The Best Places to Teach English Abroad

People often ask me  where the best places are to teach English abroad. This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on how you define ‘the best place’ and who you ask. Based on my several years of teaching experience and traveling,  HERE IS MY LIST OF THE BEST 15 PLACES TO TEACH ENGLISH. Although my choices are subjective,I have used four qualitative measures to come up with this list. Those are SALARY + ADVENTURE+ SECURITY + AVAILABILITY. Let’s clarify. Salary is usually the first concern that someone has when teaching abroad and most of the first ten countries on this list also offer the hottest job markets for teaching English. By availability, I mean the amount of jobs available to teach English in a particular country. I am sure a lot of Americans would love to teach in places, such as France. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to find a job teaching ESL in certain countries of Western Europe.

By adventure, I mean how fun it would be to teach in a particular country. There is a tradeoff in teaching English abroad between excitement and salary. There are certainly plenty of available jobs throughout the laid back and adventurous landscape of Latin America, but those same jobs will usually only pay enough to live on. The last variable, security, is something that one should consider before teaching abroad. Many Asian countries rank high on this list because they are safe destinations where one can make a good salary. With that being said, I spent four years Japan, but still experienced plenty of fun and adventure. In the end, it really depends on what you are looking for as an individual. If you want to teach in the hottest job market, but still experience the exotic, China, South Korea, or Vietnam is your best bet. If you just want to save a lot of cash in one year, then the oil wealthy countries of the Middle East are perfect. If you want to become fluent in Spanish and enjoy a more easy going lifestyle, then Latin America is an obvious choice. With that being said, here the top places to teach English for 2014.

For a more up to date list, check out The Best Countries for Teaching English in 2015

1. South Korea

south korea

South Korea is where Japan was 15 years ago, which means there are plenty of well paying jobs teaching English in a hot job market. While the economy has leveled out in the past few years, the amount of jobs teaching English continues to hold strong. Most jobs offer free housing, paid airfare and the chance to save between $10,000 to$25,000 thousand in one year.
There have been reports of the top teachers in South Korea making 5 or 6 thousand dollars  a month. Like Japan, South Korea is also an exotic land where one can sing karaoke into the wee hours of the night and walk home with little threat of danger.

2. Vietnam

teach engish in vietnam with the international tefl academy

Vietnam could arguably be number one. This place has all the factors to make  it a great destination for teaching English. Geographically speaking, Thailand and Cambodia  are just a stone’s throw away. The real  draw for Vietnam is the cost of living and strong salaries in a hot job market.

A dollar can still get you a beer or a cheap plate of food. Teachers are reportedly making $1500 to $2800 a month. You are not going to make as much in Vietnam as you would in South Korea, but you are definitely going to save and live comfortably considering the low cost of living for Western standards.

Not to mention the endless adventures that Southeast Asia can offer. As a teacher recruiter for schools in Vietnam, I can tell you that there remain plenty of jobs available. If you are interested in teaching in Vietnam,

3. Colombia 

Columbian women

Unfortunately, stereotypes of Colombia still persists. However, the reality is that Colombia has a burgeoning economy and the days of Pablo Escobar are long over. While it certainly isn’t safe like Japan or South Korea, a little common sense should keep the foreigner out of harm’s way.
I’ve spent four months in South America and everyone I met from Colombia was warm, friendly and eager to invite me to their country. If you are looking for adventure and nightlife, this is sure to be a great place. There are plenty of teaching jobs throughout the country and some that pay decent for South American standards.

4. China 

teach english in china

China could easily be number one for several reasons. Most importantly, this is the hottest job market in the world with an endless amount of English teaching jobs and other economic opportunities. Anyone that is interested in using teaching English as a second language as a springboard to invest in foreign countries should consider China.
The downsides to China may be the fact that is too big, pollution and the lack of democracy. However, I have talked to several teachers and all of them reported that teaching English in China was a great experience. I recruit individuals to teach English in China. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me at www.beyondbordersesl.com

5. Japan

sapporo, japan

This is probably a biased pick on my part since I lived in Japan for four years. However, this place is awesome in so many ways. In fact, I cannot recall meeting one person who either lived or visited Japan that had anything bad to say about it.

Unfortunately, the job market is not as hot as it once was, but there still are jobs, opportunities and adventure in this majestic land that remains somewhat sheltered from the rest of the world. I taught in both Sapporo in the far north and in Okinawa, which is in the far south.

6. Taiwan 

blog image of taiwan

This is  a small country that is often overlooked for teaching English. Like Japan, Taiwan has been a great place to teach for many years. I have spoken with several instructors who taught there and they all said great things about teaching English in Taiwan.

