The Best Countries for Teaching English in 2021
Welcome to another live session. My name is Linda from ITTT and you can find me on social media at @lindagoeseast. Thanks for tuning in, let me just see that everything's working. If you can see me and if you can hear me, please leave a comment as always.
I have been living in South Korea for five and a half years. I am about an hour and a half South of Seoul in a city called Cheongju. It's kind of in the center of South Korea. We are the only province that doesn't border the ocean but it's really great and it's actually snowing right now. I’m excited to be here today as you probably already know what the topic is going to be about today the best countries for teaching English in 2021 because teaching English abroad is not dead, it's still pretty much going, on the demand is still high despite the whole global situation and so that's what we're going to talk about a little bit today and I’ve done a lot of research, asked a lot of people who are currently teaching abroad and also from my own experience in South Korea, what are some great countries for teaching English in 2021, which countries are hiring, what are the requirements currently because some countries have some extra requirements regarding the pandemic and things like that so that's what we're going to cover today.
Watch the live session here
Then at the end or as always you know feel free to throw your questions at me during the live and also at the end there will be a Q&A part so you can you know think about your questions until the end or throw them my way whenever you feel like it so that's how it usually goes and like I said we always do these lives on Fridays or Thursday depending on where you're watching from for me it's Friday 10 a.m. in South Korea and my colleague Lisa does them on Tuesdays and she is from Russia and she's a non-native English speaking ESL teacher so that's also really interesting to get sort of that perspective from someone who is not a native speaker but she has an incredible ESL career. She's doing so many things, she knows a lot about how to get your teaching career started as a non-native English speaker so if that is interesting to you, I highly recommend tuning in on Tuesdays as well and don't forget to like and subscribe. Like our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel depending on where you're watching from because we are live on Facebook and we're also live on YouTube at the same time right now so some people watching from YouTube some people from Facebook but if you hit that like button or the subscribe button, you don't miss any of the future lives so that's really important if you want to keep watching.
Let's get right into it: The best countries for teaching English in 2021.
I prepared a little bit of a visual for you. I always really like to use them if you've seen my lives. Disclaimer: This is based on my personal research and opinion. Things change all the time, I think everybody's aware of that. Now, things can change very quickly from one day to the next. So always you know, stay up to date, do your own research and I highly recommend reading a lot of blogs of people who are currently teaching abroad and also there's a lot of Facebook groups. There's like ESL teachers in China, ESL teachers in Latin America and all these different groups. Those are really great resources to get accurate and most recent information and that's also where I reached out to people and gathered my information from. So, I am trying my best to provide you with the most up-to-date and first-hand information from people, who are currently teaching in those countries.
Okay, first I already mentioned a little bit about myself but besides ITTT, I am also a travel writer and a content creator under Linda Goes East. So, you can find my own website at lindagoeseast.com and you can find me on social media @lindagoeseast. I am from Germany/USA. I was born and raised in Germany. My mom is German and my dad is American and I finished part of my education in the U.S. Since 2015, I have been based in South Korea.
I am also a TEFL/TESOL marketing professional and TEFL expert at ITT. You can find ITTT at teflcourse.net and on Instagram at @internationaltefltraining - check that out.
The demand for English language instruction.
If you've seen my lives before you've probably seen this slide a couple of times but I really like to use it just to kind of get an idea of what the demand is really like and nothing has really changed. Since it all started there's still two billion people speaking and learning English worldwide, that's a huge number and is estimated to continue to grow in the next years. So, that's really great.
300 million people are learning and speaking English and China alone.
So, China is the largest market for teaching English abroad and the Chinese government has started in back in 2015 to you know introduce different initiatives to get more English teachers to come to China to teach in all parts of the country, not only Beijing, Shanghai, you know the big cities but also in smaller cities all across the country. So, the demand in China is really big. Then, I would like to mention here these different programs that there are, there are a lot of government-funded programs in many different countries that aim at attracting foreign English teachers to come to their countries to teach. Those are usually really great ways to get into teaching. So, some of the best known programs for that are the EPIK program in South Korea, the JET program in Japan, the TAPIF program in France and the NET scheme in Hong Kong but there's also many more many others and you know countries are continuously coming out with their own programs for attracting English teachers to their countries.
