How to Teach English in Foreign Countries


Would you like to see the world without joining the Navy? If you teach English as a foreign language you can work your way around the world. The job itself involves traveling to another country and giving lessons in English to students whose native language is not English.

Things You'll Need

  • English as a Foreign Language Teaching Certification
  • Current C/V
  • Valid passport
  • College degree (helpful but not required everywhere)
  • Recent photo
  • Get your English as a Foreign Language Teaching certification. Most schools will not hire you without one. Certifications carry various acronyms: CELTA, TESOL, TESL, TEFL, FELT or Cert TESOL, depending on which program they follow. The course you choose should last at least 4 weeks and should include a minimum of 6 hours of observed and critiqued teaching practice with non-English speaking students.

  • Decide which part of the world you want to work in. South Korea offers better pay and a higher standard of living than most of Asia, but China offers a more laid back life style. Thailand has great beaches, but the work visa application process is strenuous. Many people pick up Spanish with greater ease than they do Asian languages, but in Central America jobs are hard to come by and don't pay very well.

  • Apply to the country of your choice. Check the International Job Boards at Dave's ESL Café and pick out a few schools. Be prepared to send a C/V, photocopies of your passport, TEFL certification, diplomas and degrees and well as a recent photo.

  • Participate in a telephone interview with possible employers. Speak slowly and clearly. Respond to questions with straightforward answers. You should be prepared to explain why you think you are a good candidate for the job and what sort of teaching methods you plan to use in your classroom.

  • Prepare a demonstration lesson and an introduction lesson. If you do well on your interview you may be asked to give a demonstration lesson to your prospective employers. Choose a general topic like the weather or the food pyramid and be sure to include at least one activity. The introduction lesson will be used on your first day with a new class and should focus on you and your students getting to know each other. Plan it now and practice it in front of people. If you're new to teaching, you will probably be very nervous prior to walking into your first class. Especially if it is in a school with 100 students per class room.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you accept a position, learn a few basic words and phrases in the local language. Check the Internet for reports from other teachers for every school that makes you an offer. If they're known for not paying on time or treating their staff poorly, a former teacher is likely to have reported it online. Don't take the first offer you get unless you're certain it's the one you want. If you want complete immersion in local culture, apply to a country school. If you want to have modern conveniences and social time with other native English speakers, apply to a school in a major city. Practice projecting your voice. Many schools have very large classes and it can be difficult for students seated in the back of the room to hear you.
  • Don't do it for the money. For new teachers, wages tend to be particularly low.

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  • Photo Credit Lisa Parris
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