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THE FOLLOWING 10 places are among the best in the world for finding work, making a living, and having a great time teaching English abroad.

10. Brazil

Brazil’s effort to internationalize yields many opportunities to teach English abroad, in both business and traditional school settings. However, you must have a lot of patience to legally obtain a work visa. CEL LEP and Alumni School are good places to start looking.

9. Saudi Arabia

The Middle East is where you will find some of the highest paying jobs offered for teaching English abroad. This is not for the faint of heart; you must be interested in life in the Middle East and well versed in cultural differences to appreciate the experience. Bayt Recruiting is a good job reference.

8. Italy

Cheap travel and fantastically inexpensive gourmet food are just some of the benefits of living in Italy. There is, however, an annoying amount of red tape. It is recommended to go through a TESOL online certification program from a school that guarantees you job placement. For a list of recommended programs, visit Transitions Abroad.

7. Thailand

The American University Alumni (AUA) Language Center, the oldest and largest language school in Thailand with almost 400,000 graduates, is a nonprofit school with an excellent reputation in the country. The AUA is always looking for TESOL teachers.

6. Japan

Asian nations are practically begging for English teachers and you should be able to find plenty of opportunities to teach English abroad just through a Google search. Most schools recruit year round and provide successful applicants with visa sponsorship, apartment, partially paid national insurance, etc. The largest schools in Japan are with AEON. You can also find work with JET, or the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.

5. Russia

Old stereotypes of an economic system fueled by vodka and general lawlessness have made native English teachers scarce in Russia. The demand for native speakers to teach English abroad far exceeds the supply, making it easy to gain employment with the benefits of visa support, accommodations, and often airfare reimbursement. The largest schools are BKC International and English First.

4. China

With great compensation packages including salary, apartment, visa sponsorship and sometimes airfare, China is becoming a popular choice to teach English abroad. Journey East offers links to internships, paid positions, and other information.

3. Mexico

If you’re looking for sun and comfort, Mexico is the place to be. In general, the minimum academic requirement for English teaching positions in Mexico is a university degree and a TESOL certificate. Jobs are difficult to find pre-entry, but are plentiful upon arrival. One option is to look for work in a university. If you have any teaching experience, this is the way to go. Visit ESL Employment for more details.

2. South Korea

Offering many perks such as airfare, housing, insurance benefits, decent salaries, and a low cost of living, South Korea gives the ability to travel and make good money while teaching English abroad. A good place to start is the job board at Dave’s ESL Cafe. Contracts are usually for 1 year and a bachelor’s degree is required.

1. Czech Republic

Ideal location, amazing scenery, high demand, and relative ease of entry make the Czech Republic — specifically Prague — our #1 choice. The Prague Post, a weekly English language newspaper, is the best place to look for possibilities from home.

Have you had good experiences teaching English abroad? Tell us about them in the comments.

ESL Teaching


About The Author

Kelly Lalonde

Kelly Lalonde writes: “I get bored with normalcy, love pasta, love watching the city come alive on a long walk in the morning.”

  • Eva

    Cool post, I never knew there were so many opportunities to teach outside of Asia/Eastern Europe.

    For your next post you’ll have to share your “Cheap Italy” secrets! :D

  • Peter Trinder

    If you are a native English speaker looking to teach in some of the countries above it may be worth your while checking out our website at as we have licensed partners in over 20 countries in the world who are always looking for eager new teachers! Good luck!

  • Kris

    Great article. Very informative!

  • Tim Patterson

    Solid! I can personally recommend JET – a really high-class program run by the Japanese government.

  • Tyler

    Great post! Would love to see this expanded even more too.

  • http://comingsoon TomTeacher

    Taiwan is ahead of Korea, China, and Japan. Few places (no place?) can match Taiwan’s cost of living vs. pay ratio. You should check this out.

  • Craig

    I’ve spent the last five years travelling and teaching in NZ and Europe. I have to say it’s much more fun finding a company that’ll send you places than signing those terrible 6+ month contracts!

    • scott lee

      what companies send you places to teach? i would like more info on them if you have it.

    • Sherrlyn Borkgren Photography

      Craig, I’d love to talk to you. I too have worked all over the world as a foreign correspondent but am going backwards now back to TE ! I have a lot of credentials and have been looking for companies to work for that would appreciate what I have to offer and who I would be an asset to.
      sbjorkgren at yahoo.

    • chalon

      craig i need to save money and i want to teach in europe….can u give me pointers? i was gonna default to japan with this jet program. its got a lot backing it up…

  • Carpool Guy

    great list. and they pay very good in japan as far as i know :)

  • spencer

    I totally agree with the Taiwan comment. Too bad people don’t know enough about hidden parts of the world to include them on a list.

    • j

      Please don’t say more about Taiwan. We don’t want loads of foreigners making a bum rush over here.

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  • James

    If you are looking for an opportunity abroad teaching English. Have a look at
    It’s free!
    You never need to register and has hundreds of postings monthly.

  • Alessandro

    Your next post should be about teaching italian abroad, because I’m not that good at english…

    What’s the red tape you talk about when writing of Italy?

  • Travel Blog

    This is mt dream, what are the best programs to go through? Does anyone know?

  • Osman

    Those who are interested in teaching abroad should check Dave’s ESL Cafe out. There are lots of useful stuff and experienced people.

  • Peter

    In Korea, the GEPIK program is a good way to get started. It’s in the province that surrounds Seoul (Gyeonggi), so usually you’re only a subway ride from the city, and since it’s run by the government, they honor the contract. Hagwons (private language academies) are hit or miss. Some are great, some fire you without paying. Be sure and find a reputable recruiter if you go the language academy route.

    Busan is a city not on most people’s radar, since most end up in Seoul. But having visited there a few times, I like it more than Seoul, and could definitely see myself teaching there. Besides, it’s only a 2 hour train ride to the capital if you need a bigger city on the weekends…although Busan is plenty big!

  • Abbie

    I was just looking for some information about this! Great post!

  • habibti

    I strongly disagree with the inclusion of Saudi – unless you are after money exclusively and are experienced and informed. For the past two years I have enjoyed life in Bahrain and currently in Dubai, but Saudi is a whole different situation. I DO NOT recommend ESL teaching there unless you are already accustomed to life in the middle east, the local “ways” including what it means to be under strict Sharia law.

    (This is not a condemnation of the Saudi people – those that I have had the pleasure of meeting are kind and generous, my intention is simply to inform westerners to do *in depth* research before signing a contract in Saudi.)

  • Teresa

    Thanks for this post — I’m looking to teach English abroad after I graduate (seeing as I probably can’t find a writing job that pays haha).

  • shruti

    hey. nice post . very informative for job seekers. I would like to know if you know anything about Singapore. I am very kieen to visit in live in Singapore. I am an Indian with a Masters Degree in English Language and Literature. Will I be able to get an ESL job in Sinagpore?

  • Stevo

    Thailand has cracked down on visa regulations for foreign teachers. It is difficult for a first-timer to get a legal job.

    Your information on China is almost laughable. Having lived and worked in China for 4 years I can say good compensation packages are few and far between. China should be listed as 10th on you list.

  • Anne

    I do not have a degree, my highest level of education is Australian HSC& Dip in Project Managment.

    Can some one please give me advice on what course I need to do – TESOL, CELTA/ DELTA?

    And also with out experience, what countries would except me?

  • Baluda Bladula

    Forgot to mention Hong Kong…well, for certified teachers anyway…

  • Baluda Bladula

    Oh by the way, Anne, I just read your comment…
    To teach in South Korea or Japan you need at least a B.A or B.S.
    Most EFL teachers holding a TESOL/CELTA certificate, end up working in countries like the Czech Republic, Russia, Thailand, China (excluding Hong Kong), and Vietnam, as well as some Latin American countries (Mexico, Costa Rica, Equador etc..). These countries do not require teaching experience, but they do expect you to have either your CELTA or TESOL certification.
    CELTA and TESOL are pretty much considered the same thing, and you can only obtain a DELTA certificate after completing a CELTA course. As the author of the article mentioned, there are some TESOL courses that guarentee placements in certain countries once you have completed the course.