50% of teachers teaching abroad stay a second year.
So, that's sort of great to know for people who want to go abroad. So, if half of the teachers stay then it means you know they love it. They like it, they don't want to go back home and it also means that it creates a huge turnover each year, which is basically like a revolving door of job openings for all of you who want to go abroad and teach English.
So every year 50% of the jobs are opening up again.
So, there's always opportunities out there for teaching English.
And you're right, TAPIF sounds really cool. So, TAPIF is the program in France. We do have it on our FAQ page for more information. So, if you go to teflcourse.net/FAQ and then you look for TAPIF. You can find more information there or you just head to Google and go to the official TAPIF page. You can also find all the information there.
There's also the Cultural Ambassadors Program in Spain. There's a program, I believe in the Czech republic, and in Hungary. In many countries, they have a lot of these programs. There's another one in South Korea called the TaLK program. So, there's a lot of options there and it's great, especially for first-time teachers because they really get support in the program because those people working for the programs, they do this every year. So, they know how it all works and they are really there for you and guide you. So, it's great for first-time teachers to get into a program like this but also depending on the program. You know they are competitive. So, you do want to look at the requirements and then maybe get additional certifications do some volunteering, get some experience and then you can definitely get in.
Our ITTT blog is also a great resource like some of our graduates, they do write blog posts for us and we have a lot of content about teaching. Recently, we published some posts about an Australian girl, teaching under the JET program in Japan. So, that's really interesting, you should check that out. It's also on teflcourse.net/blog Now, I would like to start talking about specific countries for teaching abroad in 2021 and first up we have China. As I mentioned earlier, China is the biggest market for teaching English abroad. So, no wonder it still is in this list as well and I do want to say, I ordered these countries alphabetically.
Why should you go to teach in China?
I also taught English in China. I lived in China a total of a year and a half. I absolutely loved it and it's a beautiful country. Lots of different scenery, lots of different places to see in one big country. It's really easy to travel around by train, high-speed train or domestic flights. You have everything from mountains to beaches, you have forests, you have deserts. I mean, it's really great but they also have a lot of attractive benefits for teachers, such as free accommodation paid airfare and an end-of-year, end-of-contract bonuses for many teachers. The salaries are also not that bad between $1,000 and $2,500 U.S. dollars and especially considering the local cost of living, this salary really goes a long way and you're able to save a lot from your paycheck as well.
The opportunities for most teachers in China are at public schools, kindergartens, boarding schools, universities and international schools. The requirements generally are a bachelor's degree, two years of teaching experience and a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours and I have a question about this here.
Does our nationality affect our chances of working in China?
So, China is still one of the countries that don't have this policy that they only hire native speakers. You can still find positions if you are not from an English-speaking country, especially in smaller cities. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the super competitive ones, there, they might only hire native English speakers but also not only, so you can definitely still find positions in China even if you're not from an English-speaking country.
So, this is a question that we always get a lot: Do you need to know the language of the country that you want to go to and teach in?
The answer is no - you don't have to know the local language because you are going there as the English teacher. So, when I came to Korea or also before that I taught in China, I did know Chinese because I studied Chinese in school but it wasn't necessary. In my job, everyone at the school speaks English and you're supposed to only speak English with your students but it helps a lot in your daily life, for you personally for getting around and maybe getting rapport with your boss and stuff like that if you know a little bit of the local language but it is not a requirement also in my school in Korea. They also they had an English-only policy, so you're only supposed to speak English in the school and with your students.
Leslie is asking: Is there an ideal age employers look for in teachers or age range you should be in for China or in general?
