The Best Countries to Teach English Abroad in 2015

the best places to teach english abroad

It’s a new year and a new beginning.So you’ve joined the gym, decided to shed a few pounds, made promises to eat healthier, enrolled in a language class, cut back on a few vices and are trying earnestly to become a better person.Despite all your efforts, you may find yourself in the same old routine come the end of January. It could be that you need some new scenery, people and old-fashioned adventure in your life. What better way to achieve all of these than to live abroad. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? Well, at least for some of us. If you are going to live overseas, you need to financially support yourself. Unless you are an engineer, a diplomat or a programmer, teaching English is probably the most feasible way. The ESL industry has grown significantly over the past few decades and it’s not expected to slow down until around 2050. While  governments and schools have imposed stricter regulations on the qualifications to teach abroad, there are sure to be plenty of opportunities for years to come.

Most likely you have a friend of a friend or had a conservation at some point with a person that taught English abroad. You’ve gotten the low-down and heard the good and bad from those that have ventured across oceans and continents. Now it is your turn. You are determined see the world, but support yourself while doing so. The problem is you don’t know how to start or where to go. Well, lets begin here. For 95% of the available jobs in today’s TEFL market, you will need at least a four-year degree from an accredited university plus a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate. While it is necessary to have prior classroom teaching experience for some positions, there are still plenty of TEFL jobs out there for newbies that have little or no teaching experience.

Once you have qualified teach English abroad, the next step is to choose a country to live and work. Since you will actually be living there as opposed to just traveling through, you are obviously going to put a great deal of thought into this and weigh the pros and cons of each country. Afterall, this is your life we are talking about!!!! It’s also important to be realistic and aim for countries where there are jobs, livable salaries and an enjoyable lifestyle. With these considerations in mind, I have compiled a list of the ten best places to teach English abroad in 2015. Based on my knowledge and experience, I am using four variables to rank each country. These are job availability, security, salary and lifestyle. If you are a returnee to my blog from 2014, you will notice a few changes. South Korea has been overtaken by China at the top spot and a few other countries have moved up the ranks.

1. China

a picture of shanghai skyline

  • Population: 1.3 Billion
  • Average Salary: $1000-$2500 per month

China jumps to the top of the list this year simply due to the amount of jobs, intense demand for English instruction and rising salaries. It is estimated that at least 100,000 English teachers will be needed in 2015 and that number should remain steady or increase slightly over the next five years. As a result, schools in China are beginning to raise their salaries, offer more benefits and follow regulations in order to lure away would-be teachers in South Korea and Japan. There have been thousands of instructors during the past few years making the jump from other East Asian Countries to China. If you are concerned about not getting paid on time or being treated fairly, keep in mind that all legitimate schools in China require a TEFL or TESOL certificate.

Salaries depend on experience and the cost of living varies across regions. Expect to make somewhere between $1000 to $2500 per month in China, plus free housing and healthcare. If you are interested in teaching English in China, there are several articles on this site on the subject. Check out What I Learned Teaching English in China, What to Expect as an English Teacher in China, and several more.

2. South Korea

teach english korea

  • Population: 50 million
  • Average Salary: $2000 per month

Even though South Korea has been dethroned from the top spot as the best place to teach, it’s still a great country to find a position. Salaries and benefits, including free housing, paid airfare and severance pay remain steady, but the job market there has tightened up considerably compared to even two years ago. If you have your heart set on teaching in Korea, your chances of securing a job significantly increase if you are willing to work in the smaller cities outside of Seoul and Busan. Besides being a solid destination to work and save money, Korea offers a unique culture, security, delicious food, hospitable people and plenty of nightlife for the young at heart. You don’t necessarily need a TEFL or TESOL to land a position a Korea, but a rising number of schools are now requiring one and it looks good on a resume to potential employers.

First year teachers in Korea generally make around $2000 per month plus free housing, paid airfare and a contract completion bonus. There are a number of resources online for finding positions to teach English abroad in Korea. For more information about jobs in South Korea, take a look at Gone2Korea. Take a look at other articles about teaching English in Korea, such as A Guide on How to Teach English in Korea and The Truth about Teaching English in Korea

3. Colombia

teach english colomibia

  • Population: 48 million
  • Average Salary: $1000-$1600 per month

Colombia remains at the same spot as last year. Who wouldn’t want to live there! Ok, the salary doesn’t compare to South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Middle East or even China, but there are schools in Colombia that pay a decent wage. Most importantly, the South American lifestyle along with a fair amount of jobs and a growing market puts Colombia in the top five for the second year in a row. There are heaps of young and middle-aged professionals throughout the major cities of Colombia who are eager to improve their English skills in order to lock in a position in one of the several multinational firms that operate there.

