Teaching English Abroad Illegally

Don’t need a degree in Thailand to teach English?  Correct!

Don’t need a TEFL certification in Indonesia to teach English?  Correct!

You will find these kinds of responses on discussion boards all over the internet and – yes – they are correct.  But the wrong question is being asked.

The REAL question to ask is this: Can I teach English in Thailand legally without a degree?  Because then the answer is NO.  Can you find a job and teach illegally for a while in Thailand?  Certainly.

Or Can I teach English in Indonesia legally without a TEFL certification?  And again the answer is NO.  Can you find a job and teach illegally in Indonesia for a short period of time?  Sure!

There is a real problem out on the internet with people giving out technically correct information – but substantively bad advice.

It is true that there are many people teaching illegally in Thailand, China, Latin America and many other places, but is that how you want to start out overseas?  As an outlaw?  Teaching illegally?  Wondering about the guy who just walked into your language school wearing a uniform that looked like he might be from immigration or the Ministry of Labour?

Do you really want to have to worry about being arrested and imprisoned in a foreign land?

Some people reason that the immigration police aren’t really interested in you and won’t want to keep you in jail and even then that your embassy will bail you out . . .  But they are seriously wrong.

Your country’s embassy has no interest in helping you beat a charge for violating a country’s labor/immigration laws.  And that country really doesn’t mind if you sit in their jail for a month or two or even a year while it all gets sorted out. Or even longer – no problem!

In some countries the authorities won’t mind contacting your family and asking them to empty their bank account in the hopes of getting you out of jail.  It might work, it might not.

Some people seem to think that obeying the laws of other countries is an option.  A game.  It’s not.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  While working illegally can be relatively low risk in some countries, it is better overall to ask the right questions and to make sure that you are doing everything legally – from day one.

Teaching Internships in China


The Most Common TEFL Scam

You might as well see it and know it, so here it is.  This email arrived in my inbox yesterday.  Not the first one like it, they seem very common these days.  So . . . let’s take a look at it:

Hello English Teacher,

I am Mr. ******* from Russia live here in Newcastle England. I
have my son and my wife with me here. I need them to learn ESL to
enable them speak English well in while here in England. Their names
are Robert my son and Irina my wife respectively.
I can be able to pay you £4,000GBP monthly and then will also pay you monthly for health allowance. Also, I will be responsible for some the fees for your visa documents.
I need you to send me your CV and other credentials so that I can evaluate you for this job.


This one is easy, right?

The writer appeals to your greed, to your interest in earning a wage far above what most EFL/ESL teachers would earn for what seems a very cushy job.

But the most important thing is that this scam approached me.  Not me applying for a job – the email came to me and asked me to apply.   Yet this person doesn’t know my name, he just harvested my email from God knows where.

Interestingly, he writes: I will be responsible for some the fees for your visa documents.

Bad English and all – this is where the scam plays out. I will apply for this job to earn big money, but right before I can take it, there will be a last minute need for me to send – oh . . . probably US$500 or so – to pay for my “Visa Paperwork”.  Do I want this job that is going to pay big money?  Perhaps I already paid for a plane ticket?  Told my family about the great job I got?  Quit my job?  I’d better send the money right away.

Well . . . that will be that last you will hear from your potential “employer” and your money will be long gone.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Key factors to look for in a scam:  #1  —  They approached you directly, yet probably don’t even know your name and want to pay you more than the going rate for what seems to be an easy job.

TED’s Tips™ #2:  The scamster sets the stage for asking you for money by mentioning “visa fees” – though this won’t come up again until the very last minute.  Now – there is nothing wrong with paying visa fees.  But you pay them directly to the embassy of the country from which you are obtaining the visa, not to an individual you have never met.

TED’s Tips™ #3: The request for money will be at the very last moment.  It was never made completely clear in the beginning as to an exact amount.  The idea was only briefly mentioned.

TED’s Tips™ #4:  Use your head.  This particular scam is no different than if someone walked up to you on the street and offered you US$1000 if you would wash their car.  Might you think there was something not right about such an offer?  Yeah.  So would I.

Teaching Internships in China

ESL EFL Road Show – Succeeding at TEFL Abroad

This week’s post is a mixture of several blogs from experienced ESL EFL teachers around the world and includes their ideas about what helps make a person successful teaching English abroad.  We hope you enjoy their perspective.

