Teach English Overseas – Country by Country Guide
If exploring beautiful places, meeting new friends, and experiencing foreign cultures sound amazing to you, it’s a dream within your reach. Working and traveling abroad has never been easier, especially if you’re fluent in English and want to become an ESL teacher. Whether you’re looking for meaningful work, a decent salary, an exciting adventure, a relaxing beach life, or a combination of all, there’s an ideal country for you to teach English abroad in. You just need to dig a little deeper and find out what suits you best. See the ultimate teach abroad guide.
You can also see what’s the top 5 Awesome Countries for Digital Nomads.
We’ve helped compile a comprehensive country-by-country guide for ESL teachers who wish to teach English overseas:
- CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – Floating lanterns yeepeng or loi krathong festival at Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Developed countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and big cities in China have a higher standard of living as well as some of the highest paying English teaching jobs in the industry. Vietnam, Thailand, and the rural parts of China offer lower salaries, which still allow a more than a comfortable lifestyle for expats given the low cost of living there. In some poorer countries, you may only find volunteer opportunities or English teaching jobs that pay a local wage.
Students in the majority of Asian nations tend to be very respectful to their teachers. Asia’s landscapes vary greatly and hold something for everyone. You’ll find beautiful sandy beaches, exotic tropical islands, snow-capped mountains, majestic rivers, wild dense jungles, arching sand dunes, and frenetic city streets. Asia is full of adventures and promises unforgettable experiences.
Details of major EFL destinations in Asia are given below:
As China’s population surpasses 1.3 billion, it’s no surprise that the country has a very high demand for English teachers. You could even find an ESL teaching job in China, get hired, and be on a plane there within a month. The types of EFL jobs in China range from language centers to private and public schools, universities, and even tutoring.
The minimum requirements for teaching English in China include a Bachelor’s degree, a 120-hour TEFL certificate from an accredited institution, and a valid passport from an English-speaking country. For non-native English teachers, you can teach subjects other than English if you have proven 2 years of experience.
Since China is a huge country, the salary and cost of living vary depending on where you’re located. Generally speaking, an average English teacher’s salary in China ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. Teaching full-time at a good international school in China can pay up to $5,000. The figures will be less if you’re teaching English abroad in smaller cities of China such as Nanjing, Chengdu, Kunming, or Xiamen.
Please note that China’s known to have a strict visa policy. The process to obtain a Chinese work visa as well as a work permit and residence permit is a bit complicated, which is written in detail here.
Japan is a very safe and clean country with a unique lifestyle, architecture, temples, cuisines, and rich history. To land an ESL teaching job in Japan, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. Teaching experiences are optional, though would be helpful. A popular employment option for expats here is Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), working along with a native Japanese teacher in Japanese public schools. You can also apply for teaching jobs at private language schools (Eikaiwa), elementary schools or colleges and universities. Private tutoring opportunities are available as well.
Japanese schools usually pay very well ($2,000 – $5,000 per month) and provide amazing benefits. Yet the cost of living here can be as high as in New York City if you live in the capital city, Tokyo! Your employer or recruiting agency should take care of your visa sponsorship and accommodation in Japan.
South Korea is one of the best places to make money as an English teacher abroad. You can experience both the comfort of the Western lifestyle and the unique culture of South Korea, travel to amazing destinations nearby, while saving money to pay off your student loan. What’s better than that?! Your ESL teaching salary in South Korea ranges from $1,750 to $2,500 per month. An English teacher’s salary is high in South Korea while the living cost is quite affordable, not to mention most employers would take care of your flights, accommodation, and healthcare. Reasons to teach in South Korea.
There are many urban cities you can choose from to live and teach English in, such as Daegu, Incheon, Daejeon, and Seoul. However, please note that South Korean employers only want to hire native speakers to teach English. Therefore, it isn’t an ideal place for non-natives, unfortunately. A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university/college is strictly required to obtain a work visa and teach English in South Korea.
While Taiwan is similar to China in many ways, its political division between the Democratic and Communist party’s ruling differentiates their cultures quite a bit. Taiwan pays ESL teachers well, while the cost of living here is lower than in South Korea and Japan. As an English teacher, you can expect approximately $16 to $23 per hour. This translates to around $1,400 to $2,400 per month teaching English in Taiwan.
