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Teach English Abroad as a Sustainable Living

Teach English Abroad as a Sustainable Living, TEFL CertificationAre you reading stories of overseas travel and deciding I would like to teach English abroad?. Travelling abroad to teach for a year or for a long period of time takes planning.

You of course, have to decided if the decision is right for now, and for the future?.

The notion of moving to another country abroad to teach children or adults English requires certain qualifications, skills, experience and finances.

In addition, motivation, time and a detailed plan to successfully provide a sustainable living as a teacher of English overseas are required.


Teach English abroad

How long away from home to teach?  Going away for under 12 months is different to spending years as an English teacher in a number of countries.

A change or start of a long term career teaching at schools, universities or language centres will define you as a person, your skills and resume.


Can I obtain a job teaching English overseas?

Yes, of course.  Native English language teachers have the best opportunities for gaining employment. English teachers with a good command of English can also get jobs in over 50 countries including Mongolia, Thailand, Argentina, Morocco and Ukraine.

An every increasing demand for students to learn English means at anyone time there are in excess of 200,000 teachers of English required abroad.

There are not enough native English teachers to fill the teaching posts advertised.

Language teachers can secure a job without a bachelor’s degree in over 60 countries from:

  • Russia, Taiwan, Peru, Spain, France, Germany, Moldova, Saudi Arabia, UK and Cambodia.


Laws and regulations change over time with individual countries teacher work permit and residency requirements.

Yes, many countries including China require foreign teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in any subject.  English language teaching qualification such as a CELT or TEFL, TESOL can also get you a job.

Native English speakers are in great demand for their knowledge of the English language, hence are first considered.

The vast majority of job opportunities to teach overseas for educators are in countries that have restrictions on employment in education.

Why should you be employed instead of a local teacher? Possibly you are a native speaker of English.


Did you know as a language teacher?

Almost all countries will issue a work & residency permit to teachers that qualify

No other language ability is required

New teachers, and first time overseas travellers are welcome

Prior teaching experience is not always required

Over 18 years old

Over 25 years for more than one country

Under 67 years of age

No criminal record


I am at a certain age, can I secure an English teachers job?

Let’s talk about age requirements for jobs, visa, work and residency in countries.

For me at 55 my options are good as a native speaker, although for many employers being over a certain age matters.

Best opportunities at nursery, elementary, high school and language schools are for teacher’s 25-45 age groups.

Some countries and employers perceive you as too old to be a teacher in your 50’s.

Forget China, Vietnam, Thailand if you are 60+ and the Saudi Arabia government will not issue a work visa and residency permit to foreign teachers aged 58 and over.

Once you reach 60 the best options to start or continue as an English teacher is to apply for jobs in Europe, North & South America up to 67 years old.

Think first before leaving and plan should you be looking at working as an English teacher in different continents around the world.

Age limits for acquiring residency and a legal work visa are not standard for all countries.


Language teacher qualified

Good idea to first gain an accredited language teacher’s qualification that will provide you with a great amount of opportunities as a teacher.

Recognised qualifications such as a CELT or TEFL are required by many employers and to secure a work permit.

You will learn about planning lessons, presenting, group work, pace and general instruction of how to be an effective English teacher to students of a foreign language.

Attendance in classes is your best option as you will find an ever decreasing pool of countries where an online TEFL for example is accepted as a teacher qualification.

Europe, Middle East, Gulf and Korea employers generally only accept classroom based assessed certificates.

Aim for a course that provides 120+ hours of course work and assessment.


CELT:  Rigor in relation to written assignments, class hours and assessed teaching observations accredited by Cambridge English.

TEFL: Well known.  Teaching English as a foreign language.

CELT and TEFL certificates are appropriate for teaching in countries where English is not a primary or secondary language.  (Better options)

TESOL: Teaching English to speakers of other languages.  Good for many countries and possible for your home country also.  Not always accepted for a work visa and by employers.


TEFL certification qualification training course

A TEFL certificate qualification is for teaching English as a second language abroad.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is recognised, requested by employers in language centres and learning institutions around the world.

The language teacher certification course can qualify you to teach English at a language or state school without a degree in a number of countries.

In addition, schools abroad in a number of countries English language teachers are employed on a full time, part time & contract basis.


Accreditation of TEFL certificate courses

Check and see if the course is accredited to award certificates.

Accreditation essentially shows that a language school or training provider has been externally inspected. Also, a centre is assessed for quality assurance and delivery of good teaching & learning.

