There is no better way to travel and get paid than to teach English abroad. By teaching English overseas, you can live and travel in almost any country you’ve been dreaming of. From China, South Korea, Taiwan or Thailand, a job teaching English abroad - and a brand-new life adventure - are just on the horizon.
Most people, when they think of teaching English abroad, think they will travel to another country, walk into a classroom and start teaching English to children, much the way they were taught in school.
And while that is a very accurate portrayal of teaching English abroad, it is not the only way to teach abroad and get paid. There are countless ways to do it, and this guide is going to show you how to find the type of teach abroad job that fits your working style and your personality. It isn't one size fits all.
Most certainly, going abroad to teach will change your life.
So what are all the different ways you can teach abroad?
There are several ways if teaching abroad is something you'd like to find out more about:
Are you a classroom teacher presently? Are you graduating soon to be a teacher? Are you in a different profession and have always wondered if teaching is for you? Teaching overseas in the classroom is exactly what it seems. You have a few classes of students each day in a regular school, and you teach the kids English. You have teacher-meetings, school meetings, after-school activities. You're a real teacher, in a real school, in a real community.
Are you an English teacher? Do you teach ESL? There are great teaching jobs overseas waiting for you. First, get TEFL Certified. Then, find a TEFL school in a country where you want to live and work (and yes, it can be the USA). Begin teaching TEFL classes, certifying people who want to teach English abroad. It's an amazing job with a great deal of satisfaction when you see your students graduate and become English teachers.
Release your expectations. Whatever you thought your experience will be like, it probably won’t pan out like that. Teaching English abroad is not an experience you can micro-manage. Be open-minded, say yes to things, and remember that happiness is a choice.
GeoVisions Foundation Teacher, Thailand, 2018
If you're an ESL teacher (or plan to be), teaching in a language school typically will pay more money than the traditional classroom where you'd be teaching English. Your hours may also be very different from the typical school day. In fact, you might even have a class or two in the evenings or on a weekend. Even if you're a regular classroom teacher and you want to pick up a few hours during the year, this is a great way to do that.
If you don't have a year to move abroad and teach, this option might suit you. While it doesn't pay a salary, you do get free room and board. By speaking 15 hours a week with your screened host family, you can live like a local for 1, 2 or 3 months. It's a great way to become immersed in the culture and language, leave a lasting positive impression on your host family, and get a taste for teaching English. If you have a love for language, there is no better reason than to be an English tutor and live with a screened host family. A love of language will make you a better teacher.
Being an International Language Camp Counselor will change your life, no matter what country you choose. It’s hard to sit around worrying about what others think of you when you’re playing games, creating world-class art projects, going over words and phrases in English with your campers each day. You will relish in being a role model for the campers and enjoy increased responsibility and awareness. You'll wonder where you got all that enthusiasm.
A "Conversation Partner" is someone who embeds themselves in a business or a school and their only role is to speak English with the people who work there or go to school there. There are no formal classes, usually. They hang out in the cafeteria so people can practice their English each day during a meal break. Or they hang out in the lounge ready to speak conversational English. There are set hours but no curriculum. The job is really just that; "conversation" as in conversing in English or "conversational" English and "partner" as in a partner who is going to "partner-up" with 1 or even a few people to practice conversational English. It's probably some of the most fun you'll ever have.
Au Pairs take care of the children in a carefully screened host family and tutor them in English during scheduled hours. Having an au pair job abroad allows you to use the experience you already have with childcare to travel and get paid. The children's grades will improve, and the entire family will improve their English. You will learn their language too. Also, the stipend you receive and days off you can travel. Au Pair hours are from 20 to 35 hours a week.
Enjoy flexibility. Teach from anywhere there's an Internet connection. Commute to the kitchen for another cup a joe! Park in front of your desktop or laptop as your class in China materializes before your eyes. Your wardrobe? Yoga pants if you prefer.
Online teachers enjoy flexibility with no commute and no minimum hours. Moreover, the entire curriculum and online platform are provided.
The more you teach, the more you make.
Teachers have complete flexibility over their schedule and can select their availability.
Helpful Hint: If you can keep a consistent schedule, so your students know when to expect you, you will earn more money and those students will also schedule private classes with you also, adding to your takehome pay.
