Teaching English abroad is a viable option for many nowadays and you may be considering it. The world is a small place and it’s now common for people to work abroad for any length of time – from a few months to many years. Teaching is a viable career overseas and it’s easy to enter.
Why teach abroad?
A commonly asked question. In short, the main reasons are money and adventure! Because of the current cost of living crisis, many people are rethinking their careers now and finding new ways to make money. There are some seriously lucrative jobs out there for qualified and experienced teachers. Secondly, the adventure. Life is short, so why not go overseas and experience something new and exciting?
There are two kinds of overseas teaching
- TEFL teaching, where you’re qualified to teach in an English language school. This can be teaching young children, teens or adults in the evening, or full-time courses. Benefits vary so check if your flights, visa and accommodation are paid for, or if the employer supports you finding them.
- If you are a qualified teacher, you can work in an international school. This can be teaching native English-speaking children whose families are living in that country or you might teach local children whose families want them to speak fluent English and experience a western curriculum such as the British National Curriculum. You don’t need to be a highly experienced teacher necessarily, but a teaching degree would be expected.
Where in the world?
Language schools are in all corners of the globe, as people everywhere want to learn fluent English. There are many jobs in Europe and unfortunately, I suspect it’s not as easy for Brits to move there since Brexit although not impossible (do check visa requirements). In the Far East, there are also many jobs, especially in China and South Korea.
Most international school jobs are in the Middle East, mostly Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. In the Far East, the majority of jobs are in China. In my opinion, the easiest places to live in are Dubai and Singapore – what I would call ‘working abroad for beginners’. The Middle East and the Far East might seem like big culture shocks, but some places are easier than others.
English is widely spoken in UAE, Qatar, Oman and in some Far Eastern countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.
Other considerations are things to do and tourist attractions – Dubai has many and has embraced tourism. Regarding accessing alcohol in Islamic countries, it’s quite possible in most countries except Saudi Arabia and Kuwait which are ‘dry’. On the subject of the Middle East, it’s very safe in the countries I’ve mentioned. No issues with safety at all in UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. In these countries, the only recognised religion is Islam but in some countries, you can find other places of worship such as churches, but not everywhere. Regarding dress, in the Middle East, in the less strict countries you need to cover your shoulders and knees, and in the stricter countries, cover to the ankle and the elbow. There is no need to cover your head, even in Saudi.
There are many inexpensive online TEFL qualifications, usually 60 hours or 120 hours. These might get you a job but check first as unfortunately, the good schools won’t accept them. The good schools will accept the internationally recognised Cambridge CELTA and the Trinity CertTESOL. These are equal, they are just different awarding bodies and the content of the courses is slightly different. They are both full-time four weeks or part-time 12 weeks. Both are available online. Cambridge and Trinity College actively encourage non-native speakers to complete the course if their IELTS score is high enough. If you’re not a native English speaker, it’s still very much a viable career for you.
If you are a qualified teacher (BA/QTS or PGCE), you’re already qualified to teach in an international school – no more training needed. This applies to nursery teachers with degrees, as well as primary and secondary teachers with any subject specialism.
The conditions vary tremendously, so check out the packages offered by individual schools. A package usually includes salary, accommodation or accommodation allowance, medical insurance, and may include other perks such as free transport or gym memberships. There are many excellent packages offered throughout the world and some schools are excellent employers. It’s impossible to say which is the best package in the world because the standard of living varies around the world. What I mean is, your salary would go very far in an inexpensive country like Thailand but the same salary would disappear instantly in an expensive country like Switzerland. If skiing in the Alps is your thing, be prepared not to save too much each month. Consider what your priorities for going abroad are. If they are to save, go to a school with a good package and a low cost of living.
When teaching English abroad, many schools offer either accommodation or an allowance for you to choose your own. If they provide it, it’s usually single, but may be shared. Some schools give visas to spouses and help the whole family to relocate (and many will only accept single people). Sometimes there is a settling-in allowance or luggage paid for, and sometimes not.
Most schools provide medical insurance as standard and also flights and visas are paid for.
Q. What do you need to teach english abroad?
- Language schools: CELTA or TrinityCertTESOL
- International schools: BA/QTS or Degree and PGCE (UK)
Q. How much to you get paid to teach english abroad?
Salary packages vary around the world. Language schools are not known for being excellent payers, but in international schools, you could earn £3,000 or £4000 for a senior position, a month plus your accommodation paid for, making your savings each month very high!
Q. Is teaching english abroad worth it?
Yes! Just for the experience if that’s of interest to you, or go for the money. Either way, if you can – go! Teaching in international schools can be extremely worth it due to the saving potential, and TEFL teaching is a career with a lower barrier to entry and jobs are literally everywhere. You’re really helping people and the desire for quality English language teachers will never end.
Q. Where should I teach english abroad?
The easiest places to start teaching abroad are Dubai and Singapore, but in general, the Middle East is easy due to English being widely spoken, lots of jobs and lots to do. The truth is you can go anywhere in the world so check out those job sites below.
Q. Can I teach English abroad without a degree?
You can teach in a language school without a degree, and some will accept candidates without experience. To get a better job, the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL can be completed in 4 weeks and are at level 5. I would recommend the part time 12 week course over the extremely intensive 4 week course.
International schools ask for teaching degrees.
Q. How do I get a job teaching english abroad?
For language school jobs, visit:
For international school jobs: