Should I Teach English Abroad: Top Reasons to Take the Leap

David De' Ath

Meet David De’ Ath, founder, editor, and writer at Wonderful World English. With his extensive background as an English teacher, David provides valuable insights and practical tips on ESL for students and teachers alike.

Deciding to teach English abroad is an exciting and life-changing decision.

It holds the promise of adventure, professional growth, and an opportunity to immerse oneself in a new culture.

It appeals to those looking to expand their horizons beyond the familiar as they contribute to the global community by educating others.

The journey begins with self-reflection to determine if this path aligns with personal and professional goals.

An evaluation of one’s qualifications to meet the requirements of international teaching positions is also necessary.

Taking the first step towards teaching English overseas requires diligent preparation and research.

Prospective teachers must explore the different regions of the world where English teachers are in demand.

They should also understand the job market for teachers, including the qualifications and certifications needed. 

Options vary widely—from bustling Asian megacities to quaint European towns and beyond, each offering distinct experiences and challenges.

Key Takeaways

  • Teaching English abroad offers opportunities for cultural immersion and professional development.
  • Evaluating personal qualifications and eligibility is critical before committing to teach overseas.
  • In-depth research prepares future educators for the diverse teaching market and cultural experiences.
Requirements to Teach English Abroad

Determining Your Eligibility and Qualifications

Before beginning the journey to teach English abroad, individuals should carefully assess their eligibility based on qualifications such as TEFL certification, educational background, teaching experience, and visa requirements.

These factors determine one’s readiness and capability to take on the role of an English teacher in a foreign country.

Understanding TEFL and its Requirements

To teach English as a foreign language, acquiring a TEFL certification is often indispensable.

This certification ensures that an individual has the necessary training to teach English to speakers of other languages.

The standard requirement is typically a 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certification.

There are various types of TEFL certificates available, but one should ensure the program is internationally recognized by employers.

For more information on TEFL certificates, check out the link below!

Related: TEFL Certificates: Your Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Evaluating the Need for a Degree and Teaching Experience

Possessing a bachelor’s degree is commonly considered a prerequisite for teaching English abroad, although it’s not always mandatory.

The degree does not always need to be education-based, as employers are usually interested in the general demonstration of one’s ability to commit to higher education. 

Teaching experience can be advantageous but is not always a requirement.

Many schools will provide training or accept newly TEFL-certified teachers who are eager and prepared to learn.

Visa and Legal Requirements for English Teachers

Visa requirements vastly differ from country to country and are crucial for one’s legal ability to work.

Often, a work visa will require both a TEFL certification and a degree. 

In addition, some countries may have specific requirements to teach English abroad, such as background checks, health clearances, or language proficiency tests.

Prospective teachers should consult with embassies or prospective employers to understand the visa process and ensure legal compliance.

Certified stamp
Anyone wanting to teach abroad must first acquire the proper certifications.

Researching Destinations and Understanding the Market

Before embarking on a journey to teach English abroad, it is critical to research potential destinations comprehensively and grasps market dynamics. 

This includes the demand for English teachers in various regions, cultural nuances, potential language obstacles, and realistic salary expectations.

Demand for English Teachers in Various Countries

The demand for English teachers varies greatly between regions.

In Asia, countries like China and South Korea are often in search of qualified TEFL educators, offering competitive salaries and benefits. 

Japan’s need for English instruction persists, but the market is more mature and can be more challenging for new teachers.

Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand also have a significant demand for English teachers, with many opportunities in both urban and rural areas.

In the Middle East, nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, offer lucrative positions, often coupled with perks such as housing and travel allowances. 

The demand in various South American countries is growing, though the salaries may not be as high as in Asia or the Middle East.

Cultural Considerations and Language Barriers

Understanding cultural expectations and navigating language barriers are essential aspects of teaching English abroad. 

In Europe, countries like Spain, Italy, and Poland offer numerous opportunities but also require a deeper understanding of local traditions and customs, which can impact classroom dynamics. 

Eastern Europe presents opportunities to immerse in rich cultures with a lower cost of living, while Western Europe can be more competitive with a need for higher qualifications.

In Asia, acknowledging cultural respect and hierarchical structures, notably in countries like Japan and China, is vital.

Similarly, the Middle East has strict cultural norms and societal rules that must be adhered to, affecting everyday life and teaching styles.

Economic Factors and Salary Expectations

When considering teaching abroad, economic factors such as cost of living, salary, and benefits play a key role in decision-making. 

Salaries can range widely; for instance, countries in Asia like South Korea and China often provide salaries that allow for comfortable living and savings, including benefits like paid housing.

In contrast, countries in South America or Eastern Europe may offer lower wages, reflecting the local cost of living.

In places like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, teachers can expect to earn higher wages and often receive additional benefits, such as flight reimbursements and housing allowances, which contribute to a higher overall earning potential.

For insights into the highest-paying countries for English teaching jobs, the guide below has you covered!

Related: Top 5 Countries for High-Paying English Teaching Jobs (2024)

Working abroad can offer incredible opportunities to grow and develop.

Preparing for the Journey

Embarking on the journey to teach English abroad requires thoughtful preparation. 

Prospective educators should focus on obtaining proper certification, ensuring their resumes are up-to-date with relevant experiences, and understanding how recruiters and placement programs can aid in securing a teaching position overseas.

Getting TEFL Certified and Other Professional Development

To teach English abroad, it’s essential to obtain a TEFL certification, which is recognized internationally and opens doors to teaching positions worldwide. 

Courses are available through various providers, including universities and institutions such as CIEE TEFL. 

Additional professional development opportunities may include specialized training in classroom management or language instruction methodologies.

Resume and Document Preparation for Teachers

A stellar resume that highlights relevant work experience and education is crucial. 

Teachers should specifically showcase any prior teaching roles, volunteer work, or skills that align with educational positions. 

It’s also important to prepare a professional headshot and have all necessary documents—like diplomas and transcripts—on hand.

Understanding the Role of Recruiters and Placement Programs

Recruiters and placement programs, such as CIEE Teach Abroad, serve as vital resources for teachers looking to work abroad.

They can provide assistance with everything from finding a school to navigating the visa process.

Recruiters often offer an orientation to help teachers adapt to their new environment.

This makes the transition to living and working overseas smoother.

China is one of the most sought-after destinations for teachers who want to explore amazing places while saving money.

For an ultimate guide on teaching in China and how you can get the journey started, check out the link below!

Related: How to Teach English in China: Your Ultimate Guide

Teach in China
Contact us for more information!


In conclusion, teaching English abroad offers an enriching opportunity for personal and professional development through cultural immersion and educational contributions.

With a variety of destinations to choose from, each with its unique cultural and economic environment, prospective teachers are encouraged to carefully evaluate their options.

Thorough preparation, including obtaining the necessary qualifications like a TEFL certificate, understanding the specific requirements of the destination, and leveraging resources like recruitment agencies, are essential steps in this transformative journey.

Whether seeking the vibrant life of Asian cities or the historic charm of European towns, teaching abroad provides a pathway to expand one’s horizons and make significant impacts in global classrooms.

We hope you find value in this information; you can contact us if you require any support.

Have a wonderful day!

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