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How to Start Teaching English Abroad

Would you love to teach English abroad? Because you want to live overseas for a year, change in your life, start an international career in the education industry or just want to experience the same adventure as your friends did?

You're doing right! Teaching English as a foreign language (=TEFL) abroad is a great way to finance your travel, immerse in other cultures and leave a footprint in the lives of students from all over the world.

Whatever your motivation is: We help you to get started and find the ESL job of your dreams!

Who Can Teach English Abroad?

Being a foreign ESL teacher is less prohibitive than many think. The only hard requirement is speaking English fluently.

In many popular TEFL markets, you will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, a passport from a native English-speaking country, a clean criminal background check, and a TEFL certificate to get hired legally.

But there are many countries with lax requirements. Having experience is beneficial, but often not required. Cool, isn't it?

Learn more about the requirements to teach English abroad and whether you should try it.

Where Can You Teach English Abroad?

The world of teaching abroad is exhaustive: you can get almost any kind of teaching work in any country you can imagine.

While the range of possibilities opens the door wide open for anyone interested in teaching abroad, it can also be overwhelming to face the sheer number of TEFL job options you have.

But worry not, we've got you covered! Our comprehensive guides explain anything you need to know to decide on a location to teach English abroad.

The Regions and Places

Would you prefer to live in a tropical climate or a wintry paradise? A hyper-modern metropolis or a peaceful village? Are you looking for the best-paid teaching jobs or just for adventure?

Whether you want to be in Asia or Latin America, you can find TEFL jobs the world over. China, Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and even native English speaking countries all have opportunities to teach English as a foreign language.

In first-world countries like Japan, South Korea, and parts of the Middle East and Europe, you’ll find well-established, competitive programs. Your move will likely be smooth, and you won’t have to worry as much about logistics as you might in some other countries.

Meanwhile, if you take a job in Southeast Asia or parts of Latin America, you’ll find that it’s easier to get a job on short notice and that things will generally be cheaper and more laidback.

TEFL Job Opportunities

Some people prefer positions in public primary schools, where there tend to be more amenities (school-provided housing, a large community of teachers), but where class sizes are larger and potentially more stressful.

Others prefer TEFL jobs in training centers, where class sizes are smaller and lessons tend to be more rigorous.

If you work in a training center, you’ll probably work in the afternoon and evening and have to work at least one weekend day.

Some prefer this kind of schedule, as it gives them mornings free and allows them to explore the city on their time off during weekdays when everyone else is at work and the streets are emptier.

Others, however, prefer the more traditional schedule afforded by the public and private schools.

Aside from different schedules and class sizes, you can teach any age of students, from toddlers to adults.

If you’re more comfortable singing, playing, and being silly, you could look into work at a kindergarten or training center for young children, while if you’re more at home lecturing and discussing, you might prefer a job teaching business English to adults or helping high schoolers prepare for standardised tests.

The Salaries and Cost of Living When You Teach English Abroad

Money is, of course, a big factor to take into consideration when considering where in the world you want to live.

In China, Korea, and most of Southeast Asia, the median TEFL job rate hovers around $1,000-2,000 per month, while in Japan you can make as much as $2,000-5,000 a month. However, working in Japan is much more competitive than in some other countries, and the cost of living there is much higher than in, say, Vietnam.

If you opt to teach in Latin America, you’ll find that salaries are largely a little lower than in Asia. According to International TEFL Academy, most countries’ median salaries fall between $600 and $1,000 per month, although it’s higher in countries like Brazil and Chile.

You can make a lot of money teaching in the Middle East, with median salaries as high as $3,000-5,000 in countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. However, some people complain about the quality of life in certain Middle Eastern countries, with restrictions on drinking and expectations for female modesty that don’t exist in, say Latin America.

As an ESL teacher, you will be needing to transfer money abroad on a regular basis, and that is costly and often time-consuming. There are simpler solutions for ESL teachers that you could be using - view the currency transfer guide to learn more.

While the country you’re in, of course,  will affect what kind of salary you can expect to make from ESL jobs, other aspects of your background will also affect your pay.

If you have a master’s degree, teaching certificate, or teaching background in your native country, you’ll be eligible for higher paying jobs. Likewise, if you have high standardized-test scores you’ll be better positioned to find work in a high-paying job helping students prepare for standardized tests.

Side Hustles and Online Teaching Options Abound

Depending on where you live, your salary as an ESL teacher might not be enough to cover your living expenses, afford some extras and save money all at the same time.

One great way to make money from home or while traveling is by teaching English online.

Many online English teaching platforms, such as VIPKID, don’t even require a TEFL certificate, although you can make more money teaching on the platform if you have one. VIPKID teachers make $14-22 an hour, and full-time teachers report making as much as $3,000 a month on the platform.

And best of all, because it’s all online you can do it anywhere with a good Internet connection!

A lot of teachers pad their wallets with other side jobs, for example, they work for CustomWritings, an online custom essay writing service for ESL students. Writing an own blog, earning money from ads or affiliate marketing is a good option, too.

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