Teaching English as a Second Language:...

Teaching English as a Second Language: Your Ticket to a Lifelong Adventure

by Anthony Teles
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Teaching is not only a rewarding career, but a versatile one as well. People of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds are looking to enhance their education. You can work one-on-one, in front of a classroom, online, or anywhere around the world. There is an irresistible allure to taking the risky leap to another country to teach there. When done right, it is not as risky as you might think, and can lead to a very fulfilling lifelong career.

If you are just getting started, you need a solid foundation of credentials and experience. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is the most common way people in Canada or the United States find a way to teach in a different country. The world is massive, and there are always seemingly infinite opportunities to take teaching work abroad. However, the quality of these jobs varies wildly. It is possible to find one without much experience as long as you are fluent in English, but do not expect the best conditions or pay. To get around that, start gaining experience here and now. Tutoring, even on a volunteer basis, looks great on a resume and will automatically put you a step above many candidates who are applying with no experience.

The other important step to take is acquiring Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) credentials. There are many schools, both in person and online, that offer these certificates or diplomas. Make sure that the course is a minimum of 120 hours. It is preferable that it be accredited by TESL Canada and has a practicum for in-class experience. You can then find work teaching ESL at a private college here in Canada, which will be a massive help in getting quality teaching jobs overseas.

Asia is abundant with teaching opportunities. Most first-timers make their way to South Korea or China, where many schools will offer generous salaries and decent accommodations for teachers with credentials and experience. You will most likely have to agree to a one-year contract, though there are shorter-term teaching opportunities available, typically during the summer. From there, it will be easier to teach in Europe and other countries. Keep in mind that these locales will often be costlier, but provide a richer variety of teaching scenarios to help enhance your career.

As you gain greater experience, it will become easier to find great opportunities and even remain long-term in one location. As you become more qualified, it is also a good idea to find additional work in ESL publishing. You will get to create textbooks and materials to be used in classrooms. This is flexible work that can be done on a freelance and remote basis, meaning you do not have to be bound to one location. For increased job security, you can work your way up to managing a language institute in one of the countries you have worked in. If you want to be in control and have found a country you particularly love, then opening your own ESL school there might be your ideal career trajectory. Many places have easier zoning and licensing requirements compared to Canada, making this easier to accomplish than it would be here.

A career teaching English overseas has its many challenges. It is primarily contract work, meaning you will likely hop around to different cities and countries. It means saying goodbye to the family, friends, and places you call home, and only revisiting them on occasion. If you are willing to accept those circumstances, then amazing opportunities await. You will get to travel the world, meet and have an impact on a great variety of students, and live a life of adventure.


Bentley, John. “6 Tips to Kick-Starting Your Career Overseas by Teaching English Abroad.” Life After Study Abroad. https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/after-teaching-abroad-career-tips

Collis, Jennifer. “5 Ways to Turn Teaching Abroad into a Lifelong Career.” Go Overseas. https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/after-teaching-abroad-career-tips

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