Can I Teach Abroad as an 18 Year Old?

Teaching abroad after high school/A levels

If you’ve turned the tassel on your graduation cap, but aren’t quite ready to go to college in the fall, you should consider spending a year teaching English abroad. Even as a newcomer to the land of “adulthood,” there are many profitable English teaching jobs for 18 year olds. While limitations do exist, with the help of your old friend the internet (and especially this article!), you should be packing your bags for a year of work and travel in no time.

Here’s everything you need to know to teach English abroad as an 18 year old.

Job Limitations

Some schools around the world will prefer their new English teachers to be well into their 20s or 30s, especially when working with children. But on the bright side, most ESL language companies minimum age for new teachers is 21 years old. That being said, that’s not true for all, so you will still have some options as a bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed recent high school grad.

Not only is your age working against you, but your lack of work experience can be a hindrance. If you’re hoping to land paid ESL teaching jobs as your first-ever job, you might get fewer post-application return calls or interview invitations.

Regardless of your age, if you are not TEFL certified, your job options will be further limited. Lucky for you, these are fairly easy to obtain and can quickly move your resume/CV to the “keep” pile.

PRO TIP: If younger teachers want to be taken seriously during the job hunt, they must be prepared to exhibit professional and mature behavior, both when interviewing for open ESL positions abroad and when they actually begin their job.

Destination Considerations

Certain regions are more welcoming to 18 year old ESL teachers than others. Regionally speaking, Latin America is particularly friendly towards young ESL teachers. Africa generally hosts ESL teachers that double as volunteers, regardless of age.

The Middle East is notorious for having very high minimum qualifications for English teachers (meaning your dreams of eating hummous between grammar lessons are delayed). Asia has more stringent, though still flexible, minimum requirements for teachers. To find a job there, you might need to search a little harder — for instance, popular programs like JET in Japan and EPIK in Korea require teachers to have bachelor’s degree.

Oftentimes, no matter the destination outside of the Middle East, the age of any given applicant is a secondary to teaching qualifications (TEFL certificate!) and work experience, with many schools accepting 18-19 year old teachers at their own discretion.

Programs for Teaching English Abroad as an 18 Year Old

Here’s our shortlist of awesome programs that’ll take you just as you are.

  • Anglo TEFL Poland
    Krakow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw — if these destinations sound SWEET it’s because they are. Premier TEFL scholarship programs for TEFL in Poland range from one-three weeks. And yes, all hotel accommodation and meals are included #pierogisforever.
  • Teach in Spain
    Teach English in Spain for nine months. Besides being the perfect gap year length before you head back to uni, this paid English teaching job for 18 year-olds will give you ample opportunity to play with kids, brush up on your past-participles, and explore the gorgeous Iberian peninsula.
  • Anglo TEFL Czech Republic
    This heavily (!) subsidized program for 18 year old aspiring ESL teachers lands you in Prague, which basically means you’ll be finally living out your dream of living in a fairytale castle. This one-three week experience will quickly launch you towards a full-fledged ESL job abroad.
  • China Home-Tutor
    A long time hottie of the TEFL scene, what better way to dip your toes into the far east than by creating lifelong relationships with locals while refining your English teaching skills? Beijing and Shanghai are calling… (Sorry, uh, texting. We hear Generation Z hates phone calls).
  • Anglo TEFL Romania
    When you’re not keeping your eyes peeled for the furry locals (bears!), you’ll be gaining up to 65 hours of English training weekly during this discounted TEFL course. Teach adults or juniors as you practice ESL teaching and then transform those skills into a job. #Hired.
  • Anglo TEFL Hungary
    Buda? Or Pest? Why choose — there’s plenty of fun to be had as an English teaching in training down by the Danube. This course is offered year-round for one-three weeks and is also discounted (perfect for those without a fat savings account… yet).

Other Options

Summer camps are a great way to see the world… (Credit: Romania Summer Camp)

If you have your heart set on a destination that doesn’t hire individuals with wet ink on their high school diplomas, here are some other avenues to consider:

1) Volunteer

Instead of finding paid teaching work, you can find organizations that need English teachers (especially native speakers) but don’t necessarily have the resources to pay these individuals. In this way, you’ll be helping out a worthy cause AND bolstering your resume/CV with direct work in the field, making you an attractive hire in future applications.

2) Get that TEFL!

We don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but getting a TEFL or equivalent certificate is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of ESL while simultaneously improving your hireability. Speaking English is NOT the same as teaching it. Give it a try and then take that newly minted TEFL certification to a hiring manager.

More exciting stuff → you can earn your TEFL during a paid (YES, PAID!) internship, online (flexibility FTW), or abroad in a variety of cool places. Did you know TEFL scholarships are a thing?

3) For our American readers:

You can join the Peace Corps or Americorps as a high school graduate. Many of these positions are now TEFL/Education based, and will undoubtedly arm you with the skills needed to rock higher paid English teaching jobs abroad in the future.

4) Summer camps!

If you want to “taste test” life as an ESL teacher without fully committing to a life abroad, consider applying to work at a summer camp for English language learners. Some of these positions are paid and some of them are volunteer, but you can always guarantee that they’re short term and a great time.

5) Babysit, Nanny, Au Pair, Tutor

If your definition of “job” loosely means anything you’re doing in exchange for money, then you can pursue the more informal route to find one-off jobs directly with families. In this way, you’re working (Wahoo!$$) but not technically “employed.” These jobs might take a little more digging to find (classifieds, baby!) but remain really enriching experiences.

Get out there and get working!

Just because you’re 18 doesn’t mean you’re not gonna make a rockstar teacher. Begin your path to teaching English abroad and become a student’s hero. We’re rooting for you!

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