Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like teaching English abroad? It can be a challenge and also a big step in your life journey to go somewhere foreign and unknown while trying to fit into a new culture with a foreign language.
If you’re looking to become a digital nomad or a working nomad and are unsure of what you want to do then teaching English is a great step into this lifestyle. If you’re a native English speaker then language comes pretty naturally to you and you won’t have to be as scared of going abroad since you’re doing something you’ve done your whole life. Except now you’re sharing that knowledge of the language with others. I (Dom) have loved teaching abroad and I can’t wait for my next adventure where I share my native language of English with others.
We’ve been so lucky to have 9 amazing people here who will share a glimpse of what it’s like to teach English abroad in different countries. They are giving an insight into what it’s like living in these different countries and they even share some great resources and tips to help you on your journey! Alright, let’s dig in…
9 awesome places to teach English abroad
Let’s get right to it and share all these countries and cities that these beautiful people have recommended. From Egypt to Columbia to Vietnam you will read about people’s amazing experiences in each country and the things they wish they knew before going to make your experience abroad worthwhile.
They also share some great references to help you get a foot in the door to start your next chapter of teaching abroad. All we can say is that we have a lot more traveling to do after reading all these blogs about teaching in different countries.
#1 Teaching English in South Korea
I used Travel and Teach Recruiting to land my first teaching job abroad. I’ve lived in two cities, Pohang and Ulsan, while teaching in South Korea. The first city was smaller and I really enjoyed it. The living cost is really affordable, especially when employers either provide housing and or give you money for housing.
I work at an academy which is part of a large corporation called Poly. It is well known in Korea for having hard working teachers and turns out strong students. The other academy where I am currently working is called Sunflower Language School. It is a more laid back and fun learning environment. The schedule for the teachers is also more relaxed with fewer classes and more prep time which I love.
I’ve had a really good experience so far teaching in Korea. The ages have ranged from kindergarten to middle school. For the most part, the kids are really sweet and eager to learn English. The job market is also really good in Korea for English teachers and plenty of schools are hiring. When I decided to leave my first school, it only took a few months to already have my new school and contract.
There are some difficulties with the culture and the language barrier between Korean co-teachers and bosses. Plus not every school provides a good work environment. I would suggest anyone interested do their research of the school, talk to current teachers, and join the legal assistance page for Korea on Facebook.
Living and working in Korea is a lot of fun! Public transportation is really good, and taxis are cheap. Japan is also nearby and easy to visit if you want to go skiing or see another culture. It is also very safe. Crime is low and no one here is concerned about tensions with North Korea.
All in all, if you’re thinking about going abroad to teach English definitely consider Korea because it is a great place to move to.
#2 Teaching English in Egypt
I have always dreamed of teaching abroad but never had I ever considered teaching in Egypt. The opportunity to teach at a Canadian-certified International School in Cairo, Egypt presented itself to me and I thought it was too good to pass up. A year and a half into my contract, I could not be happier about making the move.
In my time here thus far, I’ve come to realize how many wonderful things Egypt and Cairo in specific have to offer. It is rich in history and culture, and its people are warm and welcoming. It is the perfect hub to travel from for cheap, and it is rated as one of the best places to scuba dive in the world. The beaches are pristine, and the desert is something people only dream of visiting. Sounds perfect right!? 😉
Did I mention that I live a 40 minute drive from one of the 7 Wonders of the World? Moving abroad to teach English in such a beautiful country has made me realize how inaccurately the media portrays this country. Sure there are many flaws, but what country doesn’t have any?
Some perks of teaching English in Cairo include spending weekends visiting some cultural local treasures such as Coptic and Islamic Cairo, long weekends diving in the Red Sea and holidays visiting neighboring countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The students here can be rambunctious, but they all have incredible personalities and are fun to work with. The cost of living is quite low, and it makes Egypt the perfect place to settle into if you are looking to save money while working abroad.
Although my experience is as a certified Canadian teacher, there are many language schools that do not require a Canadian teaching certification and even allow teachers without a degree. If you are even slightly considering making a move, I strongly encourage you to follow your gut. You will never regret it and you will love the beautiful country of Egypt or any other country you decide to travel to.
#3 Teaching English in Colombia
By Adam McConnaughhay – Teacher and blogger of CartagenaExplore
I have been working as an English teacher on the Colombian Caribbean Coast for 8 years. I first came as a volunteer teacher in a small town near Cartagena, before spending a year working in an English Institute teaching mostly adults, and finally spending the last 7 years at a Bilingual School where I actually teach History and Social Studies.
So, there is something of all experience levels and interests in teaching English in Colombia. The high tier bilingual schools are where the best salaries are as well as benefits like subsidies for rent and return flights.
For finding jobs in Medellín and the rest of Colombia, the best approach is to look into schools or institutes in the cities you are interested in and contact them directly. Most reputable places should help considerably with the paperwork involved in a visa as well as pay its cost.