Teachers can work from any location with a computer or tablet and high-speed Internet access.
Cram schools (also called crammers) are specialized schools that train their students to meet particular goals. The English name is derived from the slang term "cramming", meaning to study hard or to study a large amount of material in a short period of time. You can expect the teaching experience to be slightly different from a traditional school. There will be a bit more emphasis on keeping the students engaged, performing a mixture of high and low energy activities, and sometimes more emphasis on passing exams as well.
For people who really want to teach or even try out teaching as a profession, there are many opportunities to volunteer in a local school and teach English. While you won't get paid, you volunteer in almost any country, you can set your hours because you're volunteering, and you can get some great experience.
I had graduated from university and was not ready to commit to office life. I wanted a year to figure things out for myself, and I was most familiar with teaching abroad as a way to live and work abroad for an extended period of time. What started out as simply a means to live abroad, ended up being the biggest surprise of all. I completely fell in love with the students and my role as a teacher. Teaching overseas comes with a lot of work, but the payoff at the end of the day is worth it, and then some.
Amanda LangtryGeoVisions Foundation Teacher, 2018
In this section, we'll explore:
Filed under "required" you'll need:
"Wouldn't it be nice" if you had some teaching experience? Yes, but there are some schools who prefer to hire a teacher with zero experience.
Employers tend to be more flexible with degree requirements throughout Europe and Central and South America. We recommend taking a TEFL course in the country where you want to teach (no degree needed to take a TEFL course) and when you graduate, network and interview with schools in person. Almost all TEFL academies offer free lifetime service in job finding. Once you have the TEFL, you're on your way degree or not.
Central and South America
Technically you do have to pay for your TEFL certification. That's true. And The GeoVisions Foundation provides a $100 discount if you take a teaching job through us.
But the vast majority of well-regarded schools around the world will not give your application so much as a second glance if you don’t hold a TEFL certification or equivalent in addition to your bachelor’s degree. Why? Just because you can speak English fluently doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to teach English!
But while you're probably wondering if this is really a thing, be reminded that TEFL Certification is good for life. That means it's a great investment in your future. Take your certificate with you where you travel. Teaching jobs are plentiful and your certification opens doors.
All you need is your degree and TEFL certification. As always, we advise you to check the country’s visa requirements as well as the job description for the schools or teach abroad programs you want to apply to teach in. But for the most part, you don’t need to have experience to teach in most countries, especially in Asia, Europe or Central and South America.
Most overseas schools prefer if you don’t speak the native language. And you don’t need to bilingual to be an English teacher abroad, either. But let's face it, if you do know another language, you're going to be a much better teacher simply because you will be well attuned to how difficult it can be for your own new students to learn English.
If you can speak English proficiently and have a degree and TEFL certificate on your resume, you will find a job. Just bear in mind that it can sometimes be more challenging to get hired as a foreign teacher abroad as you’ll have to compete with native English speakers. Having a TEFL certificate (another great reason to get TEFL certified) is a great way to show employers that you have what it takes to be a great English teacher.
Keep in mind that there are visa requirements where teachers must be citizens of the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. No one can do anything about that because those are simply the visa regulations of that particular country to qualify for a work permit to teach legally in that country.
Always check out the visa regs to any country where you want to teach abroad.
Certain countries do set either minimum or maximum age restrictions for teaching English overseas. Some Asian countries, for instance, set an official maximum age of 60 for visa applicants. Eastern Europe and Latin America, on the other hand, are great picks for more mature teach abroad candidates - especially if you’re already an experienced educator.
And just so we're making sure we're being fair, if you're under the age of 21, you're going to find it almost impossible to get a job teaching overseas.
Countries in Asia, like China and South Korea are known for offering highly-competitive compensation packages and a high standard of living to new teacher arrivals. With free housing packages and free flights to get to your new school, you can sign a contract for over $40,000 US in your first year.
In Europe and Central and South America, your salary will be nowhere like that. But you probably will be able to rent a decent apartment, eat out some and travel in your free time. You probably won’t have much leftover at the end of the month.
We always recommend that you supplement your income by teaching in a language school, tutoring friends, teach online or give private lessons.
