5 Awesome Paid TEFL Jobs Abroad

by Clarissa Hirst

If you’re a fluent English speaker looking for a job to fund your travels, then few options are as exciting or fulfilling as teaching English abroad. You may be under the impression that you need to be a qualified ESL teacher in order to land a teaching job abroad, but there are plenty of paid roles that are open to TEFL newbies too. In fact, there are many TEFL internships that also pay a stipend, so you can gain experience without needing to survive on two-minute noodles for months.

To get you started in your TEFL job search, we’ve put together a list of five awesome TEFL jobs abroad that pay, from eye-opening TEFL internships to steady ESL teaching jobs. All of these TEFL job placements combine incredible opportunities for professional development with cultural immersion, so don’t miss out!

View of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Paid TEFL Internships

Before you apply for a permanent TEFL job, you might want to consider completing a TEFL internship first, especially if you don’t have much teaching experience. A TEFL internship is a great way to dip your toes in the water and get a feel for what teaching English abroad is really like, without locking yourself into a long-term teaching contract. Many TEFL internships are unpaid, but here are three options that offer teachers a stipend, so you can continue to travel on the weekends. 

1. Colombia

Where better to kick off your experience as an ESL teacher abroad than in one of Latin America’s most lively countries? In Colombia, you’ll be able to combine a paid TEFL internship with active outdoor adventures, such as trekking and diving, and experience in the vibrant, colourful culture that the Colombians are all too willing to share with you. The Colombian government is aiming to integrate English education for everyone by 2020, so there’s a high demand for TEFL teachers in Colombia, meaning your skills are highly sought after! As a co-teacher in a Colombian public school you can engage your students in interactive sessions in various cities, such as lofty Bogotá, bustling Barranquilla or musical Ibaqué. Overall, TEFL internships in Colombia will be an experience like no other.

2. Thailand

Thailand is a firm favorite with the global TEFL community, and it’s little surprise. With its gorgeous beaches, friendly locals, and splendid cultural monuments, you might find yourself mistakenly thinking you’ve landed yourself in TEFL paradise! During a paid TEFL internship in Thailand, you may find yourself working in kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, or even colleges throughout the country. On your weekends you’ll be free to go elephant trekking in the jungle or swim with the fishes off the coast of Thailand’s gorgeous islands. 

3. Spain

Perhaps, you’re keen on furthering your professional development in Europe? Paid TEFL internships in Spain, in cities like Valencia and Catalonia, often involve working as a conversation assistant in a classroom, helping students with their dictation and reading. In your down time you can explore Spain’s delightful beaches, unique history, and, of course, delicious local food. Tapas washed down with a glass of sangria, anyone?

Permanent TEFL Jobs Abroad (with Competitive Salaries)

If you’re hungry for more and want to step a rung higher on the TEFL career ladder, you can take things a step further and aim for a 10-12 month paid TEFL job in one of the awesome locations below. Or, if you already have some teaching experience, why not go for these straight off the bat!?

Children dancing in a parade in China
Children dancing in China

4. China

TEFL jobs in China don’t necessarily require prior teaching experience, but if you’re qualified and have some teaching already up your sleeve, then you’ll have a definite advantage over other applicants. With teaching salaries on the rise, generous TEFL job perks, and a variety of different working environments to challenge your abilities, China is an attractive option for ESL teachers.

You can choose from permanent teaching positions in Chinese provinces, such as Guangdong, Zhejiang, or Jiangsu, which offer teachers a competitive contract that will also give you plenty of time off to explore all the country’s spectacular sights. For those intrigued by the confluence of East and West, TEFL jobs in Hong Kong will give you the opportunity to teach students of all ages and abilities in a unique city where ancient temples and glass skyscrapers exist side-by-side. 

5. Vietnam

Teaching English in Vietnam is an opportunity to grow in your professional career while making friends for life and gaining insight on one of the most fascinating cultures Asia has to offer. If you’re keen to gain classroom teaching experience in a bustling city, you’ll feel right at home in TEFL jobs in Ho Chi Minh City. Your stomach will too, with the cheap and scrumptious array of street food stalls serving phở ga and bún chả all over the city. Vietnam is also a hub for expats, so you’ll find yourself making international friends in no time. On the weekends, you can indulge in endless bowls of noodle soup or take a trip north to the mountainous region of Sapa for some hill trekking with local tribes. 

Tips for Landing Your First Paid TEFL Job Abroad

If your wanderlust (and your appetite) have been flamed by reading about these incredible destinations and awesome TEFL jobs abroad, then it’s time to polish your interview skills, update your résumé, and start applying for the TEFL job of a lifetime! But first, here are some things to consider when applying for your first paid TEFL job abroad:

1. Get as much teaching experience as you can. This could be anything from helping your younger sibling’s friends with their homework after school to teaching a photography class on weekends. Even if it’s not English teaching, it all counts toward building your ability to work with students and help them progress, and looks great on your résumé.

2. Take an online TEFL course and get qualified. Not all ESL jobs strictly require you to be TEFL certified, but having a TEFL course under your belt will automatically put you before other applicants who don’t have any qualifications.

3. Be proactive. Search online resources, like GoAbroad, for paid TEFL jobs abroad or Google “TEFL jobs in [your destination of choice].” Once you find TEFL job opportunities, apply for as many as possible! If you’re really keen to teach in Colombia, apply for several different TEFL jobs to increase your chances. Find schools and organizations that offer English classes and contact their “Director of Studies” or recruitment staff member. Even if a teaching job isn’t advertised, there might be something available for just the right person.

View of Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

4. Tailor your resume. Make sure you only include recent info that’s relevant to teaching English abroad (Yes, that means deleting that job you had for three months at McDonald’s six years ago). Even if you don’t have much teaching experience, you can show evidence that you have transferable skills associated with teaching English abroad. Communication skills, public speaking, organization skills, and time management can all paint a picture of a candidate who is responsible, reliable, and competent.

5. Maintain communication. After sending your application by email, follow up with a call or Skype to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Recruiters are busy and sometimes need reminding that you’re still waiting to hear from them.

6. Make the best first impression you can. Do your research on the school or organization offering the TEFL position to show that you’re genuinely interested in them. Present yourself smartly for a Skype interview.

7. Be yourself! If you’re a hands-on, fun-loving person, use your personality to your advantage by explaining how you will use your talents in the classroom. Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm come through. After all, if a teacher isn’t passionate about what they do, they’re not going to stick it out for very long, so the recruiter will love to know that you’re keen for the real job.

With TEFL jobs abroad it’s certainly possible to start making some money right from the get-go.

If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to get TEFL qualified, then the world is truly your oyster. Before you know it you’ll be inspiring students in your classroom by day, sipping cocktails at a beachside bar by night, and exploring hidden ancient temples on your weekends.

Get to work on gaining teaching experience, tailoring your résumé, and sharpening your interview skills, and before you know it one of these amazing TEFL jobs abroad could be yours!

This article was contributed by Premier TEFL, a company dedicated to providing TEFL courses, jobs, and internships all over the world, giving anyone the chance to teach English abroad.