Since the country is further south, winters are milder and the weather is warmer in general. You can choose to live in the exciting capital Taipei, the beautiful port city Kaohsiung, the artistic city Taichung, or elsewhere. The types of teaching jobs vary from buxibans (private after-school learning institutions) to private and public schools, universities, and private tutoring.
The requirements for ESL teaching jobs and to obtain a work visa in Taiwan are less strict compared to China and South Korea. An associate degree or above is required. If you have a Bachelor’s degree or above then you can obtain an ARC (Alien resident certificate) without getting a TESOL/TEFL certificate. An equivalent of 2 years of proven teaching experience will typically make the process easier. A passport from one of the English-speaking countries is a must (UK/US/Canada/South Africa/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand), a clean criminal record, and a medical examination completed in Taiwan.
The demand for ESL teachers in Vietnam is rising quickly. Though teaching salaries are a bit lower in Vietnam compared to in the countries listed above, the cost of living is extremely affordable and the country is full of breathtaking travel destinations. You’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches, rolling green hills, rice terraces, giant caves, and amazing waterfalls.
While the average English teaching salary in Vietnam would range from $1,000 to $2,000 a month, you can live anywhere in Vietnam quite comfortably with just $500 to $1,000 a month. You can eat out and have a few beers with friends frequently without burning a hole in your pocket. To qualify for an ESL teaching job in Vietnam, you must have a Bachelor’s degree or above as well as a TESOL/TEFL certificate. Prior teaching experience is preferred but not required.
Similar to Vietnam, Thailand offers less competitive salaries for ESL teachers, but it has excellent weather, interesting culture, scenic travel opportunities, and mouth-watering cuisines. If your dream is to live on a beach and just chill, Thailand is where to go. Your teaching abroad experience would just feel like a long holiday!
Thailand is known to be a friendly and welcoming country. Its northern regions such as Chiang Mai are mountainous, while the South is packed with serene beaches. In the middle of Thailand is the capital Bangkok, a bustling metropolis with all the comfort and luxuries you would want.
The average ESL teaching salary is around 30,000 Thai Baht per month (approximately $1,000), which is double what local teachers earn and enough for a comfortable lifestyle in Thailand. In fact, you just need around $600 a month to live comfortably in Thailand. If you’ve got excellent qualifications, private English learning institutions can pay you up to 100,000 Baht (~$3,160) per month.
The types of ESL teaching jobs in Thailand include private and international schools, public or government schools, and higher education (colleges/universities). The teaching qualifications are similar to most other countries: a Bachelor’s degree and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. Non-native English speakers can still be qualified for EFL jobs, though may find it more challenging to nail a good teaching position.
Located on the Southern coast of China, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most dynamic cities. It hires ESL teachers year-round, yet the job market can be competitive and most schools only hire native English speakers with at least a four-year undergraduate degree and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. It’s more similar to the Western cities’ lifestyles than a lot of countries in Asia. And you don’t really need to speak the local language.
You should expect around $2,300 to $3,200 a month and up to $7,000 per month teaching English in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong is also among the world’s most expensive cities. Thus, if you don’t have a good housing allowance provided by the employer, you may need to find a roommate because the rent is crazily high. Fortunately, schools in Hong Kong tend to cover visa costs, healthcare, and subsidize part of your travel costs. Performance bonuses are not uncommon at private schools.
The country is globally famous for its phenomenal transformation from being a small fishing village to becoming a world economic power in a century. Singapore is a melting pot, rich financially and culturally. The job market for ESL teachers here is smaller and more competitive than in all other Asian countries.
The nation invests heavily in education, thus English teachers’ salaries are very good. Though English is widely spoken in Singapore, the Ministry of Education still wants students exposed to foreign teachers to learn new methods and perspectives.
The bare minima you need to qualify for English teaching jobs in Singapore are a Bachelor’s degree and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. However, since the competition is fierce, you’d be better off being a native English speaker with some teaching experience. Interviews are typically conducted well in advance over the phone or via Skype. Your average monthly pay being an ESL teacher in Singapore comes around $2,800 to $3,500 (3,700 to 4,600 SGD).
