How to Teach English Overseas

How to Teach English Overseas

A great way to travel the world and fund your travels is to teach English overseas.

If you want to spend a long time in a destination, teaching English is a popular option for overseas travelers looking to earn funds and reside outside of their home countries.

English teaching offers individuals the chance to travel to exotic locations, learn a new culture, and earn some extra cash.

How to teach English overseas

We both had the good fortune to teach English overseas in Bangkok, Thailand for six months. Caz went through one of the teach English abroad programs and got her TEFL certification, whilst Craig had no experience and no certification.

Some schools want to submerge their students in English and want your Western presence in their schools.

Teach English Abroad Programs (mentioned at bottom of this post) are numerous and do not require that you speak the local language.

Even if you have no teaching experience, you can still  find work if you get your TEFL certification.

The Opportunities for teaching English overseas

Your ability to teach English overseas varies tremendously around the world. Your best bet would be to consider Asia as they have a wide availability of jobs,  the pay is better than anywhere else, and the cost of living is generally low.

Teaching English abroad is not always easy and there are times you wish you never got involved, but if you place yourself in a location which you are interested in, it makes it so much easier to get out and explore, to meet local people, and to deal with any culture shock issues.

Even if you don’t intend to make teaching a career, the experience of teaching English overseas looks great on your resume, and the experiences of interacting with the locals will last a lifetime.

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Dinner with Thai friends in Bangkok

Depending on where you go and what type of job you want, the qualifications needed will vary as will the pay. In some of the top positions, benefits can include airfare and housing.

Here is a detailed list of the ins and outs of teaching English overseas…

1. What are the requirements of teaching English overseas?
2. What is TEFL, ESL,TESL, and TESOL?
3. Where to Teach English overseas
4. Benefits of teaching English overseas
5. Can I teach without a degree?
6. Types of Schools
7. TEFL Tips
8. Courses.
9. Jobs boards, Teach English Abroad Programs, and Volunteering.

1. What Are the Requirements for teaching English abroad?

  • Be a native English speaker.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree, generally from a 4 year accredited university.
  • Have TEFL certification/teaching degree. If you have TEFL certification your chances of getting hired increase greatly. And a teaching degree almost guarantees you a position

2. What is TEFL, ESL,TESL and TESOL?

TEFL  (Teaching English as a Foreign Language.) is a certification course to teach English around the world.

The program

  • typically lasts for 120 hrs
  • combines lectures and classwork with at least 6 hours of observed teaching practice
  • is offered in many places around the world
  • prices and quality vary depending on where you do the course

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. It’s basically the study of English by people who speak a different native language.

TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language.

TESOL is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

3. Where to teach English overseas?

Locations for teaching English overseas include:

  •     Asia – mainly South Korea, Japan, Taiwan China, and Thailand
  •     Eastern Europe
  •     Latin America
  •     Middle East and North Africa

Teaching English abroad is a big industry and demand for teachers is growing, with the peak hiring season being around July for a September start.

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Welcome to Thailand

When choosing a destination there are factors that you need to consider.

  1. Think about your travel interests and areas that fascinate you.
  2. Consider your nationality and what countries may have economic, political, or geographic ties to your own.

For example, if you are British you have a good chance of finding work in Europe without any visa or political issues, and also Africa. Whereas an American would find it easier in Asia and Latin America.

Now this is not set in stone, and as long as you are a native speaker, have TEFL certification or a teaching degree, then the opportunity to teach English abroad anywhere there is a demand will be greater.

4. Teaching English overseas: Benefits and salary

Salaries and benefits range from country to country, town to town, school to school, and if you are going through one of the teach English abroad programs, then program to program.

There are SO many variables like your qualifications and experience, the school’s budget, how many hours you work, the type of school etc.

Generally you can earn from $0 as a volunteer, up to around $60,000 per year for elite private schools. And most of the top paying schools expect you to sign a 2 year contract.

There are always exceptions, but generally speaking this is the norm.

Not all schools and countries offer you benefits, but some of the better ones do (especially international schools).

Benefits can include:

  •     Free round trip airfare (usually refunded at the end of your contract).
  •     Free Accommodation (type and size will vary)
  •     One month’s severance package

5. Can I teach English overseas without a degree?

It’s possible to be in the right place at the right time and to find work without a degree. This is rare and not a recommended path.

There are people working without degrees or TEFL certification, and generally in the rural areas where it’s harder for schools to recruit qualified individuals.

6. Types of English schools overseas

Government Schools

Government schools are probably the most reliable. You will get paid, have some level of support, and the school probably won’t close anytime soon! However, they are usually the worst paying jobs.

Language Schools

You should get much better pay here than a government school. For example, Caz worked at a language school in Bangkok on a Saturday, and her pay for one day there was equivalent to half-a-months pay from her full-time government school position.

Also, your schedule and curriculum should have more flexibility, and the resources will be much better. The negatives are that your job may not be as secure and they don’t always deliver what they promise so do your research.