The people are super friendly, food and rent is  inexpensive, and English teaching salaries are just below Japan and South Korea. Because its a small island, one can easily escape the chaos of Taipei and relax on the tropical beaches in the south.

7. Chile 

Teach English in chile

I once spent two weeks traveling through this geographically elongated and beautiful country. I decided at the time that if I ever need to hide out the rest of my life, I am going straight to Chile. From talking to English teachers while I was there, I got the impression that Chile is a great place for teaching English.

There are a fair amount of jobs, a stable economy and the pay is good for South American standards. As an added plus,  the people are wonderful and the Andes are nothing less than the work of god. Chile is also the safest country in South America after Uruguay.

8. United Arab Emirates 

teach english in dubai

The UAE makes the top ten simply because the pay is so good. I have heard reports of people making upwards of $60,000  a year teaching English in Dubai.

Of course, this is in the right situation. It is also an ultra-modern place and there are plenty of interesting destinations nearby. Most of the teachers I’ve spoken with have said good things about the UAE, particularly the money aspect.

9. Saudi Arabia 

saudi arabia-image

Like Dubai, the money factor is the main reason for teaching English in Saudi Arabia. Teachers in the Kingdom can expect to make between $40,000 to $70,000 per year. Of course, there is the whole prohibition of alcohol and eating pork factor. This can also be a tough place to live if you are a Western woman.

Sorry, feminism hasn’t hit the Saudi mainstream yet. However, most people teaching in Saudi Arabia just hop across the border on the weekend to a magical land called ‘Bahrain’, which is kind of the Las Vegas + Thailand of the Middle East. Despite the image of Saudi Arabia in the minds of most, Saudis are quite friendly people, kind and hospitable. I recruit teachers to teach English in Saudi Arabia.

10. Ecuador

blog image-ecuador

I once spent a month in Ecuador and I cannot say enough good things about this country. The people are wonderful, the food is cheap and delicious and the abundant nature is breathtaking.  I had tears in my eyes when I departed from the airport.

There are quite a few teaching jobs throughout the country. The pay is not great, but its enough to save a few hundred dollars a month since the cost of living is cheap.

11. Thailand 

blogimage-thailand

I spent a month in Thailand a few years ago and this place is f##king awesome. Pardon my French, but I don’t know how else to describe it. In fact, Thailand is such a cool place that it actually ranks lower in my book since I would be dead within three years of constant partying and life threatening trips through the jungles of the north.
With that being said, there jobs for teaching English in Thailand and one can land a great apartment for about 200 dollars a month. Don’t forget about the mouth watering, yet dirt-cheap food and wonderful people that populate the happiest place on earth.

12. Brazil 

blog image brazil

In an ideal world, Brazil would be in the top three. There are plenty of opportunities for teaching English and lets not forget about its booming economy, which is the largest in South America. However, all the reports I’ve heard is that it can be quite difficult to obtain a working visa.

For some reason, the Brazilian government is fixated on the idea that actual Brazilians should be teaching other Brazilians English. When this changes, expect Brazil to become a hotspot for teaching English.

13. Turkey 

blog image-turkey

Turkey has become somewhat of a hotspot for teaching English in recent years. A growing economy and committment to befriend the West has resulted in plenty of jobs teaching English.

From reports I have heard, the pay for teaching English in Turkey is decent and the cost of living is relatively inexpensive. This also has to be a great place for culture and history. Please note that due to recent changes in immigration policy, teachers now have to secure a teaching contract while in their home country. It used to be much easier to fly in on a tourist visa and change the status to a work visa.

14. Costa Rica

5640-52

Who wouldn’t want to teach in a tropical paradise? If you love the beach, surfing and breathtaking nature,then Costa Rica is probably a worthy destination. Since the economy was opened up some years ago, Costa Ricans have been eager to learn English in the the hopes of securing a well-paying job. While many dream of flying into Costa Rica and finding a job in a town near the beach, this unfortunately is not the reality of teaching there. Most jobs teaching English in Costa Rica are located in San Jose. Fortunately, it is a small enough country that one could easily escape the hustle and bustle of San Jose for a weekend chilling out on the beach.

15. Argentina 

2062-583294

This is a bit of a biased pick on my part since I will always cry a little bit for Argentina’ after once spending three months there. Although there are a good amount of English teaching Jobs in Argentina, the pay and hours kind of suck.  However, teaching English in Argentina is about the adventure. This place might have a sluggish and dysfunctional economy, but the people are never short on passion, creativity and will protest anything at the drop of a hat.

I am sure that I left some deserving destinations off of my list. If you feel so, please do not hesitate to comment and add to the discussion of the best places to teach English abroad. While such a list will always be subjective, I think this article provides a general consensus of the best places to teach English abroad.