- Grand Canal in Venice, Italy at sunset
Many ESL teachers choose Europe as they’d experience less culture shock and be provided with comfortable salaries and working conditions. However, it may be difficult for English teachers who don’t hold an EU passport to get working visas in some European countries.
Details of major EFL destinations in Europe are given below:
Because of the strict work visa procedure for non-EU citizens, most ESL teachers opt for the government-operated TAPIF program, summer English language camps, and volunteer au pair programs. You may also teach English on a Student Visa or Working Holiday Visa (not available for Americans).
You’ll need a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification to qualify for ESL teaching jobs in France. There are solid teaching jobs with good salaries in major cities such as Paris, Lyon, Le Havre, Toulous, Bordeaux, and Marseille. Your average monthly pay teaching English abroad in France would be around $900 to $2,000 (700 to 1,600 Euro).
Likewise, you’ll need a work visa if you are a non-EU citizen. The minimum requirements are a university degree and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. It’s possible to get a work visa for Germany, but the process is quite lengthy and the competition is fierce. Most employment opportunities are in major cities such as Berlin, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf.
The teaching contracts often begin in September or October, and again in January. They end in late June. There are also summer English language camp positions in Germany and in most of Europe. The teaching wage in Germany is liveable. You’ll make around $900 to $2,200 teaching English abroad in Germany. The living costs in Germany aren’t too high either. The country can be easily traveled by the giant web of railroads and public transportations.
Spain is a striking destination as it’s home to beautiful beaches, adventurous mountains, delicious cuisines, and fantastic arts. The ESL teaching requirements aren’t too strict in Spain. A Bachelor’s degree and a TESOL/TEFL certificate are sometimes required, sometimes optional. However, you are expected to be a native English speaker to teach English in Spain.
Pay attention to the hiring season in Spain. Most language schools start a new term in October, another in the second week of January. Thus, the application period happens in September, or January through March.
The Spaniards enjoy a laid-back lifestyle. Don’t be surprised if they show up late! You’ll also witness Spain’s obsession with futbol (football/soccer) and wine. An ESL teacher’s salary will average around $1,250 to $1,850 per month, which is just about enough to cover the affordable cost of living in Spain.
As in the case with all English-speaking countries, the competition is tough as ESL teachers’ supply is abundant in the UK and Ireland. However, there are as many as 800 language schools that operate during July and August in these two countries. They are catered to foreign students participating in intensive English language learning camps. This creates a huge opportunity for English teachers to get a very well-paid job, which sometimes comes with free housing and meals. Both countries are inarguably beautiful! Their landscapes and architectures are like no other, rich in history. The average pay for an ESL teacher is from £10 to £20 an hour.
South America and Central America have a wide range of ESL teaching opportunities. Latin America promises spectacular nature, diverse cultures, beautiful music, and arts as well as delicious cuisines. While the teaching salaries in Latin American countries won’t be as high as in Asia or the Middle East, the low cost of living here makes this region still an attractive option for foreign ESL teachers.
A lot of schools in Latin America cannot afford to promote job vacancies internationally, thus most hirings happen on the spot. Teaching in Latin America also provides you with the chance to brush up on your Spanish, one of the world’s most popular languages.
Details of major EFL destinations in Latin America are given below:
Brazilian students are enthusiastic and naturally curious. The cost of living here is higher than in the rest of South America, yet the pay is also higher. Native English teachers can expect around R$20 ($5) to R$40 ($10) per hour. Private tutoring will pay higher, up to R$60 ($15) hourly. This equals around $800 to $1,300 per month.
Brazil has a high demand for ESL teachers and a shortage of supplies. Therefore, the qualifications for English teachers are less tough. Being a native helps a lot though. A Bachelor’s degree and a TESOL/TEFL certification are not required but would be helpful in competitive job markets like in Rio de Janeiro.
The country’s geography is beautiful and typical of Latin American culture. There’s so much to see here. To qualify for an English teaching job in Argentina, you’ll need a TESOL/TEFL certificate. You may still pass if you don’t have the credentials but have proven years of prior teaching experience. A large number of people are eager to pay for English classes in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, where the pay is also the highest.