Private Schools

Offer better pay than Government schools, and the students may be slightly better, but you will probably have less flexibility than a language school. Once again, there are good and bad private schools, so do your research and try and speak to current or former teachers.

International Schools

Usually the top of the range schools.The students are children of international expats, diplomats, or very rich locals. Curriculum should be close to or the same as your country of origin.

Teaching should be similar to at home, and obviously most of the students should speak fluent English and be motivated. The pay at International schools should be the best you can get, with added benefits like airfare, accommodation etc thrown in.

The negative is that competition for these jobs is tough, prospective teachers are highly qualified, you are required to sign 2 year contracts, and openings are few and far between.

And like other schools, there are good and bad International schools, and “fake” international schools.

A good guide as to whether it’s a “true” international school is to look at the enrollment of students and the ratio of international kids to locals.

Some International schools advertise themselves as such, but they mainly have local students and are therefore a glorified private school.

Corporate Training

These jobs typically pay very high, the students will be adults who want to learn, your schedule can be somewhat flexible, and the work could last a few months. Hours are usually before or after business hours. These jobs are also typically hard to get and require experience.

With my students in Bangkok

7. TEFL Tips

  • Expand Your Circle of Friends – make the effort to not only interact with the natives of the country you are in, but also the other English teachers from all over the globe.
  • It’s a Career With Growth Opportunities – if you are passionate enough about teaching English overseas, you can get a Master’s degree and learn how to teach other teachers.
  • Learn Another Language – take the opportunity to learn the language of your chosen country, at least be conversational.
  • Go Abroad With an Organization – if it’s your first time teaching abroad, you may find going with one of the credible Teach English abroad programs the best way.
  • Take the Good With the Bad – there will be fun and easy days and difficult times as well. Take the good with the bad and understand that YOU signed up for this.
  • Open Your Eyes – take off the blinkers and see life from other people’s perspectives.
  • Make a New Start – turn it into an opportunity to leave your past behind and create an entirely new life.
  • Go Somewhere Fun – make sure you’re in a place where you can enjoy your leisure time and have some fun, otherwise, what’s the point?
  •  Travel Longer – use your hard earned money to travel much longer and don’t just blow it on meaningless things.
  • Immerse Yourself in Culture – as a teacher you can be completely immersed in the culture, much more so than as just a traveller.
  • High Turnover Rate – don’t be disappointed if you can’t find work straight away. There is a high rate of turnover so there are constantly jobs becoming available.
  • Not For Everyone – be aware that teaching isn’t for everyone and those with limited patience, vacation time from home, or English skills may find more enjoyment in other jobs abroad.
  • Make Extra Money Teaching on the Side – it’s quite possible that once you actually get to the country you’re teaching in, you’ll probably have many opportunities to make extra money as a private tutor.
  • Don’t Be Book Heavy – don’t just rely on the book to do the teaching for you. Think up fun and creative ways to help your students learn the English language.
  •  It’s not all Easy – it’s not all fun and games, there are lesson plans to be prepared, unruly students to deal with, and paying ‘customers’ to be taught. Most teachers spend 1-3 years in the workplace after receiving certification.
  • In-Class Experience – when looking to get qualified, search for a TEFL program that offers in-class teaching time. That way, you know what you’re doing before you step foot in the front of a classroom.
  • Career Change Without University Costs – TEFL can be your career change that costs a lot less than going back to university. It’s a great way to combine travel, exploring and learning a new skill.
  • Not just for backpackers: Teaching English isn’t just for backpackers. Retirees and people looking for a career change or break and those who wish to pursue English as a Second Language (ESL) degrees are also popular candidates for TEFL programs.
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We attended a Buddhist ceremony at Wat Saket, Bangkok

8. Teaching English Courses

TEFL Institute – all your TEFL courses and information.

i-to-i – the world’s leading online and short course TEFL provider.

EBC  International TEFL Certificate – accredited online and residential courses.

TEFL International – accredited courses and job placements.

Oxford Seminars – the leading provider of TESOL, TESL and TEFL certification.

American TESOL Institute – internationally recognized teacher training organization.

9. Jobs Boards, Teach English Abroad Programs, and Volunteering

ESL Job Project – made by ESL teachers for ESL teachers.

ESL Jobs World – created by David Rogers, who’s been active in the field of ESL since early 90’s.

Dave’s ESL Cafe – the ONE and ONLY for everything ESL.

Ajarn – Thailand’s number 1 TEFL site.

International Schools Services – learn about International schools.

Council of International Schools – more info on International schools.

Teach English in Asia – TEFL jobs around Asia.

Serious Teachers- International alliance of Teachers & Employers.

Working Abroad – how to become a traveling English teacher.

World Teach – volunteer teaching in Developing countries.

CIEE – teaching Chile, China, the Dominican Republic, South Korea, Spain, or Thailand.

