24th May, 2019

The Ultimate Guide To Teaching English Abroad

By Adam B

Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Do you want to see the world and experience new cultures? Well, you can do both and make a living out of it by teaching English as a foreign language!

So if you’re ready to take the plunge and embark on the adventure of a lifetime this is the ultimate guide to teaching English abroad. 
A woman with pen in hand pondering over an atlas

Who can teach English abroad? 

Do I need a degree to teach English abroad? 

The Short answer is no. There are a number of different countries that will allow you to teach English without a degree, as long as you have attained a TEFL certificate from an accredited program.

Countries such as Mexico, Spain, Cambodia and Argentina all consider a TEFL certificate and native English speaking ability to be sufficient qualification.

It is worth checking, however, as some countries do specify that English teachers hold a degree due to certain visa requirements.

University or college graduates 

Teaching English abroad is one of the most popular ways that you, as a new graduate, can go and explore the world. It can be a great break from the grind of university life and can also help you take some time to discover what path you want to take career-wise.

Plus it will count as valuable career experience and - depending on your career aspirations - it may be the added extra that helps you get that alluring grad job.

New or experienced teacher 

Are you an experienced teacher who is ready for a new challenge? More and more teachers and education graduates are getting the travel bug and going on to teach English abroad.

Your skills are in high demand around the world and not only could you improve your career prospects, but you could also benefit financially.

Fancy a career change? 

Teaching English abroad is the ideal job if you’re looking to change careers. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in your current career, teaching English is always an option.

Many English teachers around the world have held previous professions and find that they are in high demand for teaching jobs abroad. 

Why should I teach English abroad? 

Here are five simple reasons  

1. You get paid to travel

Let's face it travelling is expensive and not all of us get the opportunity. Teaching English abroad opens the door for everyone.

2. You can completely immerse yourself in a different culture

There is a massive difference in experiencing a place on holiday and living like a local. While teaching you’ll have the opportunity to experience a completely different way of life.

3. You will gain international work experience

For today’s hiring business’, not much looks better on a CV than someone who has taken that leap to teach in another country. It shows bravery, organisational skills, interpersonal skills and many other fantastic qualities that employers love.

4. It’s an opportunity to learn a new language

You’re there as a teacher, but you also have the opportunity to learn! There’s no better way as an adult to learn a new language than immersing yourself in a new culture.

5. You can make a difference in the lives of people around the world

For many young people around the world, learning English is their best opportunity in order to increase their job prospects, particularly in developing nations like Thailand and Vietnam. Your teaching will make a difference for these students for the rest of their lives. 

a group of school children smiling and gesturing towards the camera

Is there a high demand for English language teachers? 

English language teachers are currently in high demand. By 2020 there will be 2 billion English language students in the world, and naturally, somebody has to teach them!

There are growing markets all around the world for English teachers. China, in particular, is one of the fastest growing, with over 300 million people learning English there right now. The number of English learners in China is also expected to grow by around 15% every year so now is the perfect time if you want to explore this fascinating country as an English teacher. 

How to teach English abroad: Your foolproof 5-step plan

Step 1 - Get Qualified

To teach English abroad you will need to get qualified. There are a few different qualifications you can choose from and it can get a little confusing, there's an awful lot of information out there and some of it is misleading. 

The first certification you have probably come across is TEFL,

TEFL - “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” - For Individuals who plan to teach abroad in countries where English is not the first language (for example Japan, Argentina, Kenya)

Next, there’s TESOL

TESOL - “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” - is more typically used when referring to teaching English to non-native speakers in native English-speaking countries such as the U.K or the U.S

And then CELTA

CELTA - “Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” - CELTA is essentially the same as a TEFL course, however, it is awarded by the University of Cambridge’s English Language Assessment. This is why some jobs request it on the application

Whichever option you go for, just make sure to double check the course is accredited and globally recognised!! 

Step 2 - Figure out which country you’d like to live in

Time to get your atlas out!

a toy figurine of a man hailing a taxi stood on a map of europe

Think deeply about where you’ve always wanted to go. Do you want to explore the metropolitan culture of Europe or hit the beaches of South East Asia? It's up to you.

If you have a set country in mind, read up on their job interview techniques and the preferred application route for TEFL teachers. It can be hard to choose just one country and being flexible can work in your favour. Having an open mind will open up more opportunities and allow you a greater variety of career directions. 

Step 3 - Apply for jobs

The search for most TEFL jobs starts online. Many schools will interview you remotely over Skype. When applying it is best to choose a reputable company. See our list below!

Step 4 - Get your visa

It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will need a visa to teach English abroad. Research this thoroughly. There are some recruitment agencies and employers that will help you out with this process for a fee, it’s just up to you which route you want to go down. 

Step 5 - Pack your bags

It’s time to start packing!

It's very difficult to pack your entire life into a backpack or a suitcase! Packing cells can help you keep organised and avoid the dreaded jumbled mess that many bags devolve into after a few days on the road.

There options such as luggage shipping services that can make life easier! They specialise in helping students, expats and holidaymakers alike by sending your luggage ahead to your destination and help you avoid costly airline fees. 

The Best Places to Teach English Abroad 

The opportunities are endless!

We’ve decided the best way to get you inspired is to break this into sections, firstly starting with Europe and ending with the Middle East. The world really is your oyster once you are a qualified English teacher!