The hiring season for ESL teachers in Argentina is from December to February, another one starts in July and ends in August, as school lasts from March until December. ESL teachers in Argentina are looking at an average pay of $5 to $7 an hour teaching at language schools and $8 to $10 tutoring privately.
Chile is one of the safest countries in South America, and also the land of extremes. You’ll find many different climates along its 2,400-mile coast. Chile is home to the massive glaciers of Patagonia, the majestic Andes mountains, and vast Atacama deserts in the north. It’s listed as one of the top 10 countries to teach abroad in.
Major hiring seasons for ESL teachers in Chile are in March, April, and in July, August. As with other Latin American countries, you’ll most likely find an English teaching job on the ground in Chile, where interviews are conducted in person. Teachers will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation. The average monthly salary of an ESL teacher in Chile is approximately $750 to $1,000.
Mexico’s attractive to many traveling teachers thanks to its vibrant cultures, amazing landscapes, and senses-evoking cuisines. There are a plethora of options to teach English in Mexico, including language schools, universities, and international schools.
The school year in Mexico starts in August and ends in July, making this the busiest hiring season. Language schools hire year-round. ESL teaching applicants are required to provide their Bachelor’s degree and a TESOL/TEFL certification. University English teaching jobs will most likely demand a Master’s degree.
Your English teaching salary in Mexico will average around $500 to $800, enough to cover a comfortable lifestyle in Mexico. Foreign English teachers are required an FM3 visa to teach legally in Mexico. Your employing school or recruiting agency should provide you with an employment offer and guide you through the visa process.
Peru is among South America’s most visited countries, presenting unlimited options for adventurous exploration. You can visit ancient Inca sites, hike to Machu Picchu, or relax in nature and try Peru’s world-famous seafood dish ceviche.
There are many ESL jobs in the capital city of Lima and the city of Cusco due to booming tourism. English teachers at language schools in Peru can expect to make around $500 to $700 a month, which allows comfortable (not extravagant) living. Language schools prefer TEFL-certified teachers. International schools require a teaching license and a minimum of 2 years of prior teaching experience.
As an ESL teacher in Peru, you’ll get paid around $500 to $1,000 a month, which is probably just enough to cover your living expenses.
English teaching salaries in the Middle East are among the world’s highest, thanks to the region’s oil wealth. The lifestyle and traditions along with complicated political situations here may not be for everyone. However, many ESL teachers find the benefits and cultural experiences in the Middle East remarkably attractive.
Details of major EFL destinations in the Middle East are given below:
Israel is home to a very young population. The demand for ESL teachers is high because learning English is required for students starting in the fourth grade in Israel. Some schools in Israel start teaching English in the third, second, or even first grade. There are some 14,000 English teachers currently in Israel. The Ministry of Education here encourages new immigrants to teach English in Israel.
The school year usually starts in September and ends towards the end of June. A full-time position at an elementary school in Israel means 26 hours of teaching per week, plus 5 weekly hours of individual teaching and another 5 weekly hours of presence in school for meetings and other work. At a secondary school in Israel, the numbers of required hours are 24, 6, and 10, respectively.
The requirements for English teachers in Israel include the ability to speak, read and write in Hebrew. As a result, expats are recommended to participate in an intensive Hebrew course (Ulpan) prior to teaching. The course is around 6 to 9 months long. ESL teachers must also have a degree from a recognized academic institution (in English), and a teacher’s license. An English teacher’s monthly salary in Israel varies from $420 to $1,300, or $20 to $31 an hour for private tutoring.
Located in the heart of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is among the world’s richest nations. You’ll get a chance to immerse yourself in absolutely unique cultures and traditions while teaching ESL or specific subjects in English.
Your monthly salary as an English teacher in Saudi Arabia will average around $3,000 to $4,500 tax-free. Your travels, health insurance, and part of the housing and relocation expenses are covered. You will work approximately 34 hours per week and get 8 weeks of vacation.
There may be some culture shock initially due to the country’s seemingly conservative traditions such as the ban of alcohol and theaters or the strict public segregation by genders. However, once you spend more time in Saudi Arabia, you’ll feel the welcoming hospitality shown by the locals and enjoy its distinct characteristics.