The Beijinger -focused on China

Cross Cultural Solutions – a non-profit with over 25,000 participants.

Transitions Abroad – K-12 and University jobs.

Do you have any other tips on how to teach English overseas?

95 Comments on “How to Teach English Overseas”

  1. I know a number of people who’ve done this and all have seemed to enjoy it. Teaching is a great way to justify (and pay for) extended travel, I just worry that it’s a type of Peter Pan plan for young people today.

    • IT is a fantastic way to pay for travel and to experience another culture. Maybe a Peter Pan plan is not such a bad idea!!

  2. Thank you Caz and Craig for this really informative piece. We are planning to use TEFL as the key way to fund our overseas travel through Asia and your advice has helped us. We disagree with the previous comment, travel never needs to be justified, if you want to do it then that is reason enough. As for this being a “peter pan plan” we see teaching overseas as a much more rewarding and positive path, compared with sitting in an office cubicle at home in a so called “steady job”. Thanks again-great read :-)

    • Awesome! You will have such a great time. It really is rewarding and a fantatic way to travel and experience other cultures. Enjoy it

  3. Sophie Grace

    Hello I am from India and I can say that I am good enough to teach English.I just want to clarify that are these opportunities good for Asians who want to teach English like me? Please reply .Travelling and teaching are the biggest things I want to do in my life…please reply!

    • I think the opportunity is there for anyone who can speak fluent English in order to be able to teach it. The only thing that could stand in your way would be working visas which is different for every country and nationality

  4. So caz i have a question , i am american born in michigan and i have been living most of my life jn egypt , would this still count as being american ? (I have passport and ssn) and secondely , do i need a working permission to travel abroad ? I mean generally wether in a school or restaurant or cafe ? Do u have any idea about that ?

    • Hi Ismael, You would still be considered American if you have the passport. You would have to check the countries you want to teach in to find their working visa requirements. It’s different for each nationality and country. You would need a work visa for any country you want to work in

  5. What about any other individual whose mother language is not English, but they can express themselves well, for example, I have a university degree in English Language Teaching. I have studied English practically all my life in Peru. What possibility do I have to teach English overseas, Caz?

    • I think you should be okay Felipe. If you are fluent in English and have those qualifications you should get work pretty easily.

  6. Hi there Caz,

    Thank you for this post.
    I am not fortunate enough to have a degree to validate my intelligence but feel I am just as, if not more competent than degree-holders. My question is, would you recommend finding a job before arriving in Thailand and if so, do you have any job sites/resources you might recommend which are local. I feel as though the “TEFL” and “Teach Abroad” markets may be saturated with middlemen trying to capitalise from us “Peter Pan” aspirants and am trying to avoid being taken advantage of.

    Thank you,


    • Hi Aimee.
      You could try to find a job before arriving in Thailand. I went over on a program that is no longer running unfortunately. I don’t really know any other resources. I did find my weekend teaching job via the Bangkok English paper. It was an awesome job as well.

  7. I’m still in high school and I actually have thought about this before I came across this site. I have always wanted to travel and wanted to teach when i was younger and this sounds like it extends the experience. Would you recommend this for as a good career? There is a teacher at my school that actually came here to teach Spanish from Argentina. My last question is how do you teach English if you don’t know the countries language? This was a very helpful. Thank you.

    • Hi Vanessa! It’s so great you are thinking about this while still in high school. Teaching can be a wonderful career, especially if you really love it. I’d make sure it is something you are passionate about before jumping into it though as it takes a lot of dedication and commitment. It can be a high pressure and demanding job. It was a wonderful way for me to travel around the world.
      Teaching English in another country when you don’t know the language is really challenging. But, it is the best way for students to learn the language as they aren’t relying on you to explain it in their language, they have to try and understand what you are teaching. You use a lot of sign language and role playing and simple repetition. The more exposure they get to English the more they will pick up. You can do courses that help teach you how to teach English as a foreign language. It is a really fun job.

  8. Hi Caz, I have 30 years experience as a primary school teacher in NZ (I completed a three year Diploma in Teaching in the 1970s and I have a partly completed Bachelor of Education). Do you think I would have must success securing a job, as I don’t have a degree?
    Thanks for your advice.

    • Hi Kim!
      I think you will be able to secure a job teaching English no problem. It’s always best to do a TEFL course (100 hours will cover you) As for other teaching jobs I am unsure. You would have to research in the area you are thinking of teaching in to see what their educational requirements are. Good luck!

  9. Good info, but I would recommend people consider Vietnam as a great destination. I taught there for two years and am about to return for another round. The ratio of pay to cost of living is about as good as it gets. With starting hourly wages at about $18-20. It also offers a very rich experience. I prefer the north to the south, but the whole country has a lot to offer.

