Teach Abraod 101

teach-abroad.jpgHello and welcome to Teach Abroad 101!

here at Teach Abroad Blog, and at Student Traveler, we get a lot of questions about how to teach abroad, so we decided to put together this helpful list of answers to some of the more common questions.

Teaching Abroad is a great way to really learn about a foreign culture and log some quality time outside the US – all while boosting your resume and have an interesting and awesome teach abroad adventure!


Teach Abroad 101


  • What do all these teach abroad acronyms mean?

The world of teaching English abroad is full of crazy acronyms and abbreviations. This list should help you to tell your ESL from your EFL.

EFL – English as a Foreign Language. English as taught in a region where the native language is not English.

ESL – English as a Second Language. English as taught in a region where the native language is English, to someone whose first language is something else. In the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, ESL is called ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages.

TESL/TESOL/TEFL – The disciplines of Teaching English as a Second Language/for Speakers of Other Languages/as a Foreign Language. May also refer to various certificates qualifying one to teach in the respective area.

CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. Issued by an institution affiliated with Cambridge University, this is probably the most widely recognized and widely obtained teaching certificate.

  • What qualifications do I need to get a job teaching abroad?

Most employers require a Bachelors degree (almost any field is okay) to teach abroad. A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification is usually a good idea, but not always required. A TEFL certificate will certainly help you find work, and if you are considering teaching as a career, it’s a necessity. There are many different certification programs to choose from, but you should make sure that you get actual teaching hours to practice before you leave. The biggest thing you’ll gain is confidence in your teaching abilities – a little practice can really go a long way to making you a great English Teacher.

To get certified, your options range from online certificate courses lasting a few hours to a two-year Master’s in Applied Linguistics. Costs vary just as widely. Many teachers opt for a CELTA, which takes four weeks of intensive study or a few months part-time, and costs around $2,500 (tuition varies according to location). Some CELTA schools, such as Bridge-Linguatec Language Services, will offer free, guaranteed job placement for their students, which can very helpful for a novice teacher.

Most programs prefer all instruction to be conducted in English, so local language ability isn’t an absolute necessity. However, a few key words can be most helpful at the market, in the bars, and in front of the police. Remember, you’re not just going there to teach, you should try to integrate yourself in to the lifestyle and culture of your host country – so learn the language, make some friends, and have some fun!

  • Where can I find a job teaching abroad?

Jobs can be found anywhere there is a need to learn English, but most will find jobs at private instruction centers or public schools and universities. Just about every non-English speaking country is looking for native English speaking teachers, so you have a lot of options. Check GoAbroad.com, DavesESL.com, and StudentTraveler.com to search for Teach abroad opportunities.

It is difficult for Americans to secure a position teaching in Europe because British and Irish teachers don’t need work permits to teach in other European Union countries. It is still possible to get teaching jobs in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, you’ll just have to try a little harder.

You can often find work being a private tutor for college students or others- check local universities for available opportunities.

  • Who will I be teaching?

Your students may be young children, college students, business men, or housewives. Most programs will enroll all ages and backgrounds, so be ready for anything.

  • How much money can I make teaching abroad?

How much money you make depends largely on your qualifications, the type of institution where you teach, and the country you are teaching in. The best money can usually be made by experienced teachers qualified to teach in their home countries, with advanced degrees or knowledge of specialized areas, and the most lucrative positions are generally in developed nations of the Middle and Far East. Other salaries can be very low by U.S. standards, but you should earn enough to live on in the local economy.

Many teachers make extra money through private tutoring on the side, but some employers forbid their teachers from tutoring on the side – so check in advance. Moreover, teaching freelance is almost guaranteed to be illegal. However, this can be the most lucrative and flexible way to make money while living in a foreign country.

Don’t plan on saving much while you are teaching abroad. You should be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle while you are there, but you probably won’t take much home. You might consider spending your extra cash on traveling to neighboring cities and countries. Not only will you get a fun break from your teaching schedule, but you will gain a better understanding of the culture and the language of your host country.

  • This sounds like work. Who can help me to teach abroad?

There are many services that can help you find the right teaching job abroad. For a fee, they make sure that the school is reputable, provide orientation information, arrange airport pickup, and provide a contact in the community. They should also help you find housing and secure the necessary paperwork, such as visas and work permits.

  • Do I need to sign a contract to teach abroad?

Most schools require you to sign a contract, and it is in your best interest to get your obligations and benefits in writing before you head out. Shady dealings are common in the world of teach abroad, particularly with private instruction centers. If you are nervous about signing on for a year, ask if you can talk to former teachers about their experience, or ask around about the school on Dave’s ESL Café.

  • Important questions to ask a prospective employer

How many hours per week will I be teaching?

How many classes will I teach?

How big are the classes?

What level are the students at?

Can I speak to past teachers for more information?

How long has the school been around?

What are my housing options?

What paperwork do I need? Will you help me in obtaining them?

Do you have textbooks, dictionaries, stationary and teaching materials? Do you have a copy machine?


Dave’s ESL Café has job listings and discussion boards for ESL/EFL teachers in the U.S. and abroad. Whether checking out a school in Kazahkstan, fishing for lesson ideas or just commiserating with fellow teachers, sooner or later everybody comes to Dave’s.

The JET program is a government sponsored program for teaching in Japan’s public school system.

AEON and NOVA are two of the largest and most reputable private language school chains in Japan offering positions to foreign teachers.

HanWooRee Language and Education Center is a private language school chain in Korea.

In Chile and Argentina native English speakers are always in demand. Check out the Colegio Ingles British Royal.

The French government sponsors the French Teaching Assistant Program, providing paid opportunities to teach in France.

The American Scandinavian Foundation offers teaching positions in Finland.

We hope that we answered most of your teach abraod questions — if you still have some questions that need to be answered, feel free to drop us a line, we’ll certainly do our best to find the answer!

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