Some of the highest-paying countries to teach abroad include Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Just remember that although you get benefits like free housing, paid vacation, health insurance, and round-trip airfare covered ... these jobs are usually only open to teachers with classroom teaching experience who have completed a formal teacher training program.
Here are some items you are going to need to budget for when you make the decision to move abroad and teach English:
You’ll be required to pay local taxes in your new country. In Korea, for example, you pay around 3% tax on income earned.
If you’re a US citizen (or a green card holder) and earn over $10,000 USD living abroad, then you’ll need to file an annual US federal tax return for every year you’re abroad. There’s no getting around that.
However, using the FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) you won't owe US Federal taxes.
You certainly can travel with your friend or a family member. Just let the school know in advance. You can also sometimes teach together. You'll share an apartment and the utilities and bank more money than you ever thought possible. Many schools will hire a couple because they're getting 2 teachers for the price of 1.
Pets can be worth the hassle if you're going to stay abroad for a long time. Most countries will require a quarantine period of up to six months. Do you really want to put your pet through that if you're going to be abroad a year? Probably not.
The transportation process can stressful for your pet, so think carefully about this. It’s worth doing some online sleuthing to figure out if the place you’re moving to is dog-friendly.
Here's some information we recommend reading if you're doing research on teaching abroad:
When you find out if you're qualified to be a teacher abroad, you can start to think about the best time to travel for your first day of school.
Most schools around the world are going to be so excited to get a new native-English speaking teacher, they will have a position for you anytime. Inside that general rule, you need to keep in mind:
Overall, if you have the students in mind first, you'll always make the right decision. After all, it's why you're going abroad to teach. To impact lives and teach English. If you keep this in the forefront of your mind, your time-frame will guide you to the ideal start date, and just work backward on the dates to submit your forms and begin the process of obtaining the right visa.
How do you choose the best places to teach English abroad? No matter your choice, someone needs an English teacher.
First of all, how about Europe? After all, it's more culturally familiar as a "western" region. Or, maybe you want to go somewhere totally outside your comfort zone.
Many factors come into play when picking the right destination. Are you a hustle and bustle person? Country more your thing? How about the climate? Hot, beaches, mountains or moderate temperatures?
How far do you want to travel? You may want to pick a place closer to home so you can see family from time to time. You may also want to go far, far away. All these personal preferences will help you determine your perfect destination.
It’s also important to think about what you want to achieve from your time teaching abroad. Are you doing this for the money and pay off debts? Or, do you just want to get paid to travel and you're fine breaking even at the end?
Teaching opportunities abound in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and states throughout Mexico. Teaching salaries and benefits are average.
The market for teachers is strong in Europe, but pay and benefits are only average.
In Western Europe, hiring preference is given to teachers who are citizens of European Union (EU) countries, since they have legal status to work in this region. For non-EU citizens, more job opportunities exist in Eastern European countries, which are more flexible on this point.
GeoVisions has been very successful in placing teachers in great teaching jobs in Italy.
With GeoVisions, you can teach English in Taiwan and even China, Thailand, and South Korea. Japan is also extremely strong. Positions often pay well & have attractive benefits, like housing & airfare reimbursement.
Teachers can usually get hired without previous teaching experience, so most countries in Asia are a good choice for new teachers.
Demand for very qualified and experienced teachers in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Saudi Arabia is strong. However, exceptionally high salaries in this region mean schools can afford to be very selective when hiring teachers.
After this experience, I've realized that it's not just the journey itself, it's about that incomparable and unexplainable feeling of knowing you're in the right place at the right time. This experience opened my eyes wider. I visited amazing places, met extraordinary people, and experienced unbelievable things; everything was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
GeoVisions Teacher, 2019
Teaching English abroad isn't the right move (pun intended) for everyone. But it might be right for you if you want to:
Are you concerned about job security? Consider that by the year 2020, there will be 2 billion English language learners in the world, meaning English as a second language (ESL) teachers are very much in high demand.
Let's compare what's going on in the United Staes and teacher shortages and in China. Right now the US shows a shortage of 350,000 teachers. So if you're a teacher and you want to teach in the US ... there's a job for you.
In China, over 300 million people are learning English currently, in 2019. That’s the equivalent of the entire US population. And the number of people learning English in China is set to grow by around 15% every year. Currently, there is a shortage of 100,000 native-English speaking teachers in China.