    • Great advice Tyler! We love Vietnam and do prefer the north to the south as well. Awesome to hear the hourly wages, what a great opportunity and experience for those wishing to teach abroad

  10. Thank you for this really great blog! Im looking to go travelling and i think this would be great! To teach english, how good do you have to be? i know that sounds like a stupid question. Im english and fluent, but my written english has never been brilliant, would this matter? or could this cause a problem? Thanks again!

    • Most of the teaching you do will be related to conversational English, so the written aspect should not matter so much.

  11. Hi!

    Thanks for all the info. I have a degree in English teaching– would I still need other certifications like CELTA or DELTA or TEFL etc??

    • It’s always best to get it just in case. Some countries or institutions have it as a requirement for teaching English, regardless of any other teaching degree you may have.

  12. Thanks for all of the information! I am hoping to teach English in Peru and I am planning on getting my TEFL certification through the TEFL Institute. You had them listed above. Do you know if they have a good reputation? Do you have any tips on how to find a job before I complete the TEFL course?

  13. Guillermo Garcia

    Hi! I was wondering if there is a possibility to teach English overseas if you’re not a native English speaker?
    I’m from Central America and I’m curretly majoring in TESL. I’ve always been interested in teaching English in one of these “Teach English Abroad” programs.

    • I don’t think it is a problem Guillermo as long as your English is fluent. I think it is great for students learning English to be exposed to different accents and nationalities

  14. Stephanie

    So you list what the acronyms stand for but you don’t really explain the difference and if there is an advantage of having one certificate over another? Is one certificate, say the TEFL, better than another such as the TESOL?

    • There’s no real advantage Stephanie. Do your research on each and decide what works best for you. TEFL and TESOL are just different names for the same thing depending on where you are in the world. TEFL is more widely used


    Am a Nigeria and I want to teach English in Vietnam but I don’t have a degree.
    Like to know the best place to get to teach.

  16. Caitlin Henries

    English is my favorite subject in school. Always has been, and always will! I love reading and writing! ^-^ Thank you for posting this! I’ll be a senior next year and I think I really want to go into this field.

  17. ziauddin

    hello.I have been teaching english for 7 years and i am from India. I have not certified with TEFL or ESL. But one thing sure I have good command and accent in english. is this enough to apply in abroad. plz suggest me.

    • Hi Ziauddin,
      You really should get your TEFL. It is much easier to get work and most places probably won’t accept any teachers without it now.

  18. Great tips! We’ve always thought we should look into teaching, as we both have experience and having all these resources in one place is priceless. You guys ROCK!
    The GypsyNesters recently posted..A Day of Reflection in Nagasaki, Japan
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  19. Sorry to be picky here but there are a number of typos in the text and one thing I’ve learned as an English teacher for many years is that you need excellent English to be able to teach it!

    “You’re ability to teach English overseas various tremendously around the world.”

    “it’s makes it so much easier”

    The point I’m making is that a lot of unqualified and untrained people think that just because they speak English they can teach it.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The idea of “backpacker” teachers is fading fast and schools are demanding higher standards.

    Teaching English is no longer a paid holiday.


    • Thanks for that Jenny. I appreciate your concern. However I have a teaching degree as well as TEFL and have taught around the world for 15 years. I’ve held leadership positions and have stellar references and results. While I certainly appreciate the need for good spelling, I am definitely not perfect. We punch out an extraordinary amount of content on this blog and have no editors looking over our shoulders. It is very easy when you are writing for 10 hours a day for a few mistakes to slip past, even though you may edit two or three times.

      I am so incredibly grateful that we have tens of thousands of readers every month who really appreciate the value we provide to help them travel and enrich their lives. They focus on this and not a few errors here and there that really on the grand scheme of things are quite irrelevant. What I also love about our regular readers is the respect they show us if we do make a mistake–which on the grand scheme of being human, is really quite a normal thing to do– the contact us privately to let us know so we can correct it.

      But again thank you for correcting it. I will go and fix those mistakes now. I am sure you will find lots of mistakes in this comment as well, but it will give you something to do to find them all. To be honest, I am too busy right now to even care to edit it. This comment is not a priority for me to do so.

      As a teacher yourself you probably already know this, but one thing that I always learned through my training, but most importantly through my experience is that the greatest impact you will ever have upon a person’s growth is to do what you can to raise and support, not try to show them up to be an idiot. (It probably wasn’t the best way for you to highlight your TEFL course and slightly insulting to backpackers to write them off in such a way.)

      I’ve taught many children who spent their lives failing in education, but because I put time and energy into believing in them and showing them all the wonderful things they could do, and helping them build strength in the areas they struggled in ( correcting their mistakes in private), they actually began to achieve success. I’ll never forget the beaming smiles they wore on their faces with each new win. Wow, to have that sort of impact as a teacher is amazing. I’ve met many an untrained teachers, some who were backpackers who had this magical ability. I’ve also met many teachers who had perfect spelling and grammar but lacked the magical quality needed to make a difference in the lives of their students. I sure as hell know who I would prefer for my child’s teacher.

