Teaching English abroad is ideal for solo female travellers. Not only do you get to travel to another country and experience a cultural immersion (meeting others doing the same), but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have. From how to teach abroad, to English teacher requirements, if you have ever wondered what it is like to teach English abroad, this article will help. Either read the whole post or click on the relevant section for you.
- My Experience of Teaching English in Nepal
- How to Become an English teacher Abroad
- Best Places To Teach English Abroad
- Teaching English in Other Countries
- Teaching English Abroad Salary
- Teaching English Abroad Requirements
- How To Get a TEFL Certification
- How To Teach English Online
My Experience of Teaching English in Nepal
I feel the hot liquid as it runs down the back of my throat and wait for the calming effect of the jasmine tea to take control of my anxious body. I take a peek behind the curtain. Buddhist nuns sit cross-legged on the floor waiting for their English teacher. My audience is waiting patiently. This is it, my first ever class. I take a deep breath and armed with my flag, ball and postcards of my home town, I enter the room for judgement day…
Buddhist nuns are eager little things, having clapped, danced and giggled their way through the class they sit there wanting more.
“But my hour's up!” I want to say. I too am eager to leave and tweak my lesson plan before my next class that evening.
“But we want to learn Miss Lisa,” they say.
How could I possibly refuse their holy wishes?
So I extend the class, repeating what they have learnt but still they sit with a thirst for knowledge that I am sure I would not find in an English classroom.
Then finally the lesson comes to another close with a chorus of, “Thank you Miss Lisa.”
As I leave the classroom one nun says, “You make the lesson interesting.” My seal of approval and I wonder what I was ever worried about. They even requested homework!
How To Become an English Teacher Abroad
Speaking English is a skill we native English speakers all have. And teaching English is one of the most enriching experiences you can have. During a trip to the Himalayan countries, I arranged a volunteer placement to teach in Nepal.
My teaching experience in Nepal was arranged through Volunteers in Nepal (VIN), a non profit volunteer organisation. For a month I lived in a Buddhist nunnery in a small Nepalese village called Pharpin, and taught English to a classroom of nuns and one monk. My placement was £500 a month which covered my accommodation, food, transport and training. As someone with no prior teaching experience, I wanted to volunteer first to get my confidence up, before deciding to move onto other countries.
Teaching English is definitely a passport to travelling the world. Not only do you get the experience of teaching, but my time in Nepal was also a wonderful cultural immersion where I learnt more about the Buddhist culture and shared my living space with amazing humans from Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. All whilst being supported by the volunteering agency and weekly day trips with other volunteers. If teaching abroad appeals to you, all it takes is a TEFL certification course and some enthusiasm to teach.
Best Places to Teach English Abroad
With so many people around the globe wanting to speak our language, English teaching jobs are in big demand. If you are wondering where to teach English abroad such as how to teach English in Japan, there are so many countries out there that it just depends on your experience and which continent you would prefer. Salaries differ depending on which countries you apply for. The best paid jobs are those in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates which normally require a CELTA certificate and teaching experience in exchange for a tax-free salary.
Teaching English in Other Countries
The world is literally your oyster when you can teach English. From Europe to Africa, Asia and Latin America, there are teaching placements around the globe. South Korea is one of the popular countries due to its ongoing demand of English speakers.
If you’ve always dreamt of living in Latin America, some countries allow you to teach on a tourist visa so you can teach and travel through the continent on a long extended trip, but you will need travel insurance as a tourist visa doesn’t usually allow you access to the country’s health care. In Mexico, you are granted a work visa for a teaching position meaning that you can enjoy the best of the country and brush up on your Spanish too.
If North Africa is more your style, you can experience life in Morocco. Teaching English in this colourful, conservative country is usually in business or international schools, and is definitely an experience that you won’t forget. Or teach in Cambodia or Vietnam for an Asian experience where native English teachers are needed in language schools. You can save money here too due to a lower cost of living and then explore other gems of Southeast Asia when your placement finishes.
Then there’s Colombia, Argentina and even Russia. When they say that the world is your oyster they really mean it. Some countries allow you to apply for a tourist visa which can then be converted to a work visa for your placement.
Teaching English Abroad Salary
Salaries differ from country to country, but the most well-paid jobs are usually in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Dubai, which may require a CELTA certificate and experience of teaching. Salaries in Oman are up to $3000 USD a month, Qatar to $4000 USD a month and the UAE are even known to pay as much as $5000 USD. Starting salaries are from $1500 USD. Accommodation is usually free too, so these countries are ideal if you are looking to save.
If you’ve ever wanted to teach in South Korea or China, then a TEFL is your passport there. It’s a great way of seeing the world and a rewarding career. South Korea pays a good salary (approximately $2000 USD a month), often with your accommodation and flights to and from your country included in your salary package. South Korea is an amazing country too. Having travelled there solo, I found the locals to be so friendly and welcoming.