China has a retirement age and I believe it's 60. So, if you're over 60 and you want to go to China it might be problematic and it also kind of depends on the individual school, the employer or basically there's this thing where for younger students like kindergarten, they prefer younger teachers because they think they're more energetic, they have more energy to handle the little kids and then for older students or adult students, they would prefer older teachers. But this really depends on the individual school and your experience and all this stuff.
Do they accept non-native teachers who have sufficient skills?
Yes, I just mentioned that a few minutes ago, they do. In China, they do hire people from anywhere. There is no particular law or rule about that so if you have your TEFL if you have a bit of experience, perhaps if you have maybe an English proficiency certificate, then you can definitely get hired and I highly recommend you tune in on Tuesday for my colleague Lisa's live sessions. She's a non-native English speaker and she has taught in China and she's teaching online and she knows a lot about that and I think this would be really interesting to you.
Okay let's move on to the next one: Colombia.
Colombia is one of those places that are considered emerging markets in the TEFL field. There's a huge demand for qualified English teachers. Nowadays, in Colombia most of the jobs for teachers can be found in private schools and or private schools. They typically pay the best and then you also get extra benefits such as housing stipend and health insurance. The salaries are not the highest in Latin America but also the cost of living is not the highest. In Colombia, the salaries range between 700 and 1,000 US dollars per month and what a lot of teachers do is, they take on private tutoring students to private tutor to top up their salaries. You do need to be a native English speaker and you need to have a college degree and a TEFL certificate and there's also no quarantine required anymore but again things change all the time. So, it might change again. So, just check that information before you go obviously. Colombia is a good option if you're interested in Latin America. The demand is very high.
Someone asks if an associate degree counts as a college degree or do you mean a bachelor's?
So most of these are four-year degrees. There is the TaLK program in Korea; you can do this one after two years after an associate degree but usually when I say college degree I mean bachelor's degree.
Gwendolyn asks: how does the salary compare to the cost of living in Colombia?
So the cost of living in Colombia is very low so you will definitely be able to save a bit however there are no extra benefits there so you would have to pay for your own housing and things like that so it can be a bit rough. That's why a lot of teachers top up their salary with extra teaching, extra tutoring
Now: teaching English in Germany
I did a live two or three weeks ago with an ITTT grad who is currently in Germany so if you're interested in moving to Germany and teaching there, you should check out that live. It's with Life of Brit, Brittany. You can find it on our Youtube or on our Facebook page and then you can watch that. It's really interesting.
Germany is on the list and it was on many different lists for 2021, so I included it here even though Europe is a little problematic right now but, why go to Germany?
You can find jobs in a variety of settings so they can be freelance part-time or even full-time in a wide variety of settings. So, I am from Germany. I was born and raised there and I went to special like language schools and we did have ESL teachers there and I had American teachers, British teachers, Irish, I also think from New Zealand, from Australia really from anywhere so there's definitely a market there. Most positions are in large cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and salaries vary greatly so that's one thing there's no specific number because some jobs are freelance some are part-time, full-time and it also depends if you work for a company or for school. The requirements are also kind of strict so that's why it can be difficult to get there. A lot of companies also prefer German language skills even if it's just basic language skills, also a bachelor's degree, a TESOL certificate, then some only hire people with a EU passport because they just don't want to deal with the lengthy visa process for people from other countries but Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians they can apply for a working holiday visa. So that's a great option.
Which countries take non-native teachers with a CELTA qualification?
A lot of countries and I recommend checking out our FAQ page and you can find an article about exactly your question there so look out for that and like I said, tune in on Tuesdays for my for my co-worker Lisa, who is a non-native English speaker and she knows a lot about this stuff as well so I recommend that.
Can teachers from Asian countries apply for a job in Germany?
