10 Best Countries to Teach English Abroad

When considering moving abroad, many expats first look to teaching English as a means to support themselves. There are some companies that will pay for airfare and accommodations in addition to a salary. Other companies offer much less, but still give an expat-to-be an opportunity to be able to land in a new place and have some work secured. Some require some type of certification, and other schools or agencies are quite happy to hire you as long as you are a native English speaker and have a pulse. As with securing any work overseas, do your due diligence, talk to others who have worked with the same employer, and feel free to negotiate if the terms of an offered contract seem unsatisfactory. Once you make up your mind to teach English abroad, where do you start? The following are 10 countries that are among the best in the world for finding work, making a living, and offer a great quality of life so that you can have great experiences outside of work!

1. Brazil

Brazil has been making huge efforts to internationalize, which means opportunities abound to teach English in both business and traditional school settings. However, be forewarned that you must have a lot of patience to legally obtain a work visa, so plan on a long process ahead of time for that. CEL LEP and Alumni School are good places to start looking for work and to find more info.

2. Saudi Arabia

The Middle East is where you will generally find some of the highest paying jobs offered for native English speaking teachers. Typically, you must hold some sort of certification in teaching ESL or have other certified teaching experience. Although the pay will be good and airfare is usually included, the Middle East is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for many cultural differences, an extreme climate, and a fairly high cost of living while you are there. Check out Bayt Recruiting.

3. Italy

Ok, so to be honest, it’s not exactly the easiest place to land an ESL job, and there will be a ridiculous amount of red tape to maneuver to be in the country teaching legally. There are also a lot of others in the world who would love to teach in Italy, so supply and demand for jobs is an issue. It is recommended to go through a TESOL online certification program in which the school you are paying guarantees you job placement. But once you are there, great food, delicious wine, and gorgeous weekend trips await you. For some recommended programs, visit Transitions Abroad .

4. Thailand

The American University Alumni (AUA) Language Center, the oldest and largest language school in Thailand with almost 400,000 graduates, is a nonprofit school with an excellent reputation in the country. AUA is always looking for TESOL teachers, so it is fairly easy to land a gig. While most schools in Thailand do not pay a lot, your cost of living while there can be very low. As long as you do not have huge monthly bills to keep paying in US dollars, teaching in Thailand is do-able, and free time can be spent eating incredible food and hanging out at some fantastic secluded beaches.

5. Japan

Asian nations are practically falling all over themselves for English teachers and you can find work via the Internet quickly. Most recruit year round, and provide successful applicants with visa sponsorship, apartment, partially-paid national insurance, etc. Make sure the company you want to work for handles all of the details, because the immigration laws can be tricky to navigate. Japan offers the highest salaries for first time teachers, although in many cases they do expect you to be certified and have some experience. For opportunities, check out AEONJET or The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.

6. Russia

Russia is one of the most rapidly changing countries around. Entrepreneurs now abound, Western ways are infiltrating the country from all aspects, and everyone there seems to want to learn English for either work or pleasure. The demand for teachers greatly exceeds the supply, making it easy to gain employment with the benefits of visa support, accommodations and often airfare reimbursement.The largest schools in the area are BKC International and English First.

7. China

With a huge demand for teachers and often the offer of free flights and housing, China provides opportunities for first time teachers in an environment where they can really learn and improve their teaching skills. Because they have so many jobs to offer, China is a great first option for inexperienced teachers who are looking at doing more teaching in the future.Journey East offers links to internships, paid positions and other information.

8. South Korea

Teaching English in South Korea usually affords you with a free apartment, free flights, and a bonus upon completion of contracts. Couple with this with the moderate living costs and good salary, South Korea might offer the best opportunity to save money as a first time teacher. Quite often, it isn’t even necessary to have any form of teaching certification as long as you have a bachelor’s degree, and you are often able to find jobs at short notice. Check out the job board at Dave’s ESL Cafe.

9. Taiwan

Taiwan’s need for native speakers has increased dramatically as it is a rapidly developing country. This has resulted in an overall increase in both salaries and working conditions for native English speakers compared to what teachers there were offered even five years ago. Tealit is a great place to find ESL jobs and also to hunt for places to live and connect with locals.

10. Vietnam

While salaries in Vietnam are often much lower than that of Japan, South Korea, or China, factor in that the cost of living happens to be one of the lowest in the world. Take advantage and explore this fascinating part of the world before it blows up even more with tourism. It is often easier to look for a job there once you arrive rather than before your trip – if you hold a university degree or any type of teaching certificate, you should be able to land a job no problem.

Here are some additional websites and companies for you to look into:

Go Overseas: http://www.gooverseas.com/teach-abroad/

Teach Away: http://www.teachaway.com/

The International Educator (TIE): http://www.tieonline.com/

Global TESOL Collegehttp://www.globaltesol.com – job offer guarantee!