From TEFL Tips:

While jetting off to a foreign land may seem wonderful and exotic, living abroad can be stressful.  It certainly isn’t for everyone.  Some people succeed and others don’t.  Find out if you have what it takes to successfully live abroad.  Click  Here to Find out!

Sharon de Hinojosa has been teaching English since early 2003.  She started posting on Dave’s ESL Cafe shortly after and found herself regularly helping out other people and giving advice to newbies.  Over time, things progressed and she thought it would be a good idea to compile answers to FAQ that newbies often have about TEFLing and that’s how TEFL Tips got started.

From Istanbul Stranger

Most of the time, Stranger doesn’t completely suck at living abroad. Here are some handy tips that probably won’t make a lick of sense until you’ve managed to survive in another country for a couple of years, giving you newbies something to look forward to. Read about it  Here

Originally from Reno, Nevada and most recently from Portland, Oregon, Stranger came to Turkey almost 10 years ago. She had all kinds of education before that, which she’s almost done paying for. Stranger’s been working in the former Byzantium since she arrived, teaching adults at language schools and universities. She also did some freelance writing while on work-hiatus for baby-raising, and currently babysits grown-up children in the English prep department of a large university.

From Teacher in Mexico

Teaching abroad is a very select set of challenges to thrust yourself into. A new language, a different culture, strange food, and unknown risks are not what most people call fun. It takes a particular brand of daredevil or world-beater to see these hurdles as attractive. That particular brand of person is common among those that succeed in teaching abroad but the most important factor that each one knows is that it is imperative to have goals to succeed on, and the willingness to  . . .  Read More

Guy Courchesne, TEFL course instructor, Teacher in Latin America. Guy is a journalist and and EFL teacher that has lived in Mexico for 11 years. He has been teaching business EFL and TEFL courses for the last nine years in Mexico City, Acapulco, and Guadalajara. He is a member of Mextesol and also gives English teaching workshops to language institutes around Mexico. You can find him at Teacher in Mexico 

From our own TEFL Newbie:

People often ask very unrealistic questions about working abroad. It is as if all practical reasoning has been abandoned.  Do you really expect to be housed at a 5 star villa and fed gourmet food while you teach English at a resort?  Read more to find a happy middle ground and realistic approach . . .

Ted Tucker (your host here) is a retired TEFL educator and TEFL Teacher Trainer.  With an overseas career that started as a Peace Corps Volunteer in  Botswana in 1989 – he has been abroad ever since working in countries throughout Asia and the Middle East.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Working abroad is great fun, but use your head and have realistic expectations about what a life abroad can bring you.

Teaching Internships in China

The Job Market for Teaching English Abroad

Recently a reader wrote:

To be honest I am a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of positions in S. Korea, China, and Japan . . ..

In the postings for positions in China I am surprised by the sheer volume of listings and by the often times scant requirements . . .

For instance the ****** Company has a posting in Beijing for 5000-9000RMB/month, housing, airfare, Mandarin lessons . . .

I have seen several positions with similar promises. Are these too good to be true?

In response, I wrote the following:

What you are finding out is that it is a GREAT jobs market out there for teachers. HUGE. The jobs you are finding sound about right. There is great demand.

Realize that when a school advertises they will pay 5000-9000RMB, what they usually really mean is they will pay 5000! Maybe 5500. Graduate degree and ten years experience then maybe 7000. So – don’t put too much stock in it.  Be aware too, that the megacities in China, for example, will often pay a bit more due to the much higher cost of living in those cities.  It is not usually enough to compensate for the higher expenses though.

It costs nothing to interview and when you interview you can get a feel of the employer and if they seem real or not. My opinion after only 20 years overseas is that the incidence of “scams” is highly overrated. Be careful, of course, and if someone offers you five times what everyone else pays – then you should perhaps wonder, but otherwise it is a pretty solid market.

Payment or benefits that include accommodation and airfare are not unusual at all for China and Korea.  In China you will oftentimes even be given a utilities subsidy and free computer and internet in your free apartment.  Yeah!

TED’s Tips™ #1:  It is a great job market out there for teachers of English.  It is – as mentioned above – quite the opposite of the job market in the USA and UK right now.  Enjoy looking for a job where you are REALLY and eagerly wanted.  It is nice change of pace.  Go and enjoy!

Teaching Internships in China