By pure happenstance, Tom and I ended up teaching English in Vietnam. However, it turns out that we were far from the only ones with this idea. In 1986 the Communist Party announced a huge economic reform that allowed English to emerge as the number one foreign language in Vietnam. Since then, the demand for English teachers has boomed. English is one of the six national exams that students must pass in Vietnam for their Secondary School Education certificate, and it continues to be a language of business and tourism. The demand for teachers remains at an all time high. Whether you’re a backpacker looking to make a quick buck or a lifetime adventurer looking to invest in a new career, teaching English abroad is the perfect opportunity to make money while traveling and make a lasting impact on the world.

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What Does it Mean To Teach English Abroad?

Teaching English abroad has different structures based on the environment you are teachingin, but most of the time the basis is focused on integrating speaking, listening, reading and writing into core lessons for second language learners. Depending on the age range you may be simply spending your time as a phonetics teacher enabling younger students to mimic the correct pronunciation of English or higher level critical thinking.

  • In a private school, you’ll teach students their core subjects of math, science, history, literature, and electives through the medium of English. The undertone is to build their language skills as they move through school. This is called ELD - or English Language Development.

  • In a language center, the focus is entirely on the English Language. You’ll teach new vocabulary, grammar, structure, and pronunciation for students to gain confidence in speaking the language. This is called ESL - or English as a Second language.

  • Private lessons or workshop lessons might be teaching business English, survival English for the hospitality industry, or conversational English for local business owners.

Where Can You Teach English Abroad?

Southeast Asia is the most popular destination for travelers and expats who want to teach English because the demand is high and the pay is excellent. Top places to teach English in Asia include:









What Kind Of Teaching Jobs Can You Expect:

Teaching English abroad can be done in many forms and through different methods. There are four different environments you may find yourself teaching in.


  • The best option for a good salary with consistent schedule Monday-Friday during the days.

  • The positions are more demanding with 40 hours a week.

  • Summer breaks and holidays off.

  • You'll have a structured classroom with supplies.

  • Lesson plans are not prepared.

  • Classrooms of 10-15 students.


  • Allows teachers to create an income more steadily while tailoring your schedule with time for travel.

  • The structure of the classroom and the lessons are established.

  • Hours are usually in the evenings and weekends.

  • Salary depends on the demand. Vietnam pays between $10—$15/hour at English centers.

  • Class of 15-20 kids.


  • Experience teaching in exchange for free accommodation or meals.

  • Relaxed schedule.

  • Eager students whose parents may not be otherwise able to afford English lessons.

  • Lessons are already planned or structured.


  • Best option to set your hours.

  • Challenging to build clients unless you’re well established in the community.

  • Set your own rates.

  • Establish your content and work 1-1.

  • Students are eager and highly invested because it’s 1-1.


What Do You Need To Get A Teaching Job Abroad?


Your employers have to assist you in getting a work permit so that you can legally work in the country. They will most likely not pay for the process, but some private schools offer to pay for the work permit. Because your employer has to help you get the permit, you obviously don’t need the permit to get the job teaching. 



Programs for getting your TEFL range from $800—$2,000 for a month-long course. The benefit of this course is the practical experience in the classroom, a mentor, lesson plan help, and assistance in transitioning to life abroad. You can get your certification online for cheaper. Not entirely the best or most practical choice, but you can signup for a TEFL course through Groupon for only $50. The course takes about eight weeks, but it’s self-paced, and you can finish it in three weeks.


Depending on the company, you’ll most likely get paid direct deposit, which requires a local bank account for tax purposes. In Vietnam, setting up a bank account requires a contract from your employer. You can also consider asking to be paid in cash or paid via PayPal. 


 For Vietnam, you have to be on a business visa to work legally in the country. The business visa is sponsored by your employer and ranges anywhere from 3 months to 1 year. The USA is the only country as of now that has an option for a one year business visa. Because your employer has to help you get the permit, you obviously don’t need the permit to get the job teaching


How Do I Get a Job Teaching English Abroad?

Our best advice is always to apply in person. To put in the grunt work and explore the city you want to live in to find the best available positions. We had no idea what kind of jobs were available when we landed in Da Nang, but we ended up scoring awesome positions through word of mouth. 

If you want to plan ahead and you can’t explore the city first, you will find jobs online. 


Finding jobs on expat pages or through website’s like Dave’s ESL cafe allows you to contact via email where you can send a cover letter and resume. It’s helpful to let them know the dates you’re available and include that you’re TEFL certified. Your certification will automatically put you in the consideration pile. Be sure to follow up and apply for serval places keeping an open mind for where you may get offered a position.


After you’re initial email via resume and cover letter, you may be asked to complete an interview via Skype. The interview is a chance for them to get to know you’re personality and to assess your English pronunciation. Ultimately they’re looking to see if they like who you are and whether students will be able to understand your English accent.


Language centers ask most candidates to come in for a demo lesson. Teachers are to prepare and execute a 90-minute lesson either on a topic they specify or one you choose. The demo is an opportunity for the director to observe your teaching style and either offer you the job or offer a volunteer opportunity for you to gain some experience. Demo lessons are not required for private schools or volunteer opportunities.

What Are The Benefits of Teaching Abroad?

The benefits are both financial and experiential. The most obvious advantage when teaching English in Asia is getting paid high wages to live in a cool country abroad that has a low cost of living. You get paid well to work minimally and take time to travel. Plus it’s a fantastic way to get to know a culture.

It’s also a fantastic build for your future career. Whether you want to be a teacher in the long term or not, teaching abroad offers a set of transferable skills that compliment any resume. But if you’re looking for the tangible nitty gritty benefits, here’s a list of the standard teaching wages in the top countries for English teachers abroad. 


Language Center $800 - $1,000/ month

International School $1,300 - $2,200/ month

Private Tutoring $10 - $16 / hour


Language Center $800 - $1,000/ month

International School $2,200 - $2,700/ month

Private Tutoring $8 - $20 / hour


Public Schools $1,200 - $2,500/ month

International School $1,500 - $2,300/ month


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