At this time, there does not seem a formal certificate accreditation body in 2020.

You should complete your own investigation of the course provider and certification.


Ask yourself

  • How long is the course
  • Qualified and experienced trainers
  • Classroom-based and theory with practical training or just online teaching

Increasingly employers are asking for you to have at least a certificate that was studied over 120 at least via classroom-based learning.

Employers are located in some top locations for English language teaching including Saudi Arabia English language teachers, Spain, Taiwan island, South Korea schools, China, France and the United Arab Emirates.

Basically, all accredited TEFL courses have been externally assessed for good quality of the entire course and rigorous assessment.

Good idea to select a school that provides an accredited course of classroom based learning of not less than 120 hours of teaching, study and assessment.


Study time length of a TEFL

Study full time or part time. Courses can be completed in as little as 1 week for full time classroom intensive courses.  Part-time study training is available from providers such as local colleges and language schools that allow up to 6 months to complete training.

Online courses for a TEFL or other English language teacher qualification can be completed in 2 weeks if you wish from some providers.


What you will learn on a TEFL training course

Many aspects of teaching & learning as a language teacher from classroom management, board work, marking, assessment, lesson planning, testing, designing resources and others.

You will take part in group work, practice lessons and of course, assessment of your teaching ability for the award of your qualification.  This is classroom based of course.


How much is a language teacher course?

Depends on the provider and if you are on a residential course and intensive training. £370 for 1 week class based course via many providers.

Can be as much as £2,300 full time with accommodation. Part time with a private language centre or through a collage takes longer.

A 4 week intensive accredited good course expect to pay around £1,800 to £2,200. You’re course certificate training can be in the UK and western Europe.

These can be for TEFL or CELT, suited for a career in the sector and to secure highly paid positions in the Middle East.

Online 120 hours courses can be as little as £100, or in some cases providers are offering the training for less.


Language teacher certification providers

TEFL courses are offered in the UK, Europe, Middle East and globally.

Some employers provide training and paid language teaching at the same time.


Jobs for English language teachers

As a worldwide recognised English qualification as a teacher to foreign students holder means you’re in demand.

Search and find suitable work fairly easily in Europe, Middle East, Asia and the Americas.


Choose wisely the TEFL certification course you complete as the industry is rapidly changing.

Visa, residency and employer requirements are moving towards an element of classroom based learning.


Choose a course and provider that is actually accredited by a recognised body:

The College of Teachers  (UK)

British Council   (Global)




Cambridge English  (University of Cambridge)

World TEFL Commission


A good course can be taken by intensive residential study in 14 days, although will cost you £1200-£1500.

You can also study over 3 or 6 months while still in education or with work commitments.

Language teacher training courses are also provided by employers where you are employed as a teacher and train at the same time.


Some example organisations to teach English

Hess  (Taiwan)

Language link (Russia)

ESL Starter (China)

Bridge Abroad (Brazil)


There are a good few other language schools that offer paid employment and accredited training courses around the world.


What type of qualities do English language teachers have?

Being able to plan, organise, motivated, independent thinker, considerate, good communicator, initiative, time management are just a few.

Getting on with others at different age levels and backgrounds is also required.


Finding and accepting an English teacher job 

Qualified English language teachers that have the required soft skills, manners and reasonably groomed can find full or part time work any time of the year abroad.

Search online for ESL teaching jobs and you will see many from around the world.

Language centres, state schools, colleges, universities, governments and training organisations.

Applying direct to employer’s advertisements could give you negotiating room for a better salary package as they will have less employment costs.

Going through a recruitment company is another option where you can state what, where, when, salary and they will contact prospective employers on your behalf.

Never pay a recruiter any money anytime to find a job.

Online job boards also provide the chance to upload your resume and schools contact you.


Requirements for you as a teacher of English

Depending on the country you wish to teach in. Common are:

  • Native English speaker
  • Must be from USA, South Africa, UK, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland Australia
  • Recognised teaching qualification


Look at job descriptions and see if you could meet all the requirements of the employer, work permit and residency.  Good idea to also check on the embassy website for residency documents, age, experience needed for foreign teachers.


Immigration and employment criteria of foreigners have become more strict.

Depending on the country, your qualifications and teacher position you choose will restrict you on where you are welcome as a teacher.

As one example Thailand has tier one & two state schools, one being the top schools. As a foreigner you must be a qualified state school teacher with experience from your own country to get a teaching position at a tier one school in Thailand.

There are good opportunities to teach English at state and international schools in countries such as Malaysia, Russia, Spain, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and others.

