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Your guide to teaching English abroad

Are you passionate about education and supporting local communities? Are you a teacher (or an aspiring one!) looking to live overseas, learn about different cultures, and meet new people, all while making a stable income?

Consider teaching English abroad!

Countries around the world welcome travelers to help assist or lead classrooms in exciting destinations – it’s a unique way to travel, see the world, and gain professional teaching experience, while also saving money!

Why teach English abroad?

  • Teaching abroad is the perfect way to immerse yourself in new cities and villages, contribute to the local community, and get paid while doing it.
  • You may have heard of people volunteering their time to teach English for free, but there are also travelers who do this for a career. Real people around the world have taken their love for travel to the next level by teaching English as a second language.
  • Teachers can make up to $5,500 per month teaching abroad, and some opportunities don’t even require a college degree.

If you’re wondering, “how do I teach abroad?” but don’t know where to start -- Go Overseas has you covered. We’re committed to providing information that will help you feel confident and ready for a successful time teaching English abroad!

Explore our expert resources to learn more about which countries pay the highest salaries for teaching abroad, how to save money while teaching, and even how to create the perfect ESL lesson plan when you’re abroad.

How to teach English abroad

Excited about teaching abroad, but not sure how or where to start? You’re in the right place! We recommend starting your teaching journey by following these brief steps:

  • Be fluent in the English language. While English fluency is required, whether you must be a native speaker depends on the country you choose to teach in.
  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree or four-year degree equivalent. Although it’s possible to find a teaching job that does not require a four-year degree, most competitive countries, especially in Western Europe and parts of Asia, will require applicants to have a college degree. However, it can be in any subject – you’re not limited to education!
  • Get TEFL certified. Getting certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is highly encouraged to ensure you’ll feel confident leading a classroom and crafting lesson plans. TEFL certified candidates automatically have an advantage over other non-certified teaching candidates, making it essential if you’re teaching in competitive locations such as South Korea or The UAE.
  • Determine which country you want to teach in. Whether you’re interested in being a classroom assistant and enjoying the sunshine in Spain or spending your weekends adventuring through jungles in Taiwan, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your teaching and travel goals.
  • Start researching teaching programs. Get started here on Go Overseas! Browse and compare hundreds of teaching programs and read verified reviews, written by teachers just like you!
  • Create a resume and prepare for the interview. Start crafting an effective ESL teacher resume that outlines your qualifications and teaching experience. Plus, don’t forget to brush up on EFL terms and classroom methodology!
  • Apply for your visa, passport, and travel insurance. Depending on where you decide to teach, you’ll need to apply for a work visa. The process varies from country to country, but we’ve broken them down by region here!
  • Book your flights and get your necessary vaccinations. Some countries may require vaccinations, in order to allow travelers to enter. You can explore vaccine requirements and health advisories by country in this interactive map.
  • Enjoy your time teaching English abroad! Though you’ll need time to adjust to your new classroom and life abroad, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time. You’ll travel and see exciting sights, meet new people, and gain professional teaching experience.

Can I teach abroad at any age?

Technically, yes as long as you’re at least 21 years old (though age requirements vary from country to country). Whether you’re a recent college grad, an established teacher looking for a change in scenery, or an older adult looking to teach and travel, you’re welcome to teach English abroad!

Where to teach English abroad

Take your qualifications and TEFL certification with you around the globe to teach – there are opportunities everywhere! Whether you’re looking to assist a classroom in a small, rural village or gain experience teaching in a bustling city, you’ll find the world is your oyster if you want to teach abroad.

If you don’t know where to teach, consider what you want to get out of the teaching abroad experience. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • What kind of life are you looking to live while abroad? Are you looking for a higher paycheck or adventurous destinations to visit in your free time?
  • Are you interested in supporting the education systems in underprivileged communities?
  • What type of classroom environment do you feel more comfortable teaching in?
  • What benefits matter most to you (ex: housing, health insurance, etc) and what are you willing to pay out of pocket for?

Once you’ve figured out your teaching goals, the big question remains: Where should I teach abroad? What are the best countries for teaching abroad? Do some destinations offer more teaching opportunities? Can you get paid more by teaching in certain regions?

Start by comparing these popular teaching destinations.

Japan

Japan is known for its stunning, picture-perfect landscapes, delicious cuisine, efficient and reliable transportation system, and rich history. Plus, ESL teachers are well-regarded in Japan, with teachers in high demand in schools across bustling major cities, as well as charming, rural towns. The good pay and competitive benefits, like free housing, transportation passes, and in some schools, meals, also help make Japan a popular option for teachers.

South Korea

If having your accommodations, flights, and health insurance covered helps give you peace of mind, then teaching English in South Korea may be the route to go. South Korea is praised for having great pay on top of comprehensive benefits for teachers. However, it’s important to note that teaching jobs in Korea can be highly competitive and therefore may have stricter requirements, in comparison to other popular teaching destinations.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to some of the highest ESL salaries in the world, with teachers earning up to $5500 a month, in addition to common perks such as free housing, flight reimbursements, and health insurance. If you’re looking to work in a destination with high-tech classrooms, a vibrant nightlife scene, and tax-free living, consider teaching in the UAE.

