Teach Abroad

The 10 Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019

Photo of Stephanie Topacio Long
Stephanie Topacio Long
Topic Expert

Stephanie is a writer with a love for travel, languages, and exploring other cultures, including her time studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Best Places to Teach Abroad - Japan

Teaching abroad is a wonderful way to experience a new place, but it’s a big decision. Beyond electing to go for it, you have to hammer out the specifics, including determining which country best suits your skills and preferences. Sometimes, it helps to know what other people are doing.

Go Overseas has tracked the most popular countries to teach abroad in 2019, based on three key criteria. We looked at different countries’ popularity on our website, the number of people who searched (via Google) for information about teaching in each, and how many programs they offer. We also considered salary opportunities in each country, because we know that's important! When we crunched the numbers, we landed on this year’s top 10.

You’ll find the full list below, including their rankings from 2017, the last time we made this list. For more information about teaching opportunities in each country, click on their names in their respective sections.

Country Rank (2019) Rank (2017) Change
Japan 1 7 +6
China 2 3 +1
Italy 3 - New
Spain 4 - New
South Korea 5 4 -1
Vietnam 6 1 -5
Thailand 7 - New
United Arab Emirates 8 7 -1
Australia 9 - New
Saudi Arabia 10 5 -5

Now that you've had a teaser for each country, read on to learn why these ten made this year's list for the best places to teach abroad. Oh, and don't forget to read all the way to the end to learn what makes our Honorable Mention (Taiwan) so special!

1. Japan

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: Japan
Photo by Shana H., International TEFL Academy Alum

There’s been a lot of movement since 2017’s list. As the biggest mover and shaker this year, Japan has unseated the previous top country (Vietnam) and become the #1 spot for teaching abroad in 2019. Five other countries are also brand new on the list this year. Times -- and trends -- are changing.

Japan offers the opportunity to live in both the ancient and the modern world, plus a wide variety of teaching abroad programs. Teaching jobs in Japan tend to be more competitive than those in other countries on this list, so certifications and experience are very helpful.

One place to consider starting your research process for teaching in Japan is the JET Program, which is run by the Japanese government. It is for young university graduates looking to work in Japan as either as an assistant language teacher or a coordinator for international relations.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Japan to consider:

2. China

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: China
Photo by Caitlin V., Teach English in China with CIEE Alum

This year, China moves up one spot into the #2 position -- to the surprise of no one who's kept an eye on the ESL industry in China. The fast-developing country has seen a growing demand for English-speaking teachers and now boasts a whopping 137 programs. Those who teach abroad in China enjoy relatively high teaching salaries and benefits, with a low cost of living.

With its vast size, China has a lot to offer in various categories, from the age group you teach to where you work. In terms of the latter, you can choose from massive metropolises, quiet villages, or somewhere in between. However, wherever you end up, you’ll find a long history and rich culture.

Here are some teaching opportunities in China to consider:

3. Italy

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: Italy
Photo by Cassandra P., Greenheart Travel Alum

The first new country on the list for where to teach in 2019 is Italy, which is one of only two countries in Europe. Italy is a popular destination for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are Italian fashion, food, and culture. Italy is one of the most popular places people research teaching abroad, and that trend continues to grow -- get a teaching job there now to beat the competition!

On the teaching front, there are a good number of programs in Italy. Salaries are competitive and as long as you don’t get too addicted to buying Italian leather goods, you should be able to live comfortably.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Italy to consider:

See all teach abroad programs in Italy →

Go Overseas is working to produce some great articles about teaching in Italy; we'll add those here once they've been published!

4. Spain

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: Spain
Photo by Jasmine R., GoEco Spain Alum

English speakers have long been attracted to Spain, a new entrant at #4 on the list this year. It is Europe’s most popular country for both studying and teaching overseas. Pay typically isn’t as high there as it is in the places above it on this list, but many people clearly can’t resist.

There are several popular cities for teaching in Spain, in large part thanks a Spanish Ministry of Education program. While they offer unique experiences, each tends to have its share of nightlife, tapas, and interesting history. As a bonus, travel within the country is fairly affordable, and Spain is well-connected to the rest of Europe.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Spain to consider:

5. South Korea

Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019 - South Korea
Photo credit: Taylor, CIEE Teach Abroad South Korea

It's impossible to write a list of the top places to teach abroad without mentioning the eternal favorite: South Korea.

South Korea consistently earns rave reviews from current and former teachers who've spent time there, for a variety of reasons. There are lots of teaching opportunities -- both in teaching English and in other subjects if you happen to speak Korean -- and teaching salaries are notoriously high. While the cost of living in Korea is also higher than other countries, you can earn a respectable salary and even save some money if you're cost-conscious while living and teaching in South Korea.