Have you taught English overseas? Where? What was your experience like? Do you have any schools that you can recommend…or ones to stay far, far away from? We would love to hear your comments!

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  1. Patrick Turner June 8, 2013 at 6:09 am

    I have taught ESL since 2000, in South Korea, Japan, Saudi and I’m now starting a new teaching adventure in Vietnam. I agree South Korea is a good place to save money as was Saudi. In fact anywhere can be if that’s a prioity. Saudi was not a good experience, so much so that I walked off a contract. So if you go to Saudithese are my top three tips 1 Go alone, leave wife and kids at home uch less stressful than worrying about their safety whilst you are at work. 2. resign yourself to a vast amounts of wasted time in admin affairs. In the sceme of things you come last by a long way. 3 bring your own reading material and a hobby. The is lots of down time but very little to do unless you like shopping. Japan was great if you live outside of the big cities it’s not so frentic, avoid the Nova language company. Final advice to soe one considering this Get a CELTA or TESOL as well as a degree. No degree=working in the doggy end of the business. Have fun
    After reading this I might very well be looking into Brazil for the next family esl adventure

  2. Jason June 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I have taught in Japan for almost a decade, and for the most part it is not the best option if you are serious about teaching. Most “teaching” positions are either as ALT, Assistant Language Teachers, where you will be used mainly as a human tape recorder, “repeat after me” teaching. Or you work at Eikawa or English “conversation” schools where you use use cookie cutter methods to teach students, from toddlers to grandmothers, how to communicate or have conversations in English. Most of these are based on rote memory, and not focused on having the students use the language in practical everyday methods. They focus on vocabulary, without any real world context to real world usage.
    There are a few places mostly owned or operated by foreigners that do a great job of offering a real education, approaching it from a practical usage point of view. It is highly recommended to be certified for these positions. There are also many immersion schools and international schools. The international schools are based on either American or British curriculums, while immersion schools offer a certain percentage of their curriculum in English.
    In general for anyone thinking about applying for a teaching position in Japan, do your research. Many times the offer is too good to be true. Labor laws here are very complicated and do not offer much protection to foreigners, most teaching positions here are on contract so the employers choice to renew contracts can be based on the most fickle of criteria. Also read your contracts very carefully, some include stiff penalties for mundane things, or vaguely worded, and tricky about transportation costs and vacation times. Some require mandatory overtime and you can also be farmed out to other schools or institutions.

    Bottom line, be very careful. There are some very good schools and employers out there, but unfortunately, the bad ones out number the good ones.

  3. Scott June 12, 2013 at 1:53 am

    I’ve been teaching in S. Korea for about three years. The only thing that I would seriously dispute about the article is the “moderate living costs” bit in reference to Korea. Compared to the west, most things in Korea are UNBELIEVABLY expensive. How about $300 for a pair of jeans? or $200 for a simple G shock watch? A crappy bottleof wine will run you $80 in a restaurant and $20 at the store. Pillow cases cost $15 each. A medium pizza is $25, a jar of peanut butter is $8. Get it? This place is NOT cheap. Teachers can and do save money here because a) no rent; b) no car (usually) and c) there’s no “keeping up with the Jonses” factor. We typically live very simple lives.

  4. Zahara Heckscher June 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

    When trying to teach English abroad, it’s also really important to find organizations that provide job training (or require it) and provide ongoing, in country support. If you’re going to teach English for just a short while, it’s even more important to check out your organization, because there are so many ineffective ones out there. For more tips on smart, responsible international volunteering, check out my website http://learningservice.info. -Zahara Heckscher

  5. Karen July 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Poorly researched article.

    Under “Japan,” the JET Program and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program are the same thing.

  6. Kevin July 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I wonder why you would list gooverseas.com as a resource? their site just has ads and their teach listings are all study abroad programs that you have to pay for not a teach abroad resource at all! teachaway.com also looks like a pay and go program. http://www.eslcafe.com and wwww.teachabroad.com are the two main sites with actual job postings

  7. Russ August 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I’m thinking the person who wrote this chose some countries that might be ‘fun’ to teach/live in rather than locations where one could make a living long term. It’s my understanding that Brazil and Italy don’t pay very well and Thailand, where I have worked, certainly doesn’t. Strictly for salary, Korea and Saudi are the best options.

  8. sharon October 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    While the number one caveat is ‘never pay for a job placement’, certtified teachers can score the best positions in international schools by joining a clearing house such as Search Associates (about $250 to join.) Never apply through a recruitment agency as they will be tapping a percentage of your salary ad infinitum (often unbeknownst to you.)

  9. rusticolunteers March 4, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Its is nice option for teach English in abroad. Especially one of like teaching skills is Thailand and Taiwan. Its was such a nice experience to teach English in abroad.
    Thank your giving this information.

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