English Teaching Abroad jobs are perhaps one of the best ways to see the world and to earn an income at the same time! But just how easy is it to take to the road and find paid teaching work in far-flung lands?
I am lucky enough to have many friends in the blogging community who have taught English as a second language, often after acquiring a TEFL course online, and these lovely people have come together to share their experiences teaching english and their top tips for finding paid teaching placements abroad.
Everything You Need To Know About English Teaching Abroad Jobs
The whole point here is to arm you guys with as much information as possible so that you can take the plunge and get a kick ass job, teaching English abroad, with a difference – the ability to travel…
Top Travel Bloggers Teaching English Abroad
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in China: Richelle at Adventures Around Asia
My experience teaching English in China was definitely… an experience. After studying abroad in both Beijing and Xi’an in college, I knew I needed to return to China post-graduation to teach some English. I found an English teaching job through Ameson Year in China and figured I’d be set. They promised a free TEFL certificate, free flights, health insurance, orientation, and that we’d all be placed together at schools in Chinese cities. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I arrived at my school that I realised I’d be living in the middle-of-nowhere “factoryville” China just outside Ningbo, Zhejiang.
As far as English Teaching Abroad jobs go, it was a very interesting year. I taught 1,000 high schoolers oral English. With 50 students to a class, it took me 3 months to realise I had a deaf student in one of my classes. Most of my students, with names like “Hamburger”, “Nate ‘little’ Smith”, “Future Summer Boy” and “M-hey!”, had never studied with a foreign teacher before. I was also the only foreigner in the entire town, which made me an insta-celebrity. I was a bit lonely all on my own, but my co-workers were very inclusive, inviting me to their homes to eat dinner and play with their kids. About four months in I discovered the school was assigning them weekends to hang out with me… Like I said, it was definitely an experience!
TEFL Top Tips For China
- Purchase your own TEFL certificate. You can get teaching jobs that include a ‘free TEFL’ but they pay far less so I strongly recommend getting your TEFL certificate sorted before you start looking for a job.
- Stand up for yourself and avoid signing contracts that have crazy stipulations. One contract tried to charge me up to $8,000 USD if I left my contract early!
- Go with the flow. Things happen on their own time in China; Classes and schedules will often change at the last minute. My school didn’t even set the end date for our winter vacation until the vacation had already started!
My Experience Teaching English to Adults and Businesses Abroad in China: Liz from Peanuts Or Pretzels
China is probably the ultimate destination to teach English right now. The market is growing fast and there’s lots of money to be made, but it’s not only for teaching children. One of the primary markets is teaching English in China to adults. They have more disposable income and want to travel more to foreign countries, as well as business men and women who are doing more international work. I taught English in Guangzhou, China and it was an absolutely wonderful experience!
If you are looking for an experience outside of the mainland, teaching English in Taiwan should definitely not be over looked. The pay is good and the island has its own strong identity and culture for you to immerse yourself in.
My students were genuinely curious, they were like sponges really, and longing to learn as much as possible. They were friendly beyond compare and I truly feel like I’ve made lifelong friends and business contacts in China (I still keep in touch with many of them). I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world and from a business standpoint, feel like I’m in a better position than ever now that I understand doing business in China!
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3 Tips for Teaching English in China
- Know your strengths and look for a school who is interested in your abilities (beyond just knowing English) – it will make your experience much more enjoyable if you can do more.
- Know who you want to teach (kids / adults / businesses) and where (city or countryside) and what kind of school (a public school / international school / university / or private language institute) – experiences, teaching hours, and pay vary dramatically! So choose what is right for you and your english teaching strengths.
- Realise that you will encounter situations and questions that you are not used to, and may not be comfortable with. It can be shocking at first but keep in mind they aren’t trying to be rude, it’s just a different culture. So be open to it, don’t take offence, and use it as a learning opportunity to share with them your cultural norms.
Need more information about Teaching English In China? Joe’s ultimate guide to teaching English in China is going to help you!
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in Peru: Kach at Two Monkeys Travel
Jonathan and I both taught English as TEFL teachers in Peru and at first it was quite a shock after having taught for almost a year in Vietnam. Our initial salary at a language centre was less than $5 an hour, a far cry from the $20 an hour minimum we were used to! Another challenge was me being a Filipino TEFL teacher as most students really want native speaker teachers. We overcame these hurdles by stepping out of the general TEFL market where most teachers competed for pennies, instead gathering our own materials and creating customised lesson plans for private students preparing for their IELTS and TOEFL exams. By doing this we attracted focused, dedicated students with solid goals and aspirations, who were prepared to pay more for a personalised service to get where they wanted to be. Luckily, Peru is a very cool place to live!
