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  1. Hi again Ted,

    Thank you for your reply. You mention on your site that it would be better to go to Korea, save, and then attend a TEFL course in the country you are interested in (currently Thailand for me). After getting certified and working for a while, is it then possible to work anywhere in the world if you want to?

    I also have the opportunity to do a PhD but I am concerned about getting into more debt so I am considering either this or going back to university. I would like to work at university level, particularly in the fields of history or literature, so I wanted to know if anything like that generally comes available? How is the pay compared to working as an English teacher?

    Finally, I was interested in whether sexism might be a problem in any of the ‘newbie’ countries. I am a very unconventional woman even by US standards so I try to look before I leap, so to speak. Similarly, what are the dress rules/behavior rules for women at interviews, while teaching, etc and could you recommend a source for reading more on the subject? Most advice I read is directed towards men, which is normally not a problem, except that I get puzzled when I read that you ought to wear a suit and tie to the interview.

    Thanks so much again for your wonderful site!

  2. Hello Amy,
    Yes, with a TEFL cert and a relevant graduate degree, you will be able to work just about anywhere. From that though – I would exclude the EU – but pretty much the rest of the world will be no problem. Wages of history teachers compared to EFL – about the same. Sexism? Yeah, there is some – schools tend to prefer females. It’s not fair!
    I hope that helps.

  3. Hi Ted,
    I have a two year degree and some additional classes at the university level. I don’t realy want to spend more money on completing a formal four year program. Do some of the countries that you have spoke about accept Life Experience Degrees?

    Very helpful Blog, thank you.

  4. Hello Everett,
    Schools – or really countries – are becoming more careful about degrees. “Life experience” degrees are generally considered to be fakes and frauds. If you are only two years aware from a real degree – why not just get that? If money is the issue – life experience degrees tend to be expensive too – look for an inexpensive distance degree program.
    I hope that helps!

  5. Ted:

    I am looking into the company dwi, based in Frankfurt. Their website says they are looking for “freelance” English teachers. What exactly does this mean? To me, it sounds like it is a contract where they don’t really help you out in the work visa department, and don’t pay for any relocation costs.

    What are your experiences or opinions of a company offering “freelance” work?

    I was also stumbled upon English First. I have a friend from Indonesia and English First has openings there. Do you know or have you heard anything about the reputation of English First?

    Thanks Ted,

  6. Hello Nick,
    Freelance means freelance – you work the assigned job, but don’t expect any assistance with anything. English First tends to have a good reputation, especially in Indonesia. They dominate the market there – in my opinion. BUT . . . the quality of certain individual schools? I don’t know. Ask to speak to a current AND past teacher at the school. If they are hesitant to provide that, you have your answer.
    I hope that helps.

  7. Hi Ted:

    I have always had a secret fantasy of traveling and teaching English. I am a writer with many years of editorial experience, but no degree. If I could obtain only ONE of the following three: a BA, a TESOL/TEFL certificate or about 3 months of real world ESL classroom experience (I have an opportunity to be an ESL classroom volunteer this summer), which would be the most important? I don’t want to waste a year getting an online degree only to find out that I have to go back and get a TESOL, too. Also, I have a novel just about ready to publish – can that credential substitute for a degree? I am pretty flexible about where I will go to teach initially.


  8. Hi Jeannine,
    Pick only one of the three? Get the degree. So many countries require them that without one, your options will be quite limited – TEFL cert or not. In some countries a TEFL cert is required, but in most they are not – but will help you get the better jobs. If you spend “a year getting an online degree” – I am not sure it is going to be worth much – or accepted. Online and distance is okay, but plan on at least 2-3 years of work for a decent program.
    I hope that helps.

  9. After a bit more research I guess I should add that I am non-white (mixed race) which I’ve heard is a problem in some countries.

