If you enroll on a TEFL or TESOL certification course with ITTT you get to decide which acronym you have printed on your certificate. Either TEFL or TESOL is fine as they are used interchangeably throughout much of the English language teaching world. However, if you have a clear plan as to where you want to work, it is worth doing a bit of research to see which of the two is more commonly used in your chosen destination. If most employers are asking for TEFL qualified teachers in their job adverts then it makes sense to go with that option, and vice versa if TESOL certificates are more common.
Once you have completed your course and have received your TEFL or TESOL certificate, you can then start applying for jobs. There are a huge number of teaching positions available at any one time, in countries all over the world. So what are the most popular options and why?
TEFL or TESOL in Europe
Europe remains a popular destination for teaching English abroad as pay and working conditions are typically good and for many the cultural differences are less extreme than in some other parts of the world. Teachers who have a passport from an EU member country might find they have an advantage in some markets as employers are often reluctant to go through the red tape involved in employing non-EU teachers. However, there are still plenty of options for any nationality if you are willing to put in the effort when job searching and are happy to be a bit flexible with your choice of destination.
Common teaching destinations in Europe
There are over 40 countries within the borders of Europe, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to looking for EFL teaching jobs. Major destinations where jobs are plentiful include:
One of the main downsides of these destinations is the relatively high cost of living, particularly in major cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Paris, and Rome. In recent years Central and Eastern European nations have become increasingly popular as the cost of living is much more affordable in comparison and jobs are still widespread. These growing destinations include:
- The Czech Republic
Other European countries to look out for
Away from the teaching hotspots in the major capitals of Europe you can expect less competition for each vacant position and less financial pressure on accommodation, transport and socializing. Countries that offer an experience that is a little off the beaten path include:
These are all proven options, with high job numbers and a comfortable lifestyle generally a given. Although on the fringe of Europe, Turkey still demands a mention as it has one of the fastest growing markets for English teachers in the region. Job numbers are increasing every year and so are the salaries.
Pros and cons of teaching English in Europe
One of Europe’s top attractions is that the local cultures are not so far removed from those of many first-time teachers, making the transition to international travel, living, and work that less intimidating. The local food should also be similar to what you are used to, although still different enough to be exciting. Exploring the wider region in your spare time should also be straightforward as transport links are generally good and distances between countries quite small in many cases.
The main downside of teaching in Europe is the cost of living. The high price of rent and living expenses in major cities has started to price them out of the equation for many people. A week's rent on an apartment in Paris, for example, could be enough to pay for a month in a less known but equally exciting destination such as Krakow, Poland. When evaluating job offers in Europe it is vital to weigh up the salary offered alongside the local cost of living as you don’t want to be working in one of the world’s most amazing cities without the income needed to enjoy what it has to offer.
TEFL or TESOL in Asia
It is no secret that Asia is at the center of English language teaching as there are far more jobs on offer here than in any other part of the world. The number of countries in the region is similar to Europe, however, they are spread over an area more than four times the size and have a combined population that is over six times that of Europe. This huge size and population means there are countless destinations to choose from and vast numbers of potential students waiting to be taught.
Common teaching destinations in Asia
Asia is home to some of the world’s largest teaching markets in countries such as:
Any job search will come up with plenty of options in these countries as there are often more vacant positions than qualified teachers to fill them. These destinations are also attractive as the financial packages offered are usually very generous. Many teachers apply and interview for a job before leaving home and most of the paperwork such as work permits and visas is sorted out by the school. Many jobs also come with paid or subsidized accommodation and your flights in and out of the country might also be covered.
Other Asian countries to look out for
Thailand is always popular as jobs are easy to find and the lifestyle is famously laidback. Many people find the friendly nature of the culture and the slower pace of life to be a great option when looking to teach English in Asia. The average salaries are not on a par with the big markets in the region, but the chance to live and work in a paradise setting is something many people love to experience. Other countries that offer similar options where lifestyle is more important than income include:
Pros and cons of teaching English in Asia
The big attraction in this part of the world is often the high salaries that are routinely on offer. The highest-paying TEFL markets in Asia include:
- South Korea
It is commonplace for newly-qualified teachers to land a job in one of these countries that pays a good salary and includes extras such as accommodation, flights, and other bonuses. Teachers are typically able to live a comfortable lifestyle and still save a considerable percentage of their monthly salary.
