5 things you need to know to apply for ESL Teaching jobs abroad

By Nicole Brewer

So you’ve decided to get out of the rat race (or maybe not even join it at all) in your home country in order to live the fascinating life of an English as Second Language (ESL) teacher abroad. You’re preparing to dust off your resume and apply for those ESL gigs of your dreams. Well, as a seasoned ESL teacher trotting the globe abroad from South Korea to currently residing in Oman, let me give you a few tips of what you need to know about applying for and interviewing for ESL jobs around the globe.


1) For many ESL teacher positions around the world, you do not need a teaching certificate in your home country. In order to teach in places such as South Korea and China, you only need a BA degree and possibly a TESOL certificate (which you can obtain before applying for your dream job abroad). Most University positions require you have a TESOL/TEFL of 100 hours completed In Class and Not Online. There are various opportunities to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, but do your due diligence to make sure it is a reputable company. If there is a groupon for it, it may not be the best option to do.


Recruiters, Recruiters

2) Some ESL recruiting companies are cut throat! Buyer beware, the ESL teaching job arena can be tough. It is imperative to do your research ahead of time on various recruiting companies when you get ready to apply. Some companies are here one day and gone tomorrow. Therefore, ask questions, network in social media groups that have many ESL teachers already such as iluv2globetrot and others online. I can highly recommend Footprints Recruiting, TeachAway and SeriousTeachers.com to name a few.

 Lesson Planning

3) Start researching how to do a lesson plan if you have never completed one before. If you have never taught in your home country or abroad, it is imperative to learn how to do a lesson plan Before you trot to your new country to work abroad. This may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many new teachers have no idea what the purpose of a lesson plan even is. There are a ton of useful resources online to help you get the ball rolling on fun and interactive lessons for teaching with either adults or children such as http://bogglesworldesl.com/ , http://www.eslflow.com/ and http://busyteacher.org.


Embassy Jobs

4) If you have English language teaching experience already in your home country, consider applying for teaching jobs with your countries Embassy in locations abroad. You’d be surprised just how many opportunities are out there around the globe with embassies, Department of Defense (DoD) and even military colleges. Again, research, research, research.

 Use your Language Experience

5) If you have language experience other than English, you can look into applying for opportunities that require language skills in your native language of English and your foreign language that you studied in school. The teaching assistant program in France http://highereducation.frenchculture.org/teach-in-france is a great example of this option. You get the best of both worlds, teaching others English, while at the same time practicing the language you studied before going abroad.

Are their any additional tips that you would give to future globe-trotters interested in teaching abroad? If so, please feel free to share in the comments section below! Thanks, kamsahaminda, shukran, merci, danke ;-).


  1. Kim says

    These are some great tips for those seeking to teach ESL. You are a great wealth of information when it comes to travel.

    1. Globe trot says


  2. Holly says

    This is good to know. I am seeing more and more people head to other countries to teach English. I also read somewhere all the great benefits you can get in certain countries while teaching there. Thanks for more info on it.

    1. Globe trot says

      Yes, it can be a great lifestyle living abroad, especially for travelers like us. You’re most welcome!

  3. Amber says

    LOL @ if there’s a Groupon for it! These are really great tips. I’ve never thought about teaching abroad but know a few people who have. They all say that it’s a fun and exciting, even rewarding experience!

    1. Globe trot says

      It’s been a fabulous experience, really glad I decided to go for it.

  4. Vashti (veepeejay.com) says

    These are awesome tips Nicole! I have a few friends who are ESL teachers so this would be helpful if they decide to travel.

    1. Globe trot says

      Glad to be of assistance!

  5. Stacie says

    You’ve got great traveling information here. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    1. Globe trot says

      You’re welcome!

  6. MJ says

    In another lifetime I would love to work abroad and maybe even teach. I’m curious… As an ESL teacher abroad, how much of the native language does the teacher need to know? Or should no?

    1. Globe trot says

      Hey, you’d be surprised really. Many countries it is not necessary (I’ve only picked up a few words here and there in both Korea and Oman). However, it for sure can make the experience that much greater if you can communicate more with the locals.

  7. Charles McKinney says

    You should publish this on LinkedIn Nicole. I’m sure it would generate some good feedback and even increase your following. You covered the basics in a nutshell. Nice work!

    1. Globe trot says

      Thanks Charles, that’s an awesome idea!

  8. Katrina says

    Great post! I have several friends who teach over seas and a few that would like to. Great share!

    1. Globe trot says

      Great, thanks! Feel free to share with those that are interested in trotting the globe through ESL.

  9. Raven says

    Oh, I have a few friends who have been talking about this for a while. It’s a great way to see the world. Great tips, I’ll be sharing immediately! 🙂

    1. Globe trot says

      Awesome, thanks! It really does provide a great way to travel and save if you fancy!

    2. Globe trot says

      Great! Glad it can help.

  10. Janeane Davis says

    Teaching ESL abroad is a nice way to see the world, make a living and help others at the same time.

