interest. You can read more about how to find your perfect job in Eteach’s article “Never miss out on the best jobs”.
Teach in Europe
Teach in the Middle East
Teach in Asia
You may be wondering...
Aren’t there more Chinese speakers than English speakers? Yes and no, Mandarin, or “standard Chinese” is a close second to English in the total number of speakers worldwide as recorded in 2019. There are 921.5 million native Mandarin speakers which leaves English (with only 369.7 million native speakers) in the dust. However, with a total of 898.4 million English speakers where English was a secondary language, English is the more popular global language as only 198.7 million people have Mandarin as a second language. This means that while there are 1.120 billion Mandarin speakers there are a whopping 1.268 billion English speakers. (Statistics were taken from the List of languages by total number of speakers on Wikipedia, September 2020)
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About the author
As an Open University graduate with TEFL certification, Jennifer has spent a good deal of her professional life as somewhat of a digital nomad. After years of studying and then teaching across five different countries, Jennifer has settled in the UK and when she isn’t teaching, she’s writing or working on all things content, from Accessibility to UX. Jennifer’s passions are the concepts of accessible education and universal design where she can contribute to a world, both physically and digitally, more easily accessed by all.