      It’s all about what people will remember you most for, wouldn’t you agree? But as a teacher who demands excellence I am sure you understand that already.

    • Ouch! Way to go Jenny, I know which school I won’t be looking into now for my accreditation!

  20. Hi Caz, i found your web page brilliant, i traveled to Thailand many times and loved Asia, i looked in to teaching there, i have a degree in printing but no TEFL training(i didnt get the training because the people i talked to said even with this training it is so hard to get work), would you agree and can you give me any more ideas of what to do ?.

    thanking you Emmet

    • I would say do the training. It gives you that one extra thing to help you in getting a job. You want to arm yourself with as much as you can, especially if jobs are limited. They definitely won’t even look at you if you don’t have it because there will be plenty of others who will. It’s a great investment which you can use all around the world.

  21. Bethany

    Hey! I’m going to school right now (a community college, as universities here in the states are RIDICULOUSLY expensive), about to start my second year in the tourism program (working on three associates, Travel, Recreation, and Outdoor Education), hoping to eventually do something with adventure travel because all I want to do is, well, have adventures and travel. But I’m so tempted to just drop out of school, get my TEFL, and use it to see the world and help people. The degrees that I’m working on are only 2-year degrees, not bachelors, and completely unrelated to teaching English. I’m wondering if I should stay hear to finish, since I’m halfway through and have already put a bunch of money into it, or stop wasting my time and money and just go do what I actually want to do. I guess my question to you is, would it be beneficial to finish the courses and have these degrees even though they are only associates and unrelated to teaching? Will they make a difference on my job applications when looking for an English teaching job? Also, what do you think schools are looking for more from applicants, education or experience?

    Thank you!

    • Tough question! I think the more odds you can stack in your favour the better. My way of thinking has always been to make myself as skilled and as valuable as possible so I have lots of options. I think if you finish your course the options for jobs overseas will open up for you. Even though they aren’t related directly to teaching, they could help you when it comes time to get a English teaching job. What if a job you went for also ran an outdoor ed program? You just became that little more suited to the position. I still think you should also get your TEFL. It will be really worth your while and they aren’t too expensive. It sounds like the courses you are doing can open up a lot of doors for you in regards to travel. I have met a lot of travellers in Australia the past year who are working in the travel adventure space as guides etc and are loving their work and the travel opportunity it brings them. It’s a really great qualifications to have. Let me know what you decide.

      • So I decided to finish my degrees! I am becoming very exhausted from school, but I know it will be worth it. Only 2 and a half terms, I got this! Next, I have one year of Outdoor Ed, but it will be such a fun year, my classes being things like Rock Climbing, River Kayaking, Wilderness Survival, SCUBA, Backpacking and Camp Management, Outdoor Leadership, etc. I am actually pretty excited :) After all this school work I think I’ll deserve a big adventure somewhere fun. But after all that, my plan is to come back and get that TEFL! Hopefully I’ll end up in Thailand. That’s the goal, plan, and dream!
        Thanks again, I hope you’re having a fantastic roadtrip!

        • Oh great! Outdoor ed is the best course to do. I did it at Uni- we had no lectures just a lot of outdoor fun. You’ll have lots of great credentials then for all sorts of jobs around the world. If you can add the TEFL on top you’ll be sweet!

  22. I am retiring at age 57. I would be interested in these programs. Where do I get more information?

  23. Hi Caz, thanks for an amazing article with so much information. Wondering if you have any thoughts on how hard or easy it is to be a English teacher abroad who also happens to be gay. I am thinking Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam in particular. I do have a family with one child as well, so it is not as easy to be closeted about things when our kid calls us mom and mama.


    • I’m guessing that would not be so easy!! I’m hoping for you, you don’t have to be closeted. Sad world that makes you think you have to, but I believe that is changing, thank goodness for sanity.

      I’m thinking it shouldn’t be a problem. It won’t be in South East Asia, not too sure about Taiwan, but my gut says it will be fine. Check this website Tom teaches in South Korea and is gay. He might be able to give you more info and advice. He’s a great guy and has lots of fantastic resources.

      • Thank you, Caz! We’ve traveled (before kid) before to SEA and haven’t experienced problems, but part of wanting to teach English and traveling/working abroad is to immerse in the culture and with the people. So it’s always a gray line as to how much we divulge. Now that we have a child, we wouldn’t want to hide persay, and certainly wouldn’t want our child to grow up thinking there’s something wrong with our family unit, unless our safety is clearly threatened. Thanks for the info and I will check it out!

  24. Hello Caz! Thank you for all the amazing info! I do have one question my husband and I are both really interested in getting the TEFL certification so we could work in Japan for a minimum of 2 yrs( we’re both fluent in English as well).However we have two children (8 and 2 yrs old) do you have any info on what schools and enrollment for English speaking children. We’re teaching our daughter Japanese at the time being in hopes of facilitating language when we move there. Please reply (thank you so much! )

    • Hi Audrey,
      I don;t know too much about teaching and schools in Japan. I’m sure that many people do it with children. I’d keep searching on google and see if you can find someone who has had teaching experience in Japan. They might be able to help you. Sorry I couldn’t offer any advice.