United Arab Emirates
Thanks to the country’s booming economy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is able to pay ESL teachers $4,000+ a month (tax-free). The benefits may include airfare, health insurance, and furnished housing. In return, the teaching qualifications are tough as they prefer hiring teachers with degrees in Education and teaching certificates from their home countries. Many schools even require teaching experience and/or a Master’s degree.
Most jobs in the UAE are in the large cities of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain. UAE, the global center of trade, finance, and travel, offers world-class dining, shopping, stunning architecture, and travel destinations.
In some African countries that are Britain’s ex-colonies, English is widely used in schools and daily life. Thus, the supply of English teachers isn’t in shortage. In other African countries where English is in higher demand, only a few schools could afford the rate of a native English speaker. Thus those jobs are filled with volunteers. However, the continent is like nowhere else on Earth with its thrilling wildness.
Details of major EFL destinations in Africa are given below:
English teaching jobs in Egypt provide a range of salaries based on your particular qualifications. In general, ESL teaching positions are pretty well-compensated in Egypt. Candidates for teaching jobs in Egypt are usually asked to prove 2 years of relevant experience and show a regional teaching license or certification.
Some popular locations for foreign ESL teachers in Egypt are Cairo and Alexandria, the two biggest cities here. They are both rich in history and home to many ancient architectures. The average monthly pay of an English teacher in Egypt is between $250 and $500. However, experienced and highly qualified teachers can get a job at international schools, which usually pay a bit more.
South Africa is huge, diverse, and complex. It’s a true melting pot of multi-cultures, traditions, and languages. The good weather here allows the locals to be outdoors and enjoy amazing beaches, vineyards, and wildlife. However, as English is one of eleven official languages in South Africa, the demand for ESL teaching positions isn’t quite high. There are more volunteer opportunities than actual EFL jobs.
Finding an ESL teaching job in South Africa isn’t impossible though. The types of EFL jobs in South Africa include teaching in public schools, international and language schools, and private tutoring. Hiring happens year-round. The School term runs from January to December with a little break in between.
Your average teaching salary in South Africa will be approximately $1,000 to $1,500 per month, depending on where you work and your credentials. The cost of living in South Africa is pretty affordable, though big cities like Cape Town or Jo’burg will be a bit more expensive.
Morocco’s booming tourism leads to more encouragement of learning and teaching English in schools. Its rich culture and perfect location (near Spain and France) are appealing to many ESL teachers. In the past few years, Morocco has gone through a big education reform to make education more accessible and effective for its youth. The child literacy rate here grew from 82% in 2011 to 95% in 2017.
Additionally, Morocco seems less strict religiously than other nations in the Arabian peninsula, though homosexuality and consuming alcohol in public are still illegal. Getting around the country is quite easy with its well-developed public transportation system.
Demand is high for English teachers in Morocco. International schools seek certified teachers. Their school year runs from September to June. ESL teaching applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree, native English proficiency, and a TEFL certificate. Teaching experience is preferred but optional.
Most jobs are in major cities like Ifrane, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Fez, Rabat, and Tangier. You can expect a monthly salary of $1,000 to $2,100 per month (tax-free) being an ESL teacher in Morocco.
North America – USA/Canada
Though comprised of English-speaking countries, North America still has some demand for teaching English. However, most schools in the USA and Canada focus on ESL (English as a Second Language) more than regular, academic English. An ESL teacher’s salary – around $30 per hour – isn’t high compared to the expensive cost of living here. Overall, North America may not seem like an ideal destination for ESL teachers.
Oceania – Australia/New Zealand
Australia is favored by many EFL teachers because of its laid-back vibe and Western lifestyle. It’s also world-famous for stunning beaches, fabulous surfing, dynamic cities, and adorable kangaroos. However, as an English-speaking country, the competition for ESL jobs is stiff. You need to get a CELTA from a high-quality, live program. Schools start in January but you should apply for an ESL teaching job as early as September. While Australian ESL schools won’t sponsor your work visa usually, the work visa and holiday visa are quite easy to get. The pay varies upon your location and school. In Sydney, expect around $45 AUD per hour.
Are you looking for opportunities to teach English abroad? Check out our Teach English Abroad Facebook group for daily job listings.