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A Detailed Guide to become an Expat ESL Teacher

A Detailed Guide to become an Expat ESL Teacher

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ESL jobs have become prominent nowadays, especially for expats seeking reliable employment abroad.

However, lacking information may always seem a hurdle to the people who wish to proceed with this role.

That’s why I wanted to cover all the details regarding how you can become an English teacher abroad.

First, let us look at some basic requirements for people wishing to become an ESL teacher.

If you aspire to teach English abroad, there are essential qualifications and steps you need to follow to embark on this exciting journey.

The TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) allows you to explore new cultures while sharing your language skills.

Here’s a breakdown of the essential requirements and how to prepare for your teaching adventure.

Obtain a TEFL Certification

The foundation of teaching English abroad lies in obtaining a TEFL certification.

A TEFL certification demonstrates your commitment to teaching and equips you with the necessary skills to excel in the classroom.

Reputable employers worldwide seek candidates with accredited TEFL training.

TEFL programs typically consist of a minimum of 100 hours of coursework, including 6-20 hours of live practice teaching with non-native English speakers.

These programs should be accredited by recognized bodies within the field and taught by experienced instructors.

While some countries may hire teachers without a degree, a TEFL certification is often a prerequisite for securing quality job opportunities.

Valid Passport and Visa

Your passport is your ticket to teaching abroad, so ensure it is valid well before your departure date.

Additionally, you’ll need a valid visa to work legally in your destination country.

Visa requirements differ based on the country, and it’s crucial to understand the specific process for your chosen location.

You can speak with an International TEFL Academy (ITA) Admissions Advisor to get guidance on visa requirements and processes.

Questions to consider regarding your visa include:
⁃ What type of visa is required for teaching?
⁃ How long does the visa application process take?
⁃ When does the permit expire, and when should you renew it?
⁃ Are there any associated fees?

It’s important to note that if you plan to teach English online from your home country, visa requirements may not apply.

Financial Preparedness

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Teaching English abroad comes with financial considerations.

You should be financially prepared to cover initial expenses such as your TEFL certification course and airfare.

Additionally, understanding the cost of living in your destination country and your expected monthly salary is crucial for budgeting and financial planning.

Some countries, like South Korea, Vietnam, and China, offer opportunities for English teachers to save a substantial portion of their income.

Therefore, such countries are deemed ideal choices if you wish to pay off debts or build savings.

In contrast, some European and Latin American countries may result in breaking even financially.

Nonetheless, you can supplement your income through private tutoring or online teaching.

Familiarize Yourself with Hiring Processes

Understanding the hiring processes is essential for securing a teaching position in your desired country.

Each country has unique requirements, including educational qualifications, citizenship restrictions, and prerequisites.

Key questions to address include:
⁃ What is the best time of year to find a teaching job?
⁃ What documents are needed for your application?
⁃ Will you conduct in-person interviews or interview remotely?

Familiarizing yourself with these requirements and procedures will set you up for success when you begin your job search.

Gather Country-Specific Documents

Gathering the necessary documents is crucial for making your move abroad possible.

Every country has specific requirements when it comes to documentation.

Some countries may just require minimal documentation like your passport and TEFL certification.

Some others may demand more extensive paperwork, such as background checks, college transcripts, and health assessments.

Your ITA TEFL class will provide guidance on the required documentation for your chosen country.

It’s essential to understand these requirements and start the documentation process well in advance of your departure.

Be Prepared

Teaching English overseas can be a fulfilling and life-changing experience, offering opportunities for growth and cultural immersion.

To embark on this journey, you’ll need:

— A TEFL certificate

— A valid passport

— An open mind

— An adventurous spirit

— Willingness to adapt

Meeting these requirements and taking the necessary steps can make your dream of teaching English abroad a reality.

Remember, ITA advisors are available to answer any questions and guide you through the process.

Best Countries for English Teaching Abroad

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Certain countries stand out as prime destinations if your goal is to teach English abroad while maximizing your income.

These nations offer substantial earnings, allowing you to save anywhere from USD 500 to USD 1,500 each month while experiencing new cultures.

To kickstart your English teaching journey, you’ll typically be required to commit to a one-year contract in these lucrative markets.

Wondering which countries pay the highest salaries to foreign English teachers?

Here are the top five high-paying destinations for teaching English abroad in 2023:

South Korea ($1,800-$2,600 per month)

South Korea emerges as an attractive destination due to its robust economy and strong dedication to education.