  • tom

    i’d be interested in seeing more info on pay scale/ability to support oneself in each of these places…i’ve heard that it’s really, really hard to make a decent living doing esl in brazil and mexico…

  • Christine

    I’m leaving soon to teach in Vietnam for Teachers for Vietnam, its a great place to teach and the program in particular is amazing. They only send a handful of teachers so not only do you get a teacher’s salary but your flight, Tet travel, and housing is paid for!

    • Flcgammon2

       could you email me the company in which you are with thanks..

    • foxhugh

      You really got my attention!  I checked out your blog and you are a real person.  I thought for sure you were some phoney baloney organization.  Sorry after 13 years in Asia, I am very suspicious.   Yeah!  I must know a dozen teachers in Vietnam that are kind of living hand to mouth.  One buddy visited me in Bangkok from Hanoi and flipped out when the room I found him turned out to be 700 baht!  OMG!  Thats like 20 bucks and the days of 300 baht rooms in Bangkok, the price he wanted, has been gone for about five years now.   I understand when you have sticker shock when you go to Japan but sticker shock in Thailand.  Not good! You were going to Vietnam! What happened. The website is a little too glossy and lacking the crucial details like salary! Housing and flight money is good but no replacement for a lousy monthly salary. Offering housing in flight money is almost cheese on the mouse trap in the ESL game. They give you an easy way to get there and figure politeness and laziness means you stay six months even though at some level you know you are getting ripped off! Its amazing the mice you can trap with those two pieces of cheese. Tet travel? Thats like twenty bucks? I would not fly across the world for Tet travel. Tet travel makes me really, really suspicious. I did visit one of the best universities in Vietnam and was absolutely shocked as to how low the salaries were! On the other hand, you can make three or four times more teaching business English for a multinational company but those jobs are tricky. You have to be at the right place at the right time and they are also very insecure. Vietnam is also going through a really bad patch economically and hopes that it would be the next Asia success story are pretty much gone and that means the business English jobs may also be gone soon. I think Vietnam is a good “adventure” kind of place for backpackers straight out of college but its not a place for serious ESL professionals. I do really, really like the Vietnamese people. I did visit a Spanish teaching program at the university level in Hanoi and the students were soooo curious and asking me questions in fantastic Spanish. I talked to the Cuban “profesora” and she had nothing but good things to say about the work ethic about the students and this sort of work ethic is not necessarily universal. The Vietnamese deserve some good karma and if you are going there to help out and kind of have a Peace Corps mentality then great but if you are looking for something more serious and permanent then Vietnam is probably the wrong place.

      So what was your experience?

    • dj

      Hey, How does one apply for a position? Website?

  • Simone Marie

    Great post! I’ve been wading through books on the subject, and the time spent does not always feel so illuminating. This was short, sweet, and direct. Does anyone know of any south american countries (besides Brazil) that offer some kind of pay/living stipend? Most of what I have found on the continent are volunteer opportunities.

  • Seth

    I’ve been in South Korea for the past seven months, and would like add that while Korean ESL jobs are plentiful and well paying, travelers need to remember one thing:

    If you work at a hagwon (private language school), you’re vacation is pretty much limited to 10 days per year, and good luck getting a full week.

    Public schools and universities offer more vacation time, unis up to a couple months. Some public schools offer up to a month during winter break.

    Korea makes an excellent base to explore Asia, but only if you have time off to do it.

  • Amanda

    I’m also interested in specific wage info like Tom mentioned. I wonder if there is an online resource that gives rough wages for each ESL employer. You could do the cost of living chart of your own and see what lines up.

  • doohdoohhead

    This article presents teaching abroad in an overly simplistic manner.
    The truth is that while there’s a lot of demand, doors aren’t just gonna be swinging open- and those that do, you may need to be weary of.
    First, teaching in Europe is usually restricted to residents of the EU, so it’s hard for americans or canadians to get a job there (many other places as well- the writer mentions Brazil- I tried there).
    Second, developing countries like China, Russia etc. should be approached cautiously. If you’re interested in teaching in places like that which offer all kinds of benefits, it’s extremely important to assure they are legit, because all types of abuse can occur (holding the teacher’s passport, return flight tickets, transferring the teacher to a different city etc). Furthermore, they pay in places like that is not great if you don’t have a specialized degree (the same applies to all Latin America). DOn’t expect to be living it up, unless you take money with you.
    Next, places like Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Arab countries usually require a Master’s degree.
    Last, places which are reliable for ESL work with decent pay: Japan, Korea, Taiwan-often have a slightly more demanding work ethic that many North Americans may consider overwork, employer abuse etc.
    I highly recommend travelling and teaching, but first understand what you are getting into : )

    • David Chambliss34

      I would add Vietnam to your list of reliable places to teach English. Very similar to Taiwan in pay and perks, etc. 

  • William Wallace

    I think the main criteria for choosing where to teach, would be whichever country had the best looking girls.

    • Shogun Sam

      I have been searching for an objective study upon this topic, one not susceptible to sensory overload.

  • Rebecca

    Does anyone know if I need a TESOL certificate to teach in another country if I have a Master’s degree in ESL? I also have an SEI endorsement. I would assume that would be more than enough but with all the talk of a TESOL cert. I’m wondering if it’s required.

  • Alaina

    Though it may be a more difficult application/selection process, applying for to Fulbright as an ETA is a really good option (if you are a US citizen). You don’t have to be certified to teach, you don’t teach full-time (but receive a great salary for the hours worked) and it’s a reputable program. They place assistants in many countries, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

    • Dani

      I’m currently a Fulbright ETA in Indonesia and I must say, I love it. The pay is good, the program is decent, but it varies greatly from site to site. Some ETAs are in great locations with minimal expenses, some are in crappy ones with high expenses. My school is wonderful with great facilities and staff, but a very modest living situation (think: converting an office to a bedroom, no bathroom sink, and who needs a kitchen, anyway?) The other ETA in my city has a palace of a guest house with her own swimming pool and personal chef. Her school, however, doesn’t have electricity. It all evens out. Biggest downfall? Stupid in-country travel restrictions. Some people have a 5 bedroom house in a gated neighborhood all for one person.

      For this country in particular, I’ve heard that EF’s benefits are very similar after all the bonuses come in. I highly recommend Fulbright ANYDAY, but EF’s prospects are looking pretty good for next year since I don’t have the option to renew for next year with my program.

      Hope this helps!

  • Si Knight

    I totally agree with doohdoohhead, the notion that ‘the world is your oyster’ for English speakers is a fallacy and getting a job is a lot harder these days – a white face just doesn’t cut it anymore.
    Most of the countries listed, like Mexico, Russia, Brazil, pay a pittance and can be dangerous especially for women.
    Jobs in the Czech Republic dont’ offer housing so negotiating won’t help so this will eat away half your salary. Jobs in Japan are scarce and now, with the economic crises, and are mostly offered to people in Japan.
    Of the places listed, Korea and China stand out for the amount of opportunities and pay versus cost of living but both have pitfalls – namely dodgy employers.
    Of the places not listed, Taiwan and Vietnam are good options but you will be teaching young kids, paying your own housing and will need start up capital.
    Good luck for where ever you choose – oh and be ready to work hard!

    • David Chambliss34

      I agree with most of what you said, but I taught all ages of students in Vietnam. There are a lot of kid classes, but also many adult and corporate classes. When you first start it might be with kids if you don’t have experience, but if you tell a school your preference you can find plenty of hours teaching adults or whatever you want. 

  • Tyler

    JET and the Japan Exchange Teaching Program are the same thing, and you definitely didn’t give them enough of a writeup here. $40,000 a year tax free plus airfare and often accomodations is what you can expect from a job with JET.

  • Hannah Welch

    Thanks for writing this article it’s awesome and really helped me narrow down which places I am most interested in teaching abroad! Do you have any insight on people who get certified online versus people who get certified in classrooms? I have noticed that there is a major price difference so I was wondering if preference is given to teachers who have been certified through an official classroom course. Also, I was surprised to see Saudi Arabia on your list. I say that because I have family who live in Saudi Arabia and it doesn’t seem like an easy country to go and work in! I would like to find out more information on that. Again, thanks for the useful article!

