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10 Best Countries to Teach English Abroad (2024)

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Teaching abroad is a fantastic way to move abroad, earn a stable salary, and have a job that allows you to integrate into your local community far easier than if you just worked online.

When I first moved abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer back in 2013, part of my role in Ecuador was to teach English to the English teachers. While that might seem counterintuitive, it was a super small town and the English teachers were having a tough time passing along their limited knowledge of the language.

Although I had also taught English at a small non-profit while in university, this experience opened up the world of teaching English abroad. After Ecuador, I taught English in South Korea, Vietnam, and online for a few years.

Not only is teaching English abroad a great job to integrate into the local community but since most countries have the same set of requirements, if you can meet those, the world really does open up to you.

There are far more than the 10 countries to teach English but these are ones with the best reputation and opportunities. Listed below, in order of region, these are my picks for the best countries to teach English abroad.

Short on time? Here’s the cheat sheet:

🌸Have all the requirements needed to teach English abroad? South Korea is my #1 recommendation.

🎐Not a native speaker but still want to teach abroad? Head over to Vietnam for more possibilities and flexible visa rules.

📚Although you can't change your nationality (easily), you can set yourself up for more success by getting your Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.

👩‍🏫Easiest way to get a job? Use an English Teachers Job Board. There are a lot out there but Dave's ESL Cafe is a classic choice.

1. South Korea

‍South Korea remains one of the best countries to teach English abroad. Jobs are plentiful, salaries are competitive, the country is fantastic to explore, and the large expat community is welcoming.

I taught English in South Korea for 1 year, living in Guri, a suburb just outside of the main hustle and bustle of Seoul. I loved my students, Korean co-teachers, and the country in general. My husband and I debated staying another year but wanderlust pulled us away to Vietnam.

The only caveat is that as far as I'm aware, South Korea will only hire teachers who meet the country's requirements. Unlike other countries on this list, it'll be hard, if not impossible, to find a job teaching under the table (meaning without the proper work visa).

If you meet the requirements though, South Korea is a great country to teach English abroad, be it for 1 year or a lifetime. While Seoul is definitely the most popular place for foreigners to move to in Korea, Busan and Jeonju are also great options.

Requirements to Teach English in South Korea:

  • A Bachelor's Degree in any subject
  • Native English Speaker (ideally but some schools will make exceptions)
  • TEFL/TESOL or Equivalent Certification (if your degree is not in teaching)
  • Criminal Record Check (with clean record)
  • Ability to Pass a Health Check (upon arrival in Korea)
  • Ability to Sign a 1-Year Contract (typically)

Learn more about how you can teach English in South Korea.

2. Vietnam

Vietnam has enough to make anyone fall in love: delicious food, a low cost of living, welcoming locals, and beautiful landscapes. It’s also one of those countries where if you meet the requirements, you’ll have your pick of schools but if you don’t, you’ll most likely still find a job. 

Keep in mind, the requirements I highlight below are necessary to get a sponsored work visa, so if you get a job without meeting the requirements, you’ll work on a tourist visa and be responsible for renewing it on your own every few months.

I taught English in Ho Chi Minh City for almost 1 year (I quit early due to an injury that needed surgery and extensive rehab). The pace and expectations of teaching here are completely different from those of South Korea. In hindsight, I was better suited to teaching in Korea than in Vietnam but I have friends that are just the opposite.

Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang offer the most teaching English opportunities but there are plenty more great places to live in Vietnam that will have their fair share of schools to work at.

If you meet the requirements, I highly recommend coming to Vietnam on a tourist visa (with your papers in hand) and applying for jobs in person. This will streamline your application process and give you a chance to scope out the school before committing. They’ll be able to process your new visa in-country, so long as you have the required paperwork with you. 

Requirements to Teach English in Vietnam:

  • Native English speaker
  • Bachelor's Degree (in any subject)
  • TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification
  • Official background check (no felonies; must be done within 6 months of visa process)
  • No serious health complications (must be able to pass a basic physical examination)

Learn more about how you can teach English in Vietnam.

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3. Japan

Another one of the best countries to teach English abroad is Japan.

Japan continues to be on the top of many bucket lists year after year and for good reason. Tokyo is like no other but outside of that mega city, there are plenty of other great cities to live in Japan.

One of the easiest ways to move to Japan, outside of their Working Holiday Visa, is as an English teacher. Like teaching in South Korea, you can expect a demanding working environment but a high salary, free housing (usually), and a big expat community.

Another similarity is that Japan will likely only hire teachers that meet their requirements (outlined below). Many job openings you see online might say that they're hiring within the country only, which can be confusing, but if you keep searching, you'll find ones that are looking for international hires and will sponsor your visa to get you there.

