Teach Abroad

2012 Teach Abroad Report

Andrea Moran
Topic Expert

After studying abroad in France, the Netherlands, and Denmark, Andrea decided to combine her love of education and other cultures by teaching English in Chile.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people go overseas to teach English. According to UNESCO, the world needs two million more primary teachers in the next few years for the UN to meet its goal of universal primary education. We decided to take a look at which nations ranked the highest based on the amount of global Google searches for teaching jobs. Although this doesn’t reflect how many people actually teach in these countries, it can shed some light on which countries people are the most interested in getting teaching jobs in.

The #1 searched country

South Korea takes the lead with the most global monthly searches for English teaching jobs. This comes as no surprise. Over 64,000 searches were recorded from the United States for teaching jobs in Korea, with Canada coming in at a distant second.

Korea's all-out push to learn the world’s leading language directly affects Koreans’ lives from childhood, and continues until university. Most Korean parents will do whatever it takes to help their children learn English, even if it means short stints abroad. Korea sends more students abroad than any other country, and Koreans make up the largest demographic of foreign students at U.S. universities.

Whether it’s a government sponsored program or a local mom-and-pop school, thousands of foreigners come to teach English in Korea every year. The demand is there, and the world is answering.

A Surprise Second

We were a bit more surprised to see the second place country: the United States. However, the U.S. is also a popular place to teach, and the trend of “importing teachers” has increased sharply in the last decade. According to UNESCO’s latest update on global education, the United States is currently facing a “moderate” primary school teacher shortage.

The latest report by the American Federation of Teachers states that “Overseas-trained teachers are being recruited from nearly all corners of the globe and are being placed primarily in hard-to-staff inner-city or very rural schools". According to the study, an estimated 19,000 teachers, many from the Philippines, were teaching in the U.S. on temporary visas in 2007.

However, when it comes to supplying America’s poverty-stricken schools with good teachers, Teach for America, is also answering the call. The non-profit organization saw a record number of applicants last fall, with more than 48,000 applications.

Whatever the reasons for the U.S. being a highly-searched country for teaching jobs, we know that the demand for teachers, whether from abroad or at home, is high.

Other top-ranking countries

China took third place, followed by Japan. These Asian nations have a long history of recruiting foreigners, be it through Japan’s prestigious Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), or the various recruitment companies offering teaching jobs in China through Disney English.

Other countries that made our top ten list include England, India, Australia, Spain, Thailand, and Canada.

We expected to see India, the world’s second most-populous country, where the English language flourishes. Higher education is run almost entirely in English, and most jobs in the country require a decent level of fluency.

Spain and Thailand were both expected, and with good reason. Whether it’s the thought of living near a tropical beach or tapas and sangria, the allure of teaching abroad in both of these countries is strong. Spain’s North American Teacher Assistantship program is popular with foreigners, and numerous recruiting agencies advertise jobs in Thailand. However, both countries face a moderate primary school teacher shortage, according to UNESCO.


On the flip side, West Africa fared the worst when it came to global searches of teaching jobs. Countries such as Togo, Niger, Ivory Coast, and Guinea came in last, not even having enough global monthly searches to show up in the Google Keyword Tool.

And it’s countries like Niger that have the most “critical gap” in primary education, according to UNESCO.

We figured the low popularity of search for particular countries in Africa is because people are searching for general terms such as "teaching in Africa, and "teach in Africa" instead of country specific opportunities. The graph below demonstrates this disparity.

While paid teaching positions are often hard to come by in Africa, organizations such as WorldTeach do a good job of providing formalized teaching opportunities in countries such as Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa.

Final Thoughts

As the English language spreads throughout the world, and providing basic education becomes a more pressing priority around the world, it’s interesting to see where people are searching for jobs. How would you interpret these results? What countries would you be most interested in teaching in?

You might be more interested in teaching in Africa, a less common destination. If the continent wants to keep up with climbing student enrollment, most of Africa will need over one million new teachers within the next few years, according to UNESCO. Or maybe you will follow others, and choose a top-ranking country.