  • Adam

    I’m just beginining to research teaching English as a Second Language and this website has clarified much for me. Does anyone what opportunites there are for an English Literature Ph.D. with a CELTA in South Amerca, particularly Brazil? I’m in the writing up stage of my doctorate and I’m really looking to go abroad once I’m finished. I have quite a few years teaching experience at Adult Level, including two years in a university department and six months ESOL experience, but I don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese. I noticed above that there might be opportunities in Mexico, but what about generally? This is an initial enquiry but any information would be appreciated.

  • Tesol Australia

    This is cool list, but the only thing that require is TESOL certification.

  • Treehouse

    Great article, I wish I could teach English in another country, but it is not my first language, so I am scared. Does anyone know where I could teach Spanish? I just can’t find a good website with information about it.

  • Gregory Vincent

    I would like to teach English abroad. I have a degree (in Psychology) and I am an author of a booklet – and of a local history. I worked for many years in the computer industry developing database systems, until the work dried up. But I have no certificate in TEFL. Does this rule me out?

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  • Mudde Richard

    My name is Mudde Ricahrd, am a Ugandan by nationality, i would like to teach English in Japan. What could be the procedures. Thanks I hope to hear from you soon.

  • Chris

    Haha…Whoever recommended “Teachers in Vietnam”, your recommendation is either a veiled advertisement or a joke. The salaries listed, through that organization, are for $100-$140 per MONTH.

    The hourly wage for the average freelance ESL teacher in Vietnam would give them that amount in 1-2 days. Even with paid airfare and accommodation, that placement service is a blatant ripoff, and they probably charge the schools the standard fee and pocket the difference.

    If you want to teach in Vietnam, don’t use a placement service such as this. Apprise yourself of your worth as a teacher, save for your flight, stay in a guest house, get your CELTA, pound the pavement for work, and then get an apartment. You’ll make 10X per month what “Teachers in Vietnam” is offering to pay.

  • John Coan

    This list is one to be ignored – the Czech Republic pays teachers badly and Prague is getting expensive. Teachers are regularly warned against working in South Korea due to the large number of dodgy schools. Mexico isn’t much better.

    On what did you base this?

  • Jen

    Brazil has a great english teaching program. Did it myself while I was down there for a couple months. Amazing place, amazing people.

  • Heather Carreiro

    Good ideas. I wouldn’t include Saudi though if you’re a single woman. Pay may be good, but you really need to be prepared for the strict social constraints. There’s also a LOT of sketchy language schools and “international” schools (that are not so international) in the Gulf region.

  • JR Moreau

    Does anyone have suggestions for the top countries to teach English if you’ve got significant student loans to keep paying off while you’re abroad?

    I really love Prague, but I’ve heard South Korea is probably the best for salary and perks. Anybody have any advice on picking within these criteria?

  • Kelly

    I am currently obtaining my Masters in Higher Education, however, I am interested in teaching English abroad. Can anyone please tell me the best schools/websites to get TEFL certified?? I live in Illinois. I just want to make sure I don’t get sucked in by a scam company. Thank you!

  • Kelly LaLonde

    Hey all. Just got back into writing after teaching In Tanzania, East Africa for a while.

    I would just like to say that this post is now 2 years old and that Matador has updated their site to include a whole section on this topic. I urge all of you to check it out.

    That being said: The article is overly simplistic. It would take the whole website to list how I have gotten my jobs ( all legally- please don’t work without a visa- not a good idea!).

    Teaching English at home or abroad takes a certain kind of person, it isn’t just about getting paid to travel. You MUST do a lot of research and know what you are getting in to. Things change in the world on a daily basis… and what is great for one person isn’t for another.

    My advice: Choose wisely and be dedicated to the profession.

    Peace, Kelly

  • Jennifer

    I was very interested in what the author had to say until I read her comments about Italy. Italy is expensive. “fantastically inexpensive gourmet food” I’m sorry, was your last trip there before the euro? Italy is expensive. There is no “cheap” living in Italy unless you eat the basics. Now I call into question your advice. I have been to Italy many many times and traveled there on various budget allowances. There is nothing worse than arriving in a country expecting “cheap living” only to get hit with a hefty bill.

  • cj

    Ive taught English in Mexico and Japan and I have to say, Japan is way better as far as pay and working hours. I made about 500 dollars a month in Mexico and that is about enough to rent a crappy apartment in the area where I lived. In Japan Im making about 2800 dollars a month and Im able to save about 1000. If your used to living in the 1st world, you wont be happy teaching in Mexico. (unless you have enough savings to live well, and you dont mind spending it). Japan is slightly more expensive than Mexico for day to day expenses. (I dont live in Tokyo)

    • HK

      if you’re teaching in japan do you need to be fluent in japanese?

  • Joseph Celestin

    Do anyone know any companies that are honest and that will send you over to Asia (China, Japan or South Korea) to teach English plus pay for your room and board, airfare, and etc.

    If so, please hit me back at

  • Roxy

    Great Post!

    Im teaching English in Daejeon, South Korea with what seems to be one of the best packages. I am from South Africa and came over here with an angecy called TeachKorea.

    If your interested, check out my blog on living in and teaching in South Korea:

    Ive had a great experience so far, and Im hoping to continue traveling and working all over the world!

  • Jason

    Hi all,

    I am a Law Lecturer and hold a Master’s degree in International Law. I also teach Englush on a freelance basis, though I do not hold a TEFL/CELTA qualification of any kind at this time.

    Are there any opportunities for me to work teaching for the summer? I have 6 weeks off until mid-August and would love to teach abroad, I am currently in the UK. All ideas welcome!

    Best Regards


  • Susan K

     This article is just the tip of the iceberg and rather sketchy. I’ve taught abroad since 1998.  Each country needs more description. For example, teaching in Saudi Arabia is impossible for Jewish people. They won’t even get their resumes read and if you want to practice say Buddhism or Christianity there you can’t so there are serious human rights issues to think about.

    Korea is such a mixed bag. Some schools are fine and others are dreadful. People should use Dave’s ESL Cafe’s job board to see some of the common problems in Korea and choose very carefully.

    If you’re entering this field get more in depth information.

  • David Chambliss34

    yeah this article is a good starting point, but a couple things come to mind. The pay in Mexico is very low and it would be difficult to break even for most people. Russia can be a difficult place to live if you don’t speak Russian. It’s very difficult to work legally in Italy if you are not from the EU. Also, many places require a criminal background check these days to work legally. For U.S citizens it needs to come from the F.B.I. and it can take about 3 months. Just remember that before you hop on a plane. 

  • IntTEFLAcademy

     Great article, if anyone is interested in the comparison of the top 50 English Teaching Countries, here is a link that compares the breakdown

  • Scott M.

    Hi. I have been an ESL teacher for several years.  I’d like to return to Latin America to teach, however, I have to make a decent amount of money in order to save for bills back home in the States.  Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go in Latin America to make a decent salary and be able to save a good amount each month.  I am fluent in Spanish and can live in relative squalor.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

    • Lukas Gohl

      Hey Scott,

      I’m currently teaching English in Chile. As far as I know, Chile is going to be one of the highest (if not the highest) paying countries in Latin America. I’m currently investigating other places to teach in and the financial prospects are a little disappointing since I’m facing the same issue as you- paying the bills back home.

      The problem is, Chile is also one of the most expensive countries to live in. Sales tax is like 19% here, so buying things like technology or clothes or even going out to eat can get a little spendy. That said, rent really isn’t all that expensive ($150.000 CLP in Santiago centro or $300 US) and if you live thriftily you can make a respectable living here. If you can find work outside of Santiago (Concepción, Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Iquique) I’d recommend it, since Santiago is much more expensive than the other big cities.

      Hope that was helpful. Best of luck!


  • Stella Nova

    Quito Ecuador. Great students, weather, expats…etc.

  • Smitch18

    I am an English teacher and lived in Spain for eight years and in Mexico for ten.  Spain is a much, much better place to find work as an English teacher; there is much more work and the pay is much better.  If you can get into a decent uni job in Mexico you’ll probably be OK (some uni jobs are not decent and pay less than $10 an hour and only pay teaching hours), but if you can’t get that job then forget it.  In ten years I’ve never taught a private class in Mexico (except Spanish to foreigners, ironically enough), while in Spain I was able to live from private classes.  The fact that Mexico comes in at #3 and Spain doesn’t figure at all makes me doubt the validity of this page.

    • CD2010

      That’s because it’s incredibly difficult for non-EU citizens to find work in Spain.  Please research before you post.

