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10 Off The Beaten Path Countries To Teach English Abroad

Teach abroad

If you’re thinking about teaching English abroad, but aren’t sure where you want to go, you’ve most likely heard plenty of advice about popular locations like Spain or Thailand. Of course there are some very compelling reasons why such locations are so popular, but we thought it would be fun to put together a list of some less traditional destinations for perspective teachers!

At first glance, some of the locales below might not seem as sexy as say Italy or France, but take a closer look at some of these destinations, and you will find a lot of upsides, without some of the common drawbacks of popular tourist hot spots.

1. Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

This small coastal country doesn’t get a lot of press, but it’s a must visit destination in Southeast Asia. From the beaches of Sihanoukville to the temples of Angkor Wat and the modern capital of Phnom Penh, you can find anything you’re looking for in Cambodia.

  • Bucket List: Cambodia is a whole lot less developed than Thailand or Vietnam, making it easier to experience the region while avoiding overwhelming tourism.
  • For Teachers: A very strong job market and low cost of living make Cambodia a lucrative place to work, and ideal for travel around Southeast Asia.
  • Suggested program: ITTT TEFL

2. Morocco

Morocco

A country of incredible variety, Morocco draws people every year for countless reasons. With the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara desert, a beautiful Atlantic coastline and some of the most history-rich cities in the world, it’s hard to imagine a more unique experience.

  • Bucket List: Historic “Medina” quarters of major cities like Rabat and Marrakesh are car free districts featuring narrow walking paths lined with small shops and stalls - a fascinating cultural experience.
  • For Teachers: With high illiteracy rates and a struggling education system, Morocco a country where you’ll have the chance to make a real impact. Generally higher pay than Western Europe.

3. Peru

Peru

Peru is home to one of the most diverse landscapes and ecosystems in the world. The breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu alone make Peru worth a visit, but you also have the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest and major cities like Lima and Cusco nearby.

  • Bucket List: One word: Ceviche. A rich blend of Spanish, Indian and Asian influences make Peru a foodie’s paradise.
  • For Teachers: Most jobs are in the major cities of Peru teaching business-level English. Salaries are generally break-even with a small amount of discretionary income leftover.

4. Panama

Panama City

Panama bridges the gap between North and South America, sometimes being referred to as the “meeting place” of the region. Between two beautiful coastlines, the Panama Canal, lush tropical rainforests and thriving modern cities, Panama can be a great place to live and is an ideal jumping off point to the rest of the Latin America.

  • Bucket List: The Bocas del Toro Archipelago, easily accessible by water taxi, offers some of the best snorkeling in the world.
  • For Teachers: When teaching abroad in Panama, consider Panama City. It offers the most opportunity, and with a very low cost of living, you should be able to save some money.
  • Suggested program: LanguageCorps

5. Russia

Palace in Moscocw

For people interested in teaching English in Europe, Russia is often an after thought. However, St. Petersburg is every bit as magnificent as the great capitals of Western Europe, and at a fraction of the cost.

  • Bucket List: The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg provides an excellent overview of Russia’s tumultuous (and fascinating) history.
  • For Teachers: Demand for English teachers is St. Petersburg is continuously high. With a low cost of living, Russia can be the ideal home base for travel throughout Europe.
  • Suggested program: International TEFL Academy

6. Laos

Rice fields in Laos

If you’re looking for an even more laid back Asian experience than Cambodia, you might want to consider Laos. A popular destination for backpackers seeking a more “authentic” experience than Thailand or Vietnam, Laos can provide some fantastic opportunities if you’re up for an adventure.

  • Bucket List: The temples and monasteries of Luang Prabang are a must for anyone interested in Bhuddist culture or history.
  • For Teachers: Since much of Laos still lacks adequate infrastructure, finding work can be a challenge. Many people parlay contacts made in Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam into work in Laos. The cost of living is even lower than the rest of Southeast Asia though, so your money will go a long way.
  • Suggested program: International TEFL Academy

7. Taiwan

Taiwan

This small island off the coast of mainland China has a turbulent history, but is a key player in the tech boom, and rapidly becoming a fully modernized country. Traditional Asian culture is contrasted with thriving, cutting-edge cities, and opportunities for ESL teachers abound.

  • Bucket List: Taipei is a pop culture hot spot, and you’ll want to make sure to get out to a karaoke bar or two.
  • For Teachers: Getting a work visa in Taiwan can be a lengthy and involved process, but pay and benefits are usually quite good. Many schools will provide housing and reimburse airfare.
  • Suggested program: Reach To Teach

8. Greece

Ocean in Greece

White sand beaches, Baklava and wine! Who wouldn’t want to live in the cradle of Western civilization?

  • Bucket List: The island of Crete, while still a tourist favorite, is a little less overwhelming than Athens, and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • For Teachers: The Greek recession has made finding work in Greece a challenge, but it’s still possible. Many locals are looking to learn to new skills to stand out in the job market, so if you’re resourceful, opportunity is available.
  • Suggested program: ITTT TEFL

9. Hungary

Hungary

If you’re thinking about teaching English in Europe, don’t forget to take a look at Hungary. While often overlooked for more popular western European destinations, this central European country is a modernized, high power economy, and provides some excellent opportunities for EFL teachers.

  • Bucket List: Budapest is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Incredible architecture, art and cuisine permeate throughout, and don’t forget to indulge in one of the numerous hot springs!
  • For Teachers: Demand for English teachers in Hungary is high, and the cost of living is lower than Italy or Spain, for example. Working two part time jobs instead of one full time job is common, as is teaching private lessons on the side.
  • Suggested program: Central European Teaching Program

10. Guatemala

Colorful Buildings in Guatamala

Just south of Mexico, Guatemala is the perfect place to brush up on your Spanish skills while teaching English abroad.

  • Bucket List: The Mayan ruins of El Mirador, located in the northernmost part of the country. Thought to be one of the most important Mayan settlements, these massive ruins are less developed and populated than most.
  • For Teachers: Demand is high in Guatemala, but like most of Latin America, your salary will probably be about break even.

Of course, we can only begin to scratch the surface with this list of ten countries, but hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought. Point is, when deciding where you want to teach English abroad, we encourage you to consider locations you might not normally think about. Sometimes the best experiences are found where you least expect them!

Photo Credits: Ryan Hsuh, Dennis Jarvis, Didier Baertschiger, Pedro Szekely, Yeowatzup, Matthew Straubmuller, Edson Walker, William Cho, Ronald Saunders, Dennis Jarvis and Wikimedia Commons.
Steve Patton

Steve calls Boston home, though he spends as much time on the road as he does in any one place these days. He's part of the marketing team at LanguageCorps and a freelance writer, in between playing drums in various touring bands and trying to be a better photographer. Follow him on Google+.