One concern I heard at TESOL’s 2017 Convention was the decreasing size of English language programs in the United States. Whether it’s because of the turbulent politics on travel bans or a combination of other factors, many ESL teachers are losing their jobs. The good news is that the trend in the United States does not reflect the trend in other countries. It might be time to start considering teaching English abroad! Even if you are not facing job loss, teaching outside your home country may be just the opportunity to expand your skill set and reinvigorate your excitement about the field.
One of the first things to do is to find job openings. One place you can do that is TESOL’s own Online Career Center. Other popular websites include
These sites have job postings from all over the world. Even if a certain country is not of immediate interest to you, check out the job requirements, salary (if stated), and benefits just to get a sense of what is offered in different countries.
Public or Government vs. Private
You might notice in job postings whether a school is public or private. Note that “public” and “private” may not have the same meaning as they do in your home country. For example, in the United States, private schools tend to be associated with having more resources, higher pay, or better benefits. However, the opposite may be true in other countries; private schools may still seem to have better pay based on stated salaries, but the public schools may have benefits that would ultimately exceed the salary offered by private companies, such as better vacation, housing, and insurance options. Furthermore, working through a government-sponsored public school may help with the visa process.
Speaking of visas, some people like to travel to a country as a tourist to learn about the place and to see if they can find a job once in the country. Although this strategy does have benefits, be sure not to start working until you have the appropriate visa. Sometimes a company will hire you for a month or two with the promise that they will help you get the right visa, but then the company offers excuses about delayed payments. (For example, you cannot open a bank account in some countries using a tourist visa, and the company may use that as an excuse not to pay you.) One you realized that the company was not going to pay you, you would have no recourse other than to report the company because you would still on a tourist visa.
On the right visa, however, you can enjoy many benefits from teaching English abroad, including tax breaks and free housing. So, keep your eyes on the TESOL Blog for more suggestions on this topic. You can also check out the latest edition of TESOL Press’s More than a Native Speaker for a guide on planning, teaching, and living as an EFL teacher abroad.