“Are you itching to get back overseas? Can you see yourself working and living in a city like Madrid, Shanghai or Buenos Aires? How would you like to receive free airfare and housing and make enough to save up to $1000 a month or more while teaching English in cutting edge Asian economy like South Korea or China?”
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then teaching English abroad is probably right your alley. Given the demand for English teachers worldwide, teaching English is a viable way for almost anybody in their early 20s to make a livable wage overseas and enjoy the international adventure of a lifetime. Not only that, in the globalized economy of the 21st century, it’s a great resume booster no matter what career path you choose in the future, you’ll learn great skills, and let’s face it, you’ll have a heck of an adventure and a great time. After all, wouldn’t you rather be spending your weekends in a city like Prague, Bangkok or Istanbul? If so, here are six basic tips to help you learn more about how you can teach English overseas.
- It’s a Monster Job Market & You Can Teach Virtually Anywhere
From Europe and Asia to Latin America and the Middle East, demand for English language instruction is soaring. An estimated 1 billion people (including 300 million in China alone) are learning English generating enormous demand for native-speakers to teach English abroad. A native English speaker (any major) with a college degree and a TEFL certification can viably teach professionally in more than 80 countries worldwide and even those without a degree can get hired as a teacher in up to 50 nations globally. Unlike other sectors of the economy, where jobs are scarce, the demand for English teachers around the world is so high as to be nearly insatiable and for most new college graduates, it’s not a matter of whether you can get a job, but rather would you prefer to teach in Moscow, Tokyo or Santiago because you can and will get offers in all of them if you make the effort.
- No Teaching Experience? No Education Degree? No Problem!
And guess what? You don’t need to have professional teaching experience or an education degree to get hired to teach English abroad. Nor do you need to be fluent in a foreign language. Schools will hire you because you are a native English speaker, not because you do or don’t speak fluent (or broken) Spanish, Japanese or Russian. Remember, you will get hired to teach English, not to speak with students in their own language, and in most classrooms, your goal will be to immerse your students in an English-only environment, so even if you are fluent in your students’ language you will not use it.
- Get Training & Earn Your TEFL Certification
But how will I know how to teach? How will I communicate with my students if I don’t speak their language? Will I be prepared to handle teaching 4-6 classes a day, five days a week?
Take an accredited 120-hour TEFL certification course. It will provide you with the training in skills like lesson planning and classroom management that you need to become an effective teacher. It will also provide you with a recognized certification that will qualify you for tens of thousands of English teaching jobs worldwide. You don’t need to have prior teaching experience or an education degree to teach English in Thailand, Chile or the Czech Republic, but schools in these countries won’t hire you off the street simply because you happen to speak English either.
A Word to the Wise! Don’t skimp on your TEFL certification class. If you think that an $89 self-paced online class sold on Groupon or a two-day weekend TEFL class for $200 is going to provide you with the skills or qualification you need to get hired as a professional English teacher in Germany, Vietnam or Chile, you are only cheating yourself. The recognized standard is 100 of coursework (minimum) and at least 6-20 hours of live practice teaching and an TEFL certification course – in-person or online – needs to incorporate an accredited curriculum and instruction from a highly qualified university-level instructor. A quality TEFL training program should also include comprehensive job placement assistance and tuition will usually range from $1200 – $2500.
- Want to Make & Save Top Dollar? Head to Asia
English teachers in Europe and South America make salaries that are high enough to enjoy a great lifestyle and cover the bills, but they essentially “break even financially.” That means that if you teach English in Spain, Argentina or Italy, you are making to enough to support yourself and have a great time enjoying the international adventure of a lifetime, but you probably aren’t putting money in the bank at the end of every month.
On the other hand, in major nations in East Asia and the Persian Gulf countries of the Middle East, even first-time English teachers typically make enough based on the local cost of living to save 30%-50% of their income after expenses, which can range from around $400 a month in a country like Thailand or Indonesia to $600 a month in Taiwan or Vietnam and up to $800-$1200 a month in South Korea. In Japan many English teachers can save $500-$800 a month after expenses (despite the higher cost of living), while in China, the world’s largest job market for teaching English abroad, most English teachers are able to save the equivalent of $400-$1500 a month after expenses. Bottom line: first-time English teachers in China and South Korea can make enough to save up to $15,000 annually in the bank after expenses.
That makes Asia ideal if you’re looking to earn money for paying off student loans or perhaps funding extra travel. In addition, English teachers in Asia are more likely than their counterparts in Europe or Latin America to receive benefits like health insurance and paid vacation. And, many jobs in Asia, particularly in South Korea and China, provide free housing and will cover your airfare costs. How cool is that?!
Want to learn more about salaries for English teachers around the world, check out this Country Chart, which compares salaries and other aspects of teaching English abroad in more than 50 countries around the globe.
- Research Hiring Seasons & Interview Procedures
These are some of the not-so-sexy nuts and bolts of getting hired to teach English abroad, but learning about them is key (visas are another). There are hundreds of thousands of jobs waiting for you, but the process of getting hired to teach English in South Korea will vary dramatically compared to getting a job in Peru, Italy or Russia.
Hiring Seasons & Interview Procedures
Europe – Most schools are hiring locally face-to-face in Europe during September (and into October in Spain) and January. Schools in Eastern Europe like Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are more likely to recruit you directly from the U.S. or Canada and more likely to hire year-round. Visa requirements can vary dramatically from country to country.
Latin America – February – March (or January in Central America) and July-August (or June in Central America) are major hiring seasons. As in Europe, most schools interview and hire TEFL certified teachers who are already in Latin America, though some, particularly in Chile and Mexico, will interview and offer contracts to you from your home country.
Asia & the Middle East – Demand for English teachers is so high in Asia that schools in countries like China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand are recruiting and hiring year-round. Job markets are smaller and more competitive in Persian Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates, but schools do hire throughout the entire year.
While there are always exceptions, if you are looking at putting together a timeline, it typically takes at 3-6 months to get your TEFL certification, prepare your job search and then heading abroad to begin your adventure.
- Great Resources for Learning More about Teaching English Abroad
So how can you learn more about salaries, visas, TEFL certification and other aspects of teaching English abroad
* Download a free 30-page Guide to Teaching English Abroad from International TEFL Academy. You’ll also receive a country chart that compares various aspects of teaching English abroad in more than 50 countries worldwide, including visas, hiring seasons, salaries and more.
* Check out the articles right here on Lifeafterstudyabroad.com.
* International TEFL Academy’s website features a list of more than 100 FAQs and articles about all aspects of teaching English abroad from visas in Germany and salaries in South Korea to tips and tricks for teaching abroad with student loans and how to get a job teaching English in Spain.
* Websites like www.eslcafe.com feature thousands of job listings for teaching English abroad and loads of forums and articles about teaching overseas.
* Call International TEFL Academy at 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor (it’s free) about all of your questions about teaching English abroad, including matters relating to TEFL certification, jobs around the world and visas.
One last piece of advice: Be open-minded and broaden your horizons! The more countries and regions you explore, the more opportunities will come your way and the more options you will give yourself to enjoy the international adventure of a lifetime teaching English abroad!
John Bentley is a Senior Admissions Advisor at the International TEFL Academy, which trains and certifies nearly 1,500 people a year to teach English abroad and provides lifetime job search guidance to all students and graduates. A graduate of Harvard and Northwestern, he wrote for the Egypt-Israel Edition of the famous Let’s Go! Guidebook series and has worked in the field of international travel, education, and journalism throughout his career. John also grew up in Cairo, Egypt and has traveled to 55 countries.