Teaching English Overseas - TESOL Regions of the World


Europe is one of the most popular destinations for teaching English overseas. The way of life is different, but not too different, for teachers from English speaking countries. If one of your reasons for teaching English overseas is to learn or become fluent in a European language, then teaching English in Europe will give you that opportunity. The cities of Europe can also be interesting and fun places to live for a year or two.

The ESL job market varies from country to country. See the articles on teaching in the different European countries and cities. The most popular TEFL destinations include France Italy Spain Germany Poland Portugal Greece the Czech Republic and Turkey

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The Tower of Belem in Portugal

Increasingly there are also more opportunities for finding work teaching English in Russia Although opportunities are fewer, there is some work teaching English in Belarus

For non- EU residents it's necessary to get a visa, or take the risk and work illegally. To convince a school to sponsor you for a visa, it helps to have experience and tefl certification - and persistence. A TEFL certificate is a good idea. This won't put you ahead of other people, but it will mean you can choose from a much broader range of jobs, and apply to the jobs which are advertised on the internet. The jobs seen on the internet are, however, only the tip of the ESL iceberg. Most jobs are found from being on the spot, and actively searching for them. Here I write about teaching English in Madrid and an English teacher describes her experience teaching English in Barcelona

The European teaching season is from September to June, and schools prefer to fill their positions a few months before this, if possible. It's important to be aware of this, as finding work in the middle of the term is more difficult, but certainly possible if you are prepared to be very active in your search. Some English teachers fail to turn up after Christmas, and there are usually some jobs available in early January.

Salaries vary from country to country, and position to position. See more details of this in the individual country sections. Eastern Europe having generally lower salaries, but also a lower cost of living. Also, Eastern Europe is generally easier for teachers without experience. Read about one English teacher's experience teaching English in Hungary With a little effort it's possible to find opportunities in most countries. The following story, however, illustrates some of the problems that can be encountered, in this case when teaching English in Greece


Asia is huge and for tesol purposes can be divided into north east, and south east Asia. North east Asia includes Japan China Korea Taiwan Hong Kong and Macau. This region is very popular, and with its relatively dynamic economies it offers some good opportunities for saving money. The work here is less seasonal than in Europe (see individual country articles for more details).

What's the difference? Korea & Taiwan - A teacher's opinion.

Teaching in Hong Kong - Part One of an Interview with an experienced teacher & long term resident

Teach English in Hong Kong - Part Two of the Interview with Hana

There is quite a lot of work here, and it is possible to save money if you work hard, although there are also many temptations which can help you spend it too. Japan pays the highest salaries in the region, but also has the highest cost of living. Korea is probably the next highest paying country, followed by Taiwan, with China at the bottom, although China works well for many teachers. Many people choose to live here to learn Chinese or Japanese, and all the countries are quite well set up for this, with many universities and private language schools offering classes.

Experience is useful, but not necessary for finding ESL jobs here. A degree is required for a working visa in every country in the region. Without this you would most likely be working illegally, with the problems that entails. A TEFL certificate is not yet essential, but it is highly recommended.

South east Asia includes Thailand Vietnam and Indonesia All of these countries are popular with ESL teachers. If your reason for teaching English overseas is to save money, then you would be better off in north east Asia, but it's possible to earn enough to enjoy your life. Just don't expect to save much here. The beaches and outdoor activities are big attractions.

Central and South America

Brazil Chile Mexico Costa Rica Ecuador Guatemala and Peru are popular choices for teachers. Few jobs are advertised over the internet. Most hiring is done within the countries themselves. The pay here is enough to live on, but usually not enough to save. However, the countries offer a different lifestyle, and if one of your reasons for teaching English overseas is to learn Spanish or Portuguese, teaching English in Latin America could be a good choice.

A beach in Brazil

The Middle East

The Middle East has the highest salaries in the TESOL world. It also has the highest requirements for TEFL certification. Either a TEFL diploma or an MA TESOL/applied linguistics are usually required. The region also has the highest requirements for levels of teaching experience. It also has some of the most restrictive cultures in the world, and will not be everybody's ideal for teaching English overseas. The best places for earning money are Saudi Arabia the UAE Bahrain Qatar and Kuwait. Oman Egypt offers more chances for a cultural experience and learning Arabic, but the salary there is much lower.

Camels in Oman

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