If you are considering moving your life abroad to teach English, you have probably thought about where you want to teach. But how do you make the choice? There are so many countries in different parts of the world that have a high demand for English Teachers, and each one offers a different experience. To start narrowing down your choices, you need to decide what type of life you want to live. Do you want a basic but relaxing life, or do you want a life of splendor? Or maybe you want a little bit of both!
One more thing you need to be sure of before you make a choice is that you have all the requirements for the country or region you choose. In order to teach in a country, legally, you will need a work visa. Each country has a different requirement for this and some are difficult. Below is a list of 5 places that English teachers are the most successful and in demand.
5. South America
If you love Latin culture, music, and food then South America is perfect for you. It boasts beaches, mountain, cities, jungles, and everything in between. Each South American country is different, so you are offered a variety of choices for living and travel. PLUS, it has the Galapagos Islands and The Amazon, so there’s that! This is a great spot for Americans as it is close to home, and will have more similarities than going somewhere else. Also, in South America you will find people who are extremely passionate about teaching. When you go to Southeast Asia, you find a lot of unqualified or gap year people looking for a fun time, so they teach English. But in South America, you meet people who are more dedicated to their jobs and have a passion for their profession.
The biggest concern of going to South America is the safety, especially in Colombia and Venezuela. But there are dangers in every part of the world, even at home. Don’t go wandering down an alley in the middle of the night, flashing all your goods or get in with a drug ring, and you will be fine. Just be smart. Also, teachers here get paid less money than other parts of the world. They make somewhere between $1,000-$1500 a month, but with the low cost of living it is more than enough to live, travel, and save some money.
4. The Middle East
The Middle East is where you go if you want to live a more luxurious life and save a lot of money. These countries are wealthy, and they pay teachers quite a bit of money. New teachers will bring in at least $3,000 a month, tax free, and will have free housing. More experienced teachers are making somewhere between $5,000-$6,000. Living in the Middle East is an easy life. Most expats have cleaners, drivers, and personal trainers. And when you are making that much money, why not? Favorite things to do in the Middle East are shopping, coffee, and smoking shisha. Because of the heat, people spend their days inside relaxing with friends and then come alive at night. This area is also rich in culture and history. The Dead Sea, Petra, Pyramids, Mecca, Mesopotamia, camel riding, and belly dancing shows are at your doorstep. The Middle East is a vibrant part of the world and is constantly changing.
The downside of living in the Middle East is that it is more difficult for women. It is a male dominated society, so women naturally have less rights and make less money. Some countries have more strict rules as well, whereas others are more Westernized and relaxed. Living in Saudi Arabia is completely different than living in the UAE. Make sure you do your research on the country before you sign a contract. Also, check the school’s and country’s requirements. Because they pay so much, they do have higher requirements to teach there. The majority of schools will require a Bachelor’s and a teaching credential to accompany it.
Russia is not somewhere people usually think about when planning to teach abroad, but it is a place that should definitely be on your list. Russia has such a rich history and culture that it is quite a fun place to live. You can spend the week in the bustling city of Moscow, and the weekend exploring smaller towns. English has started to become a necessity, so there are plenty of jobs to choose from. Most will offer a similar salary of around $1000 and free housing or a stipend. As for teaching English in Russia, you can choose between a language center for school-aged kids, teaching Business English to adults, or teaching at a private school. Teachers will get paid significantly more at a private school, but those jobs require more qualifications and are harder to get. Private schools in Russia require much more work than an English center, so think about the type of life you want to live before making a choice.
The biggest struggles you will face in Russia are the language barrier and the weather. Learning English is quite new, so many people still only speak Russian, but they are happy to help you regardless. And it is cold. Winter in Russia can be brutal. But if you are fine with the cold weather throw on a parka, drink some hot cocoa, and hang out beside the fire with friends. On the flipside, the summer in Russia is absolutely lovely and not excruciatingly hot.
Indonesia is a traveler’s paradise. If you are looking for a constantly warm climate, good food, kind people, and a convenient place to travel from, then Indonesia is the place for you. It is one of the happiest places for expats to live. The reason for this is that you very much live an easy, relaxing life. Indonesia boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and mountains to hike. You can spend one weekend lounging in Bali or the Gili Islands and the next weekend climbing a volcano. Another thing about Indonesia is that it is so culturally mixed that the flavors in the cuisine are unreal. You get the hints of Indian, Arab, Western, and East Asian all rolled into one. Your taste buds will thank you for this move. Indonesia is also a great place to travel from. Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, and Singapore are all a cheap, short flight away. The cost of living in Indonesia is also low, so you will be able to save a lot of money. The pay for teachers in Indonesia varies depending on which island you are on, so do your research.
There are not really a lot of cons with Indonesia. The only thing is the rain in the wet season, but it is consistent and you know it is coming. Just carry a raincoat with you, and you will be fine!
China is the best place to go for teaching English. It is such a massive country with a high demand, and jobs are available everywhere. China is a beautiful country, boasting a fantastic cuisine and ancient culture. You can go visit the Forbidden City, The Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, Pandas, Yellow River, The “Hallelujah Mountain”, and so much more. You have the opportunity to drink tea, learn Mandarin, calligraphy, Kung-Fu, and meditation. China has all types of climates, so it will suit anyone’s needs. China also have such various cuisines depending on the region, and it is all flavorful and amazing. Another thing about China is that because it so big and has so many people, the transportation is absolutely amazing. The cities all have a metro system and bus system that are dependent and extremely cheap. If you want to travel between cities, you usually have the choice between a high-speed train or regular train, neither being expensive. Teachers also get paid well in China. The cost of living varies depending on the city you live in, but will definitely be lower than western countries.
The culture shock is the biggest difficulty you will experience in China. Most people don’t speak a lick of English, so learning Mandarin will be a necessity in many areas. Keep in mind that it is very populated, so personal space does not exist, but pollution does. Another difficulty is getting the Visa. China is VERY strict on its work permit process. To work legally, you MUST be from a Native English Speaking country, have a Bachelor’s Degree, have a TEFL or 2 proven years of experience, and a clean background check. If you lack any of these, they will not issue a legal visa. If you can get over language, pollution, and are qualified then China is an amazing and interesting place to live and travel.
Whatever you decide, you will have a rich experience. If you do your research well, choose a good school, and go overseas with a positive mind, you will make new memories and have an absolute blast. The expat communities overseas are helpful, and you will make new friends with ease. Teaching English can be a fun, rewarding experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.
What country would you choose to go to?
Teach English, travel and work abroad with EF English First