Have you ever wanted to take a year abroad or travel long-term but don’t have the savings to finance it? Perhaps there’s a country you’ve always dreamed of living in but you are not sure how to make it happen or how to get the right visa or work permit to live there. Or, you’re looking for a career change that gives you fulfilling and well-compensated work.
One of the most common ways to move to another country and earn a living there is to become an English teacher abroad. As an official language in business, travel, and international relations, in many countries English is the number one language people are seeking to learn. Further to this, the influence of culture, films, and music from English speaking countries means the demand for English teachers is not going away.
There are thought to be approximately 7,000 living languages in the world today. English is spoken by about 20% of the world’s population. Of that, around 500 million people are native English speakers, the rest are learning English as a foreign language. That gives you an idea of how many people around the world require an English teacher.
There are thousands of language schools and job opportunities for English teachers across the globe. Due to the difficulty of travel in 2020, many of these positions have moved online which also provides new and experienced English teachers with a whole host of benefits.
This article will provide you with all the information you need to learn about teaching English abroad. We’ll cover how to get TEFL certified and where to start your English teaching abroad job search.
What qualifications do you need to teach English abroad?
The qualifications you need to teach English abroad vary from job to job. However, the minimum qualification you’ll need for teaching English is a TEFL certification. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is an internationally recognized qualification. To get a TEFL certificate, you usually need to complete a minimum of 120 hours of study which includes planning lessons and teaching a trial lesson.
Many TEFL courses are online these days and you can usually complete them at your own pace, with support from a tutor. The great thing about taking an online TEFL course is that you can fit it in around your life or current job commitments. You will usually get assignments you need to complete to demonstrate what you have learned about teaching English.
A TEFL course will teach you everything you need to know about teaching English, from specific details on the English language to teaching grammar and how to plan successful and engaging classes. You will normally have to study the different modules of the course on how to teach English, then do a short online test to check your knowledge. You will also have to submit your work such as a lesson plan which demonstrates your ability to plan a class with learning objectives.
Where to get a TEFL Certification?
The number of TEFL courses available online can be somewhat overwhelming and it can be difficult to choose which TEFL course is best for you. You want to choose a certification course that is accredited and ensures you are learning the international requirements for teaching English abroad.
For accredited courses which are developed by experienced TEFL teachers, self-paced, internationally recognized, and give you lifetime access to a TEFL Jobs Centre take a look at The TEFL Org
The next question you may have about taking a TEFL course is – can non-native speakers take the TEFL course and teach abroad? The answer is yes, many teaching jobs around the world and online don’t require their teachers to be native English speakers.
Many language schools hiring people to teach abroad simply require a native proficiency of the language. So it doesn’t matter which passport you hold, as long as you can speak the language to a native level, get your TEFL certification, and want to teach, you still can teach English abroad!
Some teaching jobs (namely a lot of online ones) will require you to have a bachelor’s degree to teach. Others will require some teaching experience, but you don’t always need these to become an English teacher. You can tailor your job search to find jobs that have the minimum requirements for teaching which is usually a TEFL certificate.
Which is the best country to teach English abroad?
The list of countries with English teaching jobs around the world is vast. Think of a non-native English speaking country you want to move to and you can most probably find a teaching job there. However, there are several things you should consider before applying for jobs teaching English abroad:
- How far away from home you want to go
- The cost of living in the country you are thinking about going
- Which visas or work permits you’ll need
- The climate
- What type of cultural experience you are looking for
- Whether you want to work part-time or full time
English teaching jobs in Asia
Many native English speakers who want to teach English abroad go to a country in Asia to teach, as there is a high demand for teaching English. Countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong all offer lucrative positions for those who are looking at teaching English abroad. Many English teachers who go to work in Asia are also keen on immersing themselves in a culture very different from their own.
Often, if you work teaching English abroad in Asia you will be able to make use of school or university holidays and travel around to nearby countries.
The best countries for teaching English in Asia tend to be South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. Positions for teaching English abroad in these countries are often lucrative as the high cost of living in those places means the salaries are often higher than in other Asian countries. The other benefit of teaching in these places is that employers will often be able to find accommodation for you and sometimes even contribute to the cost of it for you.
English teaching jobs in Europe
If you are from the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, perhaps you want to travel to Europe but are put off by the high cost of living. There are lots of opportunities to teach abroad in countries such as Germany, Spain, Portugal. In Eastern Europe, there are many opportunities to teach English abroad in countries such as the Czech Republic and Russia.
You will always need a TEFL certification to teach English in these countries but you may also need to have a professional teaching qualification as well. It will be subject to individual jobs and whether you want to teach in a language center, school, or university.
English teaching jobs in South America
South America is another great place to teach English overseas. It can be a great option, especially if you are keen to learn a new language, such as Spanish, for yourself. Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina have many openings for native speakers teaching English as a second language. Again, you will need to check the requirements for teaching when you are looking to find work. At a minimum, you will have to have a TEFL certificate.
