How To Teach English Abroad - Getting started

by Jon
(Arnold, MD USA)


I am a recent college graduate with a BA. I have thought about teaching but did not major in it, I am interested in teaching English though. I am looking for a step-by-step guide on how to get started (i.e. certification, applying, etc.).

How To Teach English Abroad - Certification

You already have one of the basic qualifications - a degree. Most countries require the possession of a degree, but it seldom matters what the degree is in. A few schools prefer arts degrees, but the vast majority don't care about the subject - so not having a major in teaching is not a problem - they only care about fulfilling the government requirement in their country.

Choosing your country or region is the next step. Once you've done this you can think about the kind of TEFL certification you will need - or not need. Take a look at Teaching English Overseas for the country outlines. There is more information there on the specific requirements for different countries.

Broadly speaking, for Western Europe, you will need the CELTA or CertTESOL. Other TEFL certificates are not widely accepted. The Middle East requires the same, plus a TEFL diploma or MA TESOL. Asia and South America are more relaxed about TEFL certification, or lack of it. However, the better schools in any country may ask for some qualifications. Taking a TEFL certificate should give you some ideas on how to teach English abroad more effectively.

One thing to remember is that most employers do not accept certificates done entirely online. Find a course that includes some practical teaching experience.

How To Teach English Abroad - Finding a Job

The classic advice is to go to the country and look once you are there. This is still good advice, and for some parts of the world the only way, but there are a lot of EFL jobs advertised online. Check out Dave's ESL Cafe and Again, the situation differs a lot from country to country. See the individual country pages on Teaching English Overseas

If you do decide to buy a plane ticket and look on the spot, remember to take enough funds with you to live for 2-3 months. Before you arrive it's a good idea to find lists of language schools in the country, and send your resume and cover letter to them. The more the better. I've sometimes called over 100 schools - for example when I went to Madrid, before anyone used email. It's easier now.

When you arrive start calling the schools you emailed. Try to arrange interviews, and expect them to ask you for a demo class. It will help if you have a set of neat clothes for interviews.

Be aware, also, that different countries have different semesters. Check this before you leave. In some parts of the world this makes little difference, but in other places you could be making it difficult for yourself, if you arrive in the middle of the academic year.

If you can speak a foreign language put this on your resume. It will show that you already have some understanding of the process of learning a language. If you can't, it's a good idea to start learning. There are some good, free resources available in most libraries, and online. Some of the better ones charge, but can be worth it.

I am actually preparing a free e-book about how to teach English abroad, which will go into much more detail than I have the space for here.

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