Generally yes and there are schools and companies who will sponsor visas but it is not the norm. It might be difficult but if you have all the other qualifications, German language skills, a bachelor's degree, a TEFL certificate and they really want to hire you, they like you, they like your teaching, then definitely it's possible. If you see a job offer and that goes for everyone and every job offer, even if you don't fulfill all the requirements stated on the job offer, still apply because you never know. Some job offers just have ridiculous requirements that nobody can meet and so the companies and the schools know that too, so if you fulfill like 80% of the requirements then you still might get the job - you never know.
Moving on to: teaching English in Japan
Japan is also a very big country for English teaching. I have many friends who have taught in Japan, who are thinking about teaching in Japan, who are in Japan right now and like I said, we recently published some blog posts from an ITTT grad who is currently teaching in Japan so check that out on our blog.
Japan also has attractive benefits: paid airfare, housing, health insurance and a contract completion bonus - similar to China and Korea. Some of the highest salaries to be found anywhere in Asia, so that's usually between $2,000 and $6,000 US dollars, so depending on what kind of school you work at, you can make a lot of money in Japan.
Then, there's the JET program so that's a teaching program, like I mentioned at the beginning that places foreign English teachers into public schools in Japan. It's a really popular program, very well established, one of the oldest teaching programs out there and it's a really great way to get to Japan. I believe you cannot choose where you want to teach, so if you apply for the JET program that's usually kind of how those programs go you can't choose where you want to teach. Some might allow a preference but it doesn't mean that you can pick and choose and end up there but you might because they are competitive and a lot of people do want to go to Tokyo and those big cities but you might end up in a more rural town.
The requirements are usually that you need to have a degree, and again it's a bachelor's degree, a four-year degree in any subject, so it doesn't have to be English, it doesn't have to be TEFL or TESOL or education or things like that. It can be any major. You need to be fluent in the English language. So it doesn't say you need to be a native English speaker, it doesn't say you need to be from an English-speaking country, it says you need to be fluent in the English language so that's a great opportunity for people from everywhere and you need to have a strong desire and willingness to pass on your language knowledge to your students.
That's usually what they say, especially the job program, that's like their mission.
Okay Irma asks: Is there a big chance that an individual with no teaching experience but with a degree and TEFL and TESOL certificate can be hired in any country?
So I would say the majority of TEFL, TESOL, ESL teachers going abroad don't have any teaching experience. A lot of them are fresh out of college and so they get hired. I didn't have any teaching experience when I was hired. Most of the people that I know had no prior experience per se, so it's definitely possible for sure. You probably get a higher salary. When I first taught in China and then I came to Korea and I had teaching experience from teaching in China, I did get a higher salary in Korea. I still worked with a lot of people there in the school that had no prior experience.
In some countries experience is required but typically it's just a bonus, you know something that sets you apart and something that can get you a higher salary.
What's next: teaching English in Mexico
I see a lot of my American friends are actually in Mexico and some are teaching there. I also know a girl who is a digital nomad there, so Mexico is really great, especially for people from the US because it's so close.
Why go to Mexico?
Most teaching jobs don't include healthcare but your FM-3 visa (that's the work visa in Mexico) will give you access to the national health care system so that's really great. Some schools will also cover your 290 dollar visa fee. Apart from that there are not many benefits going on in Mexico. TEFL jobs in Mexico also range from public and private schools and offering private English lessons to teaching business English to employees of Mexican companies. Business English is very big in Mexico because of the close relations with the US. They have a lot of business English opportunities, so if that's something that you're interested in, I highly recommend looking into Mexico because in Asia you can still find business English opportunities but it's mostly targeted at children (that can be anything from kindergarten to elementary/middle school, high school, university). I have also taught business English at companies in South Korea but those were not full-time jobs but rather part-time/seasonal kind of things but you can still find them.
The salaries in Mexico range between 210 and 1,070 US dollars per month, so this is a huge gap. Obviously it really depends on what kind of company you work for, your experience, your qualifications, your background - all of these things like play a role but also consider the lower cost of living in Mexico. The requirements are typically a four-year degree or being a native English speaker, so it doesn't say anything about nationality.
Gwendolyn asked: Is it harder to work in Mexico as an Asian national?