  25. Deb Dennis

    So glad I stumbled upon this site! I am a nurse but burned out in the system (USA). In being a nurse, will it increase my chances in getting a job? I noticed that there was no answer to the person of 57yrs old. I too am near that age and wish to change but still (because of our age) need advice on being hired at an older age. Really informative blog. Thanks! DD

    • I’m not sure if being a nurse will help, maybe the degree will because you’re seen as more educated and qualified. The best thing to do is to get your TEFL, it is pretty much required anyway. I’m not too sure about the ages as it’s dependent on a lot of things, mostly visa requirements. You’d have to do your research on that. When I was teaching in Thailand there were people of all ages teaching, so I can’t see it as being a major problem but then again I’m not too sure

  26. Hey Caz,

    I lived in India for a few months volunteering at an orphanage, and while I was there I also taught English, and other subjects and found my passion and heart in it. Since then, I have been working at a normal 9-5 job and all I can think about is getting back out in the Teaching English as Second Language field. I know this is what I want to do, but I wanted to see if there was a particular course that you took, or if there a particular site you recommend for getting certified. I have a 4 year bachelor’s degree in Communication and I just want to make sure the certification I obtain will be legit!! Thank you for writing this article – love it.

  27. The general requirement is a university degree from an English speaking country and a minimum of a 100-hour TESOL certificate. Something to consider is that there are two groups of ESL teachers: “gap-year” teachers are usually young university graduates who go abroad for a year or two because they want to travel and experience a new culture, while “professional” teachers are usually licensed teachers, have a MA degree in Education, and hold advanced TESOL certification.
    These groups look for different benefits when teaching abroad. In general, gap-year teachers go to East Asia and Latin America, earn $1,500/month plus benefits, and work for the public school system or a large ESL franchise. Professional teachers are eligible for high-paying jobs in the UAE, Hong Kong, Australia, and Canada.

  28. Hi caz I was just wondering I’m 25 would you suggest I go to a University first then take the TEFL course or it really doesn’t matter I have a High school diploma and I’m an American looking for a new career change a respond is much appreciated and thanks for making this site it filled me with so much info I didn’t know Thank you!!!!
    Rare4m recently posted..How Do You Define Travel?
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    • I don’t think you need to go to University. You can easily do the TEFL and get work from that.

  29. After a year travelling around the world I opted to settle in Budapest and start teaching English. As a Brit there was no worries about the visa and finding students privately has been quite easy as my previous work experience was in sales and marketing.

    Initially it was a financial tide me over that was to last a few months while I plotted the next steps of my travel… but I’m enjoying it so much I’ve decided to stay here a year and see where this takes me.

    For anyone thinking about it… take the plunge :-) If you’re creative and determined it can be a rewarding career!

  30. It’s great teaching abroad. I started in Thailand and it was awesome! It’s easy, fun, and the BEST way to uphold yourself while getting your travel addiction fix

    Oh! and of course… you actually get to know a place, the people, the food, the culture…etc WAY better. Do it people!
    Nina recently posted..FAQ: Teaching English in Thailand
    Nina recently posted..FAQ: Teaching English in Thailand

  31. Hi Caz,

    really helpful wee article here! I’m a 23 yr old recent Uni graduate from Scotland who’s considering doing a few month’s teaching in Vietnam. After sending out job application after job application and not getting any replies, I thought I’d take charge and make something happen for myself – teaching abroad, I’m hoping, will be a great opportunity of self-development, boost the old CV and be an excuse to do a bit of travelling too.

    Now, I’m in a bit of a pickle. I’ve been scowering the internet, racking my brains over what I should do. TEFL or CELTA, learn at home or abroad – these are my main concerns. I can afford a CELTA but I feel it’s a bit overkill for what I want to do. I can do a TEFL course in Vietnam WITH others in my position (instant friends), but it’s a bit more expensive and I figure why pay more for a lower-level qualification. I’m leaning towards the latter. In your opinion and experience, do you think that CELTA’s are worth it just for a few month’s stop-gap?

    Thanks very much!


    • Hi Andrew,

      I thinkk the TEFL will be more than adequate. CELTA is more for those who want to make it a long-term career.

  32. Hi caz how are you? My question is in regard to whther or not race and appearnce play a deciding factor into finding a job in this field. I am really considering doing this as a way to learn travel and do something with my life, but as a AA with dreadlocks that has to go through being sterotyped here in the states i wonder if its even worth it to go through all the neccesary steps if it would be very hard for me to find a position given my race. Im not trying to play any race card here but its just an unfortunate truth that indivuals such a myself are negativley stereotyped across the world. Your input would be very much appreciated. Thank You

  33. soumika

    Hi Caz,

    I am an Indian and a secondary school teacher in English presently working in India..I am a university post graduate in English and have 5years of teaching experience..How do i get SCHOOL JOB overseas,,I mean do i need to take up any course for teaching abroad?