Requirements to Teach English in Japan:

  • TEFL certification (although some companies prefer you to have a CELTA)
  • Bachelor’s Degree in any subject (English or Teaching degrees preferred by some schools)
  • Some relevant experience working with children
  • Ability to pass a health check (signed by your doctor in your home country)
  • Clear criminal record (from your home country or country of residency)
  • Ability to sign a one year contract
  • Native English speaker (or if it's your second language with valid English education for over 12 years)

Learn more about how you can teach English in Japan.

4. China

Looking for the land of opportunities? When it comes to English teaching jobs, China is that land. If you're willing to move to China, you'll have 100s if not 1000s of job openings to dig through, giving you more chances to find your perfect fit.

Because of this, you'll have a wide variety of schools private language schools to public schools and everything in between. These

Much like other countries, China offers a wide range of teaching opportunities. From working at a kindergarten to a public high school or an international school to an English center, there’s a lot of variety in the job possibilities.

Below I'll outline the general requirements to teach English in China but do know that there are some exceptions to the rule, especially when working with a big English center like English First.

While most people associate China with big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, there are plenty of small cities you could work in, too.

Requirements to Teach English in China

  • Native English Speaker
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum of 24 months teaching experience (not needed for smaller cities/rural areas)**
  • TEFL or CELTA (120 hour certificate)
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Good health (must pass a medical check both in home country and in China)

Learn more about how you can teach English in China.

5. Thailand

Thailand is another great spot to teach in Southeast Asia with a little bit of wiggle room to get hired. According to friends who live in Thailand though, the Thai government is starting to crack down a bit on people working on tourists and student visas. So although that's still an option and you will find people still doing that, know that it's getting a little sticky.

If you want to be stress-free teaching English in Thailand, having the requirements for a work visa will be your best bet.

Atypical to the other countries on this list, they’ve made it possible for citizens who are not from native speaking countries to prove their English level, opening the doors to other nationalities, so long as they meet the other requirements on the lip.

Teaching English in Thailand is a great option for non-native speakers that don't want to be forced to work under the table.

While the most job opportunities will be in Bangkok, it's possible to find jobs in other hotspots like Chiang Mai or Phuket.

Requirements to Teach English in Thailand:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject area (it doesn’t have to be English)
  • Clean criminal record
  • Basic health check
  • TEFL certification (not required but preferred by almost all schools and certainly anywhere with a good reputation)
  • Non-native teachers can work in Thailand but you usually need to prove your fluency with a TOEIC/IELTS score or verifiable references

There are some opportunities to get TEFL certified in Thailand with a guarantee of job placement at the end of training. This is a good option if you’re not yet certified and would like more hands-on help with the process but it’s not necessary to find a job.

Learn more about how you can teach English in Thailand.

6. Spain

Spain is regarded as one of the best places in the world to live, not just for teaching jobs. There variety in visas and ways to move there do make the deal a lot sweeter, welcoming all sorts of expats, not just English teachers.

Most people who come to Spain to teach English go through one of the 2 biggest programs: Bilingual English Development & Assessment (BEDA) or Auxiliares de conversación (Auxiliar). BEDA is a brand of the Catholic Schools of Madrid, although you do not need to be Catholic to apply. The Auxiliar program is funded by the Spanish government.

In my outside opinion, both programs seem comparable. In both, you’re typically more of a language assistant, teaching English in a variety of classrooms and subjects. You also work closer to part-time hours instead of full-time like most other countries require.

Your pay will reflect that but many teachers supplement their income either by offering private tutor lessons or working online. 

If you do decide to teach English through one of the above mentioned programs, know that while you can give a preference for where you want to live, the final decision will be based on the openings they have throughout the country. Lucky for you everywhere from Madrid to Barcelona and Córdoba to Gran Canaria are great places to call home.

Requirements to Teach English in Spain:

  • 4-year college degree (or a senior in their 4th year)
  • From a native English speaking country (with a valid passport)
  • Good physical and mental health (a medical clearance is required for the visa application, which comes after acceptance)
  • Clean criminal background (another requirement for the visa)

You’ll notice that it is not required to have a TEFL certification to be hired but it could make you a more stand-out applicant.

7. The Czech Republic (Czechia)

The Czech Republic, located in the heart of Europe, is a great place for anyone to teach abroad but it’s even better for Canadians. Why, you ask?

Because Canada and the Czech Republic have a special agreement called the Youth Mobility Visa. This visa allows you to work and travel freely within the CR for one year. You can have multiple jobs, change jobs, or have no job, all without having to deal with any additional permits or visas.

Teaching in the Czech Republic is still an option for other nationalities but you will have to jump through additional hoops than those on the Youth Mobility Visa to get hired. 

Another common visa for teachers in the CR to be on is the freelance visa. To learn more about this visa, head to our freelance visa guide.

Most English teachers decide to live in Prague but there are plenty of other great places to visit throughout the country.