  • Colitheone

    I am in China now, near Beijing after months of confision regarding where to go. China is fantastic if you can understand, or at least accept the  immense differences the country has in comparison to the west. China rocks!

  • Coltheone

    Oh yeah, i forgot to mention that I am being paid 1,200 USD per month, with a beautiful apartment, no bills and large bottle of beer in the local store costs only 50 cents. To eat out in a nice restaurant in north east China you can walk away having had a lovely meal and beers for around 5 bucks per person. I love it here!

    • Kim Savage

      Do you know if  they hire for 3-9 months contract in China?

  • V3r0nicamc12

    I know a lot wanted to work in abroad.Teaching English is not that  easy of course. Although you know how to speak English but in teaching you need to pass all the qualifications such the following:
    1. Good grammar
    2.Know the right diction and pronunciation
    3.A college graduate and etc.
    applying for jobs in english

  • Susan K

    I wish you had elaborated more on each country. Also, the information on South Korea is out of date. Even in the countryside prices have surged.  With Mexico how do you find work if you’ve entered the country on a tourist visa?

  • Macie

    Teaching English as a second language is definitely a challenge.  For anyone interested in teaching abroad, there are many sites dedicated to helping them find jobs.  One of those is Teacher Gig.  Here’s a link, for anyone interested in browsing current jobs. 

    Teacher Gig Job Listing For Online Tutor

  • Bruce Jones

    This is a great article on the Top 5 Countries to Make Money Teaching English: 

  • Daya Michelle

    This is a really great place to find teaching jobs abroad (& check out photos of the school)-

  • foxhugh

    I have taught ESL for the last 13 years in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.  Needless to say living this lifestyle I have heard it all.  This article is ok but a bit simplistic.  Here are some cons to your pros.

    Brazil – Many parts of Brazil are dangerous, you will need to pay a bribe to get a work permit or your school will.  Without the work permit you are fair game for every scam out there and there are plenty.

    Saudi Arabia is generally considered by far the harshest and most “extreme” environment in the Middle East.  However, the compensation is also very high.  Better for newbies to try Dubai or even Kuwait and see if they can handle that before going to Saudi Arabia.

    Italy and the whole EU for that matter is really hard for none EU members to get a job in.  If you are from English great but Americans will have a hard time getting a legal job and yes you do want a legal job in most EU countries.

    Japan was a great place but due to depopulation and economic hard times, getting a job is really, really, really tough!  Good luck!  If you know Japanese then your chances of getting a job are ten times higher.  Plus your “star up” costs are huge!  If you don’t have five thousand USD in the bank then reconsider.  Many places require “key money”.  There are ways to get around that but again you better figure that out ahead of time and not when the clock is ticking.  Figure a budget of fifty bucks a day and at least a month to get a job and maybe two to three grand USD to get situated.

    I am living in Thailand right now so I will skip this subject except to say you better get a handle on salaries before moving out here!  International schools pay well but prefer to hire persons with teacher certification at international job fairs not people with only a bachelor’s living here.

    Russia!  Are you kidding!  Stereotypes?  If anything the stereotypes do not do the actual situation justice.  However, for brave souls, who have street smarts, and nerves of steel and are really, really tough, Russia can be a great place.  There are jobs.  There is money but you need to be comfortable with dealing with very “flexible” situations.

    China is one of the great myths of the ESL world.  Very, very low salaries even compared to other developing countries. China is not that cheap any more and salaries that were low way back when have not kept up.  The problem is that you might be able to eke out an existence in China but you will be broke if you leave China to travel during your vacations.  What you make in a month will not even pay for a holiday weekend in Japan!!!!   Massive air pollution problems in the big problems so if you have any sort of respiratory problems then think twice.  However, I do a have a soft spot for my Chinese students who were a lot of fun and very sweet.

    South Korea is not cheap!  South Korea is much more expensive than China or Thailand.  South Korea is cheaper than Japan but thats about it.  However, the ratio of salary to expenses can be one of the best in Asia.  I saved almost as much in Korea as in Japan.  Korea is cold!  Again you will need some start up money.  Not as much as in Japan but not the place to arrive broke or worse owing college loan money.  Stay away from the Hagwons ie cram schools.  Maybe the highest scam rate on the planet!  If you do not get paid the first month then you are going to be scammed period!  Your pay is never going to appear and they will just lead you on month after month.  Try to get a job with a public school or university language school. 

    The thing is a lot of people who couldn’t even get a job at McDonald’s right now can teach English in certain countries in Asia. Do you have a degree in let’s say fine arts from a joke university with no teaching experience and no knowledge of what ESL is besides what the initials are then may I suggest some of the dodgier countries because they hire out of desperation. Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan offer real salaries and expects real teachers. They will want a real degree from a real university and some actual TESOL type experience or coursework would help a lot. Can’t teach at the university level full time at a university in the US? Well guess what? You probably can’t get a real university job teaching ESL without a masters in HK, Singapore or Japan. Well it does happen. You might have personal qualities that show at the interview that make up for the lack of a masters.
    No degree!
    Hey there’s always Vietnam, Western China and every other underdeveloped country with a per capita income of around 4,000 USD a year. You might be poor but in terms of pride it’s still better than saying “May I take your order” at McDonalds back home. The thing is that often times in these third world countries you have a lot of status as a teacher and you are making a good income by local standards! I have to mention that sometimes you are getting female attention despite your low salary by international standards that you didn’t get back home.
    Taiwan and Korea are kind of in the middle for Asia. You will need a real degree from a real university to teach in Taiwan or Korea. However, you don’t need a master’s and you don’t need TESOL experience or coursework. The pay will not be as high as in HK, Singapore and Japan but much higher than China, Vietnam, Thailand and countless other places. It’s a lot easier to list places with good pay than list the countless places with bad pay. The dodgier the country, the lower the pay, the worse the living conditions, the more desperate the country then the easier it is to get a job. At an extreme level I have run into Ukrainians that look the part but have heavy accents teaching ESL as “native speakers” in the backwoods of places like China and Vietnam. The Ukrainians did have real degrees and worked very hard. Alongside them were native speakers without any sort of degree who were lazy bums but native speakers. That’s kind of the equation. If you work hard and have a real degree then a backwoods place might overlook your nationality as long as you have the right European look. The look is very important in Asia. If you have the wrong skin then you better have the right qualifications and even then it can be hard to get a job. It’s a formula of sorts. You get ten points for a degree and another five points for the right degree, you lose ten points for the wrong skin color, you get ten points for TESOL experience and on and on. If you have a score of 90 total then you can work in HK, Singapore and Japan. If you score is 80 then you can still work in Taiwan and Korea. If your score is below 50 then go to Vietnam. If your score is ten and you are an alcoholic then there is a town without cable but might have internet and heck you can download what you need, that wants you as an ESL teacher but you may get paid with stuff like free housing, free food, appreciation, status and local celebrity rather than cold hard cash! The capital city of a country is often tough. Can’t get a job in the capital city then consider a city other than a capital city. Taipei in Taiwan is tough. You might actually need a score of 90 for Taipei but Taichung and Kaoshung will take you with a score of even 60! And the pay is still pretty darn good especially compared to let’s say Vietnam. Man I need to write a proper article about this someday.

    • AbroadSights

      Thank you for this realistic approach. This has helped very much. Do you have a blog of your own?

    • foxhugh

      Sorry for the late reply and I do have a blog at:
      I really should write my own article about teaching in Asia but for now all I have along those lines is:

    • Trey Ali

      I currently work in China and I can tell you that you have either never been to China or you got scammed in the job market.  I have a full time job in China making 12,000 yuan per month and it was the first job I got  when I came here and it took me three days of searching to find.  I decided I wanted a part time job to make even more money so I can pay my student debt back in Canada and I got another job working 5 – 8:30 PM.  Now I’m pulling in an extra 9240 yuan per month.  In total I make $3540 CAD per month which is much higher than any job I’ve had in Canada. 

      The salaries here are high but DO NOT GO THROUGH TESOL.  I don’t know if they take a cut or what but every job I’ve been offered, and have heard offered to others has ranged between 4000 – 8000 tops.  The lowest offer I’ve been offered on a job so far has been 8000 and the highest has been 15,000 and that’s only Kindergarten.  I’ve received an offer to teach high-school students for 20,000 yuan per month.

