You want to teach English abroad, but you don’t know how to do it or where to go? I am going to be showing you the best places to teach English around the world organized by highest-paying, best lifestyle, best for learning a new language, also a couple of off-the-beaten-path locations for the adventurous people out there.
Despite the threat of nuclear annihilation, South Korea could be one of the best places to teach English in the entire world. English teachers are in such high demand that both private and public schools will not only pay you a solid salary, but they’ll also cover your flight to Korea, pay for your apartment and even compensate you for pre-class prep time. That means if you spend 22 hours a week teaching, you could get paid for up to 40 hours of work, a monthly salary of $2,000, also a bonus month upon completion of your contract.
Seoul is a really fun, dynamic city full of great food and also a great place to base yourself for more exploration of Asia during your time off. However, as a foreigner, you can really stand out, and integrating into Korean society is very difficult unless you speak the language, which unfortunately is pretty hard to learn. And although you’re well paid you’re, expected to work hard for your salary.
Dubai, which also pays well and typically covers your flights, accommodation, even health insurance for you and your dependents. Salaries range from three to four thousand dollars a month, and contracts last two to three years, which is great for job stability, but not necessarily for the restless. Also interesting, you can teach other subjects besides English, like math or physics, or whatever. So if you really want to pursue teaching as a career back home, this is a good option.
There are some drawbacks, as in Korea, you do have to have a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate and two-three years of experience. School days start early at 7:30, and the days are long. And Dubai is a modernist city, but the culture is still quite conservative. So make sure you’re aware of local customs, especially if you’re a woman. Dubai is pretty expensive, but your salary is often tax-free.
Jet Program, which gives visa and salary to native English speakers. No TEFL certification required, just a bachelor’s degree. But don’t expect the Jet Program to put you in Tokyo. Chances are you’re going to end up somewhere very rural and very secluded.
You’ll probably have a more easygoing lifestyle and have a better chance to integrate yourself into the community. The salary for the Jet Program is around $40,000 a year, but Japan is an expensive country, especially in bigger cities where the cost of living is quite high. That being said, you can still save quite a bit of money, and learning Japanese is always a good skill to have.
Taiwan is also popular because of the low cost of living and the high wages, which a lot of teachers say combined to make the best cost of living in Asia. Also, you often don’t need a TEFL certificate to get a job. You’re most likely find work at a private cram school called Buxibans, which is where student’s ages between 4-15 come to learn English. The pay is good, but a lot of teachers get frustrated with the very traditional form of learning. It’s more rote memorization than conversation skills.
Many Westerners complain that Taiwan can be a hard culture to assimilate into. But on the upside, you’re going to learn Mandarin Chinese, which is going to pay dividends in the future. Also, Taipei is one of the best foodie cities in all the world. As long as you can work your way through a menu with Chinese, you’re good.
Perhaps the highest pay and the most culture shock goes to Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich middle eastern country that has a high demand for English speakers, as the kingdom becomes more globalised. Teachers at private schools have great benefits, including health care and transportation, and are only expected to work around 20 to 25 hours a week. Most teaching jobs do not require a TEFL certificate. They do cover accommodation, flight expenses, health insurance, and offer salary bonuses. Also, salaries can go up to four thousand dollars a month, all tax-free. However, the culture shock can be hard to swallow, especially if you are a woman, you’d only be able to teach other women. You wouldn’t be able to get your own apartment, ride a bike, drive a car, talk to men in public.
On top of that, foreigners all have to live together in special expat compounds. Also, there’re no movie theaters, bars, or nocturnal entertainment. So integrating yourself into Saudi Arabian society is not going to be that easy. But for those of you willing to accept those conditions, it can be a rare opportunity to live in a society completely different to your own.
Singapore, a prosperous, safe, and extremely diverse country in Southeast Asia. It used to be a British colony. So English is an official language, but most the population is comprised of Chinese, Indians, and Malays, all of whom want to practice their English. The workweek is a lot shorter than other Asian countries, about 20-25 hours a week. It is a great hub for exploring Southeast Asia, not to mention the food is amazing.