Children are generally respectful but do tend to be quite active and expressive. Also, it’s important to be flexible and adaptable to change in culture. There are often school activities planned at the last minute, which of course leads to missed classes. My best advice here is to worry about what you can control and give yourself a cushion in your academic plans.
My understanding is that conditions and pay do tend to be slightly better for teachers in Bogotá and Medellín, and those schools tend to be better organized, so teachers looking to come to Colombia and not set on being on the coast could look into schools there as well.
Finally, while you can make good money at the best schools, the main benefit is having a work-life balance that is better than many teachers currently face in the US or UK and to experience being here. So always keep that in mind. That is one of the main reasons I decided to teach on the coast instead of in Medellín.
I hope these tips for teaching English in Colombia are helpful and you get the most out of it if you do decide to come.
#4 Teaching English in Vietnam
My boyfriend and I decided to move to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in October of 2019 after a year of living and teaching English in Prague.
I’m so incredibly happy that we decided to take the leap and move to a country with warmer weather all year round!
Teaching English in Vietnam has been absolutely amazing, we applied to jobs when we got here and got an interview at almost every place we applied to. It was so easy getting a job in Vietnam with a TEFL certificate. The amount of ESL jobs here is incredible and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to make the move.
I work for one of the largest English centers in Vietnam, I get paid almost 19USD (after taxes) which is incredible compared to the cost of living. The center I work for is very organized and I’m given a book to teach out of. I don’t spend a lot of time lesson planning, I’m only required to make the material in the book more interesting by playing games and doing some activities which is great. It gives me an opportunity to make the ESL lessons more enjoyable and at the same time, it gives me more free time to explore the city and country.
When I was accepted for the position they supported and helped me through the entire visa process which lots of schools will do here. Make sure to apply for ESL schools that do help you with it.
The best part about it all is that I’m able to save so much money because of the low cost of living and cheap food (I walk 30 seconds down my street and get a huge meal for 70 cents).
The people in Saigon are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met in any country. They’re so welcoming and have made the transition so much easier. I would highly recommend teaching English in Vietnam if you want to enjoy the simple life.
Also if you’re a coffee lover then this is the country for you because Vietnamese coffee is the best coffee on this planet…AND ITS SO STRONG.
With that, I hope wherever you go teach you enjoy it but Vietnam truly has my heart and I’m sure it may take yours as well.
#5 Teaching English in Thailand
By Adam – Los Angeles native and international explorer
At University, I never studied abroad and upon graduation, I felt something was missing. After accepting and soon quitting a not so fun sales job, I ended up saying ‘why not?’ and put down a deposit to teach English abroad for 5 months in Thailand.
I absolutely loved the experience. My experience teaching abroad in Thailand was transformative! Traveling around a beautiful country, meeting and truly connecting with amazing people, discovering so much about myself, and teaching valuable English skills to children who need it.
I fell in love with the ESL style of teaching- playing games and activates, engaging your students creatively, and feeling rewarded every day by building rapport through simply having fun. My favorite games included two truths and one lie, board races, relay races, and memory games.
Of course, being in the classroom was so special, but the experience outside of it was also magical. I am so thankful to have taught ESL in Thailand, or better known as the Land of Smiles. The country’s culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism, its religion. Not only are people kind and approachable, they genuinely want to practice their English.
Secondly, Thailand has a large community of foreign teachers. It is nice knowing you’re not alone and that you have a community to share your experience with.
Thirdly, Thailand is aesthetically stunning. The country has every type of terrain; mountains, beaches, metropolitan cities, small towns, and the countryside. The country is easily accessible and the accessibility even extends to neighboring countries like Vietnam and Cambodia.
Lastly, Thailand is the best starting point for teaching abroad. While teaching in Thailand is not a career to me, it is an exciting experience that isn’t stressful. When you compare it to other countries like China and Japan, where it tends to be more serious, I consider teaching English in Thailand to be casual. All in all, Thailand has the makings of an incredible country for teaching English.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson that was never taught in the classroom: while you have your entire life to travel the world, it certainly makes sense to do it when you’re not already knee-deep in commitments. And if there’s one thing you can do for yourself, before things get crazy complicated, it’d be to take a pause and do something amazing with your life like teaching abroad.
When I came home, I wanted to share what I discovered to others so I started my own teach abroad program called Journey to Teach Abroad. Here is the website. We provide TEFL certification courses that guarantee jobs. If you are already certified and ready to go, we work with our amazing agencies in Thailand to guarantee you the perfect job and the perfect experience.
#6 Teaching English in England
By Brodie – Teacher and blogger of Aussie in Wanderlust
When I first moved from Australia, I had no idea my career path was about to take a sharp turn. I had no idea that I was going to be teaching English in London one day.
So I moved to London and before I knew it, I was working in a school as a teacher aide for the first time in my life. It turned out to be the perfect job as I was able to combine so many trips away to other European countries during the school holidays as well as see so much of the United Kingdom. That was just one of the many perks of being an English teacher.
