Teaching English abroad as part of the TEFL or TESOL programs can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of your life. Whether you’re on a gap year after Uni or hoping to become a teacher, it provides a fantastic opportunity to travel, meet new people and gain confidence.
When deciding on a destination there are so many countries to choose from; all varying in location, salary and culture, that it can be overwhelming. Narrowing down which country is ‘best’ for you depends on what you hope to gain from the experience.
Perhaps you want to travel to the far flung regions of the world or work in smaller schools in remote areas where you can make a real difference in the lives of children. Perhaps you simply want to earn as much money as possible to save up either for travelling later on or life back home.
Whatever you are looking for on your adventure, here are a few of the best TEFL locations, alongside what makes them such great places to teach in.
The salaries in South Korea are amongst the best on offer in the whole of Asia. Schools have been in need of English teachers for around the past decade and many of them are now well versed in hiring TEFL/TESOL teachers, offering exceptionally good packages. Most schools offer:
- free or subsidised accommodation
- a free return airfare
- a month’s wage as a bonus upon completion of a one year contract
- free meals at school
All of this coupled with a relatively low cost of living, even in the major cities like Seoul, meaning that you stand to make significant savings!
If one of your main aims is to save up whilst teaching, South Korea would be a great option.
China’s ever expanding economy and trade with English speaking nations mean there is great demand for English teachers in the country. For those hoping to travel, China offers plenty of opportunity to explore.
Hostels are cheap and of a consistently high standard and you can visit either the vast, sprawling cities like Shanghai or the beautiful remote areas by the Himalayas or the Pacific coast.
Be aware that salaries vary dramatically across the country, from 70-10,000 RMB per month (around $700-1700 AUD), so do your research carefully. Depending on where you end up, you may be one of very few expats, giving you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a foreign culture. You’re sure to be treated well, as many returning TEFL/TESOL teachers emphasise how kind, generous and welcoming their Chinese hosts were.
The typical destination for gap year students everywhere, Thailand is a very popular choice, and with good reason. It offers both the chance to make a real difference in the lives of the children there and the chance to travel to an exciting and truly beautiful location.
Living costs are not especially high, particularly in more rural areas or areas outside of Bangkok (like Chiang Mai), so you will be able to make your salary stretch further. Other benefits include the low cost of travel, giving you the opportunity to explore the region, the delicious cuisine and the world renowned friendliness of the Thai people.
Thailand is an ideal location for those looking to travel within their country of choice and experience a lifestyle and culture far removed from home life.
The idyllic Costa Rica really does live up to its name, ‘the rich coast’. With its stunning volcanic landscape, azure seas and lush rainforests, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Most schools here will:
- help you to organise and pay for the cost of your visa
- help you to find accommodation
- accept the online TEFL qualification
Salaries ranges from $850-$1700 AUD per month but the cost of living is relatively cheap. Although Costa Rica doesn’t offer huge monetary rewards, it does offer the trip of a lifetime in an utterly gorgeous setting.
Spain, no doubt due to its fantastic climate and culture, is one of the top graduate destinations for TEFL. Business and tourism here mean there is a high demand for English teachers, so you are likely to find a place.
Choosing somewhere in Europe means that:
- You’re more likely to be able to speak the language or pick it up more easily, making integration into life there easier
- You are less likely to suffer from the culture shock and feelings of homesickness that some TEFL teachers further afield experience (although many enjoy adapting to a new culture)