English teaching jobs in Africa
There are numerous job opportunities to teach English across Africa. Whether you want to go to Morocco or Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, or South Africa, there are many openings for foreign English teachers. If you are looking for a teaching job in Africa it will most often be in a school or for younger students. Look to find a job teaching an age group you feel most comfortable teaching.
Where to teach English abroad? School, University, Language Center?
Whichever country you choose to start looking to teach abroad in, you will need to decide where you would prefer to teach. Which age group do you think you could work best with? Some people enjoy teaching children, others would prefer to teach business English to adults.
Think about what you are looking to gain from your teaching experience and who you would most like to teach. Would you prefer to teach English in public schools, universities, or private schools or in a business environment?
If the thought of teaching English to 25 primary school age children is not your ideal teaching job, look into jobs at universities or private language centers.
Work Visas and Permits
Another thing you need to think about is how you will legally teach English abroad. Depending on the country you are looking to travel abroad to, often employers will sponsor you. If they do this, you don’t need to worry about sorting out the paperwork or applying for a work visa as your employer will take care of it for you.
If you choose a country to teach English abroad which has a complex immigration system, you may need to sort out your right to work there. One way to do this is to check working holiday visas for the country you intend to travel to. Often this can be an easy way to move legally to your chosen country. Germany, for example, offers Working Holiday Visas to citizens of multiple different countries.
Due to the global pandemic, teaching abroad has of course become more difficult for the time being. With travel restrictions in place and many countries not open to foreigners, teaching abroad has become harder. Many education institutions abroad have temporarily closed, meaning many language facilities don’t need new English teachers to travel abroad at the moment.
With an estimated 1.2 billion childrenworldwide having to take their classes online due to school closures, there has never been a time with more people being educated via the internet. It’s not just children, adults too are spending more time at home, online, and also looking for ways to upskill.
Multiple language lesson providers from around the world have taken their programs online. There is currently a boom for online teaching positions.
If you become an online English teacher you will usually:
- Get paid well
- Decide your own working times
- Have flexibility so you can fit your teaching job around other work
- Meet students from around the world
- Enjoy cultural exchange with your students
- Gain great teaching experience
- Decide if you want to work part time or full time
If you complete your TEFL Certification, there is an abundance of opportunities to teach English online.
Where to teach English online?
Again, when deciding where to find work online, it depends on who you would like to teach and whether you want to choose your own hours or be told when you are working.
Teaching Children Online
There are, for example, numerous companies that offer online classes to young Chinese Learners. Over the last few years, there has been a huge surge in young Chinese children between the ages of 5 and 16 learning English online with a native English speaker.
The platforms such as VIPKID, DaDa, Palfish, Gogokid, Itutor, and Landi all offer 30 minutes to 1-hour classes for young learners. These platforms can be great for getting experience teaching English to children. They usually provide you with the teaching materials and will find your students for you. These platforms also tend to have their own software which will schedule classes for you and provide a virtual classroom where you can interact with your student, show them learning materials, and draw on a virtual whiteboard.
The amount you get paid will depend on your teaching experience and most of these companies also require you to have a bachelor or college degree as well. If you are a new teacher, your rate will be lower than somebody who has several years experience.
It is also a legal requirement by the Chinese government that if you work for one of these companies that you have a TEFL certificate.
Teaching Adults Online
If you would prefer teaching adults and you don’t have a bachelor's degree, you can look into creating a profile on a site such as Preply.
On sites such as this, you define the hours you would like to teach, your price, and the preferred age range you would like for your students. You would need to plan the lessons yourself but your TEFL certification will give you ample materials that will make you more than qualified to do this. The platform will then take a small percentage of your earnings for connecting you with your student. Payment is usually made via Paypal.
Another platform that organizes classes for you is called Cambly. This is for teaching adults and is for English teachers who have their TEFL certificate but not necessarily a degree.
If you search for teaching English online, you will find there are endless opportunities for teaching English abroad and online, depending on your skills, experience, and how much flexibility you are looking for.
The TEFL Org gives you lifetime access to their TEFL jobs center, so that’s a great place to start your job search.
Is teaching English abroad a good idea?
While the opportunities for teaching English abroad may be on hold in many countries across the world, for now, you can get a head start in your English teaching journey by getting your TEFL Certification online. You can then gain some online teaching experience before starting to search for jobs abroad.
There are so many reasons why teaching English abroad is a great idea. It offers you a rewarding and lucrative career and the jobs market for teaching abroad is ever strong and growing.
A career teaching English allows you to meet people from all around the world, whether that is online or in person. This is a wonderful chance to share things about your own culture and learn about others’ cultures. Many lifelong friendships are made through teach abroad programs.
So, whichever country you choose to go to, whether it’s South Korea, Germany, or Kenya, make sure you get your TEFL training and certification first. Then the world is your oyster as they say.
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