How To Teach English Abroad

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If you’re wondering how to teach English abroad, make sure that you read our complete guide below.

For many expats finding employment can be a problem.

There is however one sure fire way to improve your chances of getting work wherever you are in the world — teaching English abroad.

Yes, the competition for teaching English abroad jobs can sometimes be tough, but the rewards can be great.

It’s a fantastic way to explore new countries, benefit from unique cultural experiences, make new friends from all over the world, and even learn new languages.

Most Teaching English in a Foreign Language (TEFL) jobs have flexible schedules which allow you the time to explore the areas around you, and many posts come with accommodation as part of the package.

Let’s see what you need to do…


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How to Teach English Abroad

Do a TEFL Course

If you’re a native (or near native) English speaker and have a degree, the easiest way to teach English overseas is by taking a recognised TEFL course.

Any course designed to train you for teaching English as a foreign language can be referred to as a TEFL course, and there are many different types of course available to fit all budgets and schedules.

The two most internationally recognised qualifications are the Cambridge Celta and the Trinity CertTesol.

These two courses are the preferred choice of most employers, so possessing one of these TEFL qualifications is going to really boost your chances of finding employment.

how to teach english abroad

More generally, most reputable employers look for candidates who have a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL tuition.

Courses are available from 20 hours duration upwards, but candidates with 120 or more hours of tuition are much more likely to secure a job at a school or institution with better pay, better facilities and more options for developing your TEFL career if that is what you are interested in pursuing.

TEFL qualifications with more than 140 hours of tuition can improve chances even further, as they involve hands on teaching experience in a classroom as part of the training.

This prepares you better for teaching in real life, and also appeals to potential employers as it shows you have real experience.

Intensive 320 hour TEFL combined courses offer the maximum teacher training available, and are ideal if you’re looking to have the edge over other candidates and are serious about developing a long term TEFL teaching career.

Obviously these courses are the most expensive and require a bigger time investment, but the upper hand and preparatory experience you gain is priceless.

With any TEFL training, undertaking additional modules is also an option.

Add-on modules take your teacher training into more specific areas, such as teaching business English, advanced grammar, or teaching teenagers.

With further qualifications such as these, your career choices are going to be greater, or you will stand more chance of getting the kind of job that you prefer (for example teaching adults or professionals).

When starting a TEFL career, it’s vital to carry out extensive research, think clearly what kind of age groups and abilities you want to teach, and start out with a realistic picture of the opportunities each type of course might give you in your country of choice.

Find a TEFL Job

So you’ve put in the hard work and have your TEFL course firmly under your belt… what next?

Whilst there are many TEFL jobs available around the world, it’s nevertheless crucial to be proactive and willing to use every resource at your disposal and present yourself well to find the teaching position that’s right for you.

teaching english abroad

Employers will nearly always prefer candidates with prior TEFL teaching experience, but other work experience, academic qualifications, and individual personality are also important factors.

When searching for work it is of course possible to travel to your country of choice and look for a job once there.

This has the benefit of making networking possible and providing the opportunity to present yourself in person to schools or colleges in a specific region or city — as well as the chance to check out the work environment to see if it appeals to you.

However the risk to doing that should be taken into account is that it may take time to find work and so you may not be earning money right off the bat.

This approach may also be trickier in countries which have stricter visa rules, government restrictions, and higher costs of living, as you will need to support yourself whilst job searching, so do your research well before you book that plane ticket.

Another approach is to find a job first while you’re still at home in the UK.

There are hundreds of online job boards advertising TEFL posts. Some advertise general jobs all over the world, whereas others allow you to search for work in specific countries or regions.

Take a look at this awesome video on the best places to teach English abroad:

Looking for work in this way has the advantage of widening your options if you’re not sure about which country you want to commit to, or if you’re worried about leaving the UK without a secure job to go to.

Thousands of jobs are available this way, with interviews being conducted by telephone or Skype.

In certain countries such as Asia, there are also recruiting agencies who will help find you an appropriate job to fit your needs.

Teaching English Abroad Without a Degree

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have had access to a university education, but for those who don’t hold a degree, there’s no need to abandon the dream of teaching English abroad.

Teaching English abroad without a degree is possible in dozens of countries throughout the world as long as you have a TEFL certification from an accredited program.

There are numerous destinations throughout South America, Europe and Asia, including Cambodia, China, Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, India and Russia (just to name a few!) where you can still find TEFL jobs without a bachelor’s degree.

best place to teach english abroad

Of course, if you already have teaching experience you may be able to sidestep the TEFL qualification altogether. A good CV with plenty of teaching jobs can be enough to get you employed in some situations.

If you have neither a degree nor a TEFL certification, there are still ways that you can make teaching English abroad a reality.

Volunteer teaching is an excellent way to teach English informally outside of the traditional classroom environment.

Volunteering positions are often in rural areas in poorer countries, and involve working with small groups, and teaching people of various different ages and English language abilities.

Being a volunteer means you won’t be earning a wage, but many volunteer teaching jobs offer free room and board.

Teach English Online

Teaching English online may not offer you the same degree of interaction and exchange with your students and peers, but it does have some interesting benefits.

The biggest pro is that you can work from any location, meaning you can travel around and explore while you are earning money to fund your adventures.

Additionally, there are obviously no travelling costs to pay and no tedious commute to work and back everyday, which can free up more of your time giving you extra opportunity to enjoy your surroundings.

Online TEFL jobs are often much more flexible when it comes to work schedules too, with many positions offering the chance to work how much you want, when you want.

On the down side, pay for online TEFL jobs tends to be lower than jobs in an physical educational institution, and sometimes students don’t turn up to lessons — and if the student doesn’t turn up, you don’t get paid.

You also need to be aware that you may experience technical issues, which will severely impact your lessons. A slow or intermittent internet connection either at your end or at the location of your student can play havoc with your online lessons, and if the lesson cannot go ahead — once again you don’t get paid.

Job security is also an issue as many online jobs tend to be short term contracts and don’t come with the additional benefits of many physical jobs such as paid accommodation.

For TEFL teachers without degrees, online teaching can be a good option, however.  A large number of online jobs accept candidates with or without degrees.

That said, in the beginning of your online TEFL teaching career your options are most likely going to be limited to teaching classic English lessons like conversation and listening and comprehension — without a degree you won’t be able to teach more specialist subjects such as history or geography, for example.

There are however opportunities to develop your online career. The more experience you gain, the more possibilities will open up to you, and the more money you will earn to boot.


That’s everything you need to know about how to teach English abroad — any questions?

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