  34. David Morales

    Hi Caz,
    I am a married father with two little girls ages 2 and 4. I am graduating with my B.A. in Liberal Studies with a TESOL concentration, and am writing my senior research paper about how to teach abroad with a family. My wife currently has an MBA. Can you share what you’ve learned about teaching abroad with a family, do you have any good resources (web sites, blogs, placement programs that happily accept families etc.), do you know other families teaching abroad? Anything you would like to share would be helpful. PS this blog is wonderful, thanks and have a pleasant day.

    • Hi David,
      The only time I’ve done it with our family is in the states and the program was I don’t have any other resources. Our daughter was only quite young so I didn’t find it to be any different to if I was staying at home. I don’t know of any other families teaching abroad.

  35. Hey there, I’m a senior in high school and I live in North Carolina. I love teaching and helping out my classmates and have considered teaching for a long time now. The idea of traveling to other countries and getting to teach sounds amazing, but I have no idea where to start. Could you give me some pointers?

    • Oh we miss North Carolina! All the tips in this post will get you started in teh right way. The first thing to do is to get your qualifications either as a teacher (4 year uni degree) or your TEFL- which is the certificate you need to teach. Then you just research where you want to teach first and see how you can make it work with visas and job opportunities.
      We have an in-depth section on working holidays in our travel eguide

  36. Hi,

    Quick question. I was born in India but have been living in Canada since I was 12 years old (I am finishing my 4th year at university now). I am a Canadian citizen/ have Canadian passport and don’t have an accent. Will I still be able to teach abroad? Or do I have to be born in the country?

  37. Thank you SO much for all the helpful information! You answered many of my questions. I am an American living in South Africa with my husband and our child. I am very seriously considering a career in TEFL abroad. Is it ever possible to find programs supportive of bringing your family along? If housing is provided, is it communal or is it private flats/houses? Is it fairly easy to find your own housing in your chosen region? Or, are there specific regions where it is more easy to find your own housing? Would it help if my husband were to get qualified as well? And, would we be able to educate our child (once she is of age) in the country we choose? Any advice or resources you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You In Advance,

  38. Hi Caz,

    Thanks for helpful infos. I don’t know if someone already asked you this question..but would you advice to do this experience eventually even as a permanent choice with a family ( my husband and 3 kids) concern it is obviously my children Thailand..

    Thanks for your time,

  39. Thank you, Caz, for writing this article and for providing these rich resources! I’m looking to do a world trip in 2 years and this is great for the part of it I want to teach abroad.

  40. This blog is fantastic!!!
    I’m a retired Black female truly interested in a teaching overseas position. I’d prefer a Latin America location for starters.

  41. Helpful tips! I would only add it is not a prerequisite to be a native speaker. I am not but still managed to find a job in China, but still its definitely easier….
    Manu recently posted..Flashbacks from the American County Fairs
    Manu recently posted..Flashbacks from the American County Fairs

  42. Raghav

    Hi Caz,
    I am an Indian student in my third year of University in Scotland .I have an year to go before I finish my graduation and am planning to get a TEFL and want to teach English abroad. Am I at a disadvantage of not being a native speaker even though English has been my first language since my primary school. What are my chances of getting a job in teaching English abroad (specially in Thailand ,Vietnam or Brazil ). Could you give your advice on this

  43. I have been looking through some of your posts and noticed one from last year that really gave me a lift. You spoke about teachers who may not have a lot of qualifications but have passion and magic.and it really struck a chord with me.

    Recently, I have been trying to get teaching work, with little success. I am 59 and a UK citizen, with an online TEFL course and a couple months of an internship behind me. I didn’t finish this, for reasons I won’t go into. In spite of this, I had an amazing experience and was really moved to see how my students, though initially reluctant, became really enthusiastic about learning. They ranged in age from 18-30 and had some misgivings about foreign teachers. When I was leaving, I got some very emotional good byes and I was really moved by the experience.

    Since then, I have not been able to get teaching work. I want to stay in the EU as I can’t afford to travel too far. However, every time I think I have a possibility of a job, things just stop and employers forget to call for scheduled interviews. I don’t know if it’s my age, lack of a degree or the fact that I’m a woman of mixed race, but I am not getting anywhere.

    I just want to say thanks for your positive comments. Even if I never get the work I want, I will treasure my experience, in Vietnam, and continue to look for opportunities to help friends and those I meet, who want to learn English. It’s really nice to come across someone who realises that being a good teacher is about a lot more than qualifications.

