Teaching English abroad is a great way to get out there and explore the world. After all, who doesn’t want to make money whilst living an exciting new life abroad? Though this may seem like a distant dream to you at the minute, the reality is that this is an opportunity open to people of all ages and experience.
It doesn’t matter if you have just graduated or if you have just retired, going abroad to teach English will allow you to explore a different culture, learn a new language and make new friends. And these are just some of the many reasons why you should consider teaching English abroad. Furthermore, with over 1 billion people in the world now learning English, demand for English teachers has never been higher. So, there is no excuse not to get out there and start teaching!
However, as with any job there are some requirements you may need to fulfil first. These can vary from country to country and each employer is different. It’s therefore important to find out what works for you based upon your level of experience, age and qualifications.
To give you a helping hand we’ve listed some of the most common questions about the requirements for teaching English abroad. Check them out below:
Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach English abroad?
The short answer to this is yes. Although in some cases you may be able to get away with not having a TEFL certificate, most employers now require one. Being TEFL certified from an accredited TEFL course provider shows that you have been trained to teach English as a foreign language, and that you’ll have the necessary skills to provide a good level of tuition to your English students. Not only that, it will also open up the door to more teaching opportunities – some countries even legally require you to have one.
It’s also worth noting that there are different types of TEFL certificate and an employer may ask you to have a specific one. Just make sure you do your research when deciding what TEFL course you should take.
Don’t fret if you don’t currently have a TEFL certificate. You should still be able to find work as a volunteer and it doesn’t have to take too long to get TEFL certified. TEFL courses can be completed within 4 weeks or less, and you can even do an online TEFL course to fit it around your schedule. There are many great options out there and you can use a TEFL course directory to help find the right course for you.
Do I need a degree to teach English abroad?
In some countries you will need a degree in order to get a job teaching English. This is particularly true in Western Europe, the Middle East and in some parts of Asia such as Japan and South Korea. Even so, requirements can vary and will depend on if you want to get work with a public or private language school. There is also nothing stopping you offering your own services provided you can legally do so.
Other countries such as those in Latin America, Eastern Europe and other parts of Asia like Cambodia, and to an extent China, will be less strict on degree requirements. However, this is always subject to change so keep an eye on the latest information.
Additionally, there a number of companies that allow you to teach English online without a degree, and this can easily be done from abroad too.
If you don’t have a degree and are still seeking another option then you should look out for government run TEFL programs, as these can also offer a route to teaching English abroad. For example, in South Korea, the Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) Program accepts college students who have completed at least 2 years of study. Participants receive 1 month of training followed by a 1-year teaching contract in a South Korean elementary school.
You can find a wealth of additional information online related to specific country requirements for teaching English abroad, along with average salaries, visa requirements and hiring times.
Do I need previous English teaching experience?
Having previous English teaching experience is certainly useful and can help you get the best jobs, but in most cases a TEFL certificate and a demonstrable interest in teaching English will be enough to secure you your first TEFL job. Everyone has to start somewhere and there are thousands of new English teachers each year. It’s true that countries that pay the highest salary for teaching English abroad will often require experience, but you’ll soon work your way up to this if you stick at it.
How old do I have to be to teach English abroad?
In order to do a TEFL course in many cases you need to be 18 + years old, and the same applies to teaching English abroad. Some teaching programs will be restricted to specific age groups between the ages of 20-35, but there are still opportunities out there for everyone. Retired people can often find work teaching English abroad in Latin America and South East Asian countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia. If you’re really stuck you can always volunteer which can then lead into paid work.
Do I need to be a native English speaker to teach English abroad?
This largely depends upon where you wish to teach. Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea prefer to hire native speakers. However, you will be able to more easily find work across Europe and in South America if you’re not a native English speaker. And remember, there are always exceptions to the rule. So, if you are a non-native English speaker don’t be put off by any setbacks. Just make sure you can demonstrate your training, qualifications and experience, along with your level of fluency and pronunciation. You’ll also of course need to take into account your passport and any related visa requirements for working abroad.
Do I need to commit to a long contract in order to teach English abroad?
No, however you will need to obtain a visa and/or have the permissions in order to legally teach English abroad. Most people can obtain a visa by taking a job contract with an employer. Once you have the necessary paperwork this will then eventually allow you to branch out and offer your own services if you wish to do so.
Before signing any contract make sure you have done your due diligence. A lot of teaching positions will offer either an initial 6 month or 1 year contract, and the terms will be set by the employer so read these carefully.
Do I need to have money saved up?
It’s always a good idea to have a bit of money saved up if you’re going to be teaching English abroad. You never know when you might need an emergency fund and there will also be set up costs when you make your move.
You should never pay to teach English, but some external companies do offer paid services to help you acquire a visa, get accommodation and secure you a job. Depending upon your circumstances, and your existing knowledge of your new country, this may or may not be good value, so it’s up to you to take that call.
Other things you need to know
Embarking on the adventure of teaching English abroad is an exciting step but also one you need to prepare for. The last thing you want is to go abroad without first understanding the requirements to teach English there and then find yourself stuck in a new country unable to get work. Different countries and employers will have different expectations, so you need to be aware of these. You should also be ready to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn a new language. This is all part of the experience.
The good news is that provided you’re ready for this, and have done your homework and got a TEFL certificate, you’ll be in a great position. You can then look forward to building your resume whilst enjoying your highly rewarding new life of teaching English abroad.