6 Best Countries to Teach English for Native and Non-Native Grads

One of the best ways to travel the world as a new graduate and make a living while at it is to take up an English-teaching job in a foreign country. Becoming an ESL teacher is a rich and rewarding experience. You’ll get to meet new people, build your professional repertoire, and make good money as you wait for your career to take off. 

But while becoming an ESL teacher is always a great option for those who choose it, which country you end up in determines your overall experience. Likewise, different countries may have different requirements for ESL teachers, including a preference for native English speakers. In this article, we’ll go through six different countries you should consider for an ESL teaching job, starting with some more popular ones. Let’s dive right!

South Korea

South Korea is an easy favorite for youthful ESL teachers, and it’s not difficult to see why. ESL teacher salaries average as much as $2500 in some private schools (known locally as “Hagwon”). The country has a bustling culture, especially around key cities like Seoul and Daegu. Employers, in many instances, offer contract renewals, performance bonuses, and even accommodation. 

However, South Korea is quite strict when it comes to its preference for native speakers. Generally, you need a TEFL certificate, a valid degree, a passport, and a work visa. Holders of passports from countries such as the US, UK, Australia, and Canada can quickly find paid positions within the school system. In some circumstances, you could gain employment, provided you are educated at an institution located in one of these countries. 

It is also not uncommon to find foreign students learning in South Korea teaching English to kids “off the books.”. You could also teach English as part of a wider initiative, such as a summer camp or proofreading scholarship program

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A key drawback of South Korea is its penchant for long work hours, which can take a toll on one’s health. 


Thailand is a tropical paradise and is on any holiday-goer’s travel bucket list. Besides its laid-back nature, Thailand holds great promise, especially for newly graduated ESL teachers. 

ESL teachers here also require a TEFL certificate and a valid degree. However, Thailand is a bit more relaxed when it comes to the native speaker requirement, although it helps a lot if you hold such a passport. As long as you gain a valid work visa and can pass the “ear test,” which is how great your English sounds, you should be able to get an ESL teaching job. 

Thailand offers ESL teaching wages of about $1000. While this isn’t much compared to other countries on this list, it balances out in terms of the low cost of living. 


Japan is similar to South Korea in many respects, having a highly futuristic and tech-driven economy that makes living enjoyable. While this is great news for would-be travelers and job seekers, expect many of the challenges already discussed about South Korea. 

First, Japan is quite difficult to get into, especially if you aren’t traveling on a power passport like those of the US and UK. That makes it twice as hard to secure a work visa as an ESL teacher if you’re not from one of the countries we already mentioned before. Secondly, Japan prizes legacy degrees from top-tier universities, mostly in the US, UK, and Australia. That ties into your ease of success with the ESL teacher application. 

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Despite the drawbacks, if you do manage to make it to Japan, you can expect average salaries of up to $4000 if you work at a university. 


Chin is an excellent destination for newly graduated ESL teachers who are also looking for some level of cultural immersion. China is quite flexible when it comes to degree requirements for its ESL teachers, provided they have a TEFL certificate. 

You can be hired as a teaching assistant at a local school, provided, you’re enrolled in college or have a high school diploma. Degree holders with TEFL certifications can be hired on a more permanent basis with perks. Salaries for ESL teachers and assistants range from $1500-$2000. 


Another oriental country and tropical paradise on the list is Vietnam. Young ESL teachers who’ve just graduated and like a more laid-back and flexible program will find their home right here. While Vietnam is not as highly advanced or affluent as some of the other countries on this list, it still offers a great life with good wages. Expected salaries here can range from $1000-$2000 per month. 

The requirements are atypical of Thailand’s, i.e., being a holder of a valid degree, preferably from an English-speaking country. The person will also require a valid passport and an invitation to work in Vietnam, which eases the visa process. The culture in Vietnam is also more flexible than in other countries on this list. You can even choose your work program and tutor private candidates, provided you are trusted. 


Countries in the EU are notoriously hard to get into or acquire a work visa for, especially for folks outside the EU. That doesn’t apply much to applicants from “power passport” countries such as the US and Australia. Poland is that exception, offering both EU and non-EU applicants a fair shot at getting a work visa.

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For ESL teaching jobs, a bachelor’s degree is preferable but not a requirement. Polan also doesn’t need you to be from a native English-speaking country. However, you will need to prove you have expert-level fluency through a video interview or face-to-face meeting. It is also quite common to enter Poland on a tourist visa and moonlight as a teacher, although this isn’t recommended. 

The average salary for ESL teachers in Poland is $1000 for those who are hired permanently. However, you can make more money providing private coaching to kids, especially with great references. 


These six countries provide great opportunities for anyone looking to travel the world and make a living off of it. While becoming an ESL teacher may not be a long-term gig for most people, it is a great opportunity to expand your horizons, network, and make some money while at it. 

As you choose your destination, keep in mind the cultures, living standards, and ESL incomes in these different countries. You should also read the stories of other ESL teachers who’ve been to different countries, which will help you make an informed choice. Best of luck!

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My name is Queen! For five years, I have been actively involved in helping students get scholarship opportunities in Europe, the USA, and Canada. Currently, I am the Admin of www.xscholarship.com