Here's Where You Want to Teach Abroad in 2017

by Danielle DeSimone

It’s never too soon to start planning your next adventure abroad, and we’re here to help! For those looking to teach abroad and make real connections with new people and cultures, teaching English abroad is the way to go. If you’re a planner and already thinking about your New Year’s resolution, why not resolve to travel meaningfullyHere’s the who’s-who (or where’s-where) of the best places to teach abroad in 2017:

Vietnam 

lush valley and mountains in vietnam
With plenty of language schools to teach from and inspiring natural surroundings, Vietnam is a natural choice for teachers abroad.

From the lush, thick jungles spilling out onto endless beaches, to the chaos of Saigon, Vietnam is a diverse and exciting location for those looking to teach abroad in 2017. In recent years, Vietnam has become an increasingly popular spot for ESL teachers, due to the new language schools popping up in large cities and Vietnam’s focus on English in its education system. An added bonus? Teachers’ salaries are relatively high and the cost of living is low, making it an ideal (and very competitive) ESL job market.

Beyond the classroom, Vietnam has plenty of beautiful country for you to explore! Vietnam is full of natural wonders (think Ha Long Bay, mist-covered mountains, and never-ending rice fields), local traditions (from local markets to grand temples), a complicated history of French colonialism and American warfare, and undoubtedly some of the best food in Southeast Asia. Why not check Vietnam off your travel bucket list by teaching abroad in 2017?

Pro tip: if you’re brave enough to navigate the busy traffic, get a motorbike while teaching in Vietnam.

Poland 

Poznan, Poland
Poland is the perfect combo of Eastern and Western Europe.

Eastern Europe is often overlooked for its central European neighbors when it comes to teaching English abroad, but the opportunities for both personal and professional growth are endless in these countries! Poland is an excellent option for those looking to teach English in a country straddling both East and West, geographically and culturally, that has not yet been flooded by masses of ESL teachers that are overwhelming on the shores of countries like Spain.

Most teaching jobs in Poland are in larger cities, such as Warsaw or Krakow, where culture and international tourism abound, but there are also limited teaching opportunities in the surrounding countryside. While the cost of living is decent, many teachers supplement their salaries by taking private tutoring (or bartending) jobs on the side.

Aside from its medieval castles, obsession with street-vendor-bagels, and its involvement in some of Europe’s most tragic conflicts, Poland is also home to a culture of incredibly friendly, warm, hard-working people. Learn some Polish beforehand and immerse yourself in the local culture; you’ll find these friendships as equally as rewarding as the relationships you’ll build with your students.

Chile

Chile, Patagonia
Adventurous english teachers need look no further than Chile.

An outdoor-lover’s paradise, Chile has become one of South America’s top destinations for teaching abroad, as well as study abroad and adventure travel hot spot. Chile’s geography alone is enough to convince you to move there: glaciers, deserts, and mountains, oh my! Aside from the beauty surrounding you, Chile’s cities are bursting with culture, incredible seafood, friendly locals, and ample opportunities to teach in private or public schools, as well as private tutoring gigs. 

Are you worried about navigating the job scene and finding a teaching job in Chile? Good news! The Chilean government actually supports a number of ESL placement programs, making the process relatively smooth. Native English speakers are also very much in demand in Chile, as the country places a strong emphasis on highly-educated citizens and the ability to communicate in English. 

After work and on the weekends, Chile is a traveler’s dream;not only do you get to experience the beauty of your host country, you’ll also have easy access to other South American countries around you, such as Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Embrace your inner explorer and navigate your way through skiing Chile’s mountainous (and volcanic) regions, surfing the coasts, jamming to the local music scene, or (most importantly) just getting to know your host family. Whatever you choose to do, your days will be full of adventure, both inside and outside of the classroom!

Croatia

Croatia, waterfall, national park
Go on a real European adventure when you teach english abroad in Croatia.

So you want to teach abroad in Europe, but you also want to strike out on your own and not follow the typical routes of Spain, Italy, or France. Are you also a Game of Thrones fan? If so, we’ve got the best place for you to teach abroad in 2017. 

Not only is Croatia #DropDeadGorgeous, with its terracotta-tiled roofs, turquoise waters, walled cities, and rolling mountains, it is also perfectly situated between Eastern and Central Europe. Although technically in Eastern Europe, Croatia boasts all the weather and stunning sights of the Mediterranean, as well as a much-loved culture of food, and the sharing of dinner tables with friends. It also has a fascinating history and relationship with its European neighbors to the east and the west. 

Teaching abroad in Croatia can be somewhat of a challenge if you do not speak Croatian; the language is notoriously hard to master, but this shouldn’t deter you! Look at this as an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of your students, who are also struggling to learn a language that is not their own.