I worked as a maintenance man at a school, a teacher’s aide, a relief teacher, and finally a permanent teacher in a variety of different schools in and around London. To say it didn’t have its challenges would be a lie but ultimately the pros far outweigh any of the cons.
My typical day would be that I started at 9 am and was finished by 3 pm, it was relatively low stress and it enabled me to connect with many other Australian expats doing the same thing in the UK.
If you’re interested in finding out more about teaching in London then I encourage you to see my blog I have written on Aussieinwanderlust. 6 Years after leaving Australian soil I’m still traveling and living abroad, and I have no doubt my teaching experience in London played a big part in that.
#7 Teaching English in Cambodia
I worked for NHCC (New Hope for Cambodian Children) as an English teacher in Cambodia. Being in a third world country you have to be careful about the difference between orphanages and “orphanages” (for profit), but I can say with pride and joy that NHCC is a legit entity giving real hope for the future of Cambodia.
I lived in our little village along with all the kids, teachers, and admin together. We were in the countryside surrounded by rice fields and beautiful nature. It was a magical place to be. I was not thrilled with the critters that I encountered, but it was a learning and character-building experience altogether which I am grateful for. The village itself was about an hour’s drive outside the capital, Phnom Penh, but only about 20-30km (roads are not great in most of the country).
Teaching English to Cambodian kiddos has been a highlight. They ate up what you fed them (knowledge, hugs, attention) and had so much joy despite everything they have been through.
Everything is very standard though and like your typical school. It’s like teaching English anywhere else. I had to give them homework and tests and all that jazz, but I personally wasn’t super strict about these things (like I was in the US, Korea, and Turkey). Their behavior is typical of kids around the world. Some were naughty, but most really wanted to learn and please the teacher. At the end of the day, they’re just innocent little kids who have a heart of gold and put a smile on your face every time you see them.
Teaching English in Cambodia is not going to make you rich and the money aspect was the last reason why I was going there. I did earn about $200/month, which is actually quite a generous salary for being there. It’s an experience that changed my life and the Cambodian countryside is beautiful. If you do get a chance to go teach there go somewhere rural like I did!
#8 Teaching English in the Czech Republic
By Dominik – Teacher and blogger at Red White Adventures
I absolutely loved teaching ESL in Prague and the Czech Republic. The city and the friends I made helped make my time there great but the foundation of my amazing time there is due to the experience I had while teaching.
The demand for ESL teachers is so high in the Czech Republic right now so that you are able to pick yourself if you want to teach in a school or do private lessons (or both). I actually took a TEFL course in Prague which helped me join an amazing community and network to help with jobs, housing, and everything else.
Finding jobs in Prague as an ESL teacher is so easy and I was actually working at a school and doing private lessons on the side where I was earning about $18 USD an hour. Plus I was teaching online as well and the combination of the three let me enjoy Prague but also save a lot of money.
I also love traveling so the fact that the Czech Republic is so central in Europe makes it easy and cheap to travel to other places in Europe. I’d definitely say that the Czech Republic is one of the best places to teach English in Europe (if not the best) when you’re taking salary, cost of living, fun, and community into account.
#9 Teaching English in China
By Steve – English teacher and blogger at The Trip Goes On
After 15 years of working office jobs in England, I decided it was time for a big change. I’d always dreamt of upping sticks and moving somewhere else with the promise of adventure.
I moved to China in August 2015 and began a TESOL course in the north-eastern city of Harbin. The 7-month course was difficult but I stuck it out and began searching for a teaching job elsewhere in China. Harbin was not a particularly pleasant city and given the temperatures that would drop below minus 30 degrees Celsius, I was looking for somewhere a little warmer.
I moved to the ancient city of Luoyang in March 2016 and have been here ever since teaching ESL. The job has been rewarding and the expat life has been enjoyable. On days off I explore the city and surrounding areas and with the frequent holidays that come with being a teacher, I head farther afield.
Since coming to China I have been lucky enough to visit neighboring countries such as Mongolia, North Korea, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan plus many more.
China itself also has a great demand for English teaching jobs and ESL jobs are easy to find if you have the right requirements such as a degree and a TESOL certificate. China does have quite tight regulations and doesn’t allow just anyone to teach ESL. So there are definitely plenty of pros and cons.
There have been challenges of course, and not speaking Mandarin is probably the biggest, but I still get by. It would have made sense to learn the language while being here but most of my spare time is put into traveling and writing for my travel blog.
There you have it. 9 incredible, different, and unique places to teach English abroad. If you’re looking for somewhere central in Europe then the Czech Republic might be your best choice. If you want to ride camels and visit one of the 7 wonders of the world then why not spend some time in Egypt?
Those are just a few countries you can go teach in when you make the big leap of going abroad and pursuing something new. We hope these 9 countries inspired you to figure out what kind of lifestyle could be good for you. Make the move – you won’t be disappointed!
Lastly, we want to say a big thank you to all the amazing teachers who helped share their knowledge about each country and give a little glimpse of what it’s like to live and teach abroad.