If you are wondering where to teach English abroad, the world is your oyster – and it is a very big oyster. From Argentina to Albania, Nepal to Nicaragua, the sheer number of options available makes where to teach English abroad a daunting question. Although some general patterns do exist worldwide, each country is unique and has its own industry standards that shape important factors from pay and benefits to work load and structure. Nevertheless, broad trends do exist regionally that we will discuss in greater detail. In much the same way that Brazil and Bolivia have more in common than either does to Belgium or Botswana, so too do their ESL industries.
In Brief: By and large, the ESL industry in large parts of Africa is still under development. What few opportunities do exist are at private international schools but even there security concerns mean that positions on the continent are more about adventure than opportunity.
Pay: While the demand for volunteer teachers is high, paying positions are few and far between.
Added Benefits: Airfare is seldom part of a teacher’s compensation although accommodations are often provided to volunteer instructors.
In Brief: Asia’s recent rise to economic prominence – and its low level of English proficiency – has made the continent an extremely popular destination for ESL teachers in recent years. Although the situation varies wildly from country to country, the region’s most developed economies have well-developed ESL industries that feature both government- and privately-funded positions.
Pay: Compensations varies widely throughout the region, with more developed countries offering highly competitive salaries and good job security and less developed countries offering relatively low pay. In either case, however, differences compensation are offset by similar differences in the cost of living.
Added Benefits: Although positions in less developed economies may offer few perks, countries like Japan and South Korea provide airfare, accommodations, and medical benefits.
For country specific information about teaching English, check out the list of Asian countries below:
- Teach English in Japan
- Teach English in South Korea
- Teach English in Thailand
- Teach English in Taiwan
- Teach English in China
In Brief: Although demand for English teachers is high, so is the competition for desirable positions. At the same time, requirements and conditions vary wildly from one end of the continent to the other. By and large, however, once you land an ESL job here you will find that job security is relatively high and turnover is relatively low.
Pay: Base salaries are generally higher than elsewhere but are often offset by a higher cost of living and relatively few raises.
Added Benefits: Because most jobs are filled on location, accommodations and airfare are rarely part of the employment package. At the same time, many teachers enjoy the same social benefits and holidays that Europe is famous for.
In Brief: Attracted by its low cost of living and relatively relaxed pace of life, Latin America has long been a popular destination for international teachers. Although safety and security can be a concern in some areas, by and large most of the region is peaceful and its people welcoming. Qualified teachers who meet country requirements have a good chance of finding jobs in this region.
Pay: Although it varies by location, most instructors receive salaries that allow them to live comfortably in their destination (but leave little left over).
Added Benefits: As most positions are filled on location, free accommodations and air fare are not usually part of a teacher’s compensation.
The Middle East
In Brief: The region’s most developed and stable economies – such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – offer lucrative positions to those willing to endure the region’s famous restrictive customs.
Pay: The Middle East offers qualified teachers some of the highest salaries – tax-free – and longest contracts in the industry.
Added Benefits: Many Middle Eastern schools provide accommodations for their instructors (and, at times, their families) and less frequently other ancillary benefits (such as transportation and education).
Thus, as you can see, the matter of where to teach English abroad, at many times becomes a question of priorities. What matters most to you? The Middle East offers financial incentives, Asia for its stability, and South America attracts many to its quality of life. In the end only you know what is right for you – but rest assure, no matter what you decide it will be the beginning of a truly international adventure!