A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

Where’s the best place for a TEFL “newbie” to start?

Where's the best place to start teaching English overseas?

With a degree

Only my opinion - probably Korea.  And this recommendation comes from my own limited personal experience in the TEFL world.  I am sure there are many other great options out there.

Korea offers the best combination of minimal expectations for a newbie teacher, combined with free housing, airplane tickets - and a good salary that allows you to save US$1000 or more per month.

If you don't like Korea, or hate teaching - bailing out will not create a financial hardship - as it might in a few other countries where you were just barely making it on the provided wages.

No Degree

Probably China, Indonesia, South and Center America your best options.

Factors to Consider

Your "best place" may not be, and probably isn't, my "best place."  Take a look at financial issues like how much it will take you to get set up.  How much money will you spend out of your pocket before you get your first pay check.  Know that most countries pay only monthly - and you may not get paid until the middle of the month after your first month of work.  So - six weeks of work may pass before the first money starts to come in.


Do you need to rent your own housing - what about deposits - how much out of pocket will you be before your first pay check?

Air Tickets

Do you need to pay for these or will they be reimbursed?  Some jobs require that you work a specific amount of time before you are reimbursed.

Your First Job

Just my thinking, but until you have lived and worked overseas as an English teacher - for at least six months, try to minimize your spending.  If you decide this occupation is NOT for you - you might prefer that you didn't spend too much to find out.

Keep a Reserve

When you head out - make sure you have a reserve to get you back home and back on your feet - just in case.

Personally, I think you'll do fine - the great majority of people who try TEFL do just fine.  Good to be careful though.


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