  11. Mary says

    This seems like a great way to start a travel lifestyle. Not sure it would work for us with kids but these are great tips to get people started! Thanks!

    1. Globe trot says

      You’re welcome and I have plenty of friends with family (many schools help bring the family out, medical expenses etc) so it is indeed something worth considering :-).

  12. Vanessa says

    That’s a great tip about the Embassy jobs – there are so many ways ESL skills can help finance your travels around the world

  13. Brent and Stacey-jean Inion says

    We have considered going the ESL route ourselves. The income in Central and South America is more limited; N Americans may find it a more difficult go. Good point on the second language experience. Thanks for the post.

    1. Globe trot says

      No problem, you’re welcome!

  14. Howard @ Backroad Planet says

    Wow! As a 35-year ESL teacher, I appreciate the wealth of information you have provided. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Globe trot says

      Most welcome!

  15. Andrea says

    Currently on track to becoming a teacher in Canada, but have always toyed with the idea of teaching abroad. Thank you for informing me! I will have to refer to this once I’ve decided.

    1. Globe trot says

      Awesome! Glad to be of assistance.

  16. Aileen says

    Very helpful post! I know a lot of fellow travel bloggers who teach ESL to fund their life of travel and I have yet to try it myself. It’s nice to see how the process goes really with your post. (y)

  17. Brenda says

    This is very helpful information. Thank you.

  18. Revati says

    Lovely tips, makes it sound doable even for someone with as little patience as me!

  19. Kerwin says

    I’ve read this twice now and am still confused.
    So how do I start?
    Do I just show up in a country and say “I want to teach English do you have a job open?”
    What then?
    I know you’ve done it, but am not getting enough directions from this article. Maybe you need to write an ultimate Guide and sell it on Amazon?
    Is there a place where one can go look to see where the jobs are?
    Is there a better country to start out and get your feet wet and get experience.
    I need more Nicole :-). Give me more.
    You’ve only whet my appetite.


    1. Globe trot says

      Hahaha, hmm that’s a good idea there Kerwin. Something to ponder ;-). I tried to do a round-up of the quick and dirty but an ebook would be fab!

  20. Kate says

    I taught English in an orphanage in Peru around 7 and a half years ago. I went through a company called i-to-i and lived with a local family. It was a fantastic experience, definitely worth doing. You have some great tips here. Thanks for sharing

  21. Brianna says

    Everyone I know who taught abroad really enjoyed their experience.

  22. Kathrin - Dreams of Freedom says

    Definitely a good way to travel the world on a budget and to meet a lot of people. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Globe trot says

      You’re all welcome, glad you enjoyed!

  23. Great post! I wish I had taken lesson planning into better consideration when I moved abroad. There were so many books and videos I wished I had bought at home! ESL stuff can be hard to find, especially if you work in a small town!

    1. Globe trot says

      Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I didn’t know much about lesson planning when I first started out in ESL.

  24. Fly Girl says

    This is a really informative post. You covered some interesting points that I never considered. Thanks for the insight!

    1. Globe trot says

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  25. Christine says

    I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but unfortunately didn’t finish college when I was young and stupid. Is it true that a bachelor’s degree is indeed necessary? Would I be wasting my time taking a TESOL or TEFL class and getting certified only to find that no one would hire me without a BA?
    🙂 Thanks,

    1. Globe trot says

      Ahh, yes Many of the programs want you to have a BA, but for sure do some research. I know at one point South Korea had a program where if you had at least an Associates and was working toward your BA you could be placed. This may be the case for some other locations, esp. in Asia.

  26. […] as an expat teacher has plenty of advantages and perks. I make a pretty good income as an (ESL) English as a Second Language teacher abroad in Oman and even have free accommodations provided to me from my employer. Nevertheless, […]

  27. […] I actually worked in market research and sales a few years after college before deciding to teach abroad. I was lucky when I first started teaching in Korea all you needed was a college degree from an English speaking country. Now it’s much more competitive as people are seeing how awesome the expat lifestyle is so for many countries you need some sort of certification like a TEFL/TESOL certification or to be certified in your home country. I wrote an article with a few tips awhile back for iluv2globetrot on tips for teaching ESL abroad. […]

  28. Felicia Chapman says

    How does one get started teaching English in the Middle East?

    1. Globe trot says

      Hi Felicia! I’m actually currently finishing up my e-book about getting into teaching English abroad right now.

  29. Felicia Chapman says

    I saw an article recently about teaching overseas. I am not sure if you wrote it or contributed to it, about what to keep in mind before accepting a contract, and where to look for opportunities.

    If you know what I’m referring to, can you please send me a link? I can seem to find it anymore, but I think it was published recently.

    1. Globe trot says

      Hi Felicia, yes it was an article on GOOD website that I was interviewed for. I actually was just looking for it the other day to backlink here on the site and I can’t seem to find it anymore either on their site. Not exactly sure why. https://www.good.is/articles/teaching-english-abroad-for-money

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