Should I get a TEFL or TESOL certification?

When you enroll in a TEFL or TESOL certification course with ITTT, you have the privilege of selecting which acronym you would like to appear on your certificate. Either TEFL or TESOL is perfectly acceptable since they are often used interchangeably within the English language teaching community. However, if you have a specific employment destination in mind, it would be beneficial to conduct some research to determine which of the two acronyms is more commonly preferred in your chosen location. If the majority of employers in your target region are seeking TEFL-qualified teachers in their job listings, it makes sense to opt for that designation, and conversely, if TESOL certificates are more prevalent.

After successfully completing your course and obtaining your TEFL or TESOL certificate, you can then commence your job search. There is a wealth of teaching positions available at any given time, spanning various countries across the globe. So, what are some of the most popular options, and what drives their popularity?

Can non native English speakers take TEFL Courses?

TEFL or TESOL in Europe

Europe continues to be a favored choice for those looking to teach English abroad, primarily due to favorable pay and working conditions. For many, the cultural differences are also perceived as less drastic compared to some other global regions. Teachers holding passports from EU member countries may find themselves with certain advantages in some job markets, as employers often prefer the simplicity of hiring within the EU. Nevertheless, ample opportunities exist for individuals of all nationalities, provided they are willing to invest effort in their job search and remain open to a range of potential destinations.

Common teaching destinations in Europe

Europe boasts more than 40 countries within its borders, providing an abundance of options for those seeking EFL teaching opportunities. Some prominent destinations known for their ample job offerings include:

However, it is important to note that major cities in these countries, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Paris, and Rome, often come with a relatively high cost of living. In recent years, several other European nations have gained popularity among EFL teachers due to their significantly more affordable cost of living while still offering abundant job opportunities. These emerging destinations include:

  • Croatia
  • The Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland

Requirements for Teaching English in Europe

Other European countries to look out for

Beyond the teaching hotspots found in the major capitals of Europe, you can anticipate encountering less competition for available positions and a reduced financial burden when it comes to accommodation, transportation, and social activities. If you are seeking a teaching experience that veers a little off the beaten path, consider countries such as:

  • Austria
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia

These options have a good track record of offering abundant job opportunities and generally ensuring a comfortable lifestyle. While slightly on the fringes of Europe, Turkey also deserves mention as it boasts one of the fastest-growing markets for English teachers in the region. The job market continues to expand each year, accompanied by rising salaries.

Pros and cons of teaching English in Europe

One of the most appealing aspects of teaching in Europe is that the local cultures often share similarities with those of many first-time teachers. This similarity eases the transition into international travel, living abroad, and working in a foreign country, making it less intimidating. Additionally, local cuisine is usually somewhat familiar yet still enticingly different, adding excitement to the culinary experience. Exploring neighboring regions during your free time is typically straightforward, thanks to well-developed transportation networks and the relatively short distances between countries in many cases.

However, the main drawback of teaching in Europe is the high cost of living. Rent and living expenses in major cities have become prohibitively expensive for many people. For instance, the cost of renting an apartment in Paris for a week could cover a month's expenses in a lesser-known but equally captivating destination like Budapest, Hungary. When assessing job offers in Europe, it is crucial to consider the offered salary in conjunction with the local cost of living. This balance ensures that you have the income necessary to fully enjoy what one of the world's most incredible cities has to offer without financial constraints.

TEFL or TESOL in Asia

It is widely recognized that Asia holds a central position in the field of English language teaching, offering a significantly greater number of job opportunities compared to any other part of the world. While the number of countries in Asia is similar to Europe, they span an area more than four times larger and have a combined population over six times that of Europe. This vast expanse and population size translate into an abundance of diverse destinations to select from and a vast pool of potential students eager to learn.

How is teaching english in Asia different...

Common teaching destinations in Asia

Asia is home to some of the world’s largest teaching markets in countries such as:

In these countries, any job search tends to yield a plethora of opportunities because there are often more vacant positions than there are qualified teachers to fill them. These destinations are additionally appealing due to the typically generous financial packages offered. Many teachers apply for and interview for jobs before departing from their home country, and the schools often handle much of the paperwork, including work permits and visas. Furthermore, many teaching positions come with perks such as paid or subsidized accommodation, and in some cases, the cost of your flights to and from the country might also be covered.

Other Asian countries to look out for

Thailand remains a perennial favorite for teaching English in Asia due to the ease of finding jobs and the famously laid-back lifestyle it offers. Many individuals are drawn to the amicable local culture and the unhurried pace of life, making it an excellent choice for those looking to teach in Asia. While average salaries in Thailand may not match those in some of the larger markets in the region, the opportunity to live and work in a paradise-like setting is an experience cherished by many. Other countries in the region that prioritize lifestyle over income include:

  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Vietnam

Requirements for Teaching English in Asia

Pros and cons of teaching English in Asia

One of the primary draws to this region is often the substantial salaries commonly available. The highest-paying TEFL markets in Asia encompass:

  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

It is a common occurrence for newly-qualified teachers to secure positions in these countries that offer substantial salaries along with perks like accommodation, flights, and additional bonuses. Teachers often enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while still managing to save a significant portion of their monthly earnings.

However, one of the most prevalent challenges of teaching in Asia is experiencing culture shock. For individuals who are not accustomed to foreign travel or have never lived away from home, relocating to a country with a different language, cuisine, and vastly distinct culture can be an adjustment. Additionally, the geographical distance from one's home country can make it challenging to visit family and friends.