Here are some teaching opportunities in South Korea to consider:

6. Vietnam

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: Vietnam
Photo by Courtney C., International TEFL Academy Alum

Slipping down from #1 in 2017, Vietnam is nevertheless still a popular place to teach, with its 33 programs. It is more off-the-beaten-path than Southeast Asia’s most visited countries, which helps the cost of living remain lower and the quality of life stays high.

Demand for English teachers has grown in recent years, making Vietnam a good place to secure a job. Salaries for teaching in Vietnam are around $800-$1,800 per month, and your money can go far. You can use it to take advantage of the country’s delicious food and incredible sites, from its sandy beaches to its rice patty fields.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Vietnam to consider:

7. Thailand

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: Thailand
Photo by Christopher G., Teach English in Thailand with CIEE Alum

Thailand cracked the top 10 this year and made it all the way to #7. It’s not surprising that the popular tourist destination would attract people looking to teach overseas. There are several dozen programs to choose from in Thailand, and they offer a chance to work in a country known to expats as being breathtakingly beautiful, friendly, and affordable.

Thailand is perhaps best known for its scenic coasts, but there are other settings where you can teach, too. The country is relatively small, so no matter where you go, beaches and mountains are in reach. You’ll likely have lots of family and friends from home wanting to visit.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Thailand to consider:

8. United Arab Emirates

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: United Arab Emirates
Photo by Claire M., American University of Sharjah Alum

The United Arab Emirates slipped one spot to #8 for this year's list; it remains a desirable place to teach. Money is definitely a strong plus. Teachers make more in the UAE than they do anywhere else we’ve mentioned -- and salaries are tax-free.

While some countries are primarily looking for English teachers, the U.A.E. has a lot of expats teaching other subjects as well. They’re doing it while enjoying warm weather year-round and a country that has dunes, beaches, and some ultra-modern cities.

Here are some teaching opportunities in the U.A.E. to consider:

9. Australia

The Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019: Australia
Photo by Nataleena, Travel for Teens Australia Alum

Another newcomer to the list is Australia, which claimed the #9 spot this year. More and more prospective teachers looking for information about teaching Down Under. It’s no wonder, considering the many adventures that can be found there!

Although Australia is perhaps best known for great weather, outdoor activities, and exotic creatures, the teaching opportunities don't disappoint either. Teachers from abroad can find jobs in public or private schools, including through one-year teaching exchange programs. Keep in mind that the school year runs on a different schedule, so the best time to look for jobs is between September and October.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Australia to consider:

10. Saudi Arabia

Best Places to Teach Abroad - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is yet another new addition to the list, thanks in part to its relatively high salaries. There are also typically good benefits, including housing, healthcare, return airfare, and even bonuses upon contract completion. Foreign teacher are usually hired to teach ESL, but it’s not impossible to find a position teaching other subjects.

Whatever you teach, expect students to be separated by gender. Saudi culture is more conservative than what most Westerners are used to, so teachers should expect to adjust to a very different way of life. If different is what you’re looking for, Saudi Arabia may be perfect for you.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Saudi Arabia to consider:

Honorable Mention: Taiwan

Best Places to Teach Abroad in 2019 - Taiwan
Photo credit: Caitlyn B., CIEE Taiwan

Taiwan gets the honorable mention on this year's list because it holds a place near and dear to the Go Overseas team's hearts. Co-founders Andrew and Mitch both taught in Taiwan, and their experiences helped inspire the idea that would eventually become Go Overseas.

Taiwan has pretty good salaries for English teachers, typically in the range of $1,400-$2,400 per month, plus a low cost of living that makes it a great option for enjoying a nice quality of life. There are also a good number of teaching options in Taiwan, so if this sounds like the right country for you -- there are lots of choices to help you find the perfect teaching placement.

Here are some teaching opportunities in Taiwan to consider:

Where Will You Teach Abroad in 2019?

There are some countries you might be surprised to not see on this list, like Russia (#8) or Brazil (#10). The reality is that there's no perfect list -- but we tried our best with this one and will update it next year.

As a reminder, to create this list, we looked at the popularity of countries both on Go Overseas and across the internet. We also considered how many teaching opportunities there are in each country and the salary potential for teaching in each country. When we mixed all of those variables together, we came up with this list.

But, don't forget: there are other ways to decide where to teach abroad besides popularity. Some countries are ideal for recent grads looking to teach, while others work well for seniors teaching abroad. You might even decide you'd rather teach in an up-and-coming teaching destination. Whatever your criteria, there are many exciting opportunities out there -- you just have to find the right one.