How to teach English abroad in 2019

 In Teaching, Traveling

What are the requirements to teach English abroad?

Perhaps you’ve heard of someone who has taught English overseas before, but you really don’t know how to get started yourself. So you decided to google, “how to teach English abroad?”

Now that you’ve found us, we’re here to help you out. Let’s check out all the requirements you’ll need to begin your journey.

Be a Native English Speaker

In order to become an English Teacher abroad, you’ll need to be a native English speaker from one of these seven countries.

  • The United States of America (USA)
  • Canada
  • The United Kingdom (UK)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa

While it is still possible to become an English teacher if you’re from another country, the process will be MUCH more complicated. You’ll have to prove that you can speak English fluently at a native level through certifications or other methods.

Naturally, you’ll also need a valid passport from one of these countries to be able to travel abroad to the country of your destination (or any country for that matter). If you don’t have a passport, get one as soon as possible!


Have an Apostilled University Degree

Another indisputable requirement to become an English teacher would be to graduate from a recognized University from one of the seven countries listed. While any major would suffice, you’ll have a bigger advantage if you graduated with an Education or English degree.

There are more schools out there with a higher preference or give a higher priority to those with relevant majors. If you happen to find a job at an international school, you’ll also have priority when teaching a subject that is similar to your major (such as math, science, history, etc).

A bachelor’s degree is usually enough to help you land a decent job in any country. However, as the market becomes more saturated, there are schools that have a higher preference for those who have a master’s degree or even Ph.D.

If you happen to be in possession of a master’s degree or Ph.D. in Education or English at a highly respected University (Ivy League), you’ll have the luxury to choose among all the best schools with the highest salary.

As part of the procedure, you’ll need to obtain an apostille to confirm the authenticity of your university record. As the procedure of obtaining an apostille is different for every country, it would be best to contact an embassy or consulate of the country you’re interested in.

To get your documents apostilled:

  • Obtain from the registrar of your University an official true copy of your degree (with seal).
  • Prepare some money to get your documents apostilled, the price varies from country to country.
  • Phone the nearest embassy or consulate as to what is the best method to get your documents apostilled.
  • Send ALL your documents in person or by mail to have them apostilled.

Once you’ve received your apostilled degree, you’re another step closer to teaching abroad in any part of the world.

university degree

Have an Apostilled Nationwide Criminal Record Check

As you may be working with vulnerable groups such as children, you’ll need to have a nationwide background check. You may also be required to have it apostilled to prove its authenticity.

The process for this is different for every country and you’ll need to phone your local embassy or consulate as to what is the most acceptable method for obtaining one. However, in general, Americans would normally need an FBI nationwide background check, while Canadians would need a background check by the RCMP.

Only fingerprint criminal background checks are usually accepted. It would be best to confirm with your local embassy or consulate of the country you wish to work in as to what the exact procedures are to obtain a working visa.

Have a TEFL or TESOL Certification

While having a TEFL or TESOL certification isn’t completely necessary in order to get an English teaching position abroad, it does dramatically increase your chances of actually landing a job. There are many institutes out there that wouldn’t give your resume a second look if it doesn’t come with a TEFL or TESOL certification, so it would be a good idea to invest some time and money on getting one.

In the past, many institutes used to hire teachers without TEFL or TESOL certifications. However, as requirements tighten and the demand for better quality education increases, having a TEFL or TESOL certificate is becoming virtually a necessity.

Have some teaching experience

This may not be considered a requirement by some institutes. The reason being is that it’s very difficult to prove to your future employer whether you have teaching experience or not.

Some potential employers will ask their candidates to submit a reference letter to prove their experience. If you’ve ever volunteered to teach children, whether in a church community or other community sponsored events, ask the organizer for a reference letter.

If you already have professional teaching experience, you can also ask your previous employer for a reference letter. It’s always a good idea to build a good rapport with all your previous employers, this can be a huge boon to your future endeavors.

In most cases, institutes or schools would like to see your teaching capabilities in the form of a mock class or lesson. This could be done online or in person.

Can I teach English abroad without a degree?

While it is technically possible to get an employer willing to hire you even without a degree, they’re extremely hard to come by. Having a degree is almost one of the most basic requirements for becoming accepted as an ESL Teacher abroad.

Not having one will severely put you at a disadvantage when competing against the thousands of other much more qualified English teachers out there.

Having said that, if you’re still very much interested in teaching abroad without a degree, your best bet is to do some networking and try to get an interview with some schools in person. You’ll have to prove that you’re competent and are capable of teaching regardless of your lack of credentials.

There are some anecdotal cases where teachers were able to volunteer at a school in several countries in South America, Asia, and Africa. Their volunteer job eventually allowed them to work full time with the organization or school they volunteered with.

There are many schools out there that are willing to accept teachers without a degree as long as they have a TEFL or TESOL certificate. Though you would have a much higher chance of getting a better job if you were to have both a degree and a TEFL certification.

Getting a certification to teach English abroad

To get a certification to teach abroad, you’ll need to make sure that you’re in it for the long run. Getting a TESOL or TEFL certificate will require a big commitment on your part. While most courses are 100 hours, there are also 120-hour courses.

For the most part, a 100-hour TEFL course will work for most institutes and companies looking to hire English teachers. However, completing a 120-hour TESOL course will give you an edge against your competition.

There is also the question of whether the TEFL/ TESOL course was taken online or offline. Some TESOL courses hold more value to certain employers if they were taken offline at an accredited program or University.