Other countries while teaching restrict areas of the country you can work. Also, schools ask for years of experience, higher degrees and language teacher documentation. such as China.


Standard requested documents could include:

Resume, photograph, medical report, education certificates + transcripts, data page passport copy, criminal record check from your home country.

They may also require to be certified and legalised.

Takes time to gather all the paperwork, so do not say to an employer you can start next week unless you have all documents ready.

Skype, telephone or face to face in person interview.


Choose wisely the country, employer, sector and age of students you want to teach.

Salaries and benefits are much greater in Taiwan, South Korea, UK, Spain, Germany, and Sweden.


Check to see if accommodation is provided, flight ticket, medical insurance in advance and other benefits.

Research the location of the school depending on town, city, rural and transport.

Never sign or agree to a contract until you have asked questions/receive answers and are happy with the terms and conditions.

Remember you may require a work visa/permit issued by the government in your new country. Z visa for China.


Classroom experience of teachers

Employers are looking for people with good teaching and behaviour management skills.

Finding a good job without experience as a teacher will be restrictive, but possible.

Teachers with years of experience in full-time posts, that can display successful classroom experience on their resume/CV get the top education jobs.

These jobs will be at much better schools rather than poor run places with autocratic owners.


Starting costs as a teacher

A budget of around £1,500-£2000 will help you through to your first wage payment for many countries.  Think about:

  • Cost of flight you need to pay yourself
  • New clothing
  • Documents & processing, medicals
  • Food, travel and spending money
  • Medical insurance
  • Accommodation rental you might have to fund


Saving money to be an overseas ESL teacher

Take this from a wiser older person (Me).

Save part of your salary each month in case of emergencies, job loss and for the future.

Yes, have fun by all means, but there comes a time when life after teaching English abroad is over for you.

Have a sizeable savings fund to return home or start a new chapter elsewhere in your life.


Teacher country guides

As a teacher, you have many countries that invite teachers to apply for school positions including:

Australia teaching. Emigrating long term or 2 years. Qualifications and processing for teachers required

Canada teacher working visa and eligibility to stay permanently basic information

Egypt : International school teachers vacancies and opportunities to live in the country

Kuwait: School.  See here for what you need

Malaysia: English and school teachers need to be qualified

Oman choice.  Salaries and qualifications required

Qatar: State and international school salaries, visa and teaching qualifications needed.  Education Tay list here

Russia language & international school country information for teachers

Scotland’s primary & secondary school teacher educational job options

Saudi Arabia teacher opportunities in international schools or language centres

Taiwan Public school jobs (Part of China) Elementary and high school positions

Thailand: Experience living and teaching in a different culture with a tropical climate.

United Arab Emirates & Abu Dhabi   Checkout Education Tay UAE qualification, visa and education sector details

United Kingdom: Many school teachers required in the UK.Qualification salaries and visa guidance

Teaching in Asia page has information for teachers in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea qualification requirements and salary information.


Teach in Europe qualification to teach?

Teaching in EuropeFor you to be employed in state, international or independent schools you must be a qualified school age teacher from nursery, primary or the secondary sector.

You can be a teacher in Europe as a foreign language teacher to school children.

To teach English in Europe all schools require teachers to hold a language teachers certificate at minimum.

Language and cultural assistant positions for one year can be arranged in Spain, Italy and other countries to word alongside state school teachers.

Securing a work permit or a visa for a European country should be no problem if you are a qualified teacher with experience.

You may only be able to teach for one year as a cultural assistant in Spain or France or you have the option of the Youth Mobility Visa in the UK to teach in a state or independent school in the UK.


Language teacher accommodation

Do not always expect you will be provided with an apartment or villa you are happy with.

I’ve flown out to a teaching post and was specifically told single own accommodation.

When I arrived, you guessed it was 2 sharing. Not happy.

We all require somewhere to sleep and an important factor planning and accepting a job as a teacher in another country is accommodation cost, location and access.

Do you know that many jobs as a teacher don’t come with accommodation or an allowance?

You should always ask where, how far, accessible transport and other questions.

You require being happy with your sleeping and travel arrangements.

20 minute taxi ride to school and then back can break your budget.

Coupled with finding your own accommodation you may not save much each month from you’re salary.


With a realistic plan that includes allowing enough time to become qualified as an English teacher you can set yourself up for years of sustainable teaching in the countries of your choice.

Take time to find out what age group and type of employer works for you from schools, training centres or teach English to adults at university.


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