I met a girl who was planning to teach in South Korea when I was in grad school, and I was immediately intrigued and frightened by the idea. I wanted that life for myself, but I was also confused about how to go about making it a reality. It seemed too complicated and risky – just a fantasy, not a real choice I could make.

If this sounds familiar to you, we’d love to help you get started.



Start by assessing what qualifications you already have. Do you have a Bachelor’s degree? Do you have any experience? This can include tutoring, childcare or training new staff at your job – just make sure you highlight anything related to teaching or children on your CV. If you have a business background, this could help you land a job teaching business English at an adult language center.

Every country and school will be looking for different qualifications. You probably won’t be the right match for every job, but there will be a match for you out there.

Some places insist on college degrees, others want a specific major (English or Education), others want a 120 hour TEFL certification, or maybe a TEFL certification earned in person is required, or administered by a certain organization. For my first job, I had a degree in English (not English education) when I applied, along with some classroom experience. The company also paid for me to get a 40 hour TEFL certificate online before I arrived.

You’ll find the right position for you, as long as you have a way to sell yourself. Sometimes just being a native speaker is enough!


Improving Your CV

No college, certificates, or education experience? All hope is not lost. Get a part time job tutoring, or start volunteering with kids. You might even find an ESL volunteer position if you live in a city with a decent-sized community of non-English speakers.

It is also fairly easy to get a TEFL certification. Yes, there are some time-consuming programs that require a month of full-time school and student teaching. But you can also find online programs, or certifications that only need one weekend to complete.

Getting a certificate not only helps with the job search, it can also make you feel more confident about being in a classroom full of English language learners. You’ll understand the theories behind what you’re doing, and you’ll have some activities and ideas ready to go.


Choosing Your Country

There are many things to consider when choosing where to start applying. Along with your qualifications, you should also think about when you could reasonably start work and when hiring season is for that country. August and January are common start dates in many countries, but not all. For example, Thai schools tend to start in May or June.

Average teaching salaries and the cost of living are also a considerations. Don’t worry too much about how your salary converts to your home currency. Think about how far your paycheck can stretch in the economy you’d actually be living in.

Many people think of the Middle East or Japan as places that pay a lot – but you’ll also be paying high prices for rent, utilities, and food. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia might be paying less than $15,000 a year, but it’s so cheap to live, your salary will be more than enough.

You might also want to consider culture, food, weather, public transportation, or language when making a decision.


Finding Open Positions

Once you’ve decided on a city/country (or a few cities/countries) that you’re interested in, do a quick internet search to find job boards. Look on Craigslist or search for Facebook groups for foreign teachers or expats.

There are also ESL job boards that are not location-specific. Dave’s ESL Cafe is a common one that a lot of teachers use and recommend.

Once you start applying, you just need to be persistent like you would in any other job search. You might not find something right away, but you will eventually – native English speakers are in demand across the entire world.

Have any more questions about how to get started? Leave them below and we’d be happy to help!

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