      • Silvagni2006

        hi my name is rob, from melbourne australia. can you please email me asap. for advice, teaching in china. thanking you,

      • Delphmacdonald

        Hi there,

        I’m considering teaching in China.  May I have some advice as you appear to be in the ‘know’.  Many Thanks.  Email:

      • Hsgoldup

        Hi there. I’m also considering teaching in China. Any tips you could give me (because there’s just so much on the net and it’s difficult to sift the good from the bad) would be much appreciated! My email is  Thanks!

      • Tdixonb


        I have been offered a job in China through a TESOL program i completed at the Oxford Seminars. The pay they offered was 7,000, so now i am concerned seeing as you claim to be earning 15,000. Could you please email with any information you might have. thank you very much,

        • foxhugh

          I think that is a typical salary and Trey is either exagerating or was very lucky!  A lot of people exagerate their salary in ESL abroad.  No one lies in the opposite direction.  People never claim to make less than they make although that would be smart if you had a really good situation.  I would say there is an almost fifty percent chance that any salary you hear quoted by an expat in Asia is an exageration!

        • ESLinsider

          15,000RMB in China is pretty high. It really depends on the kind of school and the location. You’ll make more in the big cities like: Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing.

      • Donal Power


        I’ve been teaching in the same school in Thailand for 3 and half years now. They want to keep me but having only a 3 year diploma and a TESOL cert. I’ll be due for a change of school to reset the VISA process soon, so I was thinking a change of scenery wouldn’t be a bad idea. I would love to checkout China but have heard that they’re strict about non-degree holders. I would really appreciate it if you know of any vacancies. We have a couple of weeks left on the school year here so I’m pretty much available to start work immediately. Thanks.

        My email address is dp_2010

        • foxhugh

          My biggest advice for anyone thinking of moving from Thailand to China is visit China first!  Thailand has maybe the best living conditions in Asia.  China?  I am going to be nice and  just say China is not for everyone!  Visit first and you will figure it out.  Yes, China is stricter about degrees than Thailand.  In general, the higher the salaries, even relative to cost of living, the stricter the country is about degrees.  If the country wants more than a warm body and wants someone with proper qualifications then they will be stricter but then you are also competing with more qualified people who  expect more.  Stricter visa requirements drive your salary up!  Japan is an extreme.  You need a degree period. Stuff like taking local language classes forever and working on the side illegally doesn’t really work in Japan.  However, your work visa is an overall work visa and not tied to the institution which means you can quit your job and get another job without worrying about your work visa unlike just about every other country in Asia.  Japan wants more but Japan gives more.  I do sometimes wonder why so many people who are teaching abroad for years and years do not just bite the bullet and get proper qualifications rather than putting up with all the crap you have to when you don’t have the right paper.  If you are living and teaching in Asia and not saving at least a grand USD a month then you probably should rethink your whole strategic approach.

      • Pantelis_42

         Please let me know more about the situation in China as i am seriously thinking of relocating and teaching English there. My email is:

        • foxhugh

          Visit first!  You can do some job hunting while you are visiting.  China is not for everyone.  China is the same size as the US but has six times the population.  China is the factory of the world.  This does have an impact on living conditions.  As I mention elsewhere there are huge regional differences.  Kunming is radically different from lets say Shanghai in terms of weather, pollution, cost of living and pace of life.  I am not necessarily recommending Kunming but just pointing out its better to think of China as a collection of very different regions and you might want to check out more than one region before making the big move.  Cheap Chinese trains are really cheap!  You can sleep on the train to save even more money.  Overall, I would say learn from my bad experiences and visit first!  If you get ten expats in a bar in Asia then you will get ten very different views about which country is the best.  What is a good city is very relative in my opinion.  Also do you want money or good living conditions?  The following may be helpful:

      • Jenna-Wade

        Can you suggest any companies to assist in finding a job or getting a visa?

        • foxhugh

          My big advice!  Stay away from companies!  I could give you a long, long story but thats my advice period.  Especially stay away from companies in Korea and China!

          • HumphreyShanee

            So Hugh, going to Brazil should be a no go then? I had ambitions to potentially teach in Brazil, but really in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE (NOT SAUDI ARABIA). What suggestions do you have for hiring companies in these areas? Better yet, ones that directly recruit teachers?

          • foxhugh

            I have written a very detailed record of where I have been at:
            I have not been to Brazil.  On the other hand spending 13 years in pubs with other ESL teachers who have been to a lot of places is an education of sorts as well.  Sometimes its not about ESL but about the country.  I have a friend in Japan that is a martial arts expert and goes to Brazil for BJJ lessons and this guy is tough and experienced and he has had some close calls.  When you are an ESL teacher you are living there not visiting and you cannot go the safer tourist route and the overall safety climate of the country is sometimes very important.  I just ran into this list:

            A lot of the bad cities are in Brazil!  The second question is “spillage”.  Detroit is dangerous and I know that from personal experience.  On the other hand, East Lansing, MI, my home town is super safe and not that far from Detroit.  The US does a very good job of cordoning violence.  The Phils is like that.  Manila is dangerous! But Davos is super safe!  Govts can make a political decision to keep certain parts of their country very safe even though the country is dangerous in general.  People who live there can give you info about containment.  Its not really something the above sort of dangerous city lists give you.  Maybe there are some super safe cities in Brazil but I doubt it. If I had heard of such a place then I might be in Brazil! It might be worth doing some research even so. 

            Abu Dhabi is another place I do not have direct experience of but having done the ESL game for 30 years I have heard plenty. Its very different from Brazil.  Brazil is a fun, fun  place but dangerous and low pay.  Brazil is about the gals.  Sorry to be blunt but thats what is going on. The low pay by international standards is still pretty good pay by local standards.  You forgive a lot when you have a really hot gal. 

            The Middle East is not that fun. No one goes to teach ESL for fun in the Middle East unless they are stupid but the UAE is safe and good conditions and great pay. 

            Success in a country teaching ESL comes from a good fit between the country  and the person.  A young guy looking for gals and adventure should not go to the UAE but no problem he wont get hired anyway!  The UAE takes one look at you and knows who is going to fit in ten minutes.  An older, stable very self contained guy who likes to blog, workout, read and kind of sick of the pub scene will flourish in the UAE. Thats me now. That wasn’t me 20 years ago. A party animal will die in the UAE but again that guy is not getting a job there anyway so no problems. 

            Who are you?

          • Megan

            Very interesting conversation here. So … what would you suggest for women who are looking to teach ESL? Obviously, I am not interested in picking up hot chicks. Is that what this is all about? Am I going to get out there and find that my expat comrades are only men who are there to sample the local cooze?

          • foxhugh

            Dear Megan, sometimes the expats ESL scene does seem like a boys club in which American women are excluded from. Women tend to do it a year or two and go home in frustration. The men are often abroad for their reasons. Some countries are more female friendly than others. Japan stands out as a place in which Western women stay for years and years. Its not because of the Western men but because Japanese women seem friendlier towards Western women than other Asian females. Thailand is really tough for Western women. If you last a year then you are the exception the rule. Its very hard for a Western woman to make female Thai friends. Thai women have their circle of old school friends and family. Friendship is to some extent all about networking in Thailand more so than the “guanxi” of China. Thai women can see a use for Western men but are unsure what a Western woman brings to the table. Friendship just for the sake of friendship is rare in Thailand. Friendship is often a means to get position and money not an end in itself and it takes a while for Americans to understand this. There exceptions to every rule. Korea is also country that is friendly towards Western women. Korean men are absolutely not intimidated by Western women. Korean women may become your friend to practice their English at worst but at least they are not cozying up to your for some pseudo business reason as is the case in other parts of Asia. You should realize that in many cultures the concept of friendship is actually different than the US idea of friendship.

