Teaching English in a foreign country

December 2023
Teaching English abroad can be a great way to make money while you travel the world.

There's never been a better time to teach English abroad. With nearly one billion people enrolling in English classes worldwide each year, there is huge demand for English teachers in just about every country.


Here are four steps to help you get started as a TEFL teacher:

If you want to teach English abroad, at a minimum you will need a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification from an accredited school. TEFL courses are usually geared toward teaching English to non-native speakers in their home country while TESOL certificates focus on teaching English to non-native speakers in an English-speaking country.

Most employers will require a certificate that includes a minimum of 120 classroom hours. Some may also look for practicum hours (observed teaching practice) to be included in the certificate though this will vary by country and organisation. Many countries also require a university degree - in any subject - whereas others will accept applicants who have completed a TEFL/TESOL course but may not have any higher education or experience in teaching. 

One of the most exciting things about planning to teach English abroad is deciding where you want to teach. There are several factors you should consider before making your final decision, including the language spoken, cost of living, travelling opportunities, the weather and cultural differences. Some popular destinations with high demand for English teacher jobs include China, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Czech Republic, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. 
There are TEFL jobs within all ages and ability levels and in both formal and informal settings such as English language institutes, private or public schools, preschools, universities, private tutoring, immersive homestays, online or Skype tutoring, summer camps, government-funded programs and charitable volunteering. So it’s important you apply for a job that suits your skills and interests. If you’re tutoring children, for instance, bear in mind that you’ll have to work around their schedules. This means you’ll be teaching in the afternoon when they aren’t at school, as well as evenings and weekends. Positions in private schools and language institutes may be more demanding and competitive, but pay better, while tutoring one-on-one offers you more flexibility. 
Visa requirements vary greatly from country to country so it’s important to do your research as you may need a visa to enter and work legally, depending on your destination. The country with the strictest visa policy is China. Some European countries such as Spain, France, and Germany are also strict about granting a work permit to non-EU passport holders. Often employers will sponsor you, and if they do, you don’t need to worry about sorting out the paperwork or applying for a work visa as they’ll take care of everything for you. 
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