The Best Places for Non-Native English Speakers to Teach English Abroad
Although it is true that there are some countries where employers will only consider native English speaking ESL teachers, either due to government restrictions or simply personal preference, there are still plenty of great opportunities across the world for non-native English speakers. In this article, we look at the best teaching destinations for people who are not from one of the countries generally consider to be native English speaking. Typically, these countries are Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the USA.
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Where to Teach English in Asia
Due to the huge demand for foreign English language teachers across much of Asia, there are always plenty of jobs available regardless of your native language. So what are the best options for non-native English speakers in Asia?
Teaching in Thailand
Known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ due to its welcoming nature, Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia for ESL teachers from around the world. There is a strong demand for teachers in many parts of the country and jobs are always available at any time of the year. In order to qualify for a work permit, you will need a four-year degree and be able to prove that you have a high standard of English that is equivalent to 600+ on the TOEIC test, or 5+ on the IELTS test. Although not an official requirement, a TEFL certification will also improve your chances in the job market.
Sign up for our in-class TEFL/TESOL course in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket and check out our Thailand country guide.
Teaching in Cambodia
As one of the rising stars in the ESL teaching world, Cambodia is another great option for non-native English speakers in Southeast Asia. As the demand for teachers currently outweighs the available supply, there are few restrictions on who can legally work in the country. Regardless of your nationality or academic qualifications, if you are keen to find a teaching job you should have little problem finding one in Cambodia. Although you shouldn’t expect to earn as much as in some other countries in the region, Cambodia does offer a friendly and vibrant culture which creates a perfect environment for gaining valuable classroom experience.
Sign up for our in-class TEFL/TESOL course in Siem Reap or Koh Kong City and check out our Cambodia country guide.
Teaching in China
While work visas for foreign teachers are restricted to native English speakers only, China’s unrivaled demand means that there are still plenty of opportunities for everyone in this vast country. At any given time there are many thousands of teaching positions waiting to be filled which leads employers to try any means possible to attract the staff they need. One of the most common options is to provide a teacher with a business visa which allows them to stay in the country. While it is technically illegal to teach with this visa, it is still a popular option for many who want to benefit from all that the world’s largest teaching market has to offer.
Sign up for our in-class TEFL/TESOL course in Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, or Zhuhai and check out our China country guide.
Where to Teach English in Latin America
The good news for non-native English speakers is that there are few restrictions on who can teach English in most countries in the Latin America region. Jobs are plentiful in many areas and we would certainly recommend the following countries right now.
Teaching in Mexico
With a population of over 120 million and a very close trade relationship with its northern neighbor the USA, Mexico has an unsurprisingly high demand for English language teachers. The capital Mexico City is home to the largest market for teachers, although there are also several other major cities worth looking at, including Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, and Tijuana. If you prefer a sea breeze to the hustle and bustle of the city, you may want to check out some of the country’s many popular beach resorts such as Acapulco or Cancun where the thriving tourist industry ensures there is always a need for English teachers.
Teaching in Costa Rica
Although relatively small in size compared to many other countries in the region, Costa Rica has long been a popular destination for foreign English teachers. As well as the attraction of its many natural wonders, Costa Rica is particularly popular as it is possible to work legally on nothing more than a common tourist visa. The majority of teaching jobs can be found in the capital and largest city San Jose, while the country’s booming tourist industry has also created other hot spots in towns and cities across the country.
Sign up for our in-class TEFL/TESOL course in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica and check out our Costa Rica country guide.
Teaching in Colombia
Like Cambodia, Colombia is a rising star in the ESL teaching world. Although it was effectively off limits for most visitors for many years, Colombia is now a rapidly developing nation that has a great deal to offer foreign teachers. The country’s vastly improved security situation has led to a surge in foreign business dealings and international tourism that has created a strong need for English language instructors. If you are looking for a destination that is still developing and is ripe with opportunities then Colombia could be the perfect place for you.
An Honorable Mention Goes to: Turkey
Although teaching opportunities for non-native English speakers are often quite limited in much of Europe, Turkey is one country that is certainly worth a look. Although a degree and previous teaching experience are generally required for the best paying jobs, there are always plenty of options available regardless of your nationality. The most important thing is to speak to the employer either directly or via Skype so you can prove your English language skills in person. As it occupies a unique position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Turkey is also a great location for exploring farther afield.
If you want to find out more about living and working in Turkey, check out our Turkey country guide.
Job Hunting Tips
As a non-native English speaker, it is essential that you do all you can to maximize your employability. One very positive step you can take is to complete a TEFL certification course before applying for jobs. This will not only equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to impress potential employers, but also prove that you take your role as an educator seriously. You might also consider gaining some classroom experience before leaving home by volunteering in community centers or language schools in your hometown.
A new teaching career awaits you regardless of your native language!
As you can see, being a non-native English speaker should be no barrier to achieving your dream of teaching English abroad. By choosing the right destination you can get started on a long and successful career as an international English language teacher.
Speak with an ITTT advisor today to put together your personal plan for teaching English abroad.
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