Every year thousands of people leave their home to travel and teach English overseas. They go to experience a new culture, work overseas, put off getting a “real” job, seek adventure, and earn lots of money while doing so. Sometimes they are just backpackers who are looking for an easy job that can get them back on the road quickly. Sometimes they are college kids looking for a break. Other times, they are licensed educators who want to spend their lives teaching overseas. The time I spent teaching in Asia was some of my most memorable experiences. Whatever your reason for going, here are some of the top places to teach English around the world:
South Korea – South Korea is one of the best, if not the best, places to go teach English. Jobs are abundant, the pay is high, and you get awesome benefits such as a completion bonus, free housing, and airfare reimbursement. A lot of recent college graduates are attracted to here because of the money, benefits, and the fact Korea takes a lot of first time teachers. If you don’t have any experience, Korea is one of the best options for you. Korean culture is a little hard to break into but the food is delicious, the people friendly once you get to know them, and the country is filled with a lot of young expats. Korea hits all the right notes.
Japan – Japan’s unique culture and food as well as its reputation for good jobs means it also attracts a lot of people looking to teach. Though the fat years of teaching in Japan and making quick cash are over, people willing to stay at least a year can earn a lot of money. The cost of living can eat up a lot of your salary, especially if you live in Tokyo, but if you stay awhile, you walk away with a lot. Moreover, the Japanese are incredibly friendly, the food delicious, and the culture very interesting. No one walks away disappointed.
The Middle East – The Middle East lures many teachers in for one reason: the salary packages. There isn’t much to do in this part of the world because of the strict cultural conservatism here but Middle Eastern countries offer incredibly large salaries, lots of benefits, and no taxes. A teacher here can walk away with around $50,000 after one year. However, this is no place for the recent college graduate. Countries here want certified and experienced teachers. No teaching degree means no job. Most of the teachers here are older, more settled, and have families. You don’t move here for a wild and crazy adventure.
Thailand – Thailand attracts lots of young and new teachers with its cheap cost of living, great weather, tropical beaches, mouth watering food, and party atmosphere. Most of the language school teachers are ex-travelers looking to save for future travels. Or travelers who thought they were doing that and ended up never leaving. The pay in Thailand isn’t wonderful. Unless you teach right in Bangkok or at an international school, you won’t earn as much as other countries in Asia but people don’t come here for the money. They come for everything else. It’s one of the best destinations for new teachers, especially if you teach in a larger city.
China – China is the rising star of the ESL world. Its continued rise on the world stage keeps attracting more and more interested people looking to figure out what the middle kingdom is all about. Jobs here can be very hit or miss. In the countryside, and at most schools, you’ll only get paid a small amount and you might be the only Westerner around. That’s great for cultural immersion but can make you lonely when you start to miss home. However, in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, you can find excellent paying jobs, especially if you have experience or teach business, as well as lots of expats. But the money isn’t why you should come here – it’s the absolute cultural shock you’ll experience. China is the brave new world and there’s nothing like it on Earth. Just watch out for that smoggy air.
More information on teaching English in Asia can be found here.
Mexico – Mexico is a popular destination for Americans. It’s close, it’s not that “foreign” and it’s warm. Most of the jobs can be found in Mexico City where Mexico’s upper class hire teachers for their kids. If you can find a lot of tutoring work in the capital, that is where you will make the most money. However, you can also find small language schools and government schools that hire teachers. Most language programs will set you up in schools in rural areas as that is where the most demand is. Riches won’t be found here but if you are interested in culture, friendly people, mouth watering food, and feisty approach to life, Mexico is where it is at. There are also a lot of volunteer opportunities here.
Central Asia – Central Asia is one of those places you hear very little about and know about even less. That makes it one of the most exotic places to teach English. Forget about money and benefits – you get none. Coming here is all about stepping into the past and exploring one of the most rustic and friendly areas on Earth. This part of the world is very rural and chances are you will end up in some village with barely any people, TV, or internet. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in a place totally different without any distractions. Central Asia is where the culturally adventurous go. Moreover, there is a high demand for teachers because so few people want to teach here that there are a lot of job openings. I hear the current best place to teach is Georgia.
Prague – Teaching jobs in Europe are hard to get. EU visa rules make it difficult to just pick up, fly over, and find a job. Luckily, Prague doesn’t have all those complications. You can find a lot of ESL jobs at language schools and if you do an ESL certification program in the city, most will find you a job. The pay is low and not Euros but you are in Prague and a stone’s throw away from everywhere in Europe making it a central base to explore the continent from. Prague is a hip city with an outgoing and lively population. You’ll never be bored.
Argentina – Argentina is where most ESL teachers go to find work and in particular Buenos Aires. Famous for wine, beef, and beautiful women, Argentina lures native speakers looking to experience that fiery South American culture in a “not as dangerous as Brazil” way. If salsa dancing, good beef, wine, and a culture that places heavy value on siestas is your idea of a good time, then Argentina is where you want to teach.
Ukraine – Another good spot to teach in Europe for those looking to be culturally adventurous. Ukraine is a hard country to live in – it’s cold, they use a different alphabet, and no one here speaks English. I had a hard time getting around during my time there. But it’s well off the beaten path and there are few western influences here. Ukraine is one of my favorite countries and one of the best places to get a truly isolated, cultural experience.
Even though it wasn’t always the most glamorous work, I had a lot of fun teaching overseas. While there is an opportunity to teach wherever English isn’t the native language, the destinations above draw the biggest crowds, pay the best, or offer the best perks. I look back on my years of teaching fondly and if you are think about doing it, my advice for you is to just go. You won’t regret it!
Want to get a high paying teaching job but not sure how to do so? I wrote an in-depth 186 page guide to teaching overseas, with detailed country by country job information and 14 interviews with teachers from around the world. This book will be the best resource you find on the internet and has already helped hundreds of people!