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Top 10 Countries to Teach Abroad and Here’s Why

We’ve ranked the top 10 countries to teach abroad in based not only upon salary, but also the ease of securing the job, local cost of living, and local culture. You can also check out the latest teach English abroad jobs or perhaps contemplating the things to know about teaching English abroad.

1. China

China easily tops the list of countries to teach English abroad in because the jobs are so plenteous. If you need to find a job teaching ESL quickly, you could get hired in China and be on a plane there within a month or less.

With one of the world’s largest populations, it’s no surprise that China has a very high demand for English teachers. This means that you can be picky about where you’d like to teach, and your requirements.

Note that there are many different types of teaching jobs in China ranging from K-12 public schools, to private schools, and even tutoring jobs.

You should definitely ask lots of questions regarding what is and isn’t covered, such as airfare, housing, and moving expenses.

The requirements to obtain the work visa to teach English in China is a minimum of Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate from the following native English speaking countries (US/Canada/UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa). For teachers from non-native English countries, you can teach subjects other than English if you have a proven 2 years of teaching experience. Regarding the teaching certificate, if you have 2 or more years of teaching experience, you can be exempt from getting a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA. Learn about what Are the Visa Requirements to Work in China as a Foreign Teacher

2. South Korea

South Korea is another great country for teaching English abroad. ESL teachers are well-paid in South Korea, and often get to live in awesome cities like Seoul. Although the cost of living is overall quite cheap in South Korea, it’s worth noting that living in a larger city like Seoul will be decidedly less inexpensive.

In South Korea, you’ll get to experience all the comforts of western life, plus the unique culture and customs of Korea.

The requirements to obtain the work visa to teach English in China is a minimum of Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate from the following native English speaking countries (US/Canada/UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa).

3. Vietnam

Although teaching salaries will be less competitive in Vietnam, the country has a lot to offer besides just money.

Teaching English abroad in Vietnam will allow you to enjoy the excellent tropical weather of the country. Cities like Ho Chi Minh City offer a bit of French fusion, while other cities are situated along the country’s long coastline.

Many people choose to teach abroad in Vietnam so that they can essentially live on a beach. If you’re looking for relaxation and sun, this is the place to teach ESL abroad.

4. Thailand

Much like Vietnam, Thailand will offer less competitive salaries for teaching English abroad, but will offer an excellent climate, culture, and cuisine in return.

Thailand is known to be a friendly country and the people are quite welcoming to expats.

Additionally, Thailand offers distinct regions such as Chiang Mai in the north, which is a more mountainous region, as well as the many beaches of the South. Bangkok is a huge sprawling metropolis with all the modern luxuries one would expect from a capital city.

Note when teaching in tropical or subtropical climates, it’s always important to keep your vaccines updated, as tropical viruses such as malaria and dengue fever are common in more rural regions.

Learn more about teaching English in Southeast Asia.

5. Taiwan

Taiwan shares the same Mandarin language as China and the majority of the same history and culture, except the political division between democratic and communist parties ruling makes two places into two slightly different cultures and environments. Taiwan has a slightly lower cost of living than Korea and Japan, but with similar salary ranges. This means that you can get a little more bang for your buck. Additionally, the winters are milder in a semi-tropical summer.  In fact, surfing enthusiasts have been flocking to Taiwan for decades for their amazing waves. 

The requirements to obtain the work visa in Taiwan, Alien Resident Certificates (ARC), is a minimum of Bachelor’s degree or an associate degree with TEFL certificate from the following native English speaking countries (US/Canada/UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa).

6. United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates has some of the highest salaries for ESL teachers in the world. Thanks to their booming economy, the UAE is able to pay upwards of $4,000 per month for English teachers.

Note that the requirements for teaching abroad in the UAE are quite strict, so they often tend towards hiring teachers with degrees in Education, and teaching certificates from their home countries.

Salary packages may also include airfare, and sometimes housing. This can help you to really bank your money while teaching abroad in the United Arab Emirates.

7. Chile

Besides Asia and the Middle East, many ESL teachers enjoy teaching in South America. Chile is one of the safest countries in South America. Additionally, because it’s such a long country, you’ll find a variety of climates. Don’t forget, Chile has the Andes mountains, as well as deserts, and even penguins.

Teaching English abroad in Chile will also afford you the opportunity to immerse yourself in Spanish, one of the world’s most popular languages.

8. Morocco

Morocco is promoting English more in schools in response to their booming tourism, which is great for ESL teachers looking to teach abroad outside of Asia. Morocco is just next door to Spain and France, while boasting an incredibly different and rich culture.

Morocco is an Islamic country, but is decidedly less strict than others in the Arabian peninsula. So, with Morocco you can enjoy the best of both worlds. However, it is worth noting that homosexuality and consuming alcohol in public are illegal in this country.

9. Kuwait

If you want to teach English abroad primarily for the salary, Kuwait is a great option. Much like the UAE, salaries for teaching ESL are very high in Kuwait. This oil-rich nation offers all the modern amenities such as shopping malls and fancy hotels, and you can easily make upwards of $3,000 per month tax-free.

It is worth noting that many schools in Kuwait do require that you have a degree in teaching and a teaching certificate from your home country.

10. Japan

Finally, we end our list with Japan. The demand for English teachers is lower than in other Asian countries such as China or South Korea. So, it may be a little more competitive to find that ESL position in Japan. However, it is well worth your time.

Japan is an incredibly safe and clean country with a rich history and lots of historical sites such as temples.

You’ll probably need a teaching degree and valid teaching certificate to teach in Japan, but there are options for teachers with little to no experience, such as the JET programme.

Common Work Visa Requirements

A bachelor’s degree or above

An associate degree might work for some countries like Taiwan, but you would need a TEFL certificate.

Do I need to be a native English speakers?

For the majority of the time, native English speakers mean ones from USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa under the general definition by China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and many others.

What about a native English speaker in the Caribbean, the Philippines, Africa, and other countries have English as an official language? You might need to check with the local recruiting agency, because some countries will accept candidates outside those 7 countries if you have a documented 12+ years of education in an English speaking school or 2 or more years of teaching ESL.

What about Non-native English speakers? You can likely teach in subjects other than English in many countries, including China (must have over 2 years of subject teaching experience), countries in Central/South America, and some European countries.

A clean criminal record

The ones obtained from the local police station is sufficient for a work visa in China. However, some countries, like Japan, might require a national level criminal background check and FBI level one in the USA.

A good health condition

Age restriction

Many countries have age restriction around 18 – 60 to obtain work visa, including China, Japan, etc.

TEFL certificate?

Depend on the country that you’re interested and your teaching experience and qualifications. For example, if you have over 2 years of teaching experience, you’ll be able to apply without a TEFL in China and South Korea. You likely don’t need a TEFL if you have a Bachelor’s degree to apply for ARC in Taiwan.

Ones with a degree in Education or English could potentially allow you to skip TEFL.

If you’re getting certified, the program with 120+ hours plus in classroom practice is highly preferred or even required.

Invitation letter or employment offer letter to apply for a visa.

Where are you going to teach English abroad?

Let us know where you’re looking to teach abroad. Did your top pick make the list?