      • foxhugh

        Dear Trey,
        Sounds like you got a really good situation in China and good for you.  I probably should have added that China is a big, big country and salary, cost of living and conditions vary as much between regions as between Asian countries.   Sometimes Mandarin is even a second language!  Would you mind telling the world where in China you are?  Its sounds like a good place. On the other hand, maybe you don’t want to tell the world since who needs more competition? I also saw huge differences in salary between places even in the same city. My second job paid twice as much as my original job. In Korea, Taiwan and Japan you might see a difference of 20 percent between two people with similar qualifications. In China you can see differences of 100% or even more! And yes, I did get scammed when I first got there but unfortunately this often happens when you first get to a new country and you are trying to figure out the ropes. Guanxi (loosely translated as “connections”) can help you a lot. Make some Chinese friends as soon as you can. They can act as interpreters and let you know about jobs at other places. Many Chinese like having a waygoren friend to practice their English with. Its a win-win for both parties. In general, I would say don’t be scared of looking for jobs at places that are not advertized in Dave’s ESL Cafe. There are just tons and tons of places that do not put ads there. Frankly, most places in Asia are not even aware of Dave’s ESL Cafe. I have had good luck throughout Asia just going to the front office and asking about a job. Tried to be well groomed and wearing a tie when you do this. Extroverts definetly do better than introverts in Asia. You know, I am going to put it on the line and just say that for most people their first job in a new country is probably not going to be the best job they could have gotten at all. You won’t necessarily get scammed but you don’t know up from down for a couple of months so you should look at that first job as a way to get your feet wet and start getting more information. My biggest advice for anyone going abroad is to bring some money with you! I realize in these hard times in the US and Europe thats not always easy to do and you are probably willing to teach abroad because you need money but money when you arrive means you can look around and move around more easily rather than putting up with lousy conditions because you are broke and need to save some money.

      • HumphreyShanee

        I think Hugh Fox III is RIGHT about China. I am in China now, and I make 14, 070 yuan per month. This is actually what I made every two weeks in the USA in a Special Education position. Coupled with rent of 7000 yuan in rent every other month, and an 800+ yuan electric bill, plus other utilities, food estimated at 500-600 yuan per month; and viola, I can barely pay for a plane ticket  to go on vacay to Japan or anyother place for that matter.

        • foxhugh

          I agree with you Humphrey-Shane!  Either Trey is very lucky or exagerating.  ESL teachers abroad do exagerate!  Its just something you have to learn.  I would say about half the stories you hear are exagerations.  Maybe Trey is lucky but I would be very curious about the details of his experience.  The details of my experience are laid out in tedious detail at:

          One way of checking out veracity in general is to ask for more details and when details are not forthcoming the just nod your head and take the story with a grain of salt. The following is the best article on montly living expenses I have been able to find and it totally jives with my experience. Trey is just one story. One story doesn’t mean much. I am a prof and I do like my stats:

          The big point is there are gigantic differences in expenses in pay between cities in China. If you are an American like I am then you are unprepared for this. There are of course differences in pay and cost of living in the US but nothing like China! There are also incredibly rich people in China and you may not even have good pay by local standards:

          That means you even miss out on the social rewards of having a low salary by international standards but a high salary by local standards. In China, that attractive gal at the coffee house, that is making less than you in China, may hold out for the Shanghai millionaire tha might walk through the door who makes more than you in an hour than you make in a month! A lot of the “foreign man effect” is gone in China these days. Lots of Chinese gals realize you are probably a loser in your own country, don’t speak the language, will never undestand the culture, will give her parents a heart attack and you are not really rich by local standards! Even though her pay might be lower than yours, she is aware that there are these megamillionaires out there and young girls do dream!

          • Patrick in London

            This is a really good discussion. Professor Fox, which country in Asia has been your favorite to: (a) live in and (b) work in? I hear countries like Japan and Singapore offer western-like salaries and good living conditions while other countries like Thialand and Taiwan, etc. are more third-world like. Is this accurate? Also, what girls do you like the most – i.e., which girls are more sexy, friendly and curious about western white men? Thanks.

          • ESLinsider

            Economically Korea and Taiwan are very similar. Taiwan is not third world, it’s a developed country. You can see people living on different levels there, but last I knew the average income for Taiwanese was around $12,000 a year. Keep in mind the cost of living there is lower. Then, that was higher than Italy’s.

            A lot of Asian women are curious about white western men and some are scared of them too. If you’re attracted to Asian women then you’ll probably be happy anywhere in Asia. 

            To generalize a bit: I prefer Japanese women, they’re the most open minded and cultured, Koreans are way too superficial and into plastic surgery, Chinese are o.k, although many are a bit too sheltered, and Taiwanese are friendly, but a bit fickle, haha. That’s based on my experience and observations.  

            I suggest that you find an interest in the place/culture first. Then if you like the place you will most likely find the women there attractive too. I have spent time in all of those places, lived in three of them and the only one that I would consider living in now is Japan.

            From my point of view Japan is the hippest and the most westernized. It’s also the cleanest. I am a big fan of Hip Hop and am a DJ. The music scene in Japan is far more diverse than any of those other places. I can buy vinyl records there. In Korea, China, and Taiwan that’s not really going to happen. It is mostly POP music in those other places. 

            It’s also far more diverse in other ways such as fashion styles, architecture and possibly personalities.

            You have to look at it economically and the role that that and culture plays on people. And in the end it all depends upon you.

          • ESLinsider

            Singapore is an English speaking country, so there really aren’t that many jobs there. I have occasionally seen a few on Dave’s.

          • Mega FirstClass

            Actually, many years ago I made a lot of money teaching English in Japan throught the JET Program!! I was placed in a rural area in the south (far from Tokyo). It only cost me 90 US dollars a month for rent as my rent was subsidized by the Board of Education! The food where I lived wasn’t as expensive as in other areas in Japan, and I had MANY paid vacations, and PENSION money when I completed the program. SO, the JET program is the way to go in Japan!

          • C

            just wondering, how hard is it to get into the jet program? and does anyone know how it works if you are going abroad with someone, and want to be placed in the same location?

      • Danieljbck

         Do you have a degree? and Did you take TESOL before heading over?

        • Annkirby410

          People keep giving me different information on the qualifications I have to have to teach ESL in China. Some say I need 2 years experience and others say I have to have TESOL while some say I need one but not the other or  I don’t need either to get a work visa. I’ve emailed a Chinese Embassy in America and an American Embassy in China, but I still have not heard back from them. Could someone please clarify this for me and if possible direct me to a legitmate website where the information can be found. 

      • Atlantis

        I couldn’t help but wonder, “Do u have a blog in ajarn?”
        Let’s not forget the Filipinos as your competition in taking a job.
        Say, here in Thailand I’m pissed by how a white, no credentials whatsoever, get to get a higher pay than me – lols when I can speak Am/brit accent with a degree..
        Thanks for the info. :)

    • Pantelis_42

       That is quite an extensive report on many of the places one can teach English, however you fail to mention where one can go that is actually worth going. I am a non-native speaker that teaches English for years now in Greece and would like to know more on where it would be most profitable for me to go to work and why

    • ESLinsider

       You’re point of view is pretty pervasive and pessimistic. All Hagwons aren’t necessarily bad.  I have worked in quite a few and in Korea I had a dodgier experience with a public school.

      Also your degree really doesn’t matter. That is what it is in doesn’t really matter. The degree is the requirement not the kind of degree. Sure there are schools that will prefer certain kinds of degrees. And most international schools and public schools in Taiwan require teacher certifications. But most positions just require a degree in any discipline.

      • foxhugh

        Your site had some good articles!  I am 55!  I have been in the biz for 30 years!  14 of those years living in Asia.  Five years living but no working in Latin America as a kid.  Guess what? In 30 years in the future, you will be more pessimistic as well! 

        I have just seen so many people crash and burn in Asia that after a while you realize the long term success stories are the exception not the rule. 

        If you have problems at home then you might consider going abroad is not necessarily the solution.  I really need to write an article why people crash and burn in Asia one of these days.  I totally agree that all Hagwons are not bad.  I have a friend that got totally ripped off by a public school in Korea.  I also agree for most of the jobs its just a bachelors in something.  However, the goal should be to get to a place were you have a masters in TESOL and you are applying to places that actually are looking for a qualified teacher not just a warm body.   The following Hagwon Blacklist should be required reading for anyone planning to teach in Korea:

        I would also say if you get a good situation in Korea then it can be very good.  As I stated before, the ratio of salary to living expenses can be one of the best in Asia.  I saved a ton of money per month!  You can save almost as much as in Japan and be far less qualified.  Korea can be a really sweet deal but you need to stay away from the bad places and there are a lot of bad places.  Also, screw the cold!  Korea is a developed country.  Heating is everywhere and super efficient!  In terms of weather I suffered more from the cold in Taiwan which is subtropical and have mild winters but because of this many places have inadequate heating!  Also a tropical country, that is third world, and because of this has subpar air conditioning will cause you more pain than cold in a developed nation!