Need more inspiration? Explore our list of the 10 best countries to teach abroad, based on average salaries, cost of living, teaching qualifications, and overall teaching experience.

Types of teaching jobs abroad

While being a great way to finance your travels, teaching English is also a valuable job that has a significant impact on students and local communities. There are several different types of jobs available worldwide for teachers, and thoughtful planning can help you find the right one for you.

Take a look at these common types of English teaching jobs abroad:

Whether you choose to help professionals excel in their field with business English classes, assist teachers at a language school, teach K-12 in public or private schools, or become an after-school English tutor, there are plenty of teaching opportunities out there!

Teach abroad salaries

Your salary while teaching abroad can vary greatly depending on the country and school in which you work. The pay is determined by several factors, including country and city, private vs. public school, teaching credentials and experience, and local cost of living. Additionally, part of your compensation will typically include benefits, such as the organization paying for your flights and living expenses.

On average, ESL teachers can make $900-$5,500 per month around the world. While some countries pay more than others, you can count on Asia (the Middle East and East Asia, specifically) to be one of the most popular places to earn a high salary teaching overseas.

Below are some countries with the highest paying ESL teaching salaries and comprehensive benefits.

Explore the full list: Which Countries Pay the Highest Salaries for Teaching Abroad?

Keep in mind, a high salary shouldn’t be your only deciding factor when choosing where to teach abroad. The country's cost of living and your broader impact on the local community should also be considered!

Find your dream teaching program

Will you teach English in France, or at summer camps in Taiwan? What about taking the virtual path and becoming an online teacher? Wherever you choose to teach, you can start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas!

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

How Go Overseas Works

Go Overseas is your trusted source for travel abroad programs: here you can browse and discover thousands of vetted providers. Just like a trusted travel buddy, we want to help you find the right information and feel excited and confident about your first or next culturally immersive trip overseas. We know sometimes having an abundance of options can be overwhelming, so we have a few tips on how to use Go Overseas to find the perfect transformative travel program for you.

  1. Browse 16,000+ programs: Narrow your search results by using filters, such as program type, location, and length.

  2. Read 46,000+ Reviews: Real people have gone on these programs, and have experiences to share. Read alumni reviews on any program that interests you to get an idea of what it's really like to be on the ground, overseas.

  3. Read 5,700+ Interviews: For any program that really sparks your interest, read personal stories and in-depth accounts from travelers like you. If you'd like to reach out and hear more from the traveler who left an interview, let us know and we'll help connect you.

  4. Browse community photos: Pictures of food, accommodations, adventures, and people (oh, the friends you'll make!) in program community galleries will help you visualize yourself abroad.

  5. Wish List 💙: Not ready to commit to a program? Click the Wish List heart icon to bookmark programs and save them for later. Then, compare programs side by side.

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Frequently Asked Teach Abroad Questions

  • What qualifications do you need to be a teacher abroad?

    You’ll need to have a CELTA, TESOL, or TEFL certificate before attempting to teach English in most places. Even if the country you plan on teaching English abroad in does not require a certification, it's a good idea to have one so you know what you're getting into and feel more confident on your first day of class.

    Additional benefits of getting a teach abroad certification are that some providers will help you find a job placement, housing, and insurance. For this reason, it's recommended that you get certified in the country you’ve decided to teach abroad in so you can network with local schools and find the right teach abroad job for you.

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  • Which countries pay English teachers the most?

    Certain countries and regions are known to pay English teachers very little (although this should be balanced with the overall cost of living). Other countries, particularly teaching jobs in the Middle East and Asia, are compensating English teachers with surprisingly high wages. The highest-paid ESL jobs can often be found in these parts of the world, but are often more competitive and require more experience than some of the lower-paying English teaching jobs.

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  • How do I start teaching abroad?

    The first step to teaching English abroad is to decide what country you want to teach in, and what qualifications you need to get a job there. Here at Go Overseas, we strive to make this process as easy as possible for you. Review our program and certification provider listings and read reviews to find the right course for you. You can also review a comprehensive list of teach English abroad guide content to help you every step of the way. Once you are ready to start your job search, check out the Go Overseas job board to find current teach abroud job listings all around the world.

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  • How old do you have to be to teach abroad?

    While there isn't a specific age that runs across the board for all countries, it is often mandatory to have at least completed a Bachelor's degree. Many schools have specific requirements (such as Ed Degree or newly grads welcome), and all of these requirements will change the age of qualified applicants.

    South Korea is usually very open and excited to work with new grads, while Chinese schools often prefer a bit more experienced teachers. However, there is no age specified, and often a positive attitude and enthusiasm will outweigh academic specifications!

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