 

 

About James 66 Articles
Since finishing Graduate school in 2007, I have been teaching ESL and adjuncting as a political science instructor. I taught English in Japan for four years and I have traveled throughout Asia and South America. These days, I spend most of my time customizing Wordpress themes, blogging and understanding SEO. My next goal in life is to become a successful entrepreneur. I recently have started a teacher placement agency, Beyond Borders ESL Jobs, and I am looking for investors to start-up an online language school with an innovative twist.

17 Comments

  1. Hi James, have you taught English in Vietnam? I just recently signed up for the site serious teachers.com and my inbox has been flooded with tons of emails. Are you familiar with the website? Anyway, I came across the TEFL director, he’s from Phoenix, AZ. He’s been very helpful and I’m considering moving there to teach English abroad. My question is do you think he’s the right person to make connection or will it be another recruiter, who was formerly an Australian teacher? I’m just concerned about conflict of interest between the two! They both know the job market very well but I wonder if there director has more of a leverage since he’s working as a teacher trainer. By the way, your blog is fascinating and very professional! I wanted to subscribe to your site but there’s no link. Please hook me up. Best, Jensen Nguyen

  2. Hello Howard,

    Thank you for letting me know about that. I will update that information on my post about Colombia. Do you have any interest in writing a blog article about living and teaching in Colombia?

    James

  3. Jimmy, I wanted to let you know its not easy to secure a work visa after arriving to Colombia on a tourist visa either. I was in Villavicencio, Bogota, and Medellin looking for ESL jobs but was told the same thing that I need a work visa of some sort to avoid trouble with Immigration authorities that visit schools here all the time. I was terribly disappointed because of believing that many schools would automatically help me get a work visa once they hired me when I was there only on a 90 day tourist visa. Thought I would share this with everyone.

  4. Hello Jaime,

    Well,South America is not like Asia. Almost nobody is going to pay for your flight or apartment. On top of that, you usually have to fly into South America first on a tourist visa, find work and hopefully change it to a work visa. However, there opportunites sometimes to get hired from your home country. I know of one opportunity in Bogota, Colombia at the moment that does hire from the US and might pay for some of the airfare. Could you contact me directly through my contact form and send me your resume and a recent photo. Thanks,
    Jimmy

  5. Hi,

    I will graduate with a Master’s in Social Work in May and I desperately want to teach English in a spanish speaking country, but I am worried about the financial aspect, as I have heard that they usually will not pay for your airfare like some Asian countries will. I hesitate to consider any other countries because I know I will be able to pick up Spanish fairly quickly but I just cannot imagine learning Korean or Vietnamese, for example. I am not concerned with being able to make/save money while I’m there, as long as I can live middle class I am okay with that, it’s just the process of being financially able to get there and get settled in that worries me. I’m also fairly concerned with the safety of whichever country I go to. I guess my 2 questions are:
    1) Which non-Spanish speaking country would you recommend considering safety, ease of learning the language, and pay?
    2) Which Spanish speaking country would you recommend that has the greatest chance of perhaps earning slightly more than the others or getting airfare paid?

    Thanks so much. I would really appreciate any advice! I’ve been researching for a while now but there is conflicting information sometimes!

  6. I lived in Thailand teaching for just over a year (Bangkok), and it is certainly possible to get a job without a degree, (or your TESL for that matter). Though it may be a little/lot more challenging… I know someone who got a visa and was teaching without theirTESL or a Bachelor’s.
    Also, (though I would not necessarily recommend it), you can cheaply and easily get fake degree certificates, at Khao San Road for example.

  7. Yes, I would assume you could teach in Cambodia without a BA. You could volunteer teach almost anywhere in Southeast Asia.

  8. Hello Danni,

    No country in Asia will give you a visa without a degree. However, you can still volunteer. Your best bet is to teach in Latin America. Im not sure if they will grant you a visa, but you can definitely teach on a tourist visa. You may also be able to teach in Spain

  9. Hi,
    Can you perhaps tell me if any of these countries don’t absolutely require a BA??
    I have studied and received a diploma, and have other experience and qualifications that should help. But if the countries won’t grant Visas without it (Like Japan or Korea) then my other merits simply do not count.

    Thank you

    Danielle

  10. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a
    great blog like this one nowadays.

  11. Hello,

    Thank you for letting me know. I will check that out. Would you mind subscribing to my blog?

    Thanks,

    James

  12. Thanks for the post. Would you subscribe to my blog and maybe help me share it on facebook and so on? Have fun teaching!

  13. This was a very awesome and thorough review, man, now I want to go everywhere. I have Japan, korea, china, costa rica….honestly I think i’m gonna teach everywhere. Thanks for this review. I’m adding it to my favs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*