ESL teachers come in all shapes and sizes – some will teach English for a couple of years after completing a university degree, save up some money, see the world and eventually return home to do something else. For others, teaching English abroad becomes a career and lifestyle choice, building on their teaching experience to take on lucrative positions at top language institutions, colleges or universities around the world.
For experienced teachers, the question of “where do I go next?” is answered with a few different considerations in mind, usually: professional development, career advancement, travel opportunities, and of course, the salary and benefits.
Below are our top 5 destinations (in no particular order), keeping in mind the considerations above:
1. Build Your Nest Egg in Saudi Arabia
Excellent tax free salary and benefits
Usually at least 6 weeks of holiday per year
Very conservative – can be challenging for women, not a good fit for unmarried couples traveling together
Lucrative opportunities for experienced ESL teachers in Saudi Arabia are usually through working with adult students at the college, university or foundation year level. With the increased need for a well educated local workforce, strong English skills are necessary for many to participate in the diverse opportunities available in the Gulf region. Contracts in Saudi Arabia will often include flights, accommodation and health insurance. For female teachers additional benefits may include access to gyms and swimming pools within their assigned accommodation (as women are not able to travel around freely, schools will often make up the difference by providing amenities not usually seen with assigned housing outside of Saudi Arabia).
2. Live the Good Life in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Usually at least 6 – 8 weeks of holiday per year
Conservative – not a good fit for unmarried couples travelling together
Abu Dhabi is facing a similar circumstance to Saudi Arabia, as the need for a well educated and English fluent workforce is increasing rapidly. While the salaries are not as high as in Saudi Arabia, there is more freedom of mobility, especially for women. While unmarried couples are not legally allowed to live together, and modest dress is recommended for both sexes, you can still have a drink at a hotel bar (provided you have your license to purchase alcohol with you) or go and see a movie with a friend of the opposite gender. Other benefits are usually generous – flights, health insurance and accommodation or an accommodation allowance being the norm.
3. Add to Your Resume in China
Good salaries with a low cost of living
Great opportunity to save
Professional development and career advancement through university programs
With many well established universities in the USA and UK opening satellite campuses in China, opportunities for experienced English teachers are growing – from providing additional support to students through course tutorials, to teaching English development courses. Professional development opportunities, and the ability to put a well known university on your resume, make China an excellent destination for career advancement. A low cost of living and well above average salaries provide teachers with a very comfortable lifestyle and the opportunity to travel throughout China.
4. Develop as a Professional in Turkey
Good salaries, usually benefits such as accommodation, flights and insurance are also included
Excellent travel opportunities, cheap flights to Europe and the Middle East
Great opportunities for professional development and scholarship programs
Straddling Europe and Central Asia, Turkey is the place to be to develop your teaching career and really experience a unique part of the world. With many universities throughout Turkey offering English as the medium of instruction (especially in the capital of Ankara, as well as Istanbul), many openings for English teachers exist in preparatory or foundation programs which prepare students to enter faculties within the University. Professional development is often at a high caliber – with opportunities to conduct research, present at conferences and even pursue a Masters or DELTA qualification (where available) on scholarship.
5. Have an Adventure in Kazakhstan
High salaries, benefits, and a low cost of living
Experience diverse and intriguing central Asia
Rich in natural resources, Kazakhstan is investing heavily in reforming their education system, with universities and programs developing in line with European standards, and a new emphasis on the English language as the lingua franca of business and trade. Kazakhstan is the destination of choice for adventurous teachers looking to get in on the ground floor of a new teaching hot spot, advance their careers and save much of their income, due to low taxes and a low cost of living.
Options for ESL Teachers
No matter your choice, give yourself the best chance at landing a competitive ESL job with a TEFL certificate. A competitive TEFL certificate will be offered by a recognized academic institution, will be at least 100 hours in length, and will offer some guidance in the form of job searching.
The University of Toronto offers an online TEFL certification for educators worldwide, and graduates of the course receive free job placement services from Teach Away, the world’s largest international teacher recruitment company. Check out ESL jobs abroad in the above countries and more on Teach Away’s job board.
Kathryn Stewart has taught abroad in Turkey and Indonesia. Teaching overseas has given her the opportunity to climb Mt. Sinai, enjoy currywurst in Berlin, snorkel with sea turtles and meet fantastic people from all over the world. She is now a Placement Coordinator for Teach Away Inc. Teach Away is the leading international teacher recruitment company, with the widest variety of teaching jobs overseas.