TEFL guide: Get paid to teach English abroad
Ever thought about teaching English abroad? Find out how to get a TEFL qualification, how to find a job overseas plus the biggest perks of the whole experience.
There are a number of different ways you can do this. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) opportunities vary widely depending on where you choose to travel, how much time and money you’re able to spend on training, and which TEFL course provider you choose to train with.
If you’re thinking about teaching English in a different country, this guide is the place to kick-start your research.
What are TEFL courses and certificates?
TEFL is short for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ and it describes both the experience of teaching English abroad, as well as the process of studying to get the qualification to do so.
A TEFL qualification provides an opportunity to travel the world and earn money in the process. It’s also a chance to get to know a different culture (or cultures, depending on how many different countries you end up teaching in).
You may have come across different terms for teaching English abroad. We go through some of the slight differences between the terms below.
Is a TEFL certificate worth it?
It makes you more employable
Whether you’re interested in a career in teaching or not, choosing to do a TEFL course after graduation is a great way to start your career – whatever industry you’re keen to move into later. A common misconception is that TEFL is only suitable for those interested in pursuing teaching, but this certainly isn’t the case. If you’re keen to travel but worry about taking a full year off from work, teaching English is a great way to avoid any gaps in your CV – and travel can impress potential employers.
You will develop vital work skills
Not only will a TEFL qualification look great on your CV, but teaching English abroad will also give you the opportunity to gain some really invaluable and, most importantly, transferable skills that are worth shouting about. Skills and qualities you will gain from TEFL
Adaptability – Choosing to work somewhere far from home and outside of your comfort zone demonstrates that you enjoy a challenge. Candidates with experience working internationally are attractive to employers as they can be confident you’ll be adaptable and good at handling change.
Resourcefulness – If you choose to teach somewhere really remote, this can involve a bit of problem-solving, as you might encounter obstacles you wouldn’t have faced at a school in the UK (e.g. issues with internet access). Being creative in these situations is a great experience for responding quickly to problems at work.
Commitment – TEFL contracts vary in length but, particularly if you do a long-term placement (i.e. three to six months or more), this shows a lot of dedication and resilience. Working in an unfamiliar country, adapting to the new culture, and sticking with it when it gets tough are likely to give employers a really good impression of you.
Great communication skills – Often when starting out as a TEFL teacher, you won’t speak much (if any) of the language that your students speak. Teaching them your language, despite not speaking theirs, means you’ll need to be creative with communication. Plus, living abroad is bound to improve your ability to learn new languages – a very good skill to have on your CV.
You will make money from traveling if you’re interested in traveling, teaching English as a foreign language is an ultimate way to see the world and make money from it. Whether you fancy a stint living somewhere in Europe, or you’d like to travel much further afield, there are opportunities aplenty to teach English around the world. Some countries that are notoriously difficult to gain working visas for (Turkey, for example) will grant you a visa if you choose to teach English, meaning TEFL opens even more international doors when it comes to living abroad. Plus, as traveling makes you more employable, having experience of working abroad will be a very good way of standing out in future applications.
Job opportunities with a TEFL certificate
As we mentioned, a lot of on-site TEFL courses will come with a guaranteed contract at the end of your training, so the obvious perk of this is that you won’t have to search for a job once you’re qualified.
However, if you decide to go for a course that’s taught entirely online, or is taught in the UK, you might need to get job hunting afterward.
One option would be to travel to your destination and look for teaching work when you get there.
If this is how you’d like to play it, we’d recommend doing a fair bit of research before you arrive (checking ex-pat forums, looking up schools in the area, etc.). When you get there, start looking in local newspapers, calling up schools, and trying your best at networking.
Another option would be to nail down an opportunity before you arrive. This can be better for your peace of mind, as it gives you a chance to really scope out the best opportunities, rather than going for the first vacancy you come across when you step off the plane.
Most graduate job sites will include a TEFL job listing section.
Once you’ve sent out your applications and nailed your interview you’ll be on your way.
How much do TEFL teachers get paid?
Teaching English abroad won’t exactly make you a millionaire, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make some pennies along the way. Each country is different when it comes to salary – there’s no set TEFL wage.
How much you get paid to teach English as a foreign language depends on a number of factors, like your employer, where you’re working, how much experience you have, and the standard of living in the country you’re teaching in.
You should expect an annual salary of around £14,000 – £25,000, but this can range to upwards of £35,000 with more experience and expertise.
A lot of jobs also include perks that will boost your income substantially.
In China, for instance, teaching salaries don’t appear particularly impressive at first glance, but when your employers are providing you with subsidized rent (or even paying for your accommodation entirely) plus meals, then the rest of your wage is purely spending money!
In countries such as the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Japan, TEFL teachers are often paid really well and receive excellent bonuses such as free airfares and gym membership. For example, many TEFL teachers in South Korea can save up to 1,000,000 South Korean Won (around £650) per month. Nice.
Where to find TEFL jobs online
There are a whole bunch of job sites out there dedicated to advertising TEFL jobs, so you shouldn’t be stuck to finding places to apply. The LoveTEFL jobs board is probably the best and most extensive, allowing you to filter by country and whether you’re a degree holder or not.
Dave’s ESL Cafe is also famous in the TEFL-sphere as having one of the most comprehensive lists of TEFL jobs available. It’s not the easiest to navigate, and you’ll have to hunt through a long list of links, but you’ll likely find some great opportunities.