There is a teaching job for you if you want it.
Can you actually make a living teaching English abroad?
Your salary will really depend on where you’re teaching, what you’re teaching, who you’re teaching, and with whom you’re teaching. Knowing the cost of living will also impact your overall teaching abroad salary. If you’re teaching in Western Europe, you won’t be making as much as if you were teaching in Southeast Asia— where cost of living is relatively low, and demand for ESL teachers is higher.
You'll earn much more in a place like the UAE, where you could make up to $5,000 a month. The flip side of that coin is Spain, where you might earn $1600 a month. Spain is what we call a "break-even" country. UAE would qualify as a "savings" country.
Are you going to have a travel fund? Based on where you're teaching, that would be something to consider. Find out how much travel will be during your year, and make sure you keep contributing to that portion of your budget with each paycheck.
Will you eat out every meal (very affordable in Asia) or do you like to cook? Look at your debt and student loans and how much that will cost each month. And then consider savings, if you want to go home with money in your pocket.
The number one consideration on salary for teaching abroad? Cost of living. Start your research with tools like Numbeo and ask friends who have taught in a similar country or region to weigh in on whether your salary offer is enough to cover an average lifestyle. You also want to look at the benefits. If your school provides free housing, calculate what that adds to your salary and what you'll save in taxes not having to pay for housing. Remember, if housing is free, you don't need to earn so much money. To that free housing add paid time off, national holidays, summer holidays and health insurance.
Hong Kong. Up to $7,400 a month.
Keep in mind Hong Kong was voted the most expensive city in the world. But, outside of this really high salary, benefits include paid vacation, roundtrip airfare and health insurance!
Kazakhstan. Up to $5,000 per month.
Kazakh schools are quickly becoming more advanced and looking to align themselves with a higher-level Western curriculum. These positions are perfect for licensed and experienced teachers who want to save lots and maintain a high standard of living.
United Arab Emirates (UAE). Up to $4,100 a month.
With an education degree and three or more years of teaching experience, you can expect a monthly salary range of around $3,100 - $4,100 USD. Add to that an allowance for accommodation, health insurance, your cost of flight covered and ample vacation time.
China. Around $2,500 a month.
With over 300 million English language students in China, you will get a job teaching English. Add to the salary benefits such as airfare, housing and health insurance. China’s relatively low cost of living makes it more than attainable to not only save a large part of your salary, but also to set aside some money for travel.
TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” TEFL is a type of certification that’s acknowledged worldwide. And, it is a credential that you can earn to teach English in another country.
With a TEFL certificate you will stand out when applying for teaching jobs. With a TEFL certification, you will be more competitive, therefore you will be more competitive with your salary.
(For 2019: We don't know schools who are not requiring TEFL. All do.) So, get that certificate if having a good teaching job is one of your goals.
The difference between being a teacher and a good teacher is your TEFL certification.
What will you learn? Great communication strategies, lesson planning skills, classroom management skills, and practice teaching.
GeoVisions has an online TEFL Certification for 120-hours taught by real people, not video. You can also attend a TEFL in-class 130-hour course in Peru, Turkey, Italy or Greece. You can apply to any of these courses here.
To teach English abroad, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in any subject/major, and an ESL teaching qualification (such as a TEFL certification) at the minimum!
If you have your bachelor’s degree but no formal teaching qualification or previous teaching experience, you are going to need a TEFL certification.
If you’re serious about being a great English teacher abroad, your main goal should be for your students to be successful. In order for them to achieve their best in your English classes, you’ll need some basic skills and knowledge around effective teaching techniques. You’ll also need to have an understanding of their challenges and strengths in their English classes, depending on their cultural backgrounds, age and education levels.
If you have classroom teaching experience, or you majored in education), you’re a great fit for English teaching jobs in international elementary and high schools around the world. This holds true regardless of whether you’re a new graduate or experienced teacher in your home country.
It is an extreme rarity, but yes. You'll need your TEFL certification at a minimum. Probably 5% of all teach abroad openings around the world will take someone without a degree. As mentioned above you'll need TEFL, but any type of teaching or group leading experience will be a plus.
Enjoy the screams of delight as student learn English and GeoVisions Foundation teachers earn their TEFL Certification: