Is the monotony of student life sucking the passion and drive from you? Want to take a break without stopping your educational progress? Want that break to strengthen your resume and overall perspective on life? Taking a gap year to teach abroad may be the answer for you!

The opportunity to step away from the drudges of college to travel the world, while making an impact on the education of students, can be the perfect solution to spice up your life. Gap year teaching abroad is the chance to take a year off before or after college and teach English in another country. Expand your perspective on life, live in another culture, and strengthen skills that you’ll need in any future career!

Private Language Academies/Schools

Taking a gap year to teach abroad with a private English language company has several benefits. Private institutions have more guidelines, a set curriculum, and extensive support. If you have little or no experience teaching English abroad, working for a private company may make the transition process smoother.

English teaching jobs at private language institutes have students paying private tuition to learn a language by a native English speaker in a 100% English immersion classroom (you don't need to speak another language). English language students can range from young children to adults.

You typically teach 5 classes a day for 45-50 minutes, 5 days a week. There are anywhere from 5 to 50 English teachers at each language school. Most cities will have anywhere from 500 to 5000 other English teachers like you. In most industrialized countries, teachers are paid a middle class wage to support themselves.

Many Asian countries teachers can save 30-50% more than the cost of living, meaning savings up to an extra $12,000 to $15,000 a year! International TEFL Academy offers English teaching programs in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Public Schools

Due to lack of tuition, public schools tend to pay less than private language academies. Upsides include working fewer hours and having more holidays to explore a foreign country. Typically, teachers live on campus or in an apartment near the school, eat lunch in the school cafeteria, and are more involved with school events.

Class sizes will be larger, reaching up to fifty students per class. Most public schools hire foreign teachers as a supplemental oral English teachers, so schedules are not as set in stone. Teaching at a public school does mean creating your own lesson plan, rather than following a strict curriculum, allowing for more flexibility.

Teaching abroad for a public institution may prove more difficult and less reliable than working with an ESL company because many schools are not versed in visa paperwork. Teachers tend to utilize agents to link them with teaching opportunities at certain schools. Working for a public school can be a very rewarding experience, but there is also more risk and uncertainty.

Private Lessons

Once you have established yourself as a teacher and become comfortable teaching students of all levels, you can branch out from the classroom and look into private tutoring. There is a high demand for one-on-one oral tutoring, especially for adults and high school students.

Private tutoring is completely individual, meaning it may or may not involve an educational institute. Because of this freedom, personal tutors get paid the most. By reaching out to locals and using your contacts, you can build a solid base of students.

Private tutoring is also a great way to fill any gaps in your teaching schedule from the institute. Like all individual jobs, working alone comes with a certain amount of risk. Teaching privately does not offer as much security as teaching through a public or private program.

Unsure of where you want to spend the year? Not to worry, there are many different destinations to choose from for your gap year teaching abroad.


Asian countries have a rich culture and history that provide the perfect backdrop for an incredible gap year. And due to the high demand for native speakers and the growing popularity of the English language, Asia is a growing market for English teachers. Schools or teaching programs often provide courses for potential teachers in order to understand and gain teaching techniques specifically for teaching in Asia.

China is a very popular gap year destination due to the expanding English teaching market, the demand for native English speakers, and the possibility to teach without a TEFL certificate. Not only are students excited and eager to learn from a native speaker, but also the perks usually include free airfare, housing allowance, and paid vacation during the Chinese holidays.

Cambodia is another country with a growing teaching market looking to hire native English speakers that may not have a TEFL certificate. Cambodia is a beautiful destination to spend your gap year on a beach, err, the classroom. Like China, many Cambodian programs provide potential teachers with flight reimbursement, housing allowance, as well as paid vacation time.


The prospect of traveling to Europe many seem enticing, but what about living there during a gap year? Many European countries have a high demand for native English speakers with a comprehensive background in teaching or the English language. Potential teachers are required to have a 2-year or 4-year degree, as well as a TEFL certificate.

Russia has a very high demand for native English speakers to teach English as the popularity of the English language spans the massive country. Russia’s cold winters may not seem ideal for a romantic gap year abroad teaching, but the rich culture and stunning landscapes can change any mind. Like many countries, Russia has many opportunities and covers the cost of the flight, visa, and housing.

Spain is seen as the country of incredible food and beauty, which makes it the perfect gap year destination. Teaching English in Spain has maintained popularity throughout the years, with many different opportunities at a range of schools across the country. Finding a position with many perks such as flight reimbursement, housing allowance, and visa support is easily possible.

Latin America

Latin America is a diverse group of countries, each with their own unique culture. Yet they do have similarities in language and certain cultural aspects so that spending time a couple of Latin American countries is a popular option for gap year teachers, especially those who stay longer than one year. The demand for native English speakers with 2-year and 4-year degrees is growing as the popularity of the English language expands across the region.

Mexico has beautiful landscapes and a rich culture. From the coastal cities to the urban capital of Mexico City, this country makes an ideal gap year destination. Moreover, Mexico even passed a law that allows any native English speaker with a TEFL certificate to obtain a work permit to teach in the country.

Nicaragua is often compared to Costa Rica, but this beautiful country is incredible in its own right, with a rich culture and history and extensive natural beauty. Nicaragua can offer a gap year away from crowded tourist areas and offer an opportunity to dive deep into authentic Latin America. Major cities are where many of the teaching positions in Nicaragua are located. Nicaraguan gap year teaching programs typically offer many benefits such as flight reimbursement, health insurance, and Spanish lessons.

How to Teach Abroad Without a Degree During Your Gap Year

No degree? No problem! Check out these programs:

Teaching Chile allows those still in the process of obtaining college degrees the opportunity to teach English with the assistance of a local English teacher in the classroom.

International TEFL Academy is one of the largest TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification schools in the world, training over 1,200 new teachers a year. Over 95% of their students do not have a degree in education. They simply want to get paid to teach abroad, attend training, and get help to find the right teaching positions around the world.

ITTT Online TEFL Course offers internationally recognized and accredited online courses to over 500 new trainees each month. ITTT course graduates are now working in over 40 countries around the world. Their online courses offer flexible and affordable certification options ranging from 60-250 hours, allowing you to study from home and teach in some of the most exciting destinations around the globe.

Visa & Sponsorships

Obtaining a visa to teaching abroad varies from country to country. Most of the time a tourist visa will not be enough to legally allow you to live and work abroad. Some countries have strict laws and qualifications for English teachers -- you may need some sort of combination of a completed bachelor's degree, passport from a native English-speaking country, a TEFL certificate, a criminal background check, and/or previous teaching experience. Other countries have more lax regulations where you just need to be fluent in English. Make sure to check the country's government websites for the most updated information.

Another option is to find a government teaching job abroad where the visa and paperwork done for you. Popular destinations with programs include Japan (Jet Programme), France (TAPIF), Spain (Language & Cultural Assistant), and Chile.

Contributed by Samantha Coughran

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I get paid to teach English during my gap year abroad?

    You can find paid teaching jobs through the Go Overseas job board, recruiters, and organizations that can match you with a private language school. When you find a teaching job you like, make sure you meet all the requirements like a TEFL certification, a bachelor's degree, and certain language proficiency. You will also need to meet the country visa requirements.

  • Which country pays English teachers the most?

    Some of the highest paying countries for teaching English include the U.A.E, Japan, and Taiwan. However, make sure to calculate all your other costs like airfare, housing, entertainment, and food. Sometimes the highest salary doesn't mean the highest take-home pay as some of those places also have a high cost of living.

  • What are the most popular places to teach during my gap year?

    It depends on what you want from a teach abroad experience, but some of the most popular places to teach abroad include China, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Mexico.

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