Despite these potential hurdles, the overwhelming majority of teachers discover that the positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to teaching English in this extraordinary part of the world.

TEFL or TESOL in Latin America

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Central and South America remains a popular choice, although the potential salaries are often not as lucrative as those in Asia or Europe. Many teachers opt for this region to gain valuable classroom experience before venturing to places where higher salaries and prior experience are more critical. Additionally, it is a common choice for educators looking to learn or enhance their Spanish language skills, as they will be immersed in the language on a daily basis, and opportunities for language tutors are abundant. In some cases, teaching positions may even include local Spanish lessons as part of the teaching contract.

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Common teaching destinations in Latin America

Latin America encompasses approximately 20 countries, many of which offer a robust market for TEFL or TESOL qualified teachers. At the higher end of the spectrum are countries like:

Argentina and Chile are both well-established teaching destinations in Latin America, known for their relatively familiar cultures and established infrastructure. Teaching positions are readily available in major towns and cities, and acquiring work permits and visas is often straightforward for many nationalities.

Mexico, on the other hand, is a vast country with a seemingly insatiable demand for qualified teachers. Its status as a popular tourist destination also adds to its appeal for foreign teachers, making it an even more attractive option in the region.

Other Latin American countries to look out for

Throughout the Latin American region, there are several other fantastic destinations to consider, depending on your level of adventurousness. Some commonly chosen countries with ample job opportunities include:

  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • Peru

If you are enthusiastic about exploring less-traveled countries that still offer abundant opportunities, you should also consider emerging destinations like:

  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador

While the average salaries in these emerging teaching destinations may be lower than in more established ones, you can expect less competition for jobs and an abundance of opportunities for excitement and adventure.

Requirements for Teaching English in Latin America

Pros and cons of teaching English in Latin America

One of the significant advantages of teaching in Latin America is its proximity to the USA, with similar time zones. Every year, thousands of teachers venture south to work in schools and language centers across the region. During holidays, it is relatively convenient to return home for a visit or meet up with friends and family somewhere in between. Additionally, many employers in this region have relatively low requirements. If you have completed your TEFL/TESOL training, you should encounter little difficulty finding a suitable position.

However, it is important to have realistic expectations regarding your potential salary while working in Latin America. Well-paying teaching jobs do exist, but they often don't match the compensation levels in other regions. Moreover, obtaining long-term work permits or visas can be challenging in some countries. Many schools and language centers lack the resources necessary for legal processes and may simply employ teachers on standard tourist visas. While this arrangement typically doesn't pose problems for teachers, it can make it challenging to feel fully settled when your residency is based on a temporary visa.

TEFL or TESOL in the Middle East

While the Middle East is technically a part of Asia, it typically merits its own section due to the vast number of opportunities it presents for English language teachers. Teaching positions are abundant, and many of them can be secured before you depart from your home country. This is a significant advantage for many teachers, as it allows them to continue working or studying right up until the last minute, affording more time to save and prepare for their overseas adventure.

Furthermore, the Middle East offers some of the highest-paying TEFL jobs anywhere in the world. However, it is important to note that many of these positions may require a certain amount of classroom experience before you become eligible to apply.

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Common teaching destinations in the Middle East

The Middle East region is dominated by two major markets for overseas teachers:

Both of these countries are highly favored among English language teachers because of the abundance of job opportunities, generous salaries, and additional perks typically offered. Teaching positions are available in both private and public schools, catering to students of all age groups. Whether you have a preference for working with kindergarten-level students or adult learners, you are likely to find a suitable position.

Beyond these prominent destinations, there are several other countries in the Middle East that are well worth considering, including:

  • Oman
  • Qatar

Both of these countries are experiencing a rapid surge in popularity, thanks to the increasing number of teaching opportunities and the steady rise in pay for English language teachers.

Other Middle Eastern countries to look out for

Egypt holds a significant position in the TEFL and TESOL teaching landscape due to its substantial job market and relatively low expectations when it comes to teacher qualifications. Classroom experience may not always be a strict requirement, and non-native English speakers should find themselves eligible for the majority of teaching positions.

Additionally, two other countries that have gained prominence in recent years are:

  • Jordan
  • Kuwait

These countries have witnessed a rapid expansion in job opportunities in the education sector, driven by substantial public investment in education. As a result, teachers from around the world have eagerly seized the opportunity to be part of this growing trend.

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Pros and cons of teaching English in the Middle East

In addition to offering high salaries, many countries in the Middle East provide tax-free income, along with attractive extras such as free accommodation, paid airfares, and cash bonuses. Employers often also take care of travel and visa arrangements, making the transition smoother for teachers. The comprehensive packages available in the Middle East enable many teachers to enjoy a high quality of life while still saving a substantial portion of their income each month.

However, to be eligible for most high-end teaching positions in the Middle East, having previous teaching experience is typically a requirement. This can pose a challenge for first-time teachers looking to enter the market. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the local culture and traditions, which may not align with everyone's preferences. Some countries in the region have highly conservative societies, and the roles of men and women in daily life can differ significantly from what you might be accustomed to. Before choosing a country, we strongly recommend conducting thorough research into daily life and cultural norms to ensure it aligns with your expectations and suitability.

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