  44. Adeolu

    Good day, just seeing your blog. I am much interested in teaching English language abroad and i have been hearing about TEFL as a major criteria for teaching abroad.Made some researches but couldn’t get a tangible info on the internet as par the axis where i reside. I am from Nigeria and i would want you to help me with the TEFL info. Hoping for a quick response. Thank you.

  45. Arnaldo

    Hi dear! I agree with you, as long as candidates are fluent in English, being a native does not matter as much, especially because English is mostly used for international communication with other non-native speakers. The TEFL course I have taken is not on your list, the Cambridge C.E.L.T.A., a truly hands-on course, I loved it. I lived in the USA for 6 years, 2001-2007, and I am a private English Teacher in Brazil. I must say, I love your posts, perhaps some day I will join you guys and become a modern day gypsy as well, it would fantastic. Cheers!

  46. Arnaldo

    I forgot the “be” on my last line: It would BE fantastic. :)

  47. Hi there,
    Thanks for such an informative post. I’ve just done a student exchange in HK and now I’m desperately looking for other ways that I can travel whilst immersing myself in the culture and getting the most out of my travel. Is there any advice you can give about where in Asia to teach? Or even in Latin America ?
    Thanks, Angela

  48. Really cool article. Teaching ESL abroad is a great way to see the world. I would suggest to all teachers who take the leap, try to earn extra income (extra to your day teaching job) by doing private lessons. You’ll get the referrals from your day students and it can be a great way to earn extra income. My site (off2class) is a project to give lesson content to teachers that are running their own private tutorials.
    Kris recently posted..Present-Simple – 2 (verbs)
    Kris recently posted..Present-Simple – 2 (verbs)

  49. Just realized that the link to my lesson plans didn’t post properly! Here’s attempt #2.
    kris recently posted..Present-Simple – 2 (verbs)
    kris recently posted..Present-Simple – 2 (verbs)

  50. Great article for any one looking for information about taking the plunge to overseas and teach! We also have an article on our blog about one of the most asked questions by potential TEFL’ers: Do I really need a TEFL course? You should check it out when you get a chance:

    It gives a good perspective on the benefits of TEFL courses for all types of people, and what to be cautious of when choosing one!

    P.S.I enjoy the layout of your blog, very inviting, I’m gonna go read some more ;)

  51. […] If you are interested in reading more about the actual experiences, what to expect and how to prepare yourself, read these two posts from yTravel Blog here and here. […]

  52. Great post. I was struggling to find a decent job (I wanted Malaysia) until I caved in and completed an online TEFL. Definitely worth the money, actually learned stuff I use in class everyday, and got some help with finding a good position. Suggest anybody who thinks they might not need a TEFL read James’ blog.

    Greets from Kuala Lumpur!

  53. Thank you for this post with lots of details! I have a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature, and I also have TESOL certificate. But one condition I don’t meet is that I’m not a native English speaker.. Is it impossible for non-natives to teach English speaking in other countries?

  54. Teaching is such a great experience and especially for students in countries that are not as fortunate back home. I have met a few people who skipped some of your requirements but many who have teaching degrees get better paid positions. Are you still teaching now?

    • No thank goodness!! 15 years was enough for me. It served its purpose to help me travel the world, and now I have this blog to help me continue that!

  55. Hi! I am a fresh graduate with a degree of Bachelor of Arts major in English. I really want to teach abroad and I have no experience yet. I wish you could help. I really want to go abroad .

  56. Planned on teaching English in Europe or Asia.what TEFL courses should I take? I have a Diploma in Computer from Nigeria

  57. Which TEFL qualification would you recommend if one wants to spent between 6 months to one year teaching English abroad? I am leaning 120 hours, but I don’t want to have to pay for this one if something like 100 hours would suffice.

    • 100 hours usually suffices. But, it has been about 10 years since I did mine so you might want to check to see if it has changed

  58. Great post and great TEFL tips. I’ve found that when most people arrive to Bangkok they are in for a rocky start as they expect things to be just like ‘back home’ but with an open mind and willingness to adapt, teaching English in Bangkok/Thailand can be so rewarding! I so have loved my time there. Happy to see such an encouraging post about teaching English there :)
    Blayne recently posted..Survival Thai Numbers
    Blayne recently posted..Survival Thai Numbers

  59. […] How to Teach English Overseas – Working Abroad Travel Tips. […]

  60. Hi Caz

    This has been really informative and has answered a few questions though am left with a few more.
    I have been delivering training sessions and have covered modules in English alphabet, phonemes, English grammar, intonation, pronunciation and syllable stress. Also Communication and soft skill. I have trained for various sectors such as bpos, mncs, educational institutes, media and hospitality.
    I dont hold any certificate however English was my first language in school and college and now I train/teach English.
    Is it mandatory to take up these courses to be able to teach abroad? I dont have the money to pay for it right now? How does one go about looking for jobs to teach abroad? Most of the sites are pretty complicated. Please help for better clarification.
    I want to do this for a long time now.

    Thanks and Regards

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