    Thanks again,

  10. Hi again, Jeannine;
    To a large extent, if you don’t tell anyone, they won’t know and often, you might be surprised, they won’t care. Most of the world has figured out that America is a mix of peoples and shades. Don’t hide it, but don’t feel like you have to explain it either. And remember that you are an American – period. Hyphenated nationalities such Chinese-American or even African-American confuse most people outside the Western world and can lead them to wonder if you are native speaker or not – and that can stop your hire faster than anything else.
    Might you run into some prejudice? Yeah, sure. Just work your way around it. People over 50 have trouble landing jobs in TEFL also – there are lots little problems out the world, don’t let any of them stop you from getting what you want.
    I hope that helps.

  11. Ted,

    My husband and I are currently working with Adventure Teaching on an exclusive basis. Should we be working with multiple agencies or at least one more to ensure success in obtaining the desired positions, e.g.: Footprints? We are in our late 40’s.

    I would much appreciate your feedback.


  12. Hello Joanna,
    Be aware that if you work with more than one recruiter, it is possible that several will present you to many schools and you will often be presented by several recruiters to one school. Schools then believe that you are scouting many schools just looking for money. They will take your interest as being less sincere and wonder if you will show up or are just looking for a better offer – thus leaving them without a teacher – and then they won’t even make an offer.
    So – my opinion – work with one recruiter only. One caveat though, if they don’t perform, then tell them forget it and work with someone else. Some recruiters are super – others are a disgrace.
    Good luck!

  13. Hello,

    I would really like to live in the Middle East in the future, even though it is a bit chaotic now. I have my TESOL Certificate and have been working in Australia for 3 years in a volunteer orginization teaching English. What do you think the chances are for me to get a job in the Middle East. I would be looking at moving there with my Husband (Egyptian) so a visa wouldn’t be the problem. Is there much market for private language centers or private tutoring? If I pursued a degree is there one that is more valued than another? I have seen a lot on websites saying any discipline is fine.
    Thanks for your help

  14. Hello Megan,
    To work in the Middle East you are going to need a degree to go with your TESOL certificate. There is a strong jobs market in countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar and more. Best degree? Probably the very best would be something in English as a major. There might even be a few schools that would have BATESOL – bachelors in TESOL.
    I hope that helps.

  15. Hello Ted,

    My name is Billie and I am a 24 year old graduate, trying to decide what to do next. My partner and I are currently living in New Zealand (originally from the UK) and since being here have decided that we want to spend plently more time overseas and would love to experience teaching.
    As I mentioned, I have a degree and am currently trying to figure out the best course to do. CELTA and the Trinity Tesol look like good options due to their prestigiousness- a generous fee to match the course too however! My partner does not hold a degree- do you know if it is usual for couples to travel abroad to teach together? I’m guessing that if it is, they will both have degrees. Perhaps you can offer me some advice on what Thank you for your time,

  16. Hi Billie,
    CELTA and Trinity are certainly consistently excellent courses. But you are right – the price is high. Many countries don’t require a TEFL certificate, so you can try a good online course to get a feel for teaching English – perhaps volunteer a bit too. Good destinations? As your partner doesn’t have a degree, head for either rural China or Cambodia. A good online certificate like TEFL Boot Camp is fine for both destinations (fair warning – I am the tutor for TBC). Do couples head out and do what you are proposing? You bet. My wife (GF at the time) and I started out in Korea in 1992 and so have many many other couples. It’s a wonderful lifestyle.
    Go get it – it’s waiting for you!

  17. Thank you for your swift reply Ted, it is great to be in touch with someone who knows what they are talking about! Are rural China and Cambodia they only places you would recommend to us? We are definitely interested in visiting China- a facinating place it seems. And one more thought which has just come to me, would both of us having something like the CELTA/Trinity make a difference to destinations? Your comments have furthered my interest even more, thank you again! Billie

  18. Hello Billie,
    Most of my experience has been in Asia – so I tend to recommend places there. IMO, Cambodia and rural China are your best bets (for someone with no degree). Both are happy with any kind of TEFL certification – online is fine. Indonesia is another option, but tends to prefer a CELTA.
    I hope that helps.