There are some drawbacks: English is widely spoken, which means you’ve got some competition. You’re going to need at the minimum a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate, also maybe even a degree in English or some postgraduate work in education. The pay is high, but contracts are for two years and if you break it, you’ll be fined. You’ll also be fined if you chew gum, spit, or forget to flush the toilet, all illegal in Singapore.
Spain, which pays you anywhere between seven hundred to a thousand euros a month for twelve hours of work in a week. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s enough to live comfortably. Also, you have plenty of time to teach private classes on the side, learn Spanish, or to travel around Europe. Also, it gives you a visa to live in Europe, which is very difficult for non-EU citizens. After three years, you can apply for residency in Spain. The Auxiliaries de Conversacion program gives you a visa to live in Europe. You don’t have to work that long, and it’s just generally a really good thing to do after college.
France has an almost identical program with one exception: you have to show proof of French classes or get a letter from a French professor. Much like in Spain, it’s a government program that places recent graduates in small provincial towns, which is a great way for you to get immersed in the local culture. You also get a housing stipend, which is a bit more money than you would get in Spain.
France also has opportunities for teaching Business English. But if you go outside the program that I mentioned, the government program, you’re going to have a problem getting a visa if you’re a non-EU citizen. Unfortunately, UK citizens are also included in it.
For Asia, the lifestyle choice is clearly Thailand. You may not be able to save up a ton of money like in Singapore or South Korea. It’s pretty easy to find a job and most public schools have two to three months off per year, fully paid, which sounds like the perfect opportunity to go backpack around Southeast Asia.
In Latin America, it’s hard to beat Costa Rica. Epic surf, volcanoes with thermal swimming pools, tons of well-preserved jungles, and very high demand for English teachers. But don’t start dreaming about living on the beach just yet. Most of the jobs are in the central valley, and a lot of schools won’t hire you till you’re physically in the country.
Furthermore, getting a visa is a long and cumbersome process. So it’s mostly worth it if you plan on staying in Costa Rica for at least one or two years. But once you get that “Pura vita” vibe, it’s pretty easy to happen.
We all know you just want to go to Italy, learn a little bit of Italian. Well, it’s not quite that easy, although teaching English in Italy can be. Italians are not known for their flawless English, which is good for two reasons: It means that there’s high demand for English teachers, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your Italian.
But, there are some drawbacks: if you’re an EU citizen, there are quite a few opportunities open to you, but if you are not, the challenge is going to be getting a visa, a working visa for the EU. That’s what you’ll have to do before you get a teaching job. Also, the cost of living is quite high in Italian cities, but if you live in the countryside, it’s not that bad.
With over 1.3 billion people, there are literally hundreds of millions of young ambitious students who want to learn English and plenty of opportunities for you to find a job. Public schools, private academies, business lessons for executives, all in very high demand. Even better many schools cover your flights of China, your housing, your TEFL certification, and even some Mandarin lessons.
If you’re slang in English, it’s a seller’s market, which means you can choose your city pretty easily or just get situated and change it up after a few months. But there are some serious downsides: class sizes are huge, and in public schools, you’re not offered very much support as a teacher. Also, the language barrier can make your first couple of months or years, extremely challenging.
My choice for South America is Chile because it’s beautiful, diverse, and it’s one of the safest, most economically developed countries in the region. There’s a government-run program called English Opens Doors, which helps place English teachers across the country, although most English teachers in Chile tend to work at private schools where there’s a bit more opportunity.
Most jobs don’t require a TEFL certification. Also, you get one paid month off per year, and you can apply for residency after two years. The cost of living in Chile is a little bit more expensive than other South American countries, but its the quality of life. So it’s a bit of a trade-off, but it’s probably worth it.
A more unconventional destination is India, a country that has loads to teach the curious traveler. From Ayurveda, yoga, and Hindi is one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. But it’s not an ideal location to be a teacher because English is already widely spoken. British accents are preferred to American. That means you’re most likely to find a job in a call center coaching locals on how to eliminate their accents.
On a global scale, salaries are really not that high. It’s about a thousand dollars a month. But the cost of living in India is quite low, so you can get by. In sum, India is a great place to get a grasp on one of the world’s most important cultures and languages, but not a place to get rich quick.