However, this doesn’t mean that online courses are obsolete. On the contrary, there are online TEFL/ TESOL courses that are widely accepted all across the globe by many schools and national institutes.

But if you’re asking which among the options available are better, then you’ll want to take a look at the following:

  1. 120-hour course > 100-hour course
  2. Offline course > Online course

As the demand for English increases, the competition for better positions also increases likewise. In order for you to get the best possible job out there, you’ll want to equip yourself with everything you can to give yourself a competitive advantage.

What is the average salary for teaching English abroad?

If you’re fresh out of college, teaching English abroad could be one of the best opportunities for you to get your feet wet and build some work experience. You’ll also be able to earn a decent salary and travel at the same time. It’s like a win-win scenario.

The average salary for teachers with little to no work experience can usually start around $2000 USD a month when teaching English abroad. You’ll be able to upgrade your paygrade over the years while teaching abroad.

There are some teachers who were able to make over $5000 USD a month or even $10,000 a month by teaching at some of the best institutes or private academies. However, you’ll need to be the best of the best in order to be accepted by any of these programs.

You’ll also want to do a lot of networking as many of these institutes will only accept new candidates based on referrals.

teach abroad salary

Where are some of the best places to teach English abroad?

If you want to know among which countries are the best places to teach English in, then you’ll have to decide which aspects are more important for you. Are you doing it for only the money? Are you doing it for the experience? How about traveling?

As this can be a very subjective question, there are some objectives points as to what we can clarify. However, for the most part, we will cover countries based on several criteria.

1.      South Korea

If you’re an avid lover of K-pop or K-drama, then you’re in luck. South Korea is one of the most popular destinations for English teachers. The reason for this is that South Korea has always had a huge demand for English education, and this doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.

Many South Korean companies or government programs offer English teachers a welcome package. They generously pay for your flight to South Korea while also paying for your training. This option is number one for many college graduates and seasoned instructors.

The starting salary in South Korea can be a bit lower than in other countries out there (around 2,200,000 won or around 1800 USD). However, if you factor in the low cost of living, it’ll be easy to save some money if you don’t go spending everything away.

South Korea, especially Seoul and Busan, has one of the best nightlife compared to any country. There are plenty of places to go sightseeing and even more places to go shopping.

Traveling will be easy in South Korea as they have one of the most convenient transportation systems in the world. It’s also very affordable compared to other countries on this list. South Korea is also considered one of the safest places to live in the world.


2.      China

High up on the list is China as one of the places for new and experienced teachers. As one of the great powers of the modern world, China is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Their demand for English education is also increasing as many Chinese parents prefer their children to attend Top universities.

Regarding salary, teachers will be able to quickly scale their paygrade if they find themselves a good position at a well-recognized institute. Some of the top international schools in Shanghai are willing to pay up to $5,000 a month to experienced and licensed teachers who can teach their subject specialty.

China is a vast and large country that is historically and culturally rich. There are many places to visit in China, and much more things to learn.

Being an English teacher in China is also a highly respected profession, they’re paid much higher than the average worker. You can also receive benefits such as a free flight or free housing.


3.      The United Arab Emirates

If you’d like to be adventurous and potentially make a LOT of money, you’ll want to take a look at teaching English abroad in the United Arab Emirates.

Let’s get straight to the point, who wouldn’t want to make more money? Well, if you’re a professional and licensed teacher with qualifications that would make anyone raise an eyebrow, then consider working at the UAE.

At Dubai or Abu Dhabi, there are many recognized international schools and private companies that are willing to spend big dollars on seasoned teachers. They demand the best from their teachers and are willing to make them happy by generous compensations.

Living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi could also be a wonderful experience as you’ll be surrounded by many successful expats. Networking and building connections will be a great starting point for you to find a future career in other endeavors.


4.      Japan

The wonderful country of Japan is another Asian country high up on the list. If you’re a fan of Japanese culture and food, you’ll find yourself at home quickly when settling in this culturally rich place.

Japan offers a very high salary for those who have decent credentials. Though the pay usually starts off at around 200,000 yen (around $1700 a month), you’ll be able to go as high as 600,000 yen (around $5000 USD).

Similar to Korea and China, Japan also offers paid flights, free accommodations, and training as part of their welcoming package. This is a great deal for those who are looking to get started in their English teaching career.

The reason why Japan doesn’t fare as well as countries such as Korea and China are due to the high cost of living. Saving money becomes difficult when transportation, food, and accommodation is on the higher end.

A good thing to note about Japan is how organized and clean the country is. Much of the systems are very well laid out and are easy to understand for even most travelers. Japan is also very safe, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.


5.      Taiwan

Surprise! Another Asian country on the list. Taiwan along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore are considered the four tigers of Asia (also called Four Asian Dragons). They’re economies that underwent rapid industrialization and maintained very high growth rates during the late 1900s.

Taiwan, just like China, South Korea, and Japan have a growing demand for English education as the country progressively moves towards a globalized economy. Some schools are willing to pay their teachers handsomely along with a neat welcome package that includes a free flight and accommodations.

The culture of Taiwan is very similar to both China and Japan due to its history. You’ll be able to enjoy a fairly unique culture while earning a decent wage. As the English teaching market saturates in other countries, Taiwan becomes a very option for those seeking adventure.


So where can I apply for some jobs abroad?

If you’ve already met most of the requirements on this page, you’ll want to start searching for potential employers. A good place to begin your search would be the job board we have available on ESL Workshop. Our international job board will be updated regularly.

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