I’ve written before about why teaching English Abroad is The Fastest, Easiest and Cheapest Way to Reset Your Life in a New Country. Teaching English is how I got my start living abroad. In Japan, my wife and I started our own English school that we ran for more than 10 years. If you are interested in travel or living abroad, teaching English allows you to relocate to a new country with a minimum of savings and hassles. In most countries, all you need is any university degree.
Here is a summary of what to expect teaching English in more than two dozen countries around the world, along with interviews with English teachers. The links are to my teach English abroad website at YouCanTeachEnglish.com. Check out all the TEFL Job listings to get an idea of what English teaching positions are like around the world. The site also has one of the most comprehensive directories of TEFL Courses around the world, so you can get the training and certification to find a good English teaching job. A TEFL certificate has become a prerequisite for most schools now.
(Salaries are in US dollars. Cost of living is based on a new English teacher that lives frugally, with a comfortable but not excessive night life. An extravagant lifestyle can easily double your living expenses in any country around the world.)
Teach English in JAPAN
Overview: Although, Japan is no longer the premier teaching destination as it once was, it is still a fantastic place to work. For great food, a rich culture, modern technology, safety and cleanliness Japan is hard to beat. This is the country where I started my life abroad. I lived in Japan for 13 years and owned an English school there.
Starting Salary: US$2300 to $2700
Cost of living: US$1800 plus.
Visa Requirements: Must have university degree to be sponsored by a school. Work holiday and student visas also allow you to work. There are limited opportunities to work illegally on a tourist visa.
More information on teaching English in Japan
- TEFL jobs in Japan
- Interview with Neil Mullens, teaching English in Japan
- Interview with John Bardos, Teach English in Japan
Teach English in CHINA
Overview: China offers an amazing blend of modernity and tradition. There are numerous teaching positions for teachers at various stages in their career, with openings becoming available throughout the year. China has the most plentiful TEFL jobs of any country, by far.
Starting Salary: US$650 to $1100
Cost of Living: US$450
Visa Requirements: Must have a “Z” visa if the teaching contract is 1 year or more. “F” visa is required if contract is less than 6 months. Also need a Residence permit. Visas are only issued to those with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, in any discipline. Visas will be arranged by your employer prior to arriving in the country.
- More information on teaching English in China
- TEFL jobs in China
- Interview with Kelly Sandor, teaching English in China
- Interview with Roger Jones, teaching English in China
- Interview with Gordie Rogers, teaching English in China
Teach English in KOREA
Overview: South Korea is one of the premier destinations for English teachers. When you take the lower cost of living into account, pay and benefits are comparable to Japan. Job applications are accepted all year round but December until February are the best months. South Korea is a very clean country, with plenty to do and see.
Cost of Living: US$900
Visa Requirements: In order to obtain the legally required E-2 visa, teachers must hail from Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa or the USA, and have at least a bachelor’s degree. Legitimate employers will always assist with the application process. Korea is unique in that employers ‘own’ your visa. If you quit your job, your work visa will end and you will have to find another company to hire and sponsor you.
- More information on teaching English in KOREA
- TEFL jobs in KOREA
- Interview with Sharon Demant, teaching English in KOREA.
- Interview with Nomadic Samuel, teaching English in KOREA.
- Interview with Jordan Lunan, teaching English in KOREA.
- Interview with Simon & Martina Stawski, teaching English in KOREA.
- Interview with David Deubelbeiss, teaching English in KOREA.
Teach English in MALAYSIA
Overview: Malaysia represents one of the most exotic destinations for would-be EFL teachers with its heady mix of soaring skyscrapers and fascinating temples and mosques. It takes a little more perseverance to secure a teaching position here, compared to some of its Asian neighbors, but Malaysian students are highly motivated to learn. The low cost of living make it a great place to teach.
Salary: $1,090/ month
Cost of Living: $400 – $600/ month
Visa Requirements: Malaysian employers prefer doing face to face interviews, so it’s best to go there on a tourist visa to look for work. Citizens from the USA, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are able to enter the country on a regular tourist visa for a maximum of 90 days. Once you find a job, your employer will assist you in securing an employment visa. This process can take at least 2-3 months.
Teach English in TAIWAN
Overview: Taiwan is slowly becoming a top choice for foreign teachers thanks to its rich culture, spectacular landscapes, well-preserved nature parks, and popular cuisine. The demand for English teachers remains quite high across the country. Salary compared to cost of living is comparable to Japan.
Salary: $15-$21/hour or $2000/month
Cost of Living: $1000
Visa Requirements: Native English speakers who travel to Taiwan to look for work have 2 options. One, get a visitor’s visa at the airport and find work within the 2-week visa validity. Or apply for a “Landing visa” outside of Taiwan and be granted 1 month or two (depending on your nationality). If you’ve found yourself a job, you have to leave Taiwan again and have your resident visa validated.
