Teaching English Abroad

Included in this section:

  • Definitions
  • Things to Keep In Mind
  • What Employers Are Looking For
  • Rewards of Teaching English Abroad
  • Risks of Teaching English Abroad
  • Tips While You Are Searching for Training
  • Types of TEFL Certificates
  • Finding a Job: Places to Look
  • Other Resources


  • ELT = English Language Teacher (primarily used in the UK)
  • TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language (used by most)
  • TESL = Teaching English as a Second Language
  • TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Things to Keep In Mind

  • A future TEFL teacher needs to speak English fluently, have a lively and creative personality, and take their job seriously
  • Consider first where you want to work and explore the training and experience required for that country, school, or program
  • Looking for a position inside the European Union (EU) is very difficult; British and Irish nationals have a significant advantage
  • Non-native speakers or people lacking background in Education can still find a job
  • European and African countries prefer British English
  • Latin American and Far Eastern countries prefer North American English (USA)

What Employers Are Looking For

  • A good educational background
  • Clear and correct speech
  • Familiarity of issues and approaches to TEFL
  • An outgoing personality
  • Each employer is different and each job is different so the training and experience needed may vary

Rewards of Teaching English Abroad

  • Becoming integrated into a foreign culture
  • Pleasure in helping your students communicate in a global culture
  • A better perspective of your own culture and habits
  • A base for future travel
  • The ability to make new friends and connections
  • Good teachers find their classes fun and the relationships with their students valuable

Risks of Teaching English Abroad

  • There is a growing tendency for TEFL teachers to be offered non-contract work, with no guarantee of hours
  • Exploitation of teachers is not uncommon since the profession lacks regulation and unionization
  • Some teaching locations value “client satisfaction” or the business side of the program over education
  • Teaching English demands energy, enthusiasm, and imagination; without it teachers often fall into the rut of language drills

Tips While You Are Searching for Training

  • Being trained to teach English is highly recommended; it makes you significantly more marketable and in a better position to be an effective teacher
  • Before you even begin thinking about training it is recommended that you first look at the requirements of the countries and regions you are hoping to teach in because they can vary
  • There is a multitude of different courses, varying in cost and preparation. Careful research is needed before choosing to invest in a course
  • Questions to ask about your training:
    • Is there external validation of the course?
    • How much opportunity is there for teaching practice?
    • What will the size of the class be?
    • What qualifications and experience do the tutors/teachers have?
    • How long will my certification last?
    • Take a look at the FAQ Document on the left for some more thoughts and things to consider.

Types of TEFL Certificates

Cambridge Certificate (CELTA): this certificate has a solid reputation in the international teaching community and high levels of recognition among employers around the world. The certificate is not only offered in the UK, it is also offered in a number of countries around the world. They offer certificates at a variety of levels and certificates to teach to a variety of ages.

Trinity Certificate in TESOL: this certificate is regarded as a having equal standing as the Cambridge Certificate. It also offers training in a multitude of centers around the world. Trinity stipulates a minimum of 130 hours offered intensively over a minimum of four weeks or part-time over a longer period. Also, the future teacher must take a learning pre-course and requires observed and assessed teaching hours.

  • There are Other TEFL Certificates offered online and through other schools. It is highly recommended that you carefully investigate and research the certificate before you commit yourself to the program.
  • There are also Training and Placement Programs that will provide you with certification and a teaching placement. Many of these programs have costs associated with them and careful research should be done before investing your time, money, and energy.
  • Furthermore, certain jobs in certain countries may prefer certain types of certificates and experience. For more information, check out the “Other Resources” section.

Finding a Job or Program: Places to Look

Please remember to do your research when investigating the sites listed below and make contact the various organizations directly for more information.

Training and Placement Programs

Free Online Posting Sites

Paid Online Posting Sites

Additional Resources