What to Look for in ESL Teaching Jobs

by Published

Looking for a change? Wonder if teaching is for you? Do you love the English language? Do you have a bit of wanderlust? Then find yourself an ESL teaching job! 

Teaching ESL abroad is a great way improve your teaching skills or try teaching for the first time. It’s also a way to fund traveling, but even more importantly, it’s a means to connect with students who might come from a very different culture than you. The world could use a bit more connection, and maybe you’re the one to forge that. All of the ESL teaching options can be overwhelming, so narrow it down by asking yourself some questions about what you’re looking for in ESL teaching jobs. 

Where do you want to go? 

Royal palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

You might not be teaching in a palace, but you certainly won’t miss out on it as a teacher in Cambodia.

A lot goes into this one! 

First, if you’re teaching ESL, you’re likely going to a non-English speaking country (though not necessarily! ESL learners, and thus ESL teacher jobs, are everywhere! There are even ESL jobs in the USA). What sort of language environment do you want to be immersed in? Are you trying to learn Chinese? Brush up on your Spanish or French (check out ESL teaching jobs in Europe!)? Or you could work in an English speaking country with immigrants, refugees, or foreign students who came to be immersed! 

Think also about climate and weather, you could be surprised by how much they can affect you. Do rainy days get you down? Do you hate the heat? And what about the surrounding environment – do you want a bustling city or the peaceful countryside? It can be hard when you don’t speak the language to be the only foreigner around, so be careful about placing yourself somewhere too rural. 

More goes into these questions than just preference. Ask logistical questions as well. If you’re in a rural area for your ESL teaching job, will you have access to medical care? Is there a diet you can eat (if you’re vegetarian or gluten free for example). Are there any safety issues? And if you want to do some traveling on the side, is there a train station, airport or bus line nearby? 

A big factor in finding any sort of job is the salary, and that includes with ESL teaching jobs. If you want to make good money, keep that in mind when searching out prime locations. Certain countries pay significantly more than others

[Get matched with ESL teaching jobs that make the grade]

Don’t want to go anywhere just yet? Look for ESL teaching jobs online

Yeah, you heard us right. ESL teaching jobs online are LEGIT. You can get started teaching ESL from the comfort of your own home with remote classrooms! A lot of schools are looking for teachers to put together short lessons and online curriculum to share with their students and that’s where you come in, you digital native, you! 

Design and pre-record your own lessons, or you can conduct lessons live via Skype and other video conferencing platforms. You’ll need to factor timezone differences—which means, yes, you might be teaching a class at three a.m. your time! 

Check out these top places for ESL teaching jobs abroad

There are a lot of amazing places to teach ESL—narrow the search down a bit with these popular suggestions! 

Ometepe, Nicaragua at sunset

Just another day at the office when you’re working ESL teacher jobs in Nicaragua.

1. Colombia 

You’ll find a warm welcome in Columbia, where they highly value education and are eager to have ESL teachers at all grade levels. In Colombia you can teach in the Andes mountains or along the coast, in a small town or a big city. The salaries are decent but cost of living varies quite a bit, so if you’re looking to save maybe the small town location is best! 

2. South Korea 

South Korea is a popular country for ESL teacher jobs and it’s easy to see why. The pay is high, and often benefits include free flights and accommodations.The nation has bustling cities and beautiful mountains as well as a great transportation system for easy countrywide exploring!  

3. Spain 

Who hasn’t dreamt of Spain before? It’s one of the best places for ESL teaching jobs in Europe. Plus, have we mentioned the fiestas and gorgeous architecture? Not to mention the beautiful beaches and lively cities. Teaching in Spain won’t make you rich, but it’s a perfect opportunity to explore the art and history of this grand nation. If you teach with the Ministry of Education you might not be able to choose your location, but there is also the option to teach in private schools. 

4. United Arab Emirates

If you love glamorous city living, the UAE provides with striking shopping malls and skyscrapers. With the oil boom, it has also become a diverse country, drawing workers from all over the world who use English to communicate across linguistic barriers. Getting one of those high paying UAE ESL teaching jobs means you need certification and experience, but what a ride you’d be in for! 

5. China 

China is so insanely popular for ESL teaching jobs that opportunities vary widely - from night classes for busy professionals to kindergarten classes for little ones, huge cities to rural towns, take your pick of the position! Sometimes housing is included but is often pretty basic and pay varies as well. China is a massive, ancient country waiting to be explored! 

What about ESL jobs in the USA? 

If you’re not looking to cough up the change for an international flight just yet, there are still plenty of jobs in ESL teaching right here at home. Unless of course, you’re an international ESL teacher looking for work in the states. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Most ESL jobs in the USA are going to be in bigger cities—like New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.—where you’ll be working mostly with immigrants, refugees, and international students. 