So the requirements say a four-year degree or be a native English speaker. It doesn't really say anything about nationality so you are definitely welcome to apply and a TEFL certificate is also required.
Gwendolyn has another question: Do we need the business English certificate to teach business English?
No, you don't need it to teach business English but if you have never taught business English before it's definitely helpful and you know it's also just an additional qualification to have in your portfolio to stand out and to have better chances among the competition. That's why I definitely recommend it. I also did the business English course and I found it to be really helpful actually.
Next up: South Korea
South Korea continues to be a great destination for teaching English abroad also in 2021. There are also a lot of attractive benefits in South Korea, such as paid airfare, paid housing, the pension scheme, which you basically pay into the national pension scheme and then when you leave Korea you get all of that money back. So depending on how long you stay, it's a couple thousand dollars that you then get in addition to your end of contract bonuses and all of that, so that's really nice.
South Korea also has some of the highest salaries to be found anywhere in Asia between 1,600 to 2,400 U.S dollars. There are the EPIK and the TaLK program, so again those are two government-funded programs that place teachers into public schools in South Korea.
The requirements are usually a bachelor's degree in any subject and a TEFL certificate - but for South Korea, you need to be a passport holder of certain English-speaking countries to get this E-2 visa. For the E-2 teaching visa, you need to be from either Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. However, there are some workarounds if you're not from one of those countries. South Korea also has a work and travel visa for many countries, for example.
There's also creator visas you could get and there's other options for long-term visas or if you're a student here and you graduate things like that so there's different kinds of options.
Mouza Mozaware asked: When will China start issuing visas and what are the latest news to go to China?
I just talked about that in the beginning so you could re-watch that part but basically China is issuing visas for teachers right now you just need an additional document called a PU letter, which is an invitation letter and usually your company or the school will get that for you.
Kenny asks how do countries hire teachers for international teacher jobs?
You know this was also the case before COVID-19. A lot of countries hire in advance when you are still in your own country and then it usually goes like a Skype interview. That's not really new. So you do a Skype interview and sometimes you also have to teach a mock lesson where they would give you a topic you have to teach and you prepare a 20-minute mock lesson and teach it. Sometimes you need to record it and send it to them, too.
We have a question from Mahdi: Is it the teacher who chooses the course book and what to be taught or is is it the school's responsibility?
This depends on the school. When I taught English in China, the school had course books but you could also create your own lesson plans and your own activities. At the school that I worked for in South Korea, they provided everything. They had a very outlined curriculum at that school because it was a national chain so the idea is that all of those schools do the same thing every week basically and it needs to be in line with all the other schools in the country. So we knew exactly what we had to do and when and what page and which worksheet etc. So, it depends. Some schools want their teachers to create the materials and the curricula and other schools give you all the necessary material.
Next up: Thailand
Why go to Thailand? I think the picture already speaks for itself. I really want to go there. Also most teachers in Thailand work at government schools or in private language academies. Most positions are also found in the bigger cities, usually in Bangkok, in Chiang in the north or in Phuket in the South and the salaries in Thailand usually range between 800 to 1,000 US dollars per month. Again, consider the low cost of living in Thailand compared to the west and your salary will actually go a long way. the requirements for teachers coming to Thailand is typically having a four-year degree in any subject - again it doesn't have to be in English, it doesn't have to be education etc. - and they usually want a TEFL training course of at least 100 hours. So our 120 hour course is the best pick for that.
We at ITTT get a lot of job offers for Thailand that you can find in our job section. There are a lot of Thailand offers.
Kenny asks: my friend has Indian nationality and is planning to move to Singapore. He's looking for a teacher job in Singapore. What kind of degree is required and laws?
Okay, I don't have Singapore in this presentation right now but I actually heard from somebody from Singapore that they are hiring but it is harder to get a work visa in Singapore right now. So I’m not quite sure. I would recommend that your friend reaches out to the local embassy or consulate in Singapore to make sure he gets the most up-to-date information because from what I’ve heard it is getting harder and the country is pretty much still isolated. I don't think anybody can really leave and enter at the moment and as I said it's harder to get this work visa right now in Singapore.