  19. Hi Ted! I am thinking about taking the online course at the TEFL Institute. I am very interested in teaching abroad but I have some concerns, the most important is my 3 1/2 year old daughter. I am shooting for the Fall 2012 which would make her 4 1/2. I have a BA in psychology and am willing to go pretty much any where. I have talked with a couple people at the institute and they say it’s okay to have her with me but I would like to get your input. Any information you have is appreciated! Thank you for your time.

  20. Hello Alison,
    I am not a big fan of single parents heading overseas to teach English. At least not at the language school level. If you had a graduate degree and where heading somewhere that would allow you to earn significant money and paid for the schooling of your child (in the contract!) – I would support the idea. Even if you get the best job around – Korea – in a language school or even at public schools there, the best you are going to be able to do is save about US$1000 per month – without taking your child with you. However, now you need to purchase daycare and health insurance. And it is about time for her to go to preschool or kindergarten soon, where will she go for that? Most international schools (the best places for her to attend) charge at least US$1000 per month for tuition – many charge double that. Can you do it successfully? Maybe. I don’t like to say never. But have I ever seen it done successfully? No. And it is usually the child that suffers, not the parent. Even if you can find an inexpensive international school – she will go to school in the daytime and you will often work afternoons and evenings in a language school. You will still need daycare. If you can land a public school position – then you might both be able to get on the same schedule, but I suspect most schools will consider a single parent with a child only after they give everyone else a shot at the job. Just too many problems involved, from visa to schooling to health to daycare to . . . And most employers in most countries are required to “sponsor” you – meaning they are responsible for you and in this case – also your child.
    I suspect that the school who is hoping to sell you something, has overstated the possibilities without considering your circumstances. I am sure this is not what you wanted to hear, but it is my opinion.

  21. Hi Ted,
    I am a 19 year old college student studying in UCD in Ireland for a degree in Mathematical science. Currently I have finished my first year. Lsst Week I completed my 140 hour TEFL course with the view to go to South-East Asia next Summer (2012). I was wondering is it possible to get a job teaching English in Indonesia without a college degree? (I will have two more years left to complete my degree) Also, have you any recommendations of a school or academy that would be suitable to teach in because I will most likely be going on my own.

  22. Hi Eimear,
    My apologies for the delay in responding to your questions. But, yes, Indonesia is an excellent destination for EFL teachers with no degree. Some of the large chain schools – English First, for example – sometimes ask for a degree, but not always. Certainly the smaller schools have no problems hiring people without degrees. Just for an example, see this job from a large English First chain of schools, hiring now, no degree required: English First Swara Group
    Good luck!

  23. Hi Ted,

    Thank you for this blog. Reading your articles and responses is quite inspiring, as I’m one of those people who generally knows what she wants and just needs to hear it from someone else to trust herself. I have been thinking about teaching English abroad for over a year, ever since I got out of a hobby that I was once very passionate about. Seems like my current job was more means to that end (financing the hobby)and does nothing for me in and of itself despite the more than adequate pay considering my liberal arts background. I have a bachelors in English and a minor in Business, and spent 3 years in Kuwait as a child, which gave me a more global perspective early on. I am particularly interested in Italy, took an Italian class last semester with this very specific purpose in mind, and was wondering if adding a solid TEFL course to my English degree would allow me to land a job with which I could both live and pay down my student debt. My choices are to stay at my current job two more years to completely pay off this 20,000 of debt, or do it slowly while abroad. I am willing to take a significant pay cut. I am 30 and really do not want to waste too much time! I agree with your sentiment that there is just too much out there to stay in one place!