Requirements to Teach English in Czechia:

  • TEFL or CELTA (can be obtained in CR, check below)
  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Criminal record check in CR
  • Good health (must pass medical check in CR)

The Czech Republic, like Thailand, also offers programs to get your TEFL certification in-country. This isn’t the only way to get hired but again is a great option if you prefer to pay a bit more to have some help throughout the process.

Learn more about how you can teach English in the Czech Republic.

8. Hungary

‍Similar to the Czech Republic, Hungary is another amazing spot to live in Central Europe. Also like the Czech Republic, it’s much easier to get hired if you take advantage of certain visas and programs.

In Hungary, that program is the Central European Teaching Program (CETP). This program is essentially a job placement agency. They have placements throughout the country and are also family-friendly, meaning they'll even help you move your kiddos, which isn’t as common. 

The downside of the program is it comes with a hefty price tag ($2,500 USD as of publication). If you dream of living in Budapest or one of the other great places to live in Hungary, the price tag might just be worth it to make that happen.

Requirements to Teach English in Hungary:

  • Native English Speaker
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • 120 Hour TEFL certificate minimum (no degree in teaching required)
  • At least 20 hours of paid or voluntary teaching experience completed before arrival

Learn more about how you can teach English in Hungary.

9. Panama

Panama is a stunning country, often called the bridge of Central and South America. There are a wide variety of schools, centers, and institutions you can get hired by in Panama, all with slightly varying requirements, schedules, and pay. 

I used to live in Panama when I was a tour guide in the San Blas Islands. Full disclosure, I wasn't an English teacher here but did have teacher friends and can attest to the country itself.

Of all the places I've lived, it's easily one of the most naturally beautiful. Jobs are most plentiful in Panama City but there are a handful of other great places to live in Panama if you're willing to shop around.

You're going to look at the requirement to teach English in Panama and think I've gone crazy but the reason it's so minimal is because the requirements can greatly change based on if you want to teach English at language centers, public schools, private language schools, or offer private 1:1 lessons.

It's not uncommon in Panama, and in the other best places to live in Latin America, that foreign English teachers work under the table on a tourist visa. Legally, this isn't allowed but realistically it happens all the time. Up to you if you want to take the risk or hold out for a job that'll sponsor your visa.

Requirements to Teach English in Panama:

  • 120 TEFL or TOEFL certification

Learn more about how you can teach English in Panama.

10. Costa Rica

This is the one country on the list that I don't have experience with, either through my own time as an English teacher or that of a friend. I did keep seeing it floating around on a lot of lists highlighting the best countries to teach abroad so I dig some digging.

Costa Rica in general is a well-loved country for expats, digital nomads, and tourists so it makes sense that people are eagerly looking for ways to move here with a job.

Like teaching English in Panama though, it's important that you realize many jobs won't come with a work visa. Some, like teaching at public schools, might even expect you to teach voluntarily, maybe through Workaway or Worldpackers, instead of as a paid teacher.

That being said, opportunities do exist, you're just going to have to work really hard to find them. Compared to teaching English in Asian countries, you can expect the salary in Panama and Costa Rica to be lower, generally speaking.

Requirements to Teach English in Costa Rica:

  • 120 TEFL or TOEFL certification

This job board shows some teaching programs in Costa Rica that you can apply for. Some of these are actually TEFL programs that guarantee job placement at the end of your training, which could be a smart way to get your foot in the door.

How to Find Teaching Jobs Abroad

Now that you have some ideas about where you want to move abroad, finding the actual teaching job abroad is crucial. While those basic requirements I listed above are pretty common among a vast majority of countries, there are countries that require more and others that require less.

For a detailed list of requirements from countries A-Z, the World TEFL Factbook is exactly what you're looking for. This highlights not only the requirements but also how to find a job and a summary of the country in question.

In general when deciding to teach English abroad, you have two options: get hired online before you move or get hired in-person once you've moved. Both options are valid and have their pros and cons. Let's break it down.

Getting Hired Online


  • Job security before you move
  • Ability to apply for many more positions at a quicker pace than doing it on foot


  • Needing to do research on each school before applying
  • Not getting to see the school first-hand before committing

Getting Hired In-Person


  • Being able to feel out a school before committing
  • Being able to ask around and get a good idea of school's reputation


  • Moving to a new country without job security
  • More legwork to pass out CVs/resumes and find openings

English Teacher Job Boards

Please note that although I've had success using job boards in the past, I highly recommend you research a school and check their legitimacy before you send them any personal information. This also isn't a list of all the reputable job boards but just a few that I have personally used and friends also recommend.

Where Will You Teach English Abroad?

Best of luck to you as you start the adventure of teaching abroad.! If you're having trouble deciding which country to go for, remember this move doesn't have to be permanent, so feel free to give multiple countries a try and change plans along the way.

A lot of the fun in living abroad is being able to pick the lifestyle you dream of and teaching English abroad is a fantastic way to have the doors to a lot of countries open to you.

Photos courtesy of depositphotos.com.

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