Chibi says Thailand can allow associates too. My friend had an associate's in English and she's been teaching English in Thailand for over three years.
Interesting. Maybe because she had an associate’s in English because the bachelor's degree is OK in any subject, so perhaps it's because she had an associate's degree but it was specifically in English and it also probably depends on where it is. If it's like one of those big cities Bangkok Chiang Mai or Phuket or if it's like some other maybe smaller town then probably they would maybe tune their requirements down a bit. I’m not quite sure but that's interesting and good to know.
Does Thailand only accept a degree connected to teaching?
No, so you can have a degree in any subject a four-year degree in any subject but like Chibi just said that her friend is teaching in Thailand and she has an associate's degree (that's two years) but that associate’s degree was in English. So, what I’m thinking is that her friend may have gotten the job because she has an associate’s degree in English but the four-year bachelor's degree can be in any subject. It doesn't have to be English or education or teaching. I hope that answers the question.
Keshav asks: Do all countries need TEFL training?
So there are a lot of countries where a TEFL or TESOL certificate is not a requirement but it is sort of getting to a level where a TEFL certificate is becoming a standard and everyone who doesn't have one will stand out. So, we always definitely recommend getting a TEFL and most of my friends who are teachers abroad they have a TEFL or they started out teaching and then the laws or regulations changed and then they got a TEFL certificate.
Antonio asked: Is it mandatory to have a college degree to teach as a TEFL?
In many countries, it is required to have a four-year degree to teach but there are still countries where it's not a requirement and for that I recommend checking out our FAQ page because there is a list of countries which hire teachers without a degree.
Next: Why go to the United Arab Emirates?
It's a really interesting place and 90% of the population there is comprised of expatriates from all over the world so I think that's really interesting. I would love to also teach there for like a year or so. It'd be really cool and it seems like a very multicultural environment and I think that's what attracts a lot of people there. The UAE also have a lot of attractive benefits like paid airfares, furnished apartments, health insurance and a contract completion bonus, just like a lot of the Asian countries that I’ve mentioned. The middle east has the highest EFL salaries anywhere and you can make between US$2,500 and US$5,500 per month and that is tax free. So that's a huge incentive for many people to go to this region to teach. The requirements are typically stricter than in other regions: A bachelor's degree (also in any subject - but it's definitely preferred if it's in English or education TESOL etc.), a TEFL certification of at least 100 hours and they usually also want previous teaching experience. So this would be a great region or country to go to after you've already taught somewhere and then sort of as a next step if you're looking to go to a new exciting place and make a lot of money.
Taylor asks if non-natives can also apply or is it just for native speakers.
So being a native speaker is not a requirement in the United Arab Emirates. They look at your qualifications, your degree, certifications and if you are a non-native English speaker, they probably want English proficiency certificates like a Cambridge certificate or an IELTS. So that's what I recommend to get.
Why go to teach English in Vietnam?
So most teachers in Vietnam are employed by private language schools. They don't really hire foreign teachers in public schools and most positions can be found in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi, the biggest cities of the country. Salaries are also not quite bad and range between US$1,200 and US$2,000 per month. The low cost of living means the salaries will go a long way. Usually for Vietnam, you need to be a native English speaker and you need to have a bachelor's degree. Many employers will also insist on a TEFL or TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours duration. I know a lot of people teaching in Vietnam and they love it . There's also so much to see and do.
Irma asks: How about non-native English speakers? Is there any possibility to be hired in Vietnam?
I do believe so. Even though the requirements do say be a native English speaker but again if your certifications are on top, you have your degree, maybe you even have a degree in education and teaching, you have your TEFL maybe you have more than 120 hours, maybe you have teaching experience, then you can still find a position in Vietnam.
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