- More information on teaching English in TAIWAN
- TEFL jobs in TAIWAN
- Interview with TAIWAN English Teacher, Tina Wu
- Teach English in TAIWAN, Interview with Carrie Kellenberger
Teach English in THAILAND
Overview: Thailand has long been an immensely popular destination for English teachers, drawn by an exotic culture steeped in history, great food, inexpensive prices, a friendly population and a climate that remains hot all year round. There are abundant English teaching positions in Thailand and, unlike most other parts of Asia, it is even possible for non-native speakers and those without a first degree to find work. It’s technically illegal to teach without the proper work visa, but with cheap visa runs to nearby countries and other ways to skirt the rules, there are opportunities for all would be teachers.
Salary: $840 – $1,120
Cost of Living: $500- $1000
Visa Requirements: To work legally in Thailand, a ‘non-immigrant B visa’ is necessary, which must be applied for and processed outside of the country. Many teachers do work illegally on tourist visas, but will generally be with private schools and pose greater risks for not being paid or poor working conditions. With that said, border runs are cheap and easy from Thailand. With a double-entry visa, you can stay in Thailand for 6 months, only having to leave once.
- More information on teaching English in THAILAND
- TEFL jobs in THAILAND
- Interview with Johnny Ward, teaching English in THAILAND
- Interview with Amanda Dorough, teaching English in THAILAND
Teach English in VIETNAM
Overview: Vietnam offers a culture that is rich and vibrant, some spectacular scenery and a dining experience that is unbelievably cheap and sumptuous. The demand for English teachers is high, particularly in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Qualifications and experience, while not essential, would certainly help in securing better jobs and higher salaries.
Salary: $1000 – $1400
Cost of Living: $600 – $800
Visa Requirements: Legal work visas require sponsorship from an employer, however, working on tourist visas is very common. Better quality jobs with reputable institutions will require sponsorship to get a proper work visa, but there are many private schools that are willing to hire without going through legal channels.
- More information on teaching English in VIETNAM
- TEFL jobs in VIETNAM
- Interview with Sherry Ott, teaching English in VIETNAM
Teach English in the CZECH REPUBLIC
Overview: The Czech Republic offers the very best in European cuisine, architecture and tradition, with a cost of of living far below that of western Europe. The demand for English teachers is high in all parts of the country because English competency is often required when applying for jobs and University.
Cost of Living: US$600 – $800
Visa Requirements: To teach English in the Czech Republic you need to be a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree. Most people enter the country on a tourist visa to look for work. Employers will assist in applying for a legally required work permit and residence visa.
Teach English in HUNGARY
Overview: If you want to experience Eastern European culture with a touch of class and luxury, then you might want to teach in Hungary. English teaching jobs are not as plentiful as in some other countries and salaries tend to be lower, but with some persistence you’ll be able to find a position with good working conditions and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
Salary: US$900 to $1200
Cost of Living: US$800
Visa Requirements: Hungarian authorities strictly impose work permits and residence visas for foreign teachers. You need to be a native English speaker, have a bachelor’s degree, and typically must have teaching certificates. Once you find a job, your employer or school will process your work visa application.
- More information on teaching English in HUNGARY
- TEFL jobs in HUNGARY
- Interview with Peter Wylde, an English teacher in HUNGARY
Teach English in IRELAND
Overview: Ireland is an ideal destination for English teachers in search of a more laid-back lifestyle. With a population of just over 5 million, there are vast swathes of upspoiled countryside for those who enjoy the outdoors. There are many language schools all over the country but the prime area for landing jobs is in and around the capital city, Dublin.
Salary: US$20-$25 per hour
Cost of Living: US$1000 – $1200
Visa Requirements: To teach English in Ireland, you need to be a native English speaker from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa or the United States, with a university degree. Most schools require TEFL certification and experience. It is difficult for non-native teachers to find work because of the tedious visa application process.
Teach English in POLAND
Overview: Poland is an excellent choice for those with a passion for medieval architecture and European history. The demand for English teachers has exploded in recent years although most teaching jobs are still found in major cities like Warsaw, Wroclaw or Krakow.
Salary: $500 – $1000
Cost of Living: $500 – $1000
Visa Requirements: EU citizens no longer require a visa to work in Poland. Those from outside the EU first need to secure a “Work Permit Promise” from their employer. The next step is to apply for a residence permit. Both documents must be secured outside of Poland. Work permits are issued once you arrive in the country and are processed by your employer.
Teach English in SPAIN
Overview: Spain is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for people wanting to teach English. Great food and wine, a wonderful climate, beautiful castles and Moorish architecture are just a few of the attractions. The demand for English teachers has been affected by the economy but many language schools, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona, continue to hire native English-speaking teachers.