TEFL Top Tips For Peru
- First of all, don’t expect the high salaries you have heard about in Asia, because they simply don’t exist for TEFL teachers in Peru. To teach in Peru, you have to love the country, the lifestyle and your students, because the money won’t keep you there otherwise!
- Get involved! There are plenty of english teachers in Peru and you will be competing with semi-retired expats who offer cheap classes on the side to supplement their lifestyle. You have to go find your students by getting to know people and thinking outside the box to connect with potential students. Attending Couchsurfing meet-ups and other local events are a good start.
- The schools and language centres pay very little for the most part, so it’s really important to decide what you really want to get out of teaching English in Peru – life experience, giving back to a community, cultural immersion, making friends, making money, extending your travels, a long-term career – all of these are very different motivations and will decide what kind of job you pursue.
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in Korea: Chris Backe at One Weird Globe
I taught English in Seoul (or a suburb of Seoul, like Bucheon or Dongtan) from 2008-2013. Teaching English in Korea can sometimes feel like you’re walking a minefield while blindfolded. The kids are generally great, especially if you try to mix it up or get them physically moving. Too many kids in Korea spend a LOT of hours on hard wooden chairs, so you really need to do something to shake things up.
TEFL Top Tips For Korea
- Know your geography. More than a few recruiters have played up a school as being ‘near Seoul’, when in reality it’s a two-hour subway / train ride to reach central Seoul. Just because it’s on the Seoul subway system doesn’t mean it’ll be convenient or easy to reach. Ask for the nearest subway station to the school, then look it up
- Accept the system as it is. It’s not your job to fix the system or to change it, but to work within it and help kids learn English as best as you can.
- Allow yourself to put fun over ‘serious’ education. Kids remember fun and fun teachers, and making a subject fun will keep them going when things get tough.
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in Vietnam: Alice Teacake at Teacake Travels
Whilst travelling throughout Vietnam, the money started to run out! I knew it was time to hunt through the English Teaching Abroad Jobs and get back into the game. Back then, I didn’t know how to ensure I was getting a fulfilling and secure job and I made a lot of mistakes. Firstly, I found many jobs wanted me for my appearance; not my skills (a common problem in Asia). They didn’t require me to teach to my full capacity and I found being a talking robot difficult to swallow. Secondly, I was naive enough to not get a contract. When my paychecks began to not turn up, it was hard to argue my case. Thirdly, I was in the middle of nowhere where no other foreigners were. It was just too deserted and suffocating for me. Vietnam is an amazing country to teach English in and you can earn sufficient money there but you’re going to need to hunt hard for a job which meets your expectations.
TEFL Top Tips For Vietnam
- Take a job which is going to give you the artistic freedom you need if you so desire
- Use Transferwise to move money in and out of the country with ease. Check out my buddy Jeremy’s full review on Transferwise here.
- Pick where you want to live and work carefully – ensure your location is right for you
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in Italy: Margherita at The Crowded Planet
I am from Italy, and I taught English in Italy – so I guess it doesn’t really count as ‘abroad’ in this case. I was teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) though, so I hope my experience will be useful to those planning to move to Italy and considering teaching as an option to support themselves.
First things first – no serious school will ever hire you unless you have a TEFL qualification. CELTA is preferred, but any TEFL will do really and it makes sense to go for one of the mid-range budget options where possible. Schools usually tend to cater to either children or adults, and times and pay vary. Some schools organise classes for businesspeople in their offices early in the morning, other hold General English lessons for groups or individuals in the evening, or tutor students for exams like TOEFL or IELTS during lunch.
Schools generally pay around €20-25 an hour for English teachers – after tax, you’ll end up pocketing around €1200-1500 per month for a 20 hour week, enough to survive and pay for a couple holidays abroad a year. Not being a native English speaker, finding work for me was quite tough – many Italians (especially parents) only want native speakers as teachers. I decided to specialise in exams (FCE, TOEFL and IELTS especially) as I found several people asked for that, and after a few months of advertising my services through schools and Uni notice boards I was fully booked, and no one cared I was born in Italy.
