A native English speaker with a four-year degree and an accredited TEFL / TESOL Certification can find opportunities in as many as 100 countries around the world from Asia and Europe to the Middle East to Latin America.
Even without a four-year degree, a native English speaker with an accredited TEFL / TESOL Certification can realistically find great opportunities in dozens of countries around the world including Spain, Russia, China, Argentina and many nations in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Non-native speakers who are fluent both in written and spoken English can also find opportunities in a wide variety of countries, particularly European Union (EU) citizens looking to work within Europe, and those who wish to teach in their home country.
Major European cities like Madrid, Milan, Prague, Moscow, Rome and Istanbul are all home to dozens, if not hundreds of private language schools specializing in English instruction and as many of 3,000 – 5,000 English teachers work in such cities annually.
Primary job markets in Europe include Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Turkey, and France. Portugal, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Romania also offer extensive job opportunities.
The strongest job markets for Americans teaching English in Europe are Spain, Italy, Germany and Central and Eastern European countries like Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Some countries like France and Greece can be more challenging for Americans because of red tape and a strong preference for EU citizens. The exception to this is the French government's assistantship program, which recruits more than 1,000 qualified Americans to work as assistant English teachers in public schools. Spain operates a similar program.
Turkey has huge demand for English teachers and a great job market, particularly for Americans who do not have to contend with a bias towards EU citizens as Turkey is not in the EU.
Popular places to teach English in Latin America include Costa Rica; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the great cities of Brazil like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. While salaries are not as high as they are in Asia or the Middle East, the low cost of living makes the region attractive from a financial perspective while affording a great cultural experience.
Central and South America also offer extensive opportunities to those who don’t have a four-year degree as well as fluent English speakers from non-native English speaking countries.
As the driving force of the international economy and the world’s largest population center, Asia has become the largest market on the globe for English language instruction. More than 100,000 foreign English teachers teach in Asia and today, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries in Asia have developed a need for tens of thousands of new English teachers each year. In Korea and China alone, a thousand English teachers are hired each month.
A four-year degree is typically required in major Asian (though not always in China or in less developed countries like Cambodia), and teachers from native English speaking countries are strongly preferred throughout the region.
Asia offers more opportunities to teach English to children than any other region.
Schools in Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern nations all seek certified English teachers. In many Arab nations, university classes are taught in English and the region’s location at the crossroads of East and West has made cities like Dubai major hubs of commerce and leisure where English is the norm. In wealthy Gulf States in particular, most positions are offered to experienced teachers with a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in education, in addition to an accredited TEFL / TESOL certification. Such positions often entail lucrative contracts ($2,000 - $5,000 a month tax-free, free airfare and housing, and free health insurance). For first-time English teachers, countries like Egypt, Morocco and Turkey offer lots of jobs in addition to opportunities to experience some of the most historical and culturally rich countries in the world.
Qualifications and Requirements to Teach English abroad:
While it is your choice of where you want to teach English abroad, these are factors that may determine where you are eligible to teach English abroad:
- Citizenship: Some countries have legal requirements that foreign English teachers hold citizenship from a native English speaking nation. These countries are typically considered to be: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. In many countries it is not a legal requirement for English teachers to hold citizenship from such countries, but it is highly preferred.
- English fluency and accent: Verbal skills are extremely important and in many cases, a non-native speaker who speaks like a native speaker will be able to gain employment.
- University degree: Some countries have legal requirements that English teachers hold a four-year degree; a few will accept a two-year associate's degree and others will hire teachers without a four-year degree.
- Age: Cultural norms and legal retirement ages mean that language schools in many countries will limit hiring to those English teachers under 55 and in some cases it can be difficult to gain employment for those over 40. At the same time, there are some countries where language schools will hire English teachers into their 70’s. Check out this article on age restrictions.
- Gender: There is generally higher demand for male English teachers in the Middle East. On the flip side, there are also many positions reserved exclusively for female teachers in all-girls schools and English classes.
- Length of contract: Many countries will require a 12 month contract such as Korea and Vietnam. European countries typically take off for their summer months and contracts run 9 or 10 months. Schools in other countries will hire on 6 month contracts. If you are a successful English teacher, you can almost always extend your contract if you wish to stay longer.