Where Should You Teach English Abroad?
You've thought about teaching English abroad, but in a world with nearly 200 countries, where do you begin your search? Take this quiz to find out which countries you should look at first!
Which group of words best fits your personality?
What's your educational background?
How much experience do you already have teaching ESL?
Which is your first language/accent?
Which weekend agenda sounds most appealing to you?
All of the following components are important in an English class, but which one appeals to you and fits your skills the most?
What age would your ideal students be?
What's your income goal?
How much risk are you willing to take up front?
What kind of schedule are you willing to have?
How long do you want to teach abroad?
The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates
You want to be a well-paid ESL teacher in a safe and cosmopolitan environment. In exchange for that, you're willing to commit at least a year to this experience and deal with a fair amount of culture shock and adjustment. If you can secure a good job in the competitive ESL market of the UAE, anticipate making $2500-4000 per month. The cost of living in all of these places is high, especially with state of the art shopping malls dotting the boulevards, but if you're lucky and smart, you'll save $800-$2000/mo.
To succeed in the markets listed above, you've got to have the utmost qualifications - a BA or higher, a TEFL or CELTA certificate, and as much ESL teaching experience as you can muster. In many cases, your contract, visa, flight, AND accommodations will be pre-arranged and pre-paid, allowing for a smooth and secure transition into your new home away from home. However , you must be respectful of a more conservative way of life. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially, beware that there are strict codes regarding attire and lifestyle, especially for women. You'll likely live on a comfortable compound with other expats, but you can say goodbye to clubs, bars, movie theaters, and a few personal freedoms. If you're feeling down, just wipe your tears away with all those hundred dollar bills you've stacked up.
You're looking for joy, beauty, friendship, and a nice chunk of savings to take back home with you. These locations, which I affectionately call "the ESL boot camps" are some of the absolute best locations to get started in this career. In these markets, a native English speaker can often get contracted after a phone interview and start teaching and earning money armed with little more than a Bachelor's degree or TEFL certificate, a talent for working with people (including kids), and a great attitude. Some of these countries are still developing, so you should be down to live without some modern conveniences that you're used to. In exchange you'll get gorgeous scenery, wondrous historical sites, postcard beaches, dynastic mountains, and scores of fellow expats with whom you can share your adventures.
Make no mistake - this will be a real job with a real commitment. Expect to sign on for a year of working 20 to 40+ hours per week, making $1400-$2200/month. In some cases, there is potential for free or cheap housing and airfare home. When factoring in the low costs of living, savings potential is almost as high (or higher) in these countries than in the high paid Middle East. On top of that, you're going to have access to some of the most celebrated cuisines in the world -at rock-bottom prices (discluding Japan). And the expat communities in all of the major cities of these countries are thriving.
Will the enterprising and outgoing personality please stand up? I'm talking to the smart, savvy, and personable individual in front of me.
Yeah, that's you. That better be you, since you want to live in one of the most romanticized and cosmopolitan places in the world. Teaching in Buenos Aires, Istanbul, or Rio de Janeiro will gift you with an amazing nightlife, epic dining options, beautiful weekend escapades, and some of the most iconic art and architectural scenes in the world. But it will cost you the requisite ounce of flesh.
First and foremost, you've got to find your way there, as most ESL employers in these countries will not cover airfare. Once there, you'll pound the pavement, resume and diploma/TEFL certificate in tow, looking for a job that you'll probably only have for 3-6 months (...when your tourist visa runs out...because you're being paid under the table). But the good news is that you'll probably get hired on minimal experience and a bright personality. Also, even if you're not a native speaker of English, you might have a shot at working in South America - as long as you're highly skilled in ESL. These cultures tend to hold in-person interactions in higher regard than paper qualifications - which is why these are also great markets for going into business for yourself as a private teacher.
Once settled into your new job, you'll make $500-2000 per month - then turn around and spend it all on rent, food, and your popping social life. You won't save money here; you'll probably break even.
But never mind that! You're not there to make a living; you're there to make a LIFE - in one of the coolest cities in the world.
All good teachers make a difference, but you're basically willing to do it for free. You're a true adventurer who is willing, nay, pining to go WAY off the beaten path in your efforts to see and better the world. However, you may not have the most experience, education, or ambition to make a career out of teaching ESL.
If you teach English in a volunteer program, you'll have many, many options of countries and cities to choose from.
The good news is that almost anyone can do it, whether you're just getting into ESL or are a seasoned veteran of the field. Additionally, if you decide that it's not for you, your time commitment will probably be minimal (10-15 hours a week, for a few weeks or months). This means you'll have ample time to take off and visit all of the amazing sights and sounds your region of choice has to offer. Best of all, you'll have some of the most grateful and dedicated students you've ever encountered.
The bad news is that you'll probably go back home with less money than you arrived with. Just tell the naysayers that you can't put a price on an experience like that.