The Beginner’s Guide to Teaching English Abroad


There are many people who would like to travel the world and experience new societies and cultures, but most of them feel like starting a career abroad is just out of their reach. However, teaching English as a foreign language might be the greatest way to achieve this, as you will get the opportunity to change and improve lives while utilizing the skills you already have. And the best part is, there is a job waiting for nearly every English teacher, regardless of their education or experience level.

If you think that teaching English overseas could be a great option for you, here is a beginner’s guide to getting you started:

Getting the right qualifications

The Beginner's Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Even though the qualifications necessary for teaching English as a second language can depend on anything from the country’s laws to the demands of the school and the form of teaching, there is a job available for nearly every level of experience and education, due to the critical need for English teachers. However, having more qualifications, including experience and a certificate or diploma, can increase your chances of finding a better quality and higher-paying job. While a university diploma isn’t always a necessity, having at least a Bachelor’s Degree and a TEFL certificate (or an equivalent) is expected for most teaching positions abroad.

Choosing a teaching job

The Beginner's Guide to Teaching English Abroad

There are several factors you need to consider before opting for the right teaching job, including the length of the program, the classroom setting and the student age group, if you want to narrow down and speed up your search. First, decide whether you want to only do a trial job for a couple of months or move to a foreign country indefinitely to start a new life. Then, take both the age of the students you wish to teach and the most comfortable classroom environment into consideration. For instance, do you want to teach the basics of English to kindergarteners or do you want to help adults become proficient in the language?

Lastly, try to be as honest as possible, and communicate all of your preferences to potential schools and employers, in order to find the most suitable ESL teaching job for you.

Broadening your knowledge

The Beginner's Guide to Teaching English Abroad

If you want to increase your chances of finding a good ESL teaching job abroad, it would be best to broaden your knowledge and improve your skills. For example, you can enroll in a good English school where you can learn phonics for kids, focusing on blends, digraphs and complex word groups that will allow young children to become accurate spellers, fluent readers, and even learn how to speak English like a native. This thorough knowledge of a particular field will undoubtedly make you a better teacher and set you apart from the competition. Regardless of your work preferences, self-improvement is always the key to finding a suitable and high-paying job.

Selecting the best country

The Beginner's Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Selecting the best country for you doesn’t only involve choosing a location where you will work, but also an entirely different cultural experience that will undoubtedly impact your lifestyle. That is why it’s important to do some introspection and asses your own levels of flexibility and adaptability when it comes to living standards, comfort levels, and the need for cultural belonging. Don’t forget to think about the more practical aspects either, including the salary, the local language, and even your dietary preferences or restrictions.

Generally, the countries in Asia and the Middle East are among the most popular destinations for ESL teachers, as they offer higher pays, with lower living costs. What’s more, due to the high demand for English teachers, these countries don’t even require knowledge of the local languages, although some basic knowledge is always helpful to avoid language barriers.

Opting for an organized program

The Beginner's Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Although you can always go abroad on your own, finding a job independently might turn out to be quite a challenge, especially if you’re not familiar with the local language, culture and customs. That is why it would be a good idea for all beginners to consider teaching through an organized program that will easily provide you with an adequate job placement, and even offer support until you assimilate into your new environment. Apart from finding the most suitable work, choosing a good company can also help you take care of smaller yet still significant things you need to do when you move abroad, such as making sure your papers are in order, finding good quality accommodation, and even setting up a local bank account.

While these guidelines are only a starting point for teaching English abroad, they are essential first steps everyone needs to take on their journey to becoming an ESL teacher overseas.

Check out the TEFL World Factbook for more information on teaching abroad.

Discussion12 Comments

  1. Having such in-depth expertise in a subject area can make you stand out from the crowd and improve your effectiveness as a teacher. Self-improvement is the key to landing a good job that pays well, regardless of your preferred field of employment.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I’ve read a great deal on relevant topics! Unlike other articles, yours really made an impression on me. I hope you’ll continue to write thoughtful pieces for us all to read, like this one and others!

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