Tutoring people privately pays more than teaching for a school – around €30-50 an hour, and you’re usually paid cash in hand. You’ll need to invest in books and material first, and having a nice place to receive students definitely helps.
TEFL Top Tips For Italy
- Get a TEFL certificate
- Find a specialty (exams, children, business etc)
- Put aside hours to offer private tuition. This is where you can make $$$!
English Teaching Abroad Jobs In Japan: Becky at Trekking With Becky
I’ve had a great deal of experiences teaching English in Japan, from babies with their mothers to retirees who’ve always wanted to speak English. Although I’ve enjoyed teaching every age group and level, my favourite students are preschoolers. In Japan, teachers and students exchanging affection is perfectly acceptable, and there’s nothing like the bond that you form with preschoolers. They learn more than any other students fastest and most enthusiastically, which makes you feel like you’re not really working, but being paid to play with kids.
Right now, kids in Japan are obsessed with Frozen, Thomas (the train), and Shimajiro. Kids in Japan, especially boys, are crazy about trains on a different level. Once they get a little older, they will be introduced to the famous long-running cartoons Sazaesan and Chibi Marukochan. Everyone over elementary school age knows these shows as they are classics.
TEFL Top Tips For Japan
- Don’t be surprised when students, including adults, are ridiculously passive. I’ve had students of all ages just refuse to give me a simple yes or no answer even though they understand the simple question. You’ll hear the excuse about being shy; it’s rare that you’ll see or hear of a parent telling their children that just not answering like that is rude. Anyway, you’ll probably have at least a couple of students who are completely MUTE, and I’m warning you, it’s maddening. What’s even more maddening is when other people excuse it/justify it
- Discourage the usage of katakana as strongly as possible. Katakana is a Japanese alphabet that is used for words/things that are not originally Japanese, but it’s a HUGE problem because the Japanese alphabet is syllabic and of course, has different pronunciation. When English words are used with katakana as opposed to English with an accent, it’s incomprehensible. I can tell you countless stories of Japanese people who have humiliated themselves and/or have been in trouble because they thought they were speaking English, but really weren’t. They don’t understand the difference between speaking katakana and speaking with an accent.
- Don’t worry about games/activities being too young for your older students. In Japan, Kawaii (cute) culture is huuuuge, and I’ve had teenage boys want animal stickers because they’re cute. Adults enjoy seeing cute things too, and everyone enjoys games.
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in Spain: Kim Ling at Travel-ling.com
I loved my time as a Language Teaching Assistant in Spain. It was a great gig of teaching English 12 hours a week between a primary and secondary school, for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. I also ran afternoon classes for primary school students and private classes for adults in the evening. This still gave me plenty of time to pursue my own interests (such as flamenco dancing and eating tapas!) and travel every weekend. I lived in a small town in Andalucía and made some wonderful connections with the locals. I was able to share things about Australia and our culture, whilst learning about theirs as well. In spite of the rowdy teenagers, the snotty infants (I have never seen that much mucus in my life) and the last-minute study sessions on how to pronounce scientific terms in English, I enjoyed my life in Spain. I would definitely consider doing the Auxiliares Program again in the future.
TEFL Top Tips For Spain
- Have a repertoire of games/activities that don’t require much preparation or resources – keep it simple. It is highly likely you won’t know what classes you will be teaching or the students levels of English until you get there, so it’s no point in bringing lots of resources with you. I kept a USB full of relevant videos, songs, games and printouts to use when needed and relied a lot on word games (such as bananagrams and hangman) and conversation starters.
- Be flexible and adaptable! It was no secret amongst us language assistants that the program was often disorganised. I rocked up to school on my first day without knowing what classes I was teaching or my schedule. My schools were quite relaxed and at times my schedules would change without much notice, but if you are flexible and adaptable, it will make the experience much easier. This also goes for the range of students you will have; their age, behaviour and English levels were quite diverse!
- Have fun! At the end of the day, if you can make your lessons fun, the students will more likely be engaged and participate. You will also enjoy the experience more as well.
English Teaching Abroad Jobs in Thailand: Taylor at Travel Outlandish
In its finest moments, teaching English in rural Thailand was morning assemblies, Buddhist festivals, and meaningful cultural exchanges. There were also many parts of the experience that I never could have expected (like, say, the time I tried to explain the immaculate conception to 30 Buddhist teenagers for a Christmas play). Teaching English was continually fascinating and challenging. Perhaps there’s no better way to become immersed in a culture! Teaching English abroad gives you a sense of purpose and place that most travels lack. For that reason alone, it’s one of the best travel experiences you can create for yourself.
