Pin It

A Guide to Teaching English Abroad

By Alice Baines Hamblin
In Volunteering Advice
Mar 25th, 2014

pic resized

You might not be aware but if you speak English you have one of the biggest skills up your sleeve…mastery of a truly global language. Whilst Mandarin and Spanish may be spoken by a larger proportion of the world’s population, English unites people the world over as a common language of business, media and popular culture.
It’s a great skill to you, because English teachers are in high demand – speaking English is seen as a route to better job prospects and futures for people the world over. It’s also happens to be one of the most challenging languages to learn from scratch.

With this in mind, travelling has never been so easy. Wherever you travel in the world, you will be able to find paid or voluntary work teaching English abroad.It’s an incredible way to meet local people and spread a skill which will help to improve the lives of others – in addition to picking a few new skills up yourself!

Here are our top tips for combining your rucksack, lonely planet guides, a multi-destination flight ticket with your native language.

Convert your skill into a world renowned qualification

The most common qualifications are TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and CELTA (the Cambridge English Language Teaching Award).

There are brilliant courses, short or long, online or residential…google your local area and go from there.  They cover everything from lesson planning, subject syllabus, teaching techniques, and, if needed, a refresher in grammar.  A good course should award you with a certificate of qualification, which needs to be internationally recognisable. It should be at least 120 hours in length and include some classroom teaching experience.

Another popular choice is a ‘weekend TEFL diploma’, or a TEFL short course. These qualifications, although very common, do not demand the same amount of respect as the lengthier courses.

Skill in hand: Find a Job teaching English Overseas

There are 2 main options available to you.  The first is to find a job teaching which pays you (perfect solution) but this can be hard to find. The second is to pay an organization to find the job for you.  Much easier and often the fee includes full board and lodging, transport and an in country back up service should you need.

1.  Finding a salaried teaching job:

Research thoroughly the country to which you want to go. Websites such as and have some invaluable information for jobseekers.

Research the typical salary for a teacher in the area. For example, in China, there is a big difference between working in downtown Shanghai and a rural village. Also what type of English do you want to teach? Is it technical English for business people? Or ABC’s for kids?

You might want to check out the British Council’s website for English language placements throughout the world or Voluntary Service Overseas which advertises voluntary English teaching positions.

2. Finding a volunteering post

This should be the easy part but time to really concentrate as there are loads of volunteering companies, promising the world and in some cases, sadly, delivering not much.  Don’t make your decision based on cost really dig deep and do your due diligence. Good place to start is the American Gap Association and the Year Out Group in the UK.  Both organizations have done this due diligence and shaken out the good from the bad.  They have scratched beneath the surface to check out their safety procedures, management and the all-important quality of projects, posts on offer.

There are some fantastic organisations out there which we can recommend, including Projects abroad , The Leap Overseas and Oyster worldwide. They all offer teaching posts some will require a TEFL and some don’t. Research and find your perfect fit.

Couple of considerations: How long do you want to be in one place, one country? City  or rural?  Travel alone or with a group?  Who do you want to teach, kids or adults?

What I do know is that this is a truly rewarding experience.



Leave a Reply