Do I have to speak the local language to teach English abroad?


Hi Grayson! Generally speaking, no, you do not have to speak the local language to teach English abroad. You DO have to be a native/fluent English speaker however. Where are you thinking about teaching abroad?

Generally, no. I taught English in Poland and didn't speak a word of it. While it can help you get around the country, there are many programs for ESL that explicitly say that they DON'T want you to speak the native language since that helps your students with immersion. You just have to be a native/fluent English speaker.

Some schools in China actually prefer you DON'T speak Chinese just to be sure the kids have a full immersion experience!

Hi Grayson,

Great to see you're interested in teaching abroad! Looks like your questions were answered, but we just wanted to chime in and let you know that in some countries, it is considered an advantage that you don't speak the local language, so your students have no choice but to speak English :)

Some countries/programs do require that you speak the local language, but usually that is in Spanish speaking countries.

Hope this helps!

Hi Grayson! When I taught English in Spain they specifically asked us not to speak Spanish to the students. They wanted the students to think that we didn't understand them so they would have to try even harder to speak English.

Hey Greyson. To echo everyone else the answer is "no, you don't need to speak the local language to teach." However, learning how to speak the language and becoming literate really makes living there easier and will increase your enjoyment of the experience. Studying opens up possibilities like meeting people through group classes or eventually becoming a person that other expats turn to for help. Also, in emergency situations you won't be in the dark about what's going on and you'll be able to resolve problems you encounter independently.