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

How to search the TEFL job market possible jobs possible countries. 

How would I decide?

Spend lots of time - just window shopping really - at ELT World or Dave's ESL Cafe cruising the international, Korea, and China Job Boards. 

Then go to the discussion boards and ask about cost of living and the ability to save and the quality of life in the countries you are interested in.  Take a look also at job websites such as ESLjobsNow.com.


Your salary is not as big an issue as you might think.  The real bottom line is how much money is in your pocket at the end of the month - after you have paid your bills - and lived a decent life. 

Some countries like Korea, pay reasonably, and typically provide airfare, free housing and have low taxes.  Bottom line - significant savings at the end of the month.  Japan tends to pay a little more than Korea, but the cost of living is much greater, taxes are higher, and housing is not typically provided.  Bottom line - not much in the way of savings.

What fits your needs?

Many people have debts they need to take care of on a monthly basis.  Whether student loans, a home mortgage, or just credit card debt - it still needs to be taken care of.  Look for a country that fits your financial needs.  You won't be successful if you have to bail out - because you can't afford to eat.

Quality of Life

This is a very big issue as some countries, particularly in the Middle East, provide excellent salaries, free housing, airplane tickets, low or no taxes - and you can save a small fortune in a few years.  But, but, but - your quality of life in some of these countries can be poor indeed. 

Ask on the discussion boards about quality of life and ask specifically about things you enjoy doing.  If dating is important - don't go to Saudi Arabia.  The same applies if you enjoy a friendly drink down at the pub, or enjoy going to movies, or even just enjoy having friends of the opposite sex.  It's not going to happen in Saudi Arabia. Period.  I know as I spent five years there, but luckily my wife came along with me.

The Final Decision

Your decision on where to go depends on a combination of your financial needs, quality of life, and your interest in the culture and region where you would be located.  It's important to consider each factor when deciding which country and which job.


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