TEFL Top Tips For Thailand
- Find your own job rather than going through a program. There are plenty of schools looking for English teachers! Rather than committing ahead of time, discover the place that suits you best.
- “Saving face” is real. You’ll often hear about “saving face” in Thai culture. When it comes to classroom management, you’ll need to be prepared to step back from your own culture (and sense of discipline) to adhere to local custom.
- Take your weekends seriously! You’ll be amazed how much you can make out of weekends and school holidays. Experience stunning beaches in Koh Chang, motorbike through the hills of Pai, or hit the bars in Bangkok to get every bit out of your time abroad.
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English Teaching Abroad Jobs Online: Nina at Where In The World Is Nina?
I was previously an English teacher in Thailand. One day, while looking for English Teaching abroad jobs in another city, I stumbled upon an ad for an online English teacher. Not thinking much of it and not even sure what I was getting into, I applied, got hired, and next thing you know, I was chatting with students around the world. I signed in each day and taught English to eager students from Venezuela to Italy, to Russia to Indonesia, and even Madagascar! We communicated via an online platform. Most of my students were business professionals learning English to increase their chances of promotion or bettering their career. Some were learning just so they could they could get around easier on their upcoming holiday. It was a truly rewarding experience, and if you’ve been teaching abroad already, you’re likely qualified to get a job teaching English online as well.
TEFL Top Tips For Teaching English Online
- Have a steady internet connection. OK, you’re thinking, “no, duh!” but for real, make sure you REALLY do. I know it’s tempting to travel while trying to keep this job up, but more likely than not you’re going to freak out before each class when the internet cuts out or a loud group of people comes storming through your hotel lobby while you’re in the middle of a lesson. It’s super stressful to worry about a connection while trying to teach and makes for a crappy class for the both of you. If it’s really bad, you can stand the chance of not even getting paid because you didn’t provide a quality class. This is a great job for those who travel slowly and will be somewhere for a while where they can establish a comfortable working space that’s quiet and with a quality connection.
- Make a decision in the very beginning: Do you want this to make some easy extra side money or will this be your main source of income? There are multiple companies to work for that pay anything from $3 to $30/hour. Obviously, the more time and preparation you put into it the more you’ll get paid. The company I used to work for was only paying $10 for a 45-minute lesson, but the lesson was totally prepared already and the company had thousands of students already signed up and ready for a teacher. I just signed in and taught for the allotted time and that’s it. Easy!
- You’re likely going to need to take notes to provide the student with some feedback at the end of class. Most, if not all, online schools will require this of you. My tip is, take notes during the lesson and type them, don’t write them. This is way more efficient. It will take getting used to listening, typing, and thinking of corrections at the same time, but it will come naturally eventually and you will be saving tons of time.
English Teaching Abroad Jobs: How to get started
There you have it amigos, case studies from TEFL teachers around the world; if you are keen to get your ass on the road and to earn money at the same time; English Teaching Abroad jobs are definitely the way forward.
Is is something to think about:
Teaching English in a classroom not your thing? Are you a native English speaker looking to earn cash whilst traveling the world? Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection.
Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills! It’s a win-win!
Check out this detailed article for everything you need to know to start teaching English online as well as our guide on how to teach English with VIPKID.
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I am now a retired ESL and K-12 English Language teacher. I taught in Spain, Italy and Japan, have worked will all cultures and love travel. The thing is, I want short term travel, like 3 months. Do you know of short term jobs?
Awesome post i recently attended a two-day seminar of TEFL in Pakistan. Was so much good experience, Good work by HEC Pakistan. Keep it up!
Picking out a career track is difficult for anyone, especially college students. As a college senior, I was set to finish my English degree soon but had no idea what to do with it. However, I became interested in the field of TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). In fact, I altered my graduate school plans to instead focus on learning to teach ESL. Students who are stuck between career paths might want to consider ESL as well. There are incredible rewards, such as meeting students from around the world, to the possibility of international travel, to the added perk that ESL teachers are especially in demand. Teaching ESL can lead to a lifelong network of friends from around the world.
This is great resource for anyone thinking of teaching English abroad!
Thank you so much for including me, and I hope that this reaches millions! 😀
Awesome post, Will! Thanks for including me. This will be super helpful for any future TEFL teachers 🙂