        And “Pessimistic Ole-Guy” wants to add one more thing.  You need ten years to qualify for social security.  Generally you don’t get any sort of pension if you teach in a school abroad.  When you are young then who cares but I do into people who have been doing the ESL thing for 20 plus years and suddenly realize they have no social security or pension coming and there is giant agesim in Asia!  Some countries want a young face no matter how unqualified.  However, some countries want an ole guy like me!  I guess technically the places that want an ole guy like me are practicing reverse ageism.  Anyway, is the ESL abroad thing going to be a one or two year adventure or a permanent lifestyle.  If its going to be a permanent lifestyle then at least do your ten years and get Social Security.  You can actually live on what social security pays in some SE Asian countries.  I didn’t move out here until I was 39 and think the later the better in general.

        • Patrick in London

          Hello Professor Fox,

          This is a very nice discussion. 

          Professor Fox, which country in Asia has been your favorite to: (a) live in and (b) work in? I understand that countries such as Japan and Singapore offer western-like salaries and good living conditions while other countries like Thialand and Taiwan, etc. are more third-world like. Is this accurate in your experience? 

          I am working on my B.A. degree in English still and will graduate next year. However, I am considering entering an M.A. programme with a focus in Applied Linguistics. Will this degree help me get a university teaching position in Japan, Korea or Taiwan? Which country do you reckon I should aim for? 

          I have heard that the Japanese can be very difficult to work with but that Japan is one of the more interesting and modern countries to live and work in. It also has good pay. However, I cannot speak any Japanese and I have heard that Japanese people do not really like learning English. Korea, on the other hand, I have been told that they are somewhat more barbaric and hot-tempered but more easy to read and communicate with compared to the Japanese. However, Korean salaries are not as good as Japanese salaries.

          What can you tell me about working in Japanese universities, as well as Taiwanese and Korean universities? Are they similar? Which country’s universities do you prefer the most, all things considered such as salary, colleague moral and student motivation and friendliness? 

          Also, what girls do you like the most – i.e., which girls are more sexy, friendly and curious about western white men?  I am 25, single and enjoy my social life. I’d like to choose a country with good pay, western-like living conditions and where women are fashionable and dress well. I also enjoy going being in the city.

          Cheers mate!

  • Travelling light

    I have to disagree that Czech Republic is the number 1 destination for teaching English. As of 2007, the market became increasingly oversaturated with English teachers, many of whom didnt even have a valid qualification but are native speakers. Salaries are very low and cost of living is very high indeed. Quality of life is low, quality of food is low and clothing and electronics ridiculously overpriced. Czechs are shopping in Germany for goods. This is not the Prague of 1990 when 10 Dollars could buy you a village. Prague is one of the most expensive cities in Europe and teaching English is not the career path to follow if you have a family to support. Sure, if youre 20 and single and want to have a blast for a year then give it a go.

    • foxhugh

      Family is very hard to support if you are an ESL professional for many reasons.  Number one is education for your children.  Good free public education is taken for granted in the US.  Probably most Americans would not be comfortable sending their children to most public schools in Asia for a variety of cultural and pedagogical reasons.  I personally went to school in Latin America for three years, local schools not public schools and I learned a lot but its not for everyone.  International schools in Asia are very, very expensive and can almost negate your entire salary from ESL!  No kids great.  Kids?  Thats when people start  heading home. 

      Of course you can send your kid to the local public school and in the developed countries of Asia, the public schools are ok.   The public local school prepares kids for the local culture.  If you send your children to the local school then your child will not be fully American culturally.  Thats not a good thing or a bad thing but its something you just have to deal with. 

      In underdeveloped countries public education suffers and middle class people just don’t go that route.  You would literally be seen as a bad parent by the middle class locals.  I have never had children, never wanted children and at 55 that option is off the table for me.  If you do have children back home then you may become estranged from them. 

      Family makes teaching abroad ten times more difficult! 

  • Quito0

      Where’s Taiwan! I just spent 8 years teaching there. I haven’t taught in any other countries. But many of my co-workers who came  from other countries claimed that Taiwan was a better place to teach and stuck around. 
      It’s a very modern country with a lower cost of living compared to Korea and Japan. Great health insurance. The students are great. The pay is not bad (starts at about $20 USD an hour for a new teacher) There are  plenty students looking for one on one lesson ( about $26 to $30 USD an hour). Pollution can be bad in the cities, but China is worse. Also the political situation with China means the future is a bit uncertain.   

    • rai


      would you be able to recommend any websites i could go through, to apply for a teaching position in Taiwan.
      Thank you!!

      • foxhugh

        Asians in general do not pay a lot of attention to out of country applications or inquiries!  Look there is a 90% chance the guy applying from the US will punk out period!  I cannot tell you how many times I have been at a place in Asia that was expecting some guy they hired via the internet and the guy never showed!  After awhile institutions get very jaded.  Really high level Professor jobs for people with doctorates are done long distance but stuff like language centers and language labs is better done by going to the country, living on the cheap and hitting the bricks.  If you are actually in country then you are  taken ten times more seriously than someone applyiong out of the country.  My boss in country X just routinely deleted any out of country inquiry first thing in the morning when he checked his email.  Anybody that showed up in a suit with a real degree got an immediate job interview and serious consideration.

    • foxhugh

      Hey I lived in Taiwan for seven years!  Its a great place.  Its kind of the Goldilocks just right place!  Pay is not as good as Korea but good!  Not as wild as other places but hey wild enough.  Very polite, sweet people.  You could do worse thats for sure! I agree that  Taiwan absolutely should be on the list!  The list is really rather silly.  Some incredibly unsafe places with super low pay whcih no one goes to are listed and places like Taiwan are not listed.  Russia?  Brazil?  What?  Naw, the list is not very good.

  • Will

    How is Hong Kong not on this list? Google ‘Hong Kong NET scheme’.  Net teachers start out at >$60kUSD a year. A city with both western and eastern influences. 

    • foxhugh

      I agree with you but… HK actually wants qualified people with real degrees not toilet paper bought at Khao San Road.

  • Around the World in 80 Jobs

    I gave teaching a go in Ukraine, but found that the pay was pretty lousey, and when you factor in hours spent preparing and actually travel between gigs (you dont get 8 hours in a row), it is even  lower.
    f you are interested in long-term travel I have found you need a job that you can do in a lot of different locations, so most people might advise teaching english, travel blogging or some other kind of job that makes money online.

    I have been selling timeshares for the past few months, and you can also do that long term and actually make money at it. Timeshares are in 100 different countries and it is fairly seasonal, so you could do 4 months in one beautiful spot in high season then go to another for their high season when the season ends. Here is my latest blog post on how to get a timeshare sales job if you are so inclined. good luck.


  • Pantelis_42

    The thing is that i am a non native speaker, but i do have both a B.A and an M.A from English speaking countries and i still have difficulty in finding work. Can you help me out?

    • foxhugh

      Buddy, the world is not fair!  I have a prof friend from Turkey with a doctorate in Mathematics from a good university in Turkey and he had the same experience you did.  The guy is super smart, hard working, sober, well he doesn’t drink period and I watched dregs get jobs ahead of him because they were native speakers.  Not fair!  The problem is that all the Asian countries have locals that are non-native speakers with bachelors,  masters and sometimes even doctorates in ESL that are struggling to get a teaching job.  They know the native language so they can be part of the admin work load.  Why should they hire you?  Don’t even try to teach English.  Try to teach an academic speciality other than English.

  • Expat in Rome

    I’ve taught ESL in Rome Italy for 7 years, and I have to say I am shocked it is listed here.  Rome is a beautiful city, but teaching here is very hard.  Schools in general all give a sort of “Sailor’s Promise” in terms of hours (in that you end up having to work for 2 or 3 places to get enough work to survive the high costs of living).  Some of them are known to mistreat their teachers (avoid The New British Centre at ALL costs…I’m very serious).  Pay varies from 11 to 20 Euros an hour, but usually on the lower side (which is still much better than Italian min. wage howver!)  