  24. Hi Noreen,
    You can probably pay that debt off in about 18 months in Korea. It is very difficult for Americans to get working visas in the EU these days. Your employer would have to prove that there is no EU citizen that can do the job you are taking. And – with the UK and Ireland having big unemployment and other problems – there are plenty of those people hunting for the same job you want. Look toward Asia and you will probably do better.
    It’s not all about total wages – it’s about how much you can SAVE. Even if you are earning much less in Korea – you will be able to save FAR MORE than you can now. With income taxes at 7% (roughly), no FICA taxes and very few other withholdings – plus FREE accommodation – even a modest wage means you can save more than you could with a big income in the States.
    And – yes, a good TEFL course will help you land the better jobs. For Korea and most of Asia – TEFL Boot Camp is fine and inexpensive.
    Just my opinion.

  25. Ted,

    Thanks for your timely response and insight…it didn’t occur to me that there would be so much competition for the EU jobs from within the EU itself, but it makes sense because they speak English too! It’s sounds like you definitely think Asia is a better idea and I will consider it for sure, but out of curiosity, would you say it’s virtually impossible for an American to get a job in an EU country? Would knowing someone that knows someone (as in someone who runs a school) help? Or is it irrelevant due to their nevertheless needing to submit justification?



  26. Hello Noreen,
    I don’t think it is as much a matter of competition as it is a restrictive visa policy for the EU. Of course, knowing someone helps – but make sure that someone can get you the legal working papers you will need. If you need to pay off debts, do be aware that the cost of living in the EU is very high and you’ll not likely be saving much – if anything – while working in the EU.

  27. Hey Ted,

    Just came across your site and I have a question.

    I am a native english speaker 50 years of age. I have no degree but have a lot of language learning experience. I speak english, Spanish, Portugues, Italian, Thai and some Mandarin. I have taught english in passing volutarily in Thailand and Vietnam – just coversational.

    I do have some language qualifications in Spanish (Institute of Liguists)and I was enrolled in a degree for modern languages but never completed.

    My background is in entertainment and media and I have a lot of experience in that area and indeed in business generally.

    Would really love to teach english in Beijing or Shanghai. Is there some way I can enter the profession at this late stage (TEFL certificate perhaps?)

    Any advice greatly recieved.

  28. Hello Jim,
    Yes, a TEFL certificate would help you – a lot. With no degree, you need to target countries where you can legally teach without a degree. Two good examples are Indonesia and Cambodia. You can probably land a job teaching in China without a degree, but you’ll likely be teaching with a tourist visa. I can’t recommend that you do that, though many people do. You will also have more success if you go where you want to teach and apply in person.
    I hope that helps!

  29. Hi, thanks for such an excellent website! I’m based in the uk and completed a law degree but decided to pursue teaching instead.I am hoping to start a CELTA in September but what other qualifications would I need to be able to teach abroad? I’m aiming for the middle east, Qatar, Saudi, and possibly Egypt. I’d like to do a masters but I’m not sure what in.

    I’d like to add,I want to do a masters in something which will benefit me in the UK too.

    And do you recommend ANY of these online tefl courses, and if so, which one would be most widely accepted for where I want to go ie mid east?

    Phew, enough questions for now I think. Sorry if it’s a question overload and thankyou for your time!

  30. Hello Mohammad,
    The Middle East is a bit more stringent that other places, but most TEFL certifications are fine.
    The better jobs in the Middle East though, you are are right, will want a masters degree. If you have the money and the time, a CELTA is always a good option as is just about any other program.
    I hope that helps.

  31. Hello Ted,

    I came across your site today and it has so much practical infomration. It is great to hear the first hand experiences too.

    Like everyone else coming on here, I too am thinking about teaching English as a foreign language. Teaching had been on my mind for the past year and when I was going to University I was torn between doing teaching and business and I opted for business. Over the past 12 months I have been looking into the various teaching options that I might have..I have thought about teaching children/teenagers/adults, have looked at lecturing and looked at becoming a trainer. The reality is that I feel teaching is the next step in my career. I have already spent 12 months abroad (I travelled independently) in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. Here is my educational background:-

    BA (Hons) Business Studies and German, Masters in Business Studies (specialising in eCommerce), CIPD Certificate in Learning and Development Practice.
    I have 10 years experience in the public and private sectors working as a project/product manager and am currently self employed.
    I am 32 and I don’t have a TEFL qualification.