Jordan, a safe stable kingdom in the heart of the Middle East where English teachers are in increasingly high demand. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn Arabic because English teachers are usually hired as “live-in tutors” where you get to live with a local family and have full immersion. No TEFL required, no bachelor degree, just the ability to speak English.
Beyond that there are international schools and private academies in Amman where you can get a more traditional teaching role, all while soaking up some of the best cultures in the Middle East and making weekend trips to Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea.
Lebanon, the Switzerland of the Middle East, home to ski resorts, Roman ruins and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the entire region, Beirut. It is a multicultural and multilingual country where French is spoken alongside Arabic and mixed in with English. It’s almost certainly better to learn French in France, but this is a cool opportunity to maybe hit two birds with one stone if you’re very gifted with languages. English teachers can be hired in schools or as live-in tutors through programs like Geo Visions Conservation Corp where you get room and board in exchange for 15 hours of work a week. Not exactly a moneymaker, but what a cool insight to a fascinating country.
It is not the most stable country on this list. It’s in a bad neighborhood. It’s right next door to Syria, and tensions with Israel flare up from time to time, as well as internal strife. But given Lebanon’s rich blend of ethnicities, languages, and religions, adventurous teachers will get an invaluable insight into a complex region.
Brazilians love foreigners and are always stoked on doing a language exchange. Unfortunately, there are no jobs teaching in public schools, which means you’re going to have to find jobs at private schools or private tutoring, which can be a difficult way to earn a living in big cities like Rio and Sao Paulo.
Also, getting a visa is a legal nightmare. So what some people have done is get a multi-entry tourist visa, which allows you to visit Brazil for up to 90 days at a time over a five year period, not exactly a legal working situation.
For the polar opposite experience, you could try to find a job in Russia, birthplace to one of the world’s most widely spoken languages, Russian. Finding a job at Saint Petersburg, Moscow is relatively straightforward. The pay’s not bad, and you’re only expected to work 25 to 30 hours a week. So, if you can brave a Russian winter, that should give you plenty of time to learn the language, maybe even read War and Peace.
Turkey is an excellent place to teach because not only are you living in a beautiful country with incredible mountains and beaches, some of the best food in the world and lively living culture, but you can actually stack cash for future travels. Istanbul is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, but there are jobs throughout the entire country, and usually, you don’t need a TEFL certificate to get one.
The only major concern is safety. Unfortunately, Turkey is on the front line in the battle against ISIS, not to mention a refugee crisis and internal strife that resulted in an attempted coup d’etat about a year ago. So, think twice before making your decision.
Indonesia, a country of 18,000 islands with some incredible scenery, from blissed-out Bali to the surf breaks of Sumatra, and the land of Komodo dragons. Most the jobs are in Java, which is where the capital Jakarta is, but the cost of living in Indonesia is quite low, which means you can base yourself in Java, explore the country little by little.
Also, because Indonesia has so many languages, they created a universal language called “Bahasa”, which is extremely easy to learn. It’s actually one of the easiest languages to learn in the world. So you’ll be a native in no time.
Vietnam, a country on the rise with a lot to offer travelers and teachers. Great food, stunning natural scenery, and a great location to explore Southeast Asia. There’s a ton of demand for English teachers across the entire country, but especially in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. So if you’re backpacking through Southeast Asia and running low on funds, head to Hanoi and try to get a teaching job. There’s also a number of international schools catering to the local elite that pay extremely well and will usually cover your airfare and your accommodation.
Top it all off, the work environment is much more laid-back than South Korea, China, or Japan. You’re only expected to work 15 to 25 hours per week, and with the cost of living, you can pretty much pocket around a third of every paycheck.
The Latin American country has a bit of everything. Amazing beaches, vibrant culture, beautiful people, diverse landscape, and need, nightlife. Also, some great opportunities to teach English. After years of turbulence, Columbia’s finally stable, and a lot of young Colombians are looking to learn English to improve their careers. Check out the T.E.C. program is for teaching English in Colombia. It’s a program that brings a lot of U.S. recent graduates to Colombia to teach in schools. There’s also plenty of private schools and tutoring options, as well.
Now, salaries are not super high, and some people can be frustrated by Colombians very chill way of life. But if you’re adventurous, you have some patience, I can think of few better places to teach English than Colombia.