Salaries differ significantly in Colombia depending on the type of position and experience, but most teachers generally make around $1500 per month. Keep in mind that the cost of living varies throughout the country and parts of Bogota can be quite expensive.  For more information about how to teach English abroad in Colombia, check out Visahunter.com, Read up more on the subject at Teach English in Colombia; Why Not?

4. Vietnam

teach vietnam

  • Population: 90 million
  • Average Salary: $1800 per month

Vietnam has remained a steady hotspot for teaching English for several years now. Although there is far greater competition for jobs compared to five or six years ago, the market continues to hold strong. Weighed against the cost of living, Western teachers are well-paid by Vietnamese standards and the majority of instructors are able to save a fair amount of money. On top of that, Vietnam has always been a popular place for Westerners for its lifestyle, beauty and charm. Located in Southeast Asia, it’s also easy to hop on a bus or plane and venture off to Thailand or Cambodia during vacation periods. For most positions, you will need a TEFL or TESOL certificate.

Teachers in Vietnam are reportedly making between $1000 to $2200 per month, including free housing and bonuses in some cases. Keep in mind that visa requirements to work in Vietnam have become more regulated in recent years. Visit Vietnamteachingjobs.com for a list of current positions to teach English abroad in Vietnam. To read more on the topic, check out Ten Do’s and Don’ts about Teaching English in VietnamWhat It’s Really Like to Teach English in Vietnam

5. Japan

living and teaching english in japan

  • Population: 124 Million
  • Average Salary: $2,500 per month

If this were ten years ago, there is no doubt that Japan would be number one. Japan has it all; beauty, history, hospitable people, amazing food, nightlife, technology and a special charm that intrigues the Westerner. Unfortunately, the economy has been slow to recover in recent years and there just aren’t the same amount of available jobs as there once were. This is not to say that one cannot find a position in Japan, but only that it will take considerably more time and effort compared to its East Asian neighbors. Personally, I taught there from 2007 to 2011 and it was an unforgettable experience to say the least. Although you do not need a TEFL or TESOL to teach there, it would definitely help to have one in a highly competitive market.

You can expect to make around $2500 per month in Japan, but you will have to pay for your own housing and airfare. For reliable information about jobs to teach English in abroad in Japan, take a look at Gaijinpot.com. To read more about teaching English in Japan, take a look at  Inside Scoop To Teach English in Japan and A Guide to Teach English in Japan.

6. Taiwan

teach english taiwan

  • Population: 24 million
  • Average Salary: $2000 per month

Because it’s overshadowed by the other East Asian giants, Taiwan often flies under the radar as a top place to teach English abroad. However, this is one place that should never be overlooked. Similar to Japan and South Korea, the market there has contracted a bit in recent years, but there are still an adequate amount of jobs to be had within a fairly stable economy. Salaries are almost on par with South Korea and Japan, but the cost of living is somewhat lower. Teachers there are usually able to save money, while living on a beautiful island inhabited by amazingly hospitable people, awesome food, beaches, mountains and nightlife. I met a fair amount of Taiwanese when I was living in the nearby island of Okinawa and they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered.

Most teachers in Taiwan earn around $2000 per month during their first year. You will have to pay for your own housing, but it is generally less expensive compared to Japan and South Korea. A good website to search for jobs to teach English abroad in Taiwan is Tealit.com. Here is an article about teaching English in Taiwan.

7. Ecuador

an image of cotopaxi in ecuador

  • Population: 16 milion
  • Average Salary: $1000 per month

Most people probably wouldn’t think of Ecuador as one of the top places to teach English, but like Taiwan, this place remains a hidden gem. Similar to its neighbor Colombia, its economy continues to grow and Ecuadorian professionals are hungry for English in order to take advantage of the burgeoning eco-tourism industry that exist throughout the country. Salaries are decent for South American standards and teachers can actually save money when factoring in the low cost of living. Most importantly, Ecuador is a country endowed with friendly people,  delicious food and majestic nature. I was fortunate enough to have spent one month there in 2013 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I also met quite a few teachers there that were enjoying life

You will only make around $800 to $1500 per month in Ecuador, but the cost of living is quite low and one can live comfortably on $1200 per month. For the better paying positions with reputable schools, you will need a TEFL or TESOL. If you are looking for a teaching position in Ecuador, I would start with Craigslist Ecuador or Dave’s ESL Cafe. You can also read more about teaching in Ecuador at 5 Reasons to Teach English in Ecuador.