This country seamlessly blends modern, high-tech cities with a history and culture spanning thousands of years.

South Korea’s effectiveness in managing the COVID-19 pandemic has led to consistent demand for foreign English teachers.

English teachers often save around 50% of their monthly salary, with potential savings exceeding $1,000 monthly or up to $15,000 annually.

Furnished housing is provided for English teachers in South Korea.

Reimbursement for airfare and a stipend for a return flight upon contract completion.

Completing a 12-month contract typically results in an extra month’s salary as a bonus.

China ($1,200-$2,600 per month)

China boasts a captivating blend of ancient traditions and modern advancements.

With the largest TEFL job market globally, it offers abundant opportunities for English teachers.

The country’s vast population drives the demand for English classes, making it one of the highest-paying ESL job markets worldwide.

Potential to save $500-$1,500 or more per month after expenses.

Many English teachers in China receive free housing and reimbursement for airfare.

Discover the wonders of China’s rich history and culture.

Experience the dynamic urban life in cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen, offering world-class amenities and exciting nightlife.

Japan ($1,700-$2,600 per month)

Japan’s unique blend of culture, cuisine, history, and natural beauty has long made it a sought-after market for English teachers.

The country offers a competitive salary and allows remote hiring, meaning you can secure a teaching position from home.

Potential savings of $600-$800 per month after expenses.

The common practice of remote hiring enables job placement before arrival.

Explore the historic streets of cities like Kyoto and enjoy the modernity of Tokyo.

You also get to experience Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Taiwan ($2,000-$3,000 per month)

Taiwan offers an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Chinese culture while enjoying a subtropical environment.

With low COVID-19 cases, Taiwan remains a safe destination for teaching English.

Potential savings of $500-$700 per month after expenses.

Experience life in a prosperous and democratic Asian society with high living standards.

You can enjoy vibrant street life, colorful markets, and top-notch shopping in Taipei.

Explore Taiwan’s picturesque coastlines and mountainous interior, known for hot springs and breathtaking vistas.

Gulf Arab States ($2,000-$5,000 per month)

The Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), provide some of the highest-paid ESL teaching jobs globally.

These countries have invested significantly in their educational systems, resulting in attractive pay and benefits packages for qualified English teachers.

While competition can be intense, especially for positions requiring a master’s degree or educational background, the salary prospects are lucrative.

Salaries range from $2,000 to $5,000 per month, typically tax-free.

Benefits often include free health insurance, furnished housing or a stipend, and round-trip flights to your home country.

Immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the region.

Explore a variety of travel opportunities with easy access to Europe, Africa, and South Asia.

Vietnam ($1,500-$2,000 per month)

Vietnam is an emerging destination in Asia, known for its blend of cultures and stunning landscapes.

The country offers opportunities for English teachers to save money while experiencing its unique charm.

Affordable living costs and the potential to save up to $600 per month after expenses.

Vibrant cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi offer a mix of modernity and traditional charm.

Vietnam’s beautiful beaches and landscapes make it a fantastic destination for exploration.

Step-By-Step Guide To Be An ESL Teacher

Below is the information related to a step-by-step guide on becoming an ESL teacher.

Conduct Thorough Research and consult an Expert Advisor

It begins with research if you aspire to live overseas, explore the world, and teach English in exciting locations.

Your quest for how to teach English abroad or how to teach English in another country must start with a thorough investigation.

Whether you’re a newcomer to this idea or have previously dabbled in research, your journey will be filled with questions that require answers.

Research plays a pivotal role in your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) success.

Here are some resources to kickstart your exploration:

Compare over 60 countries, with details like salaries, requirements, visa information, and more.

Connect with a TEFL advisor who can address your queries, explain options, and clarify about getting certified and securing a teaching position.

Attend webinars that offer insights into global job markets for teaching English, TEFL certification, and job search guidance.

Identify TEFL Certification Options and Target Countries for Teaching Abroad

You can teach English in numerous countries if you’re a fluent English speaker from a non-English-speaking country and possess TEFL certification.

When considering your options for TEFL certification and potential teaching destinations, various factors come into play.

Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to become an ESL teacher.

— What are the specific hiring requirements for teaching English in different countries worldwide?

— Where are you qualified to teach based on your nationality, education level, and other factors?

— Where do you envision teaching?

— What are your financial goals while teaching abroad?

— Which TEFL certification aligns with your teaching destination, budget, and practical needs?

— What type of TEFL certification is necessary for your teaching abroad venture?

These questions merely scratch the surface of the planning process for teaching English overseas.