Teaching English in Europe 

a shade covered narrow street in Madrid


Most jobs in Europe are in private language schools that offer after-school and evening classes. Teaching contracts normally run for the school year from September to June. Public schools prefer EU citizens who can speak the local lingo, so this is something to consider.

There are also short-term teaching jobs available through summer language camps. You could go down the private tutor route, but this is a very competitive market so it’s a good idea to have another job as a backup.

You can only teach at an international or IB school in Europe if you are already certified or a licensed teacher in your home country with teaching experience.

When to look

February is normally the best time to start looking so that you can start for the new academic year in September/October. Plenty of jobs will also be available as the new year approaches and you sometimes get the odd last-minute openings. 

Average Salary

Each country varies and the wage will depend on your experience and training. There may also be deductibles if you are living in housed accommodation on campus. On average in the Czech Republic, you will make between £550 - £800 per month. For Germany it is between £850- £1800 a month and for Spain around £950 - £1450 a month.  

Teaching English in Asia 

two catamaran boats moving over tropical blue water between two cliff sides in south east asia


Asia is the perfect destination for ESL teachers. Students learn English from primary school so there is high demand. There are also government-run teaching programs that look for TEFL qualified teachers for both public and private schools. There are many different types of ESL schools offering lessons from conversational English to Business English.

International schools in Asia will predominantly hire experienced, accredited teachers with an educational background or degree. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities with both international charities and local NGOs, but remember that these are often unpaid but very rewarding.

When to look

There is no set hiring season, with opportunities available all year round. There are some exceptions, with the JET programme in Japan who start recruiting from April until June and again from October to January. And the EPIK programme in South Korea which starts its recruitment drive in springtime.

Average Salary

Wages again vary depending on the country and you will have to factor in the cost of living for Japan, however with the average wage in China you will be able to live comfortably and save money.

Japan averages £1150 - £1600 a month, China averages at £950 - £2250 a month, South Korea £1450 - £1700 a month and Thailand around £650 a month. 

Teaching English in Central and South America 

view looking over machu picchu in peru


Positions here tend to be in private language schools aimed at teaching adults. There are many TEFL providers that you can gain certification with, that will guarantee job placement, so this is something to consider. There are also many volunteering opportunities if you want to gain experience. If you are already certified and have the experience, you can also apply to international schools.

When to look

In South America, March is the start of the school year and is the best time to be hired. However, in Central America schools start looking for teachers in either June or July. Unlike Asia or the Middle East, where hiring in advance is common practice, in Central and South America face-to-face interviewing is the norm, so something to bear in mind when applying.


The cost of living is substantially lower, and the wages will reflect this. An average monthly wage in Mexico is £400 - £650 in Argentina it is from £470 - £870 and Chile £600 - £800.

Teaching English in the Middle East 

nightime skyline shot from the waterside in abu dhabi


There is a high demand for certified English teachers in the Middle East. You will be able to pick from a variety of positions in government programs, international schools, private language schools, vocational schools or colleges and universities. If you have a lot of experience under your belt you can expect a lucrative salary and generous benefits package.

When to look

Positions are open all year round, however, the prime time for public school positions is during spring and summer.

Average Salary

The average wages are high in the Middle East and you can expect to live comfortably. In Bahrain, you can earn from £1200 - £2400 a month. In the UAE £1400 - £4000 a month and Qatar £1250 - £3200 a month.  

The Best Teaching English Abroad Programs 

Even if you’re all ready, you have a destination in mind and you’ve got all your qualifications. It can still be overwhelming and difficult to find a job. After all, how do you where to start searching for jobs in a country you’ve never visited before?

Thankfully there are a number of great programs that will help you find a job, and be safe in the knowledge you’ll have your paycheck at the end of each month and that you’ll have the support you need if you encounter any issues in your travels.

Here are a few great programs to get you started! 

Teaching in Japan - The JET Program

Managed by the Japanese government, JET has been operating since 1987 and have had global 66,000 participants. The JET Program is a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. Most participants serve as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and work in public and private schools throughout Japan; some also have opportunities to work as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) as interpreters/translators.

Teaching in China - The Explore Program

There are positions available all over the country and beyond world-famous Beijing and Shanghai, it’s worth checking out lesser-known destinations for a unique cultural experience. Eastern city Suzhou. Depending on the program you choose, benefits on the Teach Away Explore program include health insurance, housing, return airfare and Mandarin lessons.

Thailand - Entrust TEFL

An award-winning program, with an internationally accredited TEFL course. They have over 6000 teachers in the beautiful country and culturally fascinating country of Thailand. They also organise amazing excursions to the jungles or beaches for members as well as cultural trips and Thai language training. 

Worldwide - International TEFL Academy

Certifying 5,000 people per year to teach English overseas and our graduates teach professionally in 80 countries worldwide. In addition to earning an internationally accredited qualification recognised worldwide, all of our students receive lifetime job search guidance and access to a full array of alumni services and networking opportunities. ITA also enjoys an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau

Wherever you end up, stay safe and happy travels!!

This article was written by Stuart Cooke, a blog Editor at MyBaggage.com a luggage delivery service helping make big international moves that little bit easier.

trolley loaded with bags on a train platform

Log In