Womans hands holding cup of tea 

You’re sure to find out if ESL teaching is your cup of tea in China.

Who do you want to teach?

Adults, kids, teens? Each level has its own fun and challenges! You can whip out all sorts of silly songs for the kids, but can get into more complex games and activities with teenagers and adults. The age group will also change your students’ motivations: whether they are there for a school requirement or because they want to be there for their career. Teaching towards professional goals is quite different from teaching a 7-year-old who is very excited about animal songs.

[Teach English Abroad: a Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners]

What kind of school are you looking for? 

There’s private or public of course, but there are also English institutions that hold mostly after school and evening classes. There are schools that will hand you a curriculum and schools where you have more freedom to create your own. There are immersion schools, where you can’t speak the local language at all, only English, and ones with a more traditional style. You might want to work in a religious school or perhaps you’re interested in a school that centers around the arts or STEM. 

A private school that caters to the wealthy will have different challenges than one with low income students. What’s most important is making sure there is an administration that supports you and helps you do your best work! 

What level of responsibility are you ready for? 

If you’re a new teacher you might want to be a co-teacher or a teaching assistant for your first job. If you have a few years under your belt and no type of classroom chaos can phase you, then take on your own classroom! Just make sure you do have the right sort of training and experience—just because you’re teaching away from your home country doesn’t mean you can slack off. 

What ESL teaching salary & benefits do you want? 

Like I mentioned, if you need a certain level of salary then that will definitely change your search. Certain countries are known to pay far more. Also ask about holidays and time off—you would hate to get an ESL teaching job abroad and then never get to see your host country! Make sure to ask about hours while you’re at it, so you get neither burnt out or too bored. Jobs in ESL teaching can range from 12 hours a week to over 40 hours, and could be daytime or night hours. And of course, health benefits! Don’t get stuck with a stomach bug in a foreign country and no insurance to help you out! 

[Save and compare ESL teaching jobs abroad with MyGoAbroad]

Mestia, Georgia

You can widdle down mountains of grading next to these breathtaking mountains in Georgia.

To get your search started, here are some ESL teaching jobs you’ll definitely want!

teach away logo

1. Teach in Nicaragua with Teach Away

Teach some English, learn some Spanish, and maybe get your snorkeling certification! If you’re a new teacher this program doesn’t have an experience requirement (but do check they aren’t throwing you in over your head!) And, Nicaragua is a gorgeous country with delicious coffee. Perfect for an early morning of English teaching. 

Related: Read more about Teach Away | Visit their site

Not quite right? Browse all ESL teaching jobs in Nicaragua here.

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2. Teach in Cambodia with International TEFL Academy 

Become TEFL/TESOL certified with International TEFL Academy and they will help you find a job in an amazing country like Cambodia! With this program you will know you are prepared for the classroom and that you’ve put in the real work to be a high level teacher. Take the course, learn a ton, and be ready to head to a classroom in Cambodia! 

Related: Read International TEFL Academy reviews | Visit their site 

Not quite right? Browse all ESL teaching jobs in Cambodia here

footprints logo

3. Teach in China with Footprints 

If you’re ready to ship out right freakin’ now, these jobs in China are starting at any time! Explore the diversity of China while learning a new language and becoming a better teacher with Footprints, which places you with an entirely free service. China has so many choices of ESL teacher jobs you’ll be able to find something that fits your needs. 

Related: Read Footprints reviews | Visit their site 

Not quite right? Browse all ESL teaching jobs in China here

teach away logo

4. Teach in Georgia with Teach Away 

No, not that Georgia, the other Georgia, between Turkey and Russia. Learn how to speak Georgian and gorge yourself on the delicious Georgian cuisine. Make sure to take in some of the exciting folk dancing as well. (Full disclosure – this author taught in Georgia.) This is an education reform program where you can help better English education in Georgia as a whole.

Related: Read more about Teach Away | Visit their site 

Not quite right? Browse all ESL teaching jobs in Georgia here.

Charles bridge, sunset, Prague, Czech Republic

You’ll do more than Czech for proper spelling as an ESL teacher in Prague.

live tefl logo

5. Teach in the Czech Republic with Live TEFL 

This four-week comprehensive course gets your TEFL certified, helps you settle into the beautiful city of Prague and guarantees you a job placement afterwards! 

You’ll be set up in a great city, trained well, and located in the heart of Europe. It’s fantastic for someone wanting to be a stellar English teacher and explore the European continent. 

Related: Read Live TEFL reviews | Visit their site 

Not quite right? Browse all ESL teaching jobs in the Czech Republic here

Start applying for ESL teaching jobs & get going!

If teaching has your heart and the wanderlust is gripping you, study up, pack your bags, and get out there! There are students waiting to learn and adventures waiting to be had. What’s stopping you from applying to some stellar ESL teaching jobs right now? 

Find ESL teaching jobs ASAP