Japan is another popular destination with a similar average salary to South Korea but you may not be able to save as much due to the cost of living being higher and housing generally just subsided. You have to pay for your own flight there and back too. Hong Kong pay approximately $2500 USD but you have to pay for your accommodation.
Germany is a surprising country on the list with an average salary of $1500 USD a month, and similar to Portugal. France is higher paid and even up to $2200 a month but you do need to take the cost of living in Europe into account.
Teach English in Latin America and you can expect an average monthly salary of $700 USD with no accommodation costs included. Both Uruguay and Panama are the best paid (up to $1300) but they also have the higher living costs. In North Africa it’s a similar average salary at $700 USD a month.
Things to consider when looking for a placement is the cost of the flight to get there, whether your accommodation is included and the cost of living.
Teaching English Abroad Requirements
If you are thinking “I want to teach English abroad!” then the next stage is to check what teaching qualifications you need.
For my Nepal placement, I was required to have a qualification to teach English abroad (a TEFL certificate). Some countries also require you to have a Bachelors Degree (BA). These countries are: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, most of Europe (except the countries listed below), and the Middle East.
Countries where you don’t need a degree (although it can be preferred) are: Cambodia, Laos, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Latin America, Georgia, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Egypt, and Lebanon. Your job search could even take you to ‘The Stans,’ in Central Asia, where countries such as Kazakhstan don’t require you to have a degree although it is preferred.
Contracts can vary depending on which country you teach in but usually a contract is for a minimum of 6 months. Teaching placements can be in schools, business centres or international schools. To teach in the Middle East it does usually require a CELTA certification. Contracts are usually for at least a year and your employer generally pays for your flights to the country.
Do you need to be fluent or a native English speaker? You need to be fluent in English to be able to teach but you don’t necessarily have to be able to speak a country’s language to teach there. I also taught in a Colombian school for a short time and was able to get by on using very basic Spanish vocabulary. Most of the lessons are held entirely in English.
Teaching doesn’t have to mean educating teenagers either. Depending on your confidence and your level of teaching, you can choose to teach at a basic level and stand in a class of 5 to 6 year olds.
You don't need a degree to teach English overseas. Whilst it is true that some countries do require a degree, such as Japan or South Korea, there are many countries that welcome fluent English speakers with a TEFL qualification with open arms!
How To Get TEFL Certification
If you can speak English fluently, then you can apply for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Course (TEFL). But you don’t have to have studied at uni to obtain a TEFL qualification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Online courses for up to 160 hours are available and can act as the starter platform for your teaching career.
I obtained my certificate through an online TEFL course with itoi. My course also included a 20 hour classroom teaching module where I travelled to my capital city (London) for the session. During the whole course I felt continually supported and it was great to meet others also completing the course. My 140 hour certificate took me two months to complete (whilst working full time). There are other platforms out there but I have personally used itoi and recommend them.
Their courses include teaching one to one, teaching young learners, teaching teenagers, lesson planning, awareness of grammar, and becoming an online teacher.
If you don’t have a degree, you can take a Level 3 online TEFL course for teaching in less competitive locations where a lower standard of English is accepted or a Level 5 course for native English speakers with a higher entry. Their certification to teach English abroad are recognised by employers across the world. Courses vary between 120 and 320 hours. In less than a month you could be applying for teaching jobs abroad!
How To Teach English Online
You don’t have to go all the way to Nepal to teach with the internet at our fingertips. There are various platforms that you can join to be able to teach English online. These platforms allow you to teach in Asia without leaving your desk. Some of these do require qualifications to teach English online.
VIPKid – An online company that connects teachers and students with one to one teaching. Students are based in China so you will have a time difference if you are based in the Europe or North America. You can set your own schedule and VIPKid offers a starting salary of $7 an hour plus a class bonus if you reach a certain amount of classes a month which increases your hourly wage and can be up to $20 an hour. You do need a degree to be able to teach on this platform.
Pagoda – If you prefer to teach Korean students who are improving their business English, Pagoda offers you the opportunity to work as a part or full time teacher with extra classes on the weekends. You need to pass an oral exam to be accepted onto the platform and the average pay is $15 US an hour.
English Hunt – Teach Japanese students in a virtual classroom that is all set up or teaching. Thankfully, you don’t need any previous knowledge of Japanese to be able to teach and classes are up to 20 minutes long. You have to be from the U.S to join the platform and the pay differs depending on the client.
itoi also have an online starter pack with lots of information on how to get started, including 20 pre-written lesson plans and useful resources to help you find teaching English abroad jobs and teaching English online. The pack is currently reduced from £40 to £20.
Whether you decide to teach young learners in South Korea, at a business school in Germany or even at a Buddhist nunnery in Nepal like me, teaching in another country will be one of the most rewarding experiences that leaves an imprint on your life.