Updated: 01/26/2020 | January 26th, 2020
Every year, tens of thousands of people go overseas and teach English. Young and old, they go for many reasons: to learn about a new culture, make some money to travel, seek adventure, or just experience something new.
The time I spent teaching English overseas in Asia was life-changing. In Thailand and Taiwan, I learned that I could make friends and start a life in a strange place, as well as adapt and thrive in a different culture. It gave me a confidence that nothing else before had ever done. It helped make me a better version of me.
Yet, with seemingly millions of places to teach, most people often wonder: where are the best places to teach English overseas? What countries provide the best experience, pay, or benefits? Here’s my list of where to score a fun, rewarding, and well-paying job teaching English overseas:
Table of Contents
1. South Korea
South Korea is one of the best places — if not the best — to teach English overseas. Jobs are abundant, the pay averages $1,600-2,600 USD per month, and you get awesome benefits, like a contract completion bonus, free housing, and airfare reimbursement.
A lot of recent college graduates are attracted to Korea because of the money, benefits, and the fact that Korea takes many first-time teachers. If you don’t have any experience, this country is one of the best options for you. As a place to live, Korea has plenty of things going for it: the food is delicious, the country is dirt cheap, and the people are friendly.
Plus you will find lots of other international young expats there. Since you earn so much money in a country with such a low cost of living, most people leave having paid off a substantial portion of their debts! You could easily walk away after a year of teaching with your loans (school or non-school) paid off AND money for travel!
Japan has a reputation for good jobs which means it also attracts as many people as South Korea. Though the years of easily teaching in Japan and making quick cash are long, long over, people willing to stay at least a year can generally save a substantial sum of money.
While the cost of living can eat up a lot of your salary, especially in Tokyo, there are a number of programs out there (including the government’s JET program) that reward long-term teachers with generous benefits and completion bonuses.
Additionally, the Japanese are incredibly friendly and polite, the food is endless gourmet heaven, and the culture is unique. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world.
3. The Middle East
The Middle East lures many teachers in for one reason: its salary packages. Middle Eastern countries offer incredibly large salaries (up to $70,000 USD per year for an experienced teacher), lots of benefits, and no taxes. A teacher can walk away with around $40,000 USD after one year.
However, this is no place for the recent college graduate. These countries want certified and experienced teachers. If you couldn’t teach at a public school in your home country, you have little chance of getting a job in this part of the world. As such, most of the teachers here are older and more settled and have families.
Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia are the most popular destinations for teaching English in this region.
Thailand attracts lots of young and new teachers with its cheap cost of living, warm beautiful weather, tropical beaches, mouth-watering food, and party atmosphere.
Most of the language school teachers are ex-travelers looking to save for future travels…or travelers who thought they were doing that but ended up never leaving. The pay in Thailand isn’t that high ($1,000–1,500 USD per month), unless you teach in Bangkok or at an international school.
However, teaching English in Thailand isn’t about making lots of money — it’s about everything else: the ease of getting a job, the food, the fun-loving atmosphere, the weather, and everything in between. It’s one of the best destinations for young, new teachers, especially in a larger city, since you’ll fit right in.
As China rises in global stature, its need for English teacher grows as more and more citizens need to know the language for their job. Moreover, the culture puts an emphasis on learning it. As such, it is one of the easiest places to find work. No matter where you go, you can find work, even in saturated cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
You can earn a decent salary teaching English here (upward of $1,500-2,000 USD a month), and many jobs give completion bonuses, free housing, and airfare reimbursement.
China is the brave new world and a country in constant change. It’s a good location for teachers of all abilities — there’s something for everyone there!
Prague has a seemingly abundant supply of teaching jobs. The city has grown in size over the last few years, attracting a variety of tech start-ups and expats, which has created a lot more job opportunities for teachers.
While it’s very hard to get a job in the public school system or a university, there are plenty of language schools in the city to choose from. The pay isn’t as high as other countries in the world and there are few benefits (especially when compared to Asia or the Middle East), but you’re a stone’s throw away from everywhere in Europe.
The city is one of the most beautiful, vibrant, fun, and popular cities in Europe, which makes Prague an excellent central base from which to explore the continent.
Teaching in Spain is one of the best opportunities for anyone looking to work in Europe. There are plenty of jobs, the government has an active program for attracting teachers, and your visa means you can freely travel around Europe.
There are also many opportunities to teach private lessons on the side. You don’t get many benefits (or high pay compared to Asia or the Middle East), but the pay is still enough to live off of.
Taiwan is an excellent country to teach English in, thanks to lots of job opportunities (though they tend to be with young kids), high salaries, benefits similar to South Korea, and lots of other young teachers to share a social life with. The country places a high importance on learning English, and you’ll be able to find freelance tutor opportunities besides your regular, steady teaching job!
I loved my time in Taiwan, made some wonderful friends, and adapted to a completely new culture.
9. Teaching English Online
This was something that didn’t exist when I was teaching. Thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to be tied to one location to teach Teaching online is becoming more popular as a way to make money while working remotely. Platforms like Cambly and italki don’t require any teaching degrees either. The pay isn’t great but it’s something that can have you earn enough money to keep traveling.
I had a lot of fun teaching English overseas. It was on my favorite experiences on the road and it taught me so much about myself. You gain a lot of perspective on life by living in another culture.
While there is an opportunity to teach wherever English isn’t the native language, the destinations above draw the biggest crowds, offer the best pay, the best perks, and are the most fun.
If you are thinking about becoming an English teacher overseas, my advice is to head to one of these destinations and just do it!
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
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