You’ve seen the photos. You’ve ogled the stories. You’ve thought long and hard about the path your life is on, and think it could use a little bit more… adventure. Like getting paid to travel? Like using a skill you already have to sustain a life abroad?

The reality is, teaching English abroad IS as good as it sounds. You connect with people from all walks of life, challenge your comfort zone, add some stamps to your beloved passport, see the sights that will make your IG feed pop, taste new flavors that you didn’t even know were out there… all while making a little (and sometimes, a lot of!) moolah.

Here’s our go-to introduction and guide to teaching English abroad—take your first step along this new path of adventure.

tefl teacher giving a lesson in china

The beginner’s guide to teaching English abroad

Requirements

Most destinations require that TEFL teachers have a valid passport (and visa, if needed) and a bachelor’s degree. You will need to confirm with your desired destination qualifications beyond these basic requirements to teach English abroad.

For example, some destinations will require you to be between certain ages (i.e. 18-60), a recent physical confirming sound health, or a background check.

If you do not fulfill the minimum teaching requirements for your desired TEFL destination, don’t be discouraged. While a paid TEFL job might be off the table, you could consider volunteering (in Spain, for example) as an English teacher instead!

Native vs. Non-Native English Speaking Options

Some countries distinguish between native and non-native English speaking TEFL teachers and the opportunities to teach abroad in-country vary based on these distinctions. If you are not a citizen of the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa, then you will likely not be qualified for TEFL jobs abroad where only native English speakers are eligible.

On the bright side, you still have opportunities to teach English abroad as a non-native speaker—they might just be a little harder to find.

We have an entire article dedicated to folks who are non-native English speakers desiring to teach abroad. You can find it here!

Teacher with students in class

To TEFL Certificate or Not to TEFL Certificate?

Earning a TEFL certificate will significantly impact your overall teaching experience abroad—for the better. Not only can it open up better (and better paid) TEFL jobs, it can also make you a more confident and equipped teacher. Afterall, speaking, reading, writing, and listening in English and teaching those skills in English are very different tasks (and require very different skill levels).

As you sift through program options, consider opportunities that include both a teaching job abroad (or job placement) AND your TEFL certification. These can be done online or in person, and though some have an up-front fee, it’s very likely that it will pay for itself very quickly.

We’re TEFL certificate experts at PremierTEFL, so if you have any questions, reach out to us here or read any of these fabulous articles that go more in-depth on the topic:

Teacher with his students

Popular Destinations

You can actually teach abroad in over 50 countries around the world, so depending on where your travel whims want to take you, you can likely find a job. Of course, the easiest—and most popular places to teach English abroad—are typically concentrated in Asia and Europe.

You can also find ample teaching opportunities in Latin America.

Chinese Teachers

Job Arrangements

There are a variety of jobs for teaching English abroad that you can choose from as you suss out your options. The most commonly selected jobs are short-term teaching contracts at schools serving students of a variety of ages.

You might also consider a TEFL internship, which differs from a TEFL job in a few key ways. This can be a great stepping stone for first-timers teaching abroad, as support is built-in and can put you on a better TEFL career trajectory.

You might also find tutoring opportunities to complement your full-time teaching job abroad. These individual arrangements can pay well and give you more chances to make deeper connections with a local or local family.

You can also find long-term contracts, from one school year and upwards. These opportunities are typically reserved to individuals who have degrees in Education and who are applying for jobs in international or expat schools.

Job Hunters Guide

Financial Matters

Teaching English in Europe is a great fit for individuals who are looking for longer-term teaching commitments. Europe and Latin America are similar in that most teachers “break even” in terms of earnings in these destinations. Asia is a powerhouse for English teaching jobs abroad; the Middle East has the highest requirements (think: Masters degrees!) but pay very well. East Asia and Southeast Asia have a well-developed infrastructure to support English teachers abroad with ample jobs, short-term visa options, and government-level buy-in to encourage youth to master English as a foreign language.

You can also teach English in Africa and Central Asia though opportunities are fewer and farther between, and often are unpaid. If you’re interested primarily in volunteering as an English teacher abroad, these are the regions for you.

People at work in a office

Organized Programs vs. Going At It Independently

Do you want to earn your TEFL certificate and then embark into the great TEFL unknown by yourself? Power to you. You can find and vet jobs, organize your own accommodations, figure out your visa (and the legalities of your work arrangements), settle in from your cross-continental flight, etc. independently. 

This can be a great route to pursue if you are a comfortable international traveler, have worked abroad before, or want to save a little bit of cash in your teach abroad start up costs.

For those who need a little more support, we recommend finding a TEFL program to help you get your feet on the ground abroad. Organizations like PremierTEFL can coordinate logistics on your behalf, so you can focus less on whether or not your new teaching job is legit and more on the fun to be had. Accommodation support, in-depth lessons on the local culture, a welcome orientation (complete with too much food), organized weekend activities and adventures, and trustworthy remittance of salaries are all benefits of teaching English abroad through a program.

For those new to life abroad, we recommend finding a program with the right level of support to make your first few weeks abroad more of a breeze. It feels like solo travel, but with a fabulous new community and huge safety net built in.

Laptop

You know the basics

Teaching English abroad isn’t rocket science, but we know that planning a move to another country can be overwhelming even for the most seasoned world travelers. Get in touch with your friends at PremierTEFL to discuss options and take that first step towards adventure today!