Your advisor will be instrumental in addressing these concerns

Enroll in a TEFL Certification Course and Achieve TEFL Certification

Obtaining an accredited TEFL certification is essential unless you possess an advanced degree in TEFL or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).


It equips you with the necessary skills to become an effective teacher.

The certification also serves as the qualification required by thousands of schools and language institutes across the globe.

Furthermore, as you enroll and embark on your TEFL course, you’ll begin to receive Job Search Guidance.

Therefore, selecting a TEFL certification course that offers comprehensive job search assistance is vital.

This guidance will facilitate your entry into the job market.

Important note: Before starting the certification process, you need not decide on your teaching destination.

Approximately 50% of our students begin their TEFL certification without a predetermined teaching location.

Many adjust their plans as they receive job search assistance and discover teaching opportunities worldwide.

Connect with International TEFL Academy Alumni Networks

Upon enrolling in your TEFL course, you may have the opportunity to connect with alumni from your TEFL school.

However, not all TEFL providers offer active alumni networks.

Some, like the International TEFL Academy (ITA), grant exclusive access to their alumni networks.

This enables you to engage with like-minded individuals already teaching English abroad or enrolled in the same TEFL program.

In the case of ITA, you’ll join a global community of over 35,000 ITA alumni and fellow adventurers teaching in more than 80 countries.

This network allows you to connect with other alumni and establish friendships before your international journey.

You can seek practical advice from peers who have shared similar experiences.

Here are avenues to begin connecting immediately:

— Facebook Groups

Interact with ITA through country-specific Facebook groups and discussion threads.

— World Alumni Day

Annually celebrated in September, ITA World Alumni Day features gatherings hosted by ITA alumni worldwide, fostering connections in your local community.

— Alumni Blog Content and FAQs

Explore articles, blogs, and Q&As from numerous ITA alumni teaching English abroad.

— Alumni Meet-ups

Attend ITA alumni gatherings in your overseas city to share stories and meet new friends.

Commence Your Job Search

Shortly after enrolling in your TEFL course, initiating your job search for TEFL positions is highly advisable.

All International TEFL Academy students and graduates enjoy lifetime job search assistance to help secure opportunities worldwide.

The timeline for this process can vary considerably.

Typically, it takes 3 to 6 months from the outset of your course and job search until you embark on your new teaching adventure.

If you plan to interview in person in your teaching country, ensure you arrive during a prominent hiring season.

Scheduling interviews with three to six schools daily can lead to job placement within one to two weeks.

If you opt for a TEFL course abroad in your desired teaching destination, on-site staff will guide you.

The said staff will assist you in contacting and interviewing with local schools.

Most TEFL graduates secure a job within a week or two following course completion.

This mainly applies if they apply and interview during a primary hiring season.

How To Teach Online?

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Obtain Your TEFL Certification

While being a native or fluent English speaker is a crucial aspect of online English teaching, it alone does not qualify anyone to be responsible for guiding a student’s English language journey.

Do you need a TEFL certificate to teach English online?

Students and online language schools generally seek out English teachers with a valid (accredited) TEFL certificate.

This is because they aim to hire educators with a solid grasp of essential skills in:
• Lesson planning
• Virtual classroom management
• Grammar instruction

Can you teach English online with a TEFL certificate?

Yes, you can.

Online language schools require their English instructors to hold a legitimate TEFL certificate.

A high-quality TEFL certification equips you with the skills and credentials to secure an online English teacher position.

This can be helpful even if you lack prior teaching experience.

Obtaining one should be your initial step if you don’t already have an accredited TEFL certification.

Possess a 4-Year College Degree (Recommended But Not Mandatory)

Although this isn’t always mandatory, you’ll find that the majority of reputable online employers prefer their instructors to hold a Bachelor’s degree (BA).

The demand for English language education among online students remains substantial.

Therefore, a native English speaker is the ideal educator for this language instruction.

Many online language schools frequently prioritize a 4-year degree and a TEFL certification when seeking English teachers, even if your degree is irrelevant to education.

Your degree can be in any field or subject matter, such as Marketing, Arts, Computer Science, etc., as long as it is a 4-year BA.

Can you teach English online without a degree?

Yes, you can.

Many prominent online teaching companies require a 4-year degree and a TEFL certification.

Some firms and online schools will hire you without a degree if you possess an accredited TEFL certification.

