The ability to easily live and work overseas can be one of the greatest benefits of teaching ESL. For me, it was actually the reason I fell into the field!
If the travel bug has you, or if you’re just looking for new teaching experiences, there is a plethora of options for you out there (depending somewhat on citizenship, level of education, experience, etc.). Below is a quick breakdown of two common destinations for ESL teachers:
China, Korea, and Japan are by far the most popular destinations for Canadian ESL teachers, especially for those with little or no experience. For many jobs, the only requirement is a bachelor’s degree, although having some kind of TESL certification will expand the number of jobs available (and your pay!)
Many employers will pay for a return flight ticket, as well as offering some kind of bonus for completing your contract (usually 1 year). South Korea can be the best choice for saving money, as the cost of living is low, and schools generally pay for your rent as well!
There is also the choice between private or public schools. Although I have had friends who had positive experiences in private schools, it is important to do research on the schools before signing any contract!
In the public schools, there is a lot less risk of being cheated out of pay, or experiencing other unpleasantness. As well, public teachers can get longer paid holidays (up to 2 or 3 months!), and sometimes higher pay.
For Korea, the public school program is called EPIK. In Japan, it’s JET, and in Hong Kong, it’s NET.
If you’re planning on returning to Canada and working in a private ESL school, East Asian work experience can be a plus on your resumé as many ESL students are from these countries.
The Middle East
The average pay for ESL teachers in the Middle East is quite high – many jobs pay $60,000+ – but the jobs also require high qualifications. A B.Ed., M.A., or many years’ experience are common requirements.
In some cases, not only will your employer pay for your flight and housing, but also for your children’s schooling, making it a tempting destination for those with families.
Each country offers a different culture, way of life, and living conditions – so it’s definitely a good idea to look into these things during your job search.
Where to look:
- Of course, the TESL Ontario Job Board is a great place for job searches!
- My personal favourite is TEFL.com, which allows you to search by type of job, and by country.
- For sheer volume of postings, there’s the timeless Dave’s ESL Cafe, which also has discussion forums where you can ask other ESL teachers about their experiences with different schools and recruiters.
Have you ever worked abroad? What advice can you offer to new teachers venturing out?