Salary: $21/ hour or $570 – $1,070/ month
Cost of Living: $800 – $1000
Visa Requirements: Non-EU nationals often travel to Spain on tourist visas to look for work. However, upon finding a job, you would need to leave the country and process the work visa overseas. Both EU citizens and other foreign nationals are required to secure a residency permit.
- More information on teaching English in SPAIN
- TEFL jobs in SPAIN
- Teach English in Spain – Interview with Textbook Author Iwonna Dubicka
- Interview with Cat Gaa, teaching English in SPAIN
Teach English in FRANCE
Overview: France is known for its elegant fashion, gourmet cuisine, and sophisticated culture. The French are proud of their own language but appreciate the importance of English in the business world. Most English teaching is done by French nationals but there is demand for highly qualified and experienced English teachers, especially those who can also communicate well in French.
Salary: $1,600 – $2,300
Cost of Living: $1,000 – $1,500
Visa Requirements: French immigration gives priority to EU citizens above all others. Therefore, other nationalities will find it quite hard to find teaching positions in France. Many companies are not willing to undergo the arduous visa application process. It can be easier secure teaching positions with international companies that have branches in France.
- More information on teaching English in FRANCE
- TEFL jobs in FRANCE
- Teach English in France – Interview with Brad Patterson
- Interview with Roni Weiss, teaching English in FRANCE
Teach English in GREECE
Overview: Despite the current economic problems in Greece and an unsurprising reduction in demand for English teachers, jobs are harder to come by, but they still can still be found, particularly in the major cities and larger islands. The country is undergoing a major restructuring, but they still have the fantastic Mediterranean climate, excellent cuisine and lively culture and nightlife.
Salary: $1,000 – $1,300
Cost of Living: $700
Visa Requirements: There are no issues when it comes to EU citizens working in Greece. For teachers from outside the EU, it can be very difficult and quite expensive to obtain the necessary visas. Most will find it impossible to obtain a teaching position unless they already have friends or, preferably, relatives based in Greece. However, some people have found some success by traveling to Greece to look for work and showing some persistence.
Teach English in ITALY
Overview: Italy needs no introduction, everyone knows its history of food, architecture, art, opera and fashion. As a European Union member, EU citizenship is a major advantage in finding teaching positions. Most schools are not interested in going through the visa process for non-EU passport holders. There are limited opportunities to work illegally on a tourist visa, but you will be forced to leave the Schengen area after 90 days. TEFL certification and teaching experience are almost a necessity for citizens from outside of the EU and highly beneficial for those from within.
Salary: $960 – $1,900
Cost of Living: $900
Visa Requirements: For EU citizens, a permit called ‘ricevuta di segnalazione di siggiorno’ is the only requirement to to look for work in Italy. This permit is valid for 3 months. Once you find a job, the next step is to apply for a permit to stay. Then, a work permit. Non-EU citizens are required to secure work permits before traveling to Italy. Obtaining this document is possible when you have a job offer from a legitimate company in Italy.
Teach English in PORTUGAL
Overview: With a climate that characterized by hot summers and mild winters, fine Mediterranean cuisine and some beautiful coastal resorts, Portugal makes for a great European teaching destination. A high proportion of teachers hail from The UK and Ireland, due to the time-consuming process of obtaining visas for non-EU citizens.
Cost of Living: $635 – $760
Visa Requirements: Visa applications can be quite arduous for non-EU citizens but by no means impossible. The whole application process must be conducted in your home country and in order for it to begin it is necessary to obtain a formal offer of employment. Therefore, teachers with TEFL qualifications and experience are more likely to be successful. There are no such barriers for EU citizens.
Teach English in RUSSIA
Overview: Russians have a keen appreciation of art and culture so, wherever you stay, you will never be far from a museum, art gallery, theater or cavernous library. Booming international business has created a huge demand for English teachers. Foreign nationals don’t need to have a university degree to teach in Russia, but TEFL qualifications and experience will certainly be useful in landing a more lucrative position.
Salary: $900 – $1300
Cost of Living: $700
Visa Requirements: To legally teach English in Russia, you need to be sponsored by an employer or school. Visa applications must be made at a Russian consulate before entering the Russian Federation. African and Asian teachers must apply at a consulate in their home countries.
Teach English in BRAZIL
Overview: When you think of Brazil the first things that spring to mind are beaches, carnivals and, of course, soccer. These things alone attract a number of foreign teachers to the country despite a relatively high crime rate and problems with pollution in some areas.
Salary: US$600 to $700
Cost of Living: US$450
Visa Requirements: It is difficult, but not impossible to obtain a visa to work legally in Brazil, so many teachers simply travel to the country on tourist visas and find work after they arrive. There is also an exchange program available to American, Canadian and British teachers.