8. Chile

teach english chile

  • Population: 17 million
  • Average Salary: $1500 per month

Chile is the third South American country to make this year’s list and rightfully so. South America should not be ignored as a premier place to teach and live abroad. Chile continues to hold strong as the most politically and economically stable country in Latin America. Particularly in the capital, Santiago, there are thousands of young professionals yearning to improve their English skills in the hopes of securing a position at either a domestic or international firm. While you cannot expect to save much money in Chile, the lifestyle alone is worth everything. I spent two weeks traveling throughout a good part of the country in 2012 and it was amazing to say the least. Everything from the food, hospitable people, mountains that seem to touch the sky and the overall charm of the place makes me want to return one day.

While the cost of living is significantly higher than Ecuador, teachers there generally pull in $1300 to $1800 per month. Most schools in Chile require a TEFL or TESOL, but it may be possible to find a position without one. If you are looking to teach English abroad in Chile, start with Craigslist Chile and Dave’s ESL Cafe. For an additional article about teaching in Chile, check out Teaching English in Chile is a Great Idea.

9. Saudi Arabia

teach saudi arabia

  • Population: 27 million
  • Average Salary: $3500 per month

If you are looking to save $25,000 plus a year teaching ESL, Saudi Arabia is the best option. There are plenty of positions throughout the country, which offer a tax-free salary, free accommodation, a contract completion bonus and paid airfare both ways. However, one generally needs to have at least four years of teaching experience and preferably a degree in English, linguistics or TESOL before a employer will even consider them. Most teachers in the KSA are over thirty years old and with years of experience. You will also need a TEFL or TESOL or CELTA to work there. Of course, there is much more to living in Saudi Arabia than a good salary and a chance to save mucho dinero. The Saudis are quite hospitable, sociable and curious about Western customs, ideas and fashion.

Pay can vary, but most teachers earn around $4000 tax-free per month in addition to free housing, healthcare, paid airfare and a contract completion bonus. If you are interested in teaching English in Saudi Arabia, I might be able to help you find a position through my company, www.beyondbordersesl.com. If you are seeking a position to teach English abroad in Saudi Arabia, I would also check out Dave’s ESL Cafe International Job Board. Check out  Can I Teach English in Saudi Arabia for more about teaching there.

10. Thailand

teach english thailand

  • Population: 67 million
  • Average Salary: $1100 per month

The market in Thailand has become more competitive in recent years as the country has been saturated with a growing number of Westerners. Despite this, Thailand remains one of the hotspots for teaching English abroad and there are still plenty of opportunities. The Thai government and institutes have cracked down in recent years, which means that you will need a four-year degree and a TEFL or TESOL. While salaries cannot compare to East Asian countries, the biggest draw for Westerners is the low-cost of living and an incredibly fun atmosphere. I spent a month in Thailand in 2010 and I am not sure if I have ever had such a good time as I did then.

Expect to only make between $1000 to $1300 per month, but the low-cost of living definitely allows one to live comfortably on such an income. During my month in Thailand in 2011, I lived quite well on $1100, but keep in mind that inflation has hit in the past few years. If you are looking to teach English abroad in Thailand, I would start with Ajarnrecruit for the latest job opportunities. Ajarnrecruit not only has job listings for Thailand, but also throughout Asia. For a good article on the topic , read An Inside Look at Teaching English in Thailand.

That is the skinny on the best places to teach English abroad for 2015. There are other noteworthy countries deserving to be on this list, such as Turkey, Costa Rica, Brazil and several countries throughout central and eastern Europe. While this list is subjective according to my information and sources, I believe that it is fairly accurate. However, the reality is that one can teach English almost anywhere in the world. There are also tons of opportunities to volunteer teach in exchange for room and board. If you would like to voice your own opinion about the best places to teach English abroad or offer any advice, feel free to comment and add to the conversation.

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.

3 Comments

  1. Hello Tony

    I would advise teaching in Mexico or other parts of Latin America. You will need a four year degree for Asia or the middle east.

  2. Hello, I have an A.A. degree and a 140 hour TEFL certificate. I am currently teaching in Mexico. I am interested in teaching abroad. What recomendations can u give me ., keeping in mind my qualifications? Best Regards, Tony

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