Possess Essential Technical Equipment

Laptop, Webcam, and More

Although it may appear self-evident, the following technical items are critical prerequisites for online teaching:

— Laptop (or desktop computer)

You can opt for either a desktop computer or a laptop.

A few online schools operate through an app-based platform that allows smartphone or iPad use.

Ensure that the teaching platform used by your online employer is compatible with both Windows and MAC operating systems.

For instance, Hujiang is only compatible with Windows OS.

— Webcam or other cameras

A high-definition (HD) external or HD integrated camera is an essential requirement.

Many modern laptops come with built-in cameras, which offer excellent resolution.

— Headset & microphone

Employ a headset equipped with a microphone for more precise communication and noise reduction.

A laptop and teaching props for online English instruction are essential requirements.

Ensure a Fast and Reliable Internet Connection

It should be evident that you need a swift Internet connection for teaching English online.

Most online employers prefer a wired connection over WiFi; many specify minimum upload and download speeds.

Tips To Teach Online

In today’s context, online teaching has become a highly sought-after avenue for imparting the English language.

This means that a wide array of ESL teachers are available for students to choose from.

However, this can pose a challenge if you’re not an effective online ESL teacher.

Effectiveness refers to the ability to provide a service that attracts students and helps them achieve their intended outcomes.

We will now look at 14 tips on how to excel as an influential online English language teacher.

It’s worth noting that many of these tips can also be applied to traditional offline teaching settings.

Simplify concepts

Simplifying complex instructions or ideas saves time and promotes greater student engagement.

Effective ESL teachers facilitate better comprehension by using language appropriate for the student’s proficiency levels.

Incorporate humor

Injecting humor into lessons can alleviate tension and create a more conducive learning environment.

A touch of laughter can make classes more enjoyable and effective.

Understand student needs

Getting to know your student’s specific goals and aspirations is crucial.

Understanding why they want to learn English, such as for career advancement or further education, helps tailor lessons to their needs.

Avoid dominating conversations

Allowing students more speaking opportunities and reducing teacher talk time fosters more robust feedback and confidence-building.

A balanced classroom dynamic involves a 70/30 ratio of student talk time to teacher talk time.

Manage class time efficiently

Time management is vital.

Just as time is precious for students, it is equally valuable for teachers.

Ensuring that classes run smoothly and stick to schedule is crucial to respecting students’ time.

Acknowledge your imperfections

Mistakes are inevitable, even for teachers.

Acknowledging and explaining errors to students is a sign of humility.

While striving for excellence, effective teachers aim to predict potential questions and thoroughly understand lesson topics to minimize mistakes.

Learn from your blunders

Turning mistakes into opportunities for learning is a hallmark of effective teaching.

Embracing errors as a chance to improve demonstrates resilience and dedication.

Do not demand perfection from students

Just as teachers make mistakes, students are also prone to errors.

Encouraging a supportive atmosphere where students feel safe making mistakes and self-correcting is beneficial.

Show empathy

Demonstrating understanding and empathy for students’ personal experiences fosters a positive teacher-student relationship.

Acknowledging and empathizing with students’ situations can make them feel valued.

Pay attention to students

Taking time to engage with students and inquire about their lives genuinely can go a long way in building rapport.

Acknowledging students’ experiences in English can help them apply their language skills in meaningful ways.

Be kind

Maintaining a compassionate and understanding attitude, even in tardiness, can motivate students to learn.

View students as clients

Recognizing that students are essentially customers who contribute to a teacher’s livelihood.

This sense can serve as motivation to provide excellent customer service.

Avoid exclusive language

Rather than using exclusive language such as “I want you to…” or “You should read this,” effective educators employ more inclusive language like “Let’s…” or “How can we answer this question?”.

This fosters a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility for learning.

Avoid call-center-like interactions

Steering clear of robotic or scripted responses and engaging in genuine conversations with students.

This can significantly enhance the teaching experience.

This approach shows that the teacher genuinely invests in the student’s progress.

In conclusion, these tips can help you become a more compelling online ESL teacher.

Moreover, many of these strategies are also applicable in traditional classroom settings.

Feel free to share your experiences or suggest additional tips in the comments section.

Bottom Line

The information provided above is helpful for the people who wish to become an ESL teacher.

I have provided the details related to teaching abroad as well as teaching online so that you can choose whichever path you desire.

Having said that, I strongly hope that the information in this article was helpful to you.

I have helped numerous clients, who are expats and HNWIs, in achieving financial freedom through my wealth management services.

Feel free to contact me to determine whether you can profit from my best-in-class financial solutions.

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