Teach English in ECUADOR
Overview: Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, yet it boasts four distinct cultures. You can enjoy some beautiful scenery; the Andes, unspoiled beaches, dense forests and UNESCO heritage sites. It is impossible to save money, but teachers can live comfortably, particularly if they supplement their income with private lessons.
Cost of Living: $250
Visa Requirements: A Cultural Visa is required if you wish to stay beyond 90 days. Teachers usuallyfind work quite quickly after arriving on a tourist visa. Preference is given to TEFL certified teachers and most schools expect a bachelor’s degree and some teaching experience.
Teach English in ARGENTINA
Overview: Argentina is a country that has successfully melded the sophistication and culture of Europe with a zest for life that is uniquely South American. The need of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers has greatly increased due to the use of English in the business sector. Most EFL schools cater to professionals and young adults who are entering the university.
Salary: $350 – $500
Cost of Living: $500 plus
Visa Requirements: Teachers looking for a contract of more than 3 months need to apply for a work permit. The process takes at least a month to complete. Work visas also act as temporary residence permits while in Argentina. However, many employers hire foreign teachers without any contract or work permit. This is common for travelers who ran out of funds while in the country and are looking for short-term work.
- More information on teaching English in ARGENTINA
Teach English in COSTA RICA
Overview: With its breathtaking beaches and outstanding natural beauty, Costa Rica is fast becoming a major destination for English teachers. Most employers prefer to hire teachers that are already in Costa Rica.
Salary: $350 – $700
Cost of Living: $350 – $400
Visa Requirements: Many Costa Rican employers are happy to hire teachers ‘under the table’ because of the long and tedious process involved in obtaining work and residence permits, often taking more than 4 months to complete. Upon entering Costa Rica, visitors receive a 90-day tourist visa. Teachers skirting Before the visa expires, the teacher makes a trip to a neighboring country, and then re-enters with a fresh 90-day visa.
Teach English in GUATEMALA
Overview: Guatemala is a country with a rich culture and strong national identity. It’s an attractive destination for teachers seeking a slower pace of life. There is a strong demand for EFL teachers in Guatemala because competency in English is important for students applying to university and is a requirement for most good jobs in the country. With a low cost of living, teachers can have a great quality of life.
Salary: $500 – $800
Cost of Living: $300
Visa Requirements: Citizens from the US, Canada and EU countries are allowed entry to Guatemala for 90 days without visas. It is possible, and quite common to enter the country on a tourist visa and look for employment. Your new employer will take care of the visa status change and the application for residence visa while you remain in the country.
- More information on teaching English in GUATEMALA
Teach English in PERU
Overview: Peru is the third largest country in South America, and is known for its art, beautiful landscapes, music and festivals. Most English teaching in Peru is volunteer work but they offer a great opportunity to get some teaching experience and help disadvantaged children.
Salary: Paid positions will earn between $400 – $700, but volunteer teaching positions are more common.
Cost of Living: $300
Visa Requirements: EU citizens, those from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can travel to Peru without visas. For others, you can either apply for a tourist or business visa. A tourist visa cannot be changed into a work visa within Peru. You have to assign a country to send your visa or make a visa run to neighboring countries. Business visas are taken care of employers and do not require you to exit and re-enter Peru.
- More information on teaching English in PERU
Teach English in SAUDI ARABIA
Overview: Some of the most lucrative English teaching positions in the world can be found in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia represents the most common entry point into the region. Teaching conditions and apartments (usually supplied free of charge) are far superior to those found in Japan and Korea. Salaries are typically not taxed for foreign teachers.
Salary: $1,700 – $3,000
Cost of Living: $500 (Apartment, health care and other expenses are typically covered by employers.)
Visa Requirements: The entire application process must be done from your home country, or through the nearest Saudi Arabian consulate. It’s virtually impossible for a foreigner to get a tourist visa to enter the country. Your employer will apply for work and residence permits on your behalf. The entire process will generally take less than 2 months. Jobs in the Kingdom are mostly available for men.
Teach English in DUBAI
Overview: Dubbed as the playground for ambitious architects and engineers, Dubai is also an excellent destination for English teachers. In fact, teaching English is one of the easiest and profitable profession in the gulf. There are lots of jobs available in companies, private tutoring centers, language schools and even in military bases, however many positions are available to male applicants only.
Salary: $2,200 – $3,000
Cost of Living: $550
Visa Requirements: Processing of legal documentation for work is done with the assistance of a “Fixer”. Invitation to any government department requires the applicant to be with their fixer. To legally teach, you need to have a residence visa and a labour card. Your employer is responsible of processing these documents. Resident visas are good for 3 years and are renewable.