Moving abroad to teach English

With the continued globalisation of business and culture, being able to speak English has become an essential skill for people across the world. This has led to huge demand in many countries for native English speakers to teach English as a foreign language.

Teaching English abroad allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture whilst earning a good income. In addition to being a rewarding experience in itself, it can also potentially set you up for future migration opportunities.

Many countries in Asia and the Middle East are experiencing rapidly growing economies and at the same time struggle to find enough qualified local English teachers for their education systems. There is high demand for native speakers or foreigners with excellent English to fill this shortage. As an English teacher from an English speaking country, you will find there are abundant job opportunities teaching children, university students or business professionals.

As well as being a great chance to travel and experience new cultures, teaching English abroad programmes enable you to save money and advance your career. Many positions provide benefits like flights, accommodation allowances and bonuses. After an initial contract teaching English, often 12 months, it may also be possible to extend your visa and stay longer term in your new country. From there, some leverage their experience and contacts to transition into other skilled work and build a new life abroad permanently.

So if you want adventure, personal growth and enjoy the rewards of teaching, finding an English teaching job overseas could help you gain your first foothold working and living comfortably in a foreign country. This blog post explores some of the best destinations for teaching English abroad and how it can provide a pathway to potential migration down the track.

Popular Destinations for Teaching English


China has become an English teaching hotspot in recent years due to large investments made to improve English skills across the country. It is experiencing rapidly rising demand for qualified native English teachers. With the world’s largest population, it offers an enormous market for English learning services.

Typically a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to teach legally in China. You do not need a teaching credential like TEFL. The main priority is being a native speaker with excellent verbal and written English abilities. Many programmes will provide prep training to help you adapt to local teaching methods.

English teachers are in high demand right across China – from major international cities like Shanghai and Beijing to second-tier cities and rural schools. While savings potential is higher in big cities, competition is fierce for those jobs. 2nd tier cities can still offer good salaries with much lower living costs.

As well as teaching students of all ages, corporate English training schools for business professionals are also booming in China due to globalised business needs. These can offer higher wages but demand longer hours and higher level qualifications.

While there has sometimes been uncertainty for foreign workers in China long term, in recent years more pathways are emerging to transition into skilled work and extended residency. Many teachers successfully leverage their experience and contacts in China to move into business, marketing, editing, translation or even tech jobs with Chinese firms. This allows some to stay in the country longer term or permanently.

South Korea

South Korea has been facing a major shortage of qualified English teachers for many years. With the government pushing English education initiatives and many parents wanting native speakers for private tutoring, it remains a very strong market.

Public school and hagwon (private academy) English teaching jobs are abundant all across the country. Most teaching contracts will sort your visa and also provide benefits like a flight allowance, subsidised accommodation and a settling in bonus.

Unlike other Asian countries, South Korea has a well established E2 visa scheme that allows English teachers to stay and work for up to 5 years if contracts are extended. Transitioning to other visas is also possible in some cases.

The standard of living in South Korea is high and it’s quite easy for western foreigners to integrate into society. Many teachers find they adapt well to the culture long term.

With rising demand for English training from major Korean companies too, opportunities exist for experienced teachers to move into corporate training roles with higher salaries.

So for native speakers South Korea represents one of the easiest Asian countries to qualify to work in and also extend your stay long term if you wish.


Spain has long been a popular destination for teaching English in Europe. There is strong demand for native speakers across language academies, public schools and universities.

Unlike some Asian destinations, Spain requires TEFL/TESOL certification for most teaching jobs. However, getting certified is a good investment if you want to build a career in English teaching abroad.

The auxiliares de conversación government scheme places English assistants in schools and high schools across Spain for 7-8 months of the year. It provides a monthly stipend, medical insurance and also training. While pay is modest, it gives solid teaching experience.

Many use the auxiliares program for 1-2 years then leverage their experience and contacts to transition into better paid year-round academy or corporate jobs.

For qualified teachers, international schools are also an option, providing much higher salaries but requiring at least a bachelor’s degree plus teaching license.

With the auxiliares scheme able to be renewed multiple times, Spain provides good opportunities for native speakers to live and work there long term if desired. From getting permanent residency to dual citizenship, there are pathways open after several years living in Spain.

So while startup costs getting certified and lower auxiliar pay need accounting for, Spain remains an attractive destination for native speakers seeking adventure, new challenges and potentially a life abroad long term.

Teaching Opportunities as a Pathway to Immigration

With many countries facing ageing populations and skill shortages, schemes to attract educated foreign workers are growing. Getting your foot in the door with an English teaching job can set you up to transition to other fields and stay long term.

For example, in Hong Kong, foreign teachers who have legally worked there for at least 7 years can apply for permanent residency. Excellent healthcare, low taxes and easy access to mainland China make it an attractive migration destination. English teachers able to upskill in areas like digital marketing, ESL curriculum development or educational technologies may find strong employment prospects with schools, universities or private providers.

Similarly, Singapore offers a Quality Migrant visa scheme where experienced candidates in fields like healthcare, finance and tech can gain permanent residency. With English so dominant in Singapore, former teachers with additional qualifications can target skilled roles with strong income potential after a few years.

In the Middle East, countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE are pouring investment into education systems and reforming visa rules to attract more skilled foreigners. While the career transition process can vary, teachers able to upskill in high demand sectors like healthcare, engineering or IT can become viable candidates for sponsored skilled migrant visas and jobs with attractive tax-free income packages.

So while every country has its own pathway processes, the English teaching route offers a realistic foothold to gain work rights and transition to longevity in your destination country over time.

Key Steps to Access Teaching Opportunities Abroad

Get TEFL/TESOL certified

While not essential everywhere, getting an accredited TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate will make you a much stronger candidate. Many employers require it and it shows you have invested in developing solid teaching skills. Courses are available online or in-person across a wide range of durations and costs.

Research visa and work permit requirements

Every country has its own rules on what’s required for English teachers to work there legally. Some demand a college degree, TEFL certificate, clean criminal background check and medical checks. Be clear on the visa process before accepting any overseas job offer.

Leverage recruitment agencies and job boards

Specialist English teaching recruitment agencies can match your skills, preferences and visa eligibility to current openings in their markets. Big job boards like Dave’s ESL Cafe also list teaching roles across many regions. Browse opportunities then shortlist locations matching your goals.

Arrange essential documents

Proof of qualifications like your degree and TEFL certificate will be required for visa applications. References from past teaching employers help too. Make sure you order updated criminal background checks in advance as delays happen. Double check all names, dates and other details match exactly on every document.

Following these key steps will position you to access the growing wealth of English teaching jobs worldwide and embark on an international adventure!

Teaching English abroad represents a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign culture while earning income. It allows you to gain first-hand experience living, working and adapting to a completely different environment. The skills you build from the cultural exchange and challenges faced abroad often stay with you for life.

In a world crying out for improved English skills, native English teachers find themselves in high demand across both private and public education sectors in Asia, Middle East and Europe. For those with a sense of adventure and passion for teaching, it has become easier than ever to access incredible opportunities overseas.

While teaching English provides rewards and fulfillment in itself, it can often also lay the foundations for building a new life abroad long term. Gaining legal residency rights then transitioning to skilled work in many destinations is a path increasing numbers of teachers successfully follow.

So whether you think of it as a gap year, a stepping stone to a new career or just want to experience living abroad, teaching English could help turn your migration dreams into reality. The demand for teachers who can inspire students with the fluency and cultural insights of a native speaker continues to grow rapidly across the globe. There has never been a better time to take the leap.


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