One of the most common downsides to teaching in Asia is culture shock. If you are not used to foreign travel and have never lived away from home, moving to a country with a different language, different food, and a vastly different culture can be an issue. Another problem for some is that Asia can be a long way from home and it can be difficult to make trips to visit family and friends. Despite these potential problems, the vast majority of teachers find the positives far outweigh the negatives when teaching English in this part of the world.
TEFL or TESOL in Latin America
EFL teaching in North, Central and South America is a popular option, although potential salaries are often not as high as you might find in Asia or Europe. Many teachers come to this region to gain classroom experience before heading elsewhere where salaries are higher and previous experience essential. It is also a common option for teachers wanting to learn or improve their Spanish language skills as you will be immersed in the language on a daily basis and potential tutors can be found everywhere. Some jobs will even include local Spanish lessons as part of your teaching contract.
Common teaching destinations in Latin America
Latin America covers around 20 countries, most of which have a good market for TEFL or TESOL qualified teachers. At the top-end of the scale are countries such as:
Argentina and Chile are two long-established teaching destinations that offer a relatively familiar culture and infrastructure. Jobs are common in major towns and cities and work permits and visas are not hard to come by for many nationalities. Mexico is a vast country with a seemingly inexhaustible need for qualified teachers. It is also a very popular tourist hotspot which makes it even more attractive to foreign teachers.
Other Latin American countries to look out for
Across the region there are several other great destinations to consider, depending on how adventurous you want to be. Common countries with plenty of job options include:
- Costa Rica
If you are keen to explore countries that are less common, but still have plenty of opportunities, you should also take a look at up-and-coming destinations such as:
Although the average salaries will be less than in more established teaching locations, the competition for jobs will also be less and the options for excitement and adventure will be endless.
Pros and cons of teaching English in Latin America
One of the big attractions of Latin America is that it is in similar time zones and relatively close to the USA and Canada. Each year, many thousands of teachers head south to work in schools and language centers across the region. During holidays it is relatively easy to head home for a visit or to meet up with friends and family somewhere in between. Another bonus of this region is the low level of requirements specified by many employers. As long as you have completed your TEFL/TESOL training, you should have little trouble finding something suitable.
You should probably not expect to earn a large salary while working in Latin America. Well-paid teaching jobs do exist, but most will not be in the same league as other regions. It can also be difficult to secure long-term work permits or visas for some countries. Often, schools and language centers lack the resources required to go down the legal route and simply employ teachers on a standard tourist visa. While this rarely causes any problems for the teacher, it can make it hard to feel settled when you are only on a temporary visa.
TEFL or TESOL in the Middle East
Although technically a part of Asia, we always give the Middle East its own section due to the huge number of opportunities available. Jobs are widespread and most of them can be secured before you leave home. For many teachers this is a real bonus as you can carry on working or studying right until the last minute, allowing more time to save and prepare for your overseas adventure. You will also find some of the highest paying jobs anywhere in the TEFL world in this region, although many of these will require some amount of classroom experience before being eligible to apply.
Common teaching destinations in the Middle East
The Middle East region is dominated by two major markets for overseas teachers:
Both countries are popular due to the large number of jobs available and the high salaries and extra benefits that are normally provided. Jobs can be found in private and public schools catering to all ages of students. Whether you prefer to work at kindergarten level or with adult learners, you should find something to suit. Outside of the big two, there are several other countries that are well worth considering including:
Both are rapidly growing in popularity as the number of opportunities grow and the pay steadily rises.
Other Middle Eastern countries to look out for
Egypt is a big player in the TEFL and TESOL world as job numbers are huge and the expected requirements for teachers are relatively low. Previous classroom experience is not always necessary and non-native English speakers can confidently apply for the majority of jobs. Two other countries that have burst onto the scene in recent years are:
Large public investment in education has rapidly led to a steep increase in job options in these countries and teachers worldwide have been quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Pros and cons of teaching English in the Middle East
As well as paying high salaries, many countries in the Middle East are tax-free and added extras routinely include free accommodation, paid airfares, and cash bonuses. The employer will also make most of the travel and visa arrangements for you. Due to the packages available in the Middle East many teachers are able to live a good quality of life and still save a large amount of their income each month.
In order to be eligible for most high-end jobs in the Middle East you will need to have some previous experience, which can make it hard for first-time teachers to get their foot in the door. Another issue to consider is the local culture and traditions which might not suit everyone. Some countries have very conservative societies and the roles of men and women in everyday life can be quite different to what you are used to. Before deciding that a country is right for you, we recommend you do some research into daily life to ensure it is a suitable destination.