    Looking at the qualification that I have, what would be the best course for me to do? Would I be best going down the ESP route targeting Universities/Business Colleges?

    If you have any advice on the above, it would be most appreciated.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


  32. Hi Mary,
    You are a GREAT candidate for teaching ESP courses, Business English and more. Do get a general TEFL certificate to back up your two degrees and view it that way, not the other way around. Look in business environments, business colleges and universities. Read Teach English with Your Special Skills – it will give you some good direction.
    Go get ’em – you will find success, I am sure!

  33. Thankyou for the reply. I was just wondering, for the masters course, which course should I do because there are a bewildering amount of masters language courses out there!

    And for the TEFL online , you mentioned any TEFL but are some not more recognised than others?

  34. An MATESOL is the #1 requirement for the better teaching jobs in universities and colleges around the world. A degree in applied linguistics would be roughly similar, but not as well recognized. And in M.Ed. in TEFL is a decent option as well.

  35. Hello Ted,

    Thanks for getting back to me. Where would be the best location for me to go to earn/save decent money teaching ESP courses? What would the earnings be like for someone teaching ESP courses and what are the opportunities for career progression abroad? Also,
    if I was to return home after teaching ESP courses, would it help me to secure a lecturing position in the UK?

    Thanks for your help! I look forward to hearing from you.


  36. Hi Mary,
    Korea and the Middle East are typically the best places for saving money – ESP or just regular teaching. For career progression, you can become a DOS, perhaps head of an EFL department (of the foreign teachers) or similar. Academically, you’ll need a Phd to move up the university food chain. Experience teaching ESP abroad, would probably help you in the UK – if you could find a similar position. ESP just helps you get your head above the crowd of generic English teachers.

  37. Hello Sir,

    I teach English Language Arts (6th-11th grades), Social Studies (6th-9th grades), and am the Dean of Students (1st-11th grades) at a private French-American school in Manhattan. Almost all of my students are from other countries, and many start off as ESL students before becoming full English students. The ESL teacher and I confer with each other constantly. I’ve also tutored and have been a literacy coach. Most of students have had some ESL connection. I’m looking to get my TEFL certificate within the 2011-2012 school year, and hopefully get a university-level job in Japan for sometime after June 2012. My school building also houses a Japanese nursery school, and I’m friendly with it’s teachers and the mostly Japanese administrative staff. Except for getting my first Master’s degree in the UK, I haven’t lived abroad, but as a New Yorker in an international school, I am itching to make a life out of it. What would be the best TEFL certificate to get? Is the JACET website the best website for me to check out? What if I wanted to get a university teaching job in Seoul, Korea? Would I get the same TEFL? I plan on getting my PhD in the future. Thank you very much. I’m finding your website to be incredibly helpful.

  38. Hi Michael,
    If you are a qualified teacher already, just about any TEFL certificate would do you well – even online – just so you get the methodology. That would serve you well for both Japan and China. I like TEFL Boot Camp but . . . I am the Academic Director there – just so you know!). Your existing teaching qualification is your foot in the door and more important than the TEFL cert in your case. You will find it much easier to land a position teaching university in Korea than in Japan. Japanese universities tend to like to hire foreigners who are fluent in Japanese. Are you? But, even Korea will want you to have at least a year or two of EFL experience. Teaching EFL is different than teaching ESL. What you teach tends to be different, the skill levels of your students tend to be different as does their motivation. ESL students are obviously more motivated and can use the language in their environment daily which is rarely true for EFL students. So the approach is different.
    Korea is a GREAT place to teach – I spent six years there (three years twice) at university and college level. And – you can save some serious money there as well. In both countries – connections can land you good jobs you otherwise would not be able to get. These are connections-oriented societies. So – if you want Japan as your destination – let the Japanese staff where you work know what you would like to do. Tell them of your respect and interest in their culture and . . . well, I bet you can land a pretty good job. It might take six or twelve months, but look at it like fishing for a good job.
    Go get ’em! You’ve got the qualifications – almost – for what you need.