    Legalities are non-existent here (I’m  dual-citizen, but plenty of folks can’t obtain work papers here due to the difficulty of companies to have work visas to give out themselves).  You can get a job easily without a work permit, seeing as it’s so hard to get a work visa, but it leaves you a but vulnerable.

    Unlike other locations in the world, no school can or will offer help with: visas, accommodation, rent, health insurance, airfare, or sick/holiday pay. 

    The bottom line is that Rome is a fun place BUT as far as teaching ESL goes, it’s a stuggle and is not the spot to come for financial stability.  It has such a high cost of living (rent is HIGH, bills can be too) that you will end up working 6 days a week in order to scrape by.  Schools have long unpaid vacation time, which means that just when you feel as though you have some euros saved, it goes to covering all the time you can’t work (you should expect to not work about 3/3.5 months out of the year more or less). 

    Other cities have fewer schools, but may offer a better standard of living, such as Florence.

    Hope this helps!

  • Deewest

    Hi, I’m interested in teaching in Italy. My father was born in Italy but lost his Italian citizenship when he joined the US army so I’m unable to acquire dual citizenship until I reside in Italy for 3 years. I have an associate’s degree but did not complete my bachelor’s. Can anyone help me determine if I will have difficulty finding a teaching job in Italy with only an Associates Degree? I’m planning on getting certified in TEFL or CELTA and am open to others that anyone here would recommend based on your experience. Any help you can provide is very appreciated.

    Oh also if you know or have an idea of a general salary range in Italy for teaching English I’d love to know. Thanks!

  • Kyotopiper

    Teacher at a uni and priv school in Japan. Start up is terrible, all about conex and personality. I had to get Tesol & MA until I got out of the trudgery that is the eikaiwa/run of the mill AET. gotta run w the big boys or just be the average good/bad AET.

    Come w 5000$ saved or w a job lined up. JET would be the first site u check out. I did the sister city AET job, got it in Canada final year of uni.

    I have loans and paying off MA so can’t leave here now. Japan=put in time or be a slacker AET which is fine for most.

    HK, Sing, and UAE are the other money making ESL locations.

  • ESLinsider

    I have taught in China, Korea and Taiwan. I have to say that you can make more money in China. I lived in Shanghai and was making about 11,000RMB and for there I would say that is nearly average. You can make more than that or less. A lot depends on the kind of school you work in, the hours and where you’re working. I go into further details about this on my site.

    I have made a lot of videos for ESL teachers and some are interviews with teachers in Asia. You can get a lot of information there.

  • ESLinsider

    Here’s a video on Youtube where salaries are covered in China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

  • HumphreyShanee

    Patrick in London

    Are you more concerned with landing a great position in a wonderful country with a good salary or just which Asian women are ready and willing to explore “Western White Men” sexually?

    As a woman let me be bluntly honest. While in China and visiting the Philippines I’ve seen a plethora of Asian women flock to “Western” men due to not “curiosity, but of how it can benefit them financially! Many of these women are looking for a ticket out. I have heard that Western men should refrain from dating the Korean women as culturally families and their men, especially, do not condone the intermingling between their women and foreign men . . .

  • Tesol Linguistics

    If you’re looking for a TEFL certificate, we can help you. “Don’t be an office monkey be a FREE monkey”:

  • Alicia Davis

    YAY numero 2 best place to teach!

    • Debbie Lemoine

      only if you are young

  • Worldwide English

    Since this was posted, the situation with violence related to drugs in Mexico has worsened. Some areas are much safer than others, so I would check on that. China is full of opportunities and teachers are paid much better in the “1st tier cities” like Beijing and Shanghai.

  • Anonymous

    Ombrosa International Bilingual School, well established private school in France is looking for both native and non native qualified English Teachers to commence teaching from January 2012.We offer a good salary, from 2800 euros per month.Full details of the job will soon be published on our website
    Meanwhile if you are seeking for an English teaching position from the month of January 2012, you are advised to send your CV to Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted.Do not bother to contact us if you did not.
    Education : Bachelors Degree.
    Jerome Messageot Céline.
    Ombrosa International Bilingual school.
    95 quai Clémenceau.
    69300 Caluire,

  • Anonymous

    OK, about this list. I have taught ESL and let me tell you the truth – Saudi Arabia is hard core duty – boring as watching paint dry, there is nothing, nothing to do. Japan? Expensive and forget if you are over 32 yrs.
    Korea is okay, but it is expensive and FBI check required.

    • Samuel Enka

      why do you say forget (it) if you are over 32? please explain…

  • Chris Clancy

    If anyone is interested in teaching English in Thailand, check out my website:… I can answer any questions you may have about teaching or living in Thailand.

    • Cornell McBride

      Hey chris, Im thinking about taking the course in May to get certified. How do you like Thailand?

  • محسن عزيلة

    Best site to teach good English.

  • Bruce Jones

    The best way to teach English abroad is to get your professional TEFL certification (it can be done in 4 weeks fulltime or 11 weeks part time online). Take a look at International TEFL Academy as they train over 1,200 new teachers a year to teach abroad.

  • Aladin Mido

    which certification is real worth it? its true you can learn online? lot lot choices… may be scams.

    • Tefl Jerrod

      Certification is totally worth it! You’ll be more marketable and make more money. TEFL Institute has 8 week online, and 4 week onsite courses all over the world. Check em out @[93265955023:274:TEFL Institute]!

    • Hamed Aha

      anyone knows where to apply for jobs in china?

  • Darragh Mulryan

    I think it is so much more beneficial to do something like this than follow what everyone around you is doing, I recently wrote a post about my thought on it as opposed to working in an office. I’m livin in Granada, Spain and there are so many teachers around here.

  • Darragh Mulryan

    I think it is so much more beneficial to do something like this than follow what everyone around you is doing, I recently wrote a post about my thought on it as opposed to working in an office. I’m livin in Granada, Spain and there are so many teachers around here.

    • Allen

      I agree. Too many people just live in a box and are afraid to step out of what is familiar.

  • Tefl Jerrod

    Teaching English abroad is an experience that will change your life for the better! I met so many amazing people, and had so many breath taking experiences I can’t wait to get back! Certification is totally worth it, mainly cause you’ll be more marketable and make more money. There are 8 week online courses, and 4 week onsite courses all over the world through the TEFL Institute (! They’re the best!

  • Meti Kryemadhi Teach Away has teaching programs in more than 30 countries including UAE, China, Korea and Japan. Some programs require TEFL Certification but there’s quite a few positions which only require a bachelor’s degree.

  • David Macfarlane

    If you are looking for positions overseas I would also recommend – they also have a partnership with an online TEFL course offered by the University of Toronto ( which is recognized all over the world!

  • Althea Pina Augello

    If I have my bachelors in education and wanted to get my masters in TESOL does the certification count towards that degree?

  • Andy8

    Teaching in Brazil can be difficult to some but it was a nice experience. I taught there without a TEFL cert,. I was just going to use my degree, but they actually didn’t check that. I was accepted from just being a native speaker so the demand is there. Especially in Sao Paulo. With the people I met, and all I enjoyed, it will probably be the best travel memories of my life, “so far”. Oh, I miss that place, Vila Madalena, Jardim, Itaim Bibi.

  • rico adventura

    DO NOT GO TO SPAIN IF YOU ARE AMERICAN OR LONDON UNLESS YOU HAVE SAVINGS .Its very hard to get enough work there because they have this system where you go to the office and there are a lot of cancellations.Spaniards do not like foreigners.You are always an outsider ..and im half Spanish!.(.not latin american)Panama you need a work visa.I heard brasil was great in the terms of lifestyle but not with money(the women /music) I agree with foxhugh bring a few grand and you will be ok have some money saved so that you can come home.I dont suggest falling in love because if you do you might have issues on what side of the planet you and your wife will live on.Im having that issue with my wife now.You need to make at least 1,500 a month wherever you go because youll probably be hanging out with expats who like to party and the bars you go to many times have expat prices.(hard rock cafe).Panama was a good experience for me because I had work papers, was single,and I wanted to do art.I met my wife there which is good..but spain almost killed me I got so depressed because the work was always on and off and I have an ivy league education.It was better than working retail or in a its all relative i guess.

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