The Croatian school system places high value on the education of its students, so a certification or degree is absolutely required when applying for teaching jobs in larger cities, such as Dubrovnik or Zagreb. See a different side of Europe and head for the Croatian coast; you won’t regret it!

Guatemala

Happy Valley Guatemala
Practice your Spanish while you teach your students English in Guatemala.

Often overlooked, Guatemala has overcome years of instability to finally become the country it is today: a patchwork quilt of colonial history, indigenous culture, and Spanish traditions. 

There are numerous schools throughout Guatemala in need of English teachers, particularly in the popular city of Antigua. Although, smaller villages are also an option for those looking for a more rural setting for their teaching experience. Since Guatemala is not yet flooded with tourism, it is also a perfect place for teachers who also want to improve their own Spanish skills!

Saudi Arabia

saudi arabia, gold, temple
What riches might you find as an ESL teacher in Saudi?

Teaching in Saudi Arabia is not for the faint of heart. Admittedly, the country does have a completely different approach to government, societal norms, and customs than most Western countries do, which can be a bit of a shock for ESL teachers. If you make the decision to teach abroad in Saudi Arabia, it is important to remember that you are a guest in another country, and you should respect their traditions.

That being said, Saudi Arabia is a fascinating place to teach abroad in 2017. Not only will you be instructing students and improving their English skills, you’ll also help break down stereotypes of Westerners and forge bonds with students and locals alike. Although imparting English skills on your students is the main reason for you to teach abroad, you are also there to make connections across borders, in order to build mutual understanding in this ever-globalizing world of ours.

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace and cultural home of Islam, and religion plays a big role in in day-to-day life. Religion will absolutely have a role in your teaching (classrooms are segregated based on gender and female teachers will only teach female students), but it is an exciting challenge. Aside from an immersive cultural experience, Saudi Arabia also offers wealthy cities, Bedouin tribes, long stretches of beaches, and incredible architecture. You’ll also have one of the highest teaching salaries in the world! 

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Abu Dhabi, Mosque
The UAE is an Expat teacher’s paradise.

Teaching abroad in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is perfect for those interested in working in a Muslim or Middle Eastern country with slightly less culture shock (only slightly) than Saudi Arabia. If you are from a Western country, teaching in the UAE will be certainly be a change, but with the country’s booming economy, you’ll find expats from all over the world in larger cities ike Abu Dhabi or Dubai. This international influence will help you transition more smoothly into a lifestyle that is most likely very different from your home. 

Finding a teaching job in the UAE is extremely competitive and you will absolutely be required to have a certification in order to find employment. However, the (extremely) high teachers’ salaries make up for the pressure of successfully finding a teaching gig in the UAE. 

Teaching in the UAE is also an exciting challenge! Since English is so widespread throughout the United Arab Emirates, school systems are now focusing on teaching all courses in English. This means that you could have the opportunity to teach math, science, or even history in English, broadening your teaching experience! Although the UAE certainly has an international community, always be aware of the cultural norms of the country you are working in; Islam is an essential part of daily life in the UAE, and you should respect the country’s customs.

Living and working in the UAE also means that you’ll be able to experience everything from glitzy, glamorous city life (and maybe check out the tallest building IN THE WORLD), as well as deserts, mountains, and stunning oases. So what are you waiting for?

South Korea

lit up rainbow bridge at night in south korea
South Korea remains one of the most popular go-to destinations for ESL teachers wanting to work abroad.

South Korea made a name for itself in the world of English language instruction years ago, for its seamless combination of challenging teaching opportunities, competitive pay, and a vibrant culture that offers a healthy dose of culture shock (and learning opportunities) for Western language instructors.

Native English speakers are in high demand in South Korea, making it relatively easy to land a teaching job abroad in 2017, as long as you have the right qualifications. Keep in mind that education is taken very seriously in South Korea. As an English language instructor, you should approach your job with just as much enthusiasm and dedication as your students will. Your hard work will pay off (literally); not only do many Korean schools offer very good pay at a decent exchange rate, they also often offer their teachers accommodations. If you’re smart with your money while teaching in South Korea, you should have no trouble living a very comfortable life. 

And what a life there is to live! From the brightly-lit skylines of Seoul to quiet villages nestled into the mountainous hillsides to the world-famous karaoke bars, there is something for everyone in South Korea. The expat and ESL teacher community in South Korea is particularly tight-knit, giving you ample opportunities to make lasting friendships with those both near and far from home. 

If you’re still asking yourself, “where should I teach English abroad in 2017?”, give this list another read through! We know one of these great countries will fit you like a glove. Wherever you decide to teach abroad in 2017, be sure to do your research by comparing teaching programs, reading reviews, and reaching out to alumni. Also, remember to fully embrace every opportunity and adventure in your new host country! Next year will be a banner year for English teachers abroad, so get ready to GO abroad!

Ready to plan your adventures for the coming year? Save and compare programs side-by-side with MyGoabroad.