  39. Hi Ted,
    I just happened upon your blog while researching on teaching in Korea. Currently, teaching in the land of the rising sun, and thinking about my next step. Unfortunately I noticed that Korea does not accept person outside their 7-listed `English-speaking’ countries. It’s a bit sad, because it would’ve be another interesting experience to teach in Korea, and still be close to my current home.

    Any feedback, would be helpful. Thanks

    andie_ph at hotmail dot com

  40. Hi Patricia,
    There are more than a few countries that accept people that are not from the “approved list” that Korea has. You might also try China, Thailand and Cambodia.
    I hope that helps.

  41. Hi Ted,
    I want to move to either vietnam, china, thailand or the philipines. I don’t mind paying for esl certification but I don’t have a degree. All of the ads I see for esl jobs requre a BS. Is there any hope for me getting a teaching job without a degree, And if so, can you make a recomendation.

  42. Hi Ted,

    Thank you for your informative site. Can you tell me what differences there are between TEFL and TESOL? Also, if there are major differences which would you choose or is it necessary to do both? Thanks in advance.

  43. Hi Adrienne,
    Good question! TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. They are roughly equivalent. A TESOL certification is pretty much the same as a TEFL cert. It is not necessary to do both.
    I hope that helps!

  44. Hi Ted,
    Is this a pipedream?
    I would like to teach abroad for a year with my family in tow. I would like a paid position with housing provided for myself, my husband and our three young children. He would homeschool them while I work. We would all be afforded the benefits of learning a new culture while I invigorate my teaching and help others. Do such an opportunities exist for a veteran teacher of 18 years with the complete “family package”? And if they do, where do I start in pursuit?

    I came across your blog whilst randomly searching “teaching abroad” websites. I found it refreshing in its straight forward, cut to the chase, real person to real person approach. Yipppeee! => I would greatly appreciate any insight and direction you could lend as I have never been one to easily abandon a pipedream.


  45. Hello Star,
    As an experienced teacher, your best bet would be to check out International School Services at An international school can provide you with what you are looking for in terms of benefits, accommodation, family visas, etc. Regular jobs teaching English at language schools or even at many universities will not provide the comprehensive benefits you are looking for. Universities and colleges in the Middle East will often provide those kinds of packages though, but will also require a graduate degree – which I am guessing you might have if you have been teaching for 18 years.
    Good luck!

  46. Hey Ted!
    First things first, your website is very helpful. Thanks for that! I have a couple of questions regarding teaching abroad. I will graduate from my university with an undergraduate degree in English, and a minor in Spanish and International Studies. I’ve had a lot of experience with teaching children, but not in a formal classroom setting. I would love to teach abroad in London or somewhere in Spain. What should my next step be? Do I need experience in a classroom setting? What qualifications/certificates would I need to teach abroad?

  47. Hi Amy,
    If you wish to teach in Europe, CELTA and Trinity seem to be the preferred name brands. Most of the rest of the world typically doesn’t care or often hasn’t even heard of either of them. So – it depends a bit on where you want to go. CELTA though – has an excellent reputation.
    I hope that helps.

  48. Hi Ted,

    I am also an IT skilled person (25 years) and I read you biog with some interest. I’d like your help (if possible) with how to go about teaching English in Brazil, where I have recently relocated, using TFL. Can you help?


  49. Hi John,
    I don’t have any real experience in Latin America. The great majority of my time abroad has been in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. So . . . go check out TEFL Tips. The lady who writes that blog has spent a lot of time in Latin America – contact her and see if she can help you out.
    I hope that helps.

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