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TEFL: an introduction – Part Two

[Continued from Part One]

Choosing a country

While you’re getting qualified, you can be deciding where you want to teach. You can go almost anywhere so if a particular country takes your fancy, the chances are that you’ll be able to find work there.

Oh, and one common question we are often asked is, “Do I have to speak the local language?” The simple answer is, “No!” You don’t need to speak Russian if you’re looking for work in Russia or Portuguese if you’re looking for work in Portugal!

The general principle of teaching English is that you and your class speak only English when you’re together so don’t worry if you don’t speak anything but English yourself!

Meanwhile, here are some common destinations for teachers (but this list is by no means exhaustive and you will likely find small, privately run English language schools in every city and almost every single town in every country in the world – so wherever you want to go, you’ll find work there if you look hard enough):


Because of EU regulations, schools tend to favour EU passport holders as this spares them the bureaucratic hassle they would get trying to hire non-EU applicants. So in practical terms this means that most English teachers in Europe are from Britain or Ireland. There are still plenty of jobs in southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey) and Eastern Europe. Work is harder to find but still available in Central and Western Europe, although for places like Germany and France you generally have to have experience and higher qualifications.


There are a lot of jobs in China. It’s the new emerging market for teachers and a simple search online will bring up hundreds of jobs available there ranging from work in the big cities to small towns in the far end of the country. If you work here you’ll find teachers from many different countries alongside you.

Elsewhere in Asia

Outside of China, common destinations are Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. In the same way that Europe is a common destination for British and Irish teachers, these countries are popular with Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian teachers although you’ll still find plenty of British and Irish working there too.

South America and Central America

Mainly popular with American teachers, the more popular countries include Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Argentina, though Chile and Peru are also on the up.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE (especially Dubai) are known for paying well. But there are lifestyle restrictions which may not suit everyone.


Work can be found by applying individually or through volunteer associations and international missions. Morocco, Egypt and South Africa are popular amongst Americans and British teachers alike.

Part Three: Living/working conditions and finding a job

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