Top 5 TEFL destinations on the planet


TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is a great way to travel, see the world and earn money. In most cases all you need to become TEFL qualified is a native or near-native level of English speaking. In no particular order, here is what I would say are the top 5 TEFL destinations on the planet:

1. China

China is one of the most rapidly developing economies in the world and is literally crying out for TEFL teachers. From high-tech gadgets to enormous skyscrapers, amidst the lingering legends of past dynasties and historic attraction of some astounding archaeological sites, there’s something for everyone. Hundreds of jobs all over the country in small towns, villages and in main cities mean it can be quite straight forward to find work. Some locations include Inner Mongolia, Wuhan, Beijing, Xuzhou and Jiangxi.  Possibly the most attractive things about China is the culture and lifestyle. By living, working and travelling there you will experience culture shock in full glory and become entranced by the Chinese way of life. TEFL teachers in China can earn very good wages, and many employers will cover the cost of flights and insurance, as well as provide you with somewhere to live. Chinese recruiters may look for a more confident personality in a teacher because many of the classrooms are very large; jam-packed with attentive, excitable students hanging on your every word! One of the main advantages of teaching English in China is the wide variety of opportunities available in terms of work. For those serious about making a career of TEFL, China is one of the best places to go, as those who have built up a bit of experience could end up working for companies like Disney (with exceptional benefits) or in a managerial position, such as a language learning director.


2.  Thailand

‘The land of smiles’ is another country in need of TEFL teachers. One of the top travel destinations in the world, Thailand has a wealth of attractions for everyone. The beaches are incredible, the cities are bustling and there is a strong historical influence evident just about everywhere. As well as this, the country is notoriously cheap, and TEFL salaries make for very comfortable living standards. Earning money here could fund further exploration of the country and trust me; there is a lot to explore. Some people might be put off a little by the intensity of downtown areas, and so if you are working in a city like Bangkok, previous urban experience might help in adjusting to life there. For those who love the chilled out lifestyle however, quieter Thai towns may be a more suitable destination. The people, the food, the scenery, the weather, the people – Thailand is a must for travellers and TEFL teachers alike.

3.  South Korea

There are many TEFL jobs up for grabs in South Korea. A lot of these positions offer excellent wages and great extras like retention bonuses, housing provision, flight reimbursements and insurance cover. Although these vacancies are based throughout the country, many are around Seoul, the 600-year-old capital city which, with rapid restoration and advancement, an illustrious history and a beautiful surrounding landscape, is a wonderful place to be situated. In South Korea there are restrictions regarding entry, meaning that to work there as a TEFL teacher you require a degree (of any kind). It’s a complex nation, but one that is utterly intriguing. To fit in well to life there, it is important to have a high level of cultural awareness and understanding, as South Korean life is very different to what you may be used to in the Western World. Teaching here could be far more than a travel opportunity if you want it to be, with endless opportunities in schools, academies and universities.

4. Spain

One of the most culturally rich and colourful countries in Europe, Spain is a traditional TEFL destination. TEFL jobs will be in various institutions throughout the country - schools, universities, kindergartens private academies or language schools. Even business organisations need TEFL teachers, and you could always try out some private tutoring to earn a bit of extra income. Many of the positions in Spain are based in cities like Andalucía, Barcelona, Madrid and Zaragoza, and many are in smaller towns or villages. It all depends on what kind of lifestyle would suit you best, although Spain can cater for everyone. Spain may be more suited to those with a higher budget, as accommodation is not provided by employers as often as it is in countries like South Korea and China. However, if you have money to get you started there and enjoy sunshine, beaches and all-night fiestas then Spain is perfect for you.

5.  Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan isn’t a traditonal travel destination, nor is it known to be up there with the best. Many may be put off or concerned by how little they have heard about it. However, very few people have really explored the country (the world’s ninth largest) and witnessed all that it has to offer. Kazakhstan has huge economic potential and is growing and developing very quickly. Most TEFL jobs there include accomodation and offer flight reimbursements, as well as providing visas and competitive local salaries.  It has a stunning countryside, and the people are warm and welcoming; perfect for those who want to travel somewhere off the beaten track, or those who are travelling alone. An open mind in terms of culture is important in working here, and a knowledge of Russian or Turkish would help (but certainly isn’t required) to find a TEFL position. An interesting mix of Islam, Western and Soviet influences make their lifestyle unlike any other. Those who love the outdoors and winter sports like skiing should look no further, as in many locations there are slopes on your doorstep! Despite Kazakhstan’s unrealised attraction, it will  become realised; TEFL teachers can experience the country before the tourist influx fully commences.

Almost anybody can find a TEFL job to suit them. Whether you’re in a paid or voluntary position, your experience will be life-changing - guaranteed.  As one of the most cost-effective and exciting ways to travel and experience a foreign culture, TEFL is the opportunity of a lifetime.

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