> Choosing a Country

Teach English Worldwide strives to provide clear, comprehensive, and objective advice to anyone interested in teaching English overseas.

The man who can make hard things easy is the educator

R.W. Emerson (American poet and essayist)

When choosing where you want to work, you should take the following list of factors into account:

Pay: TEFL-TESOL wages are quite variable worldwide. See Teach English Worldwide’s “Wages & Salaries” and regional summaries sections for more info on TEFL-TESOL industry pay..

Job Availability: TEFL-TESOL jobs, while plentiful overall, are harder to find in some countries than in others. The time of year also influences job availability. In Western Europe, for example, most jobs start in September/October because schools are trying to fill positions for the new academic year (There are also vacancies in Western Europe in January). Make sure you know the peak hiring periods for the countries you are considering. Visit our Regional Summaries sections for more info.

Visa and Work Permit Requirements: Each country has its own visa and work permit laws. You should begin to investigate these requirements several months before your departure to ensure that your paperwork will be processed in time. Working without a visa or work permit is also a possibility in some countries, but you will generally not receive the same job security, benefits, or pay as your legal colleagues. In addition, some countries have stiff legal penalties for illegal workers, while others rarely enforce work permit requirements. See Teach English Worldwide’s “Visa and Work Permit Requirements” section for more details.

Living Conditions: Those of us living in modern, industrialized nations often take many daily conveniences for granted. In other parts of the world, however, these conveniences are viewed as luxuries. You should investigate things like housing standards, access to modern communications, sanitation services, access to modern healthcare facilities, etc. for any country you are considering.

Typical Working Conditions: Workplace standards also vary by country and culture, and might influence where you will prefer to work. Things to investigate include: average pay; whether you are paid wages or a salary; average workload; average vacation time; standard benefits (medical insurance, housing, paid travel to and from the country, etc.)

Climate and Environment: Another factor is the weather and natural environment of your intended destination(s). If you are an outdoor person, or are hoping to visit the beach every day after class, this factor might very important for you.

Native Language: You may want to pick a country because you already speak the language there, and so will be able to more easily adapt to your new environs. Alternatively, you may choose a country whose language you do not speak, but that you are keen on studying.

Proximity to your native country: If you need or want to be returning to your home country on a regular basis, this factor may be an important one for you.

Travel and Tourist opportunities: The desire to travel and see the world is one of the most common reasons people decide to teach English overseas. If this is your case, you should consider the travel opportunities in and around the countries you are considering.

Health and Safety Concerns: Unfortunately, epidemics, military conflicts, ethnic violence, recurring natural disasters, and other problems continue to plague many areas of the world. You will want to investigate any potential risks to your health or safety before moving to a new country. **In an increasing number of areas, anti-Western (and particularly anti-American) attitudes should also be considered.

How to Research the questions above:

  • If you are in contact with any schools in the country, ask them about working conditions, living conditions, typical contracts, etc. Compare answers from various schools to get a more complete picture of the area.
  • Ask current and former TEFL-TESOL teachers living in the country for advice. Many teachers are happy to share their experiences, and should be able to give you free, first-hand advice on a whole range of topics. Your TEFL-TESOL school’s job guidance program may be able to put you in contact with some teachers. You can also visit online message boards to read posts and ask questions (visit Teach English Worldwide’s “TESOL Links” section for a listing of TEFL-TESOL Message Boards)
  • For up-to-date information about the political, social, economic, and environmental situations of a given country, try the US government’s fact book.

NOTE: Despite the importance of carefully deciding where you want to go, there is no reason you have to stay in a particular country or school if they are not right for you. One of the best aspects of teaching English overseas is that it affords you incredible job flexibility and work opportunities in hundreds of countries.