Top 10 Countries for Teaching English Abroad in 2020 - Henry Harvin

Teaching English abroad is one of the most rewarding jobs. There are many countries that actively look for native English-speaking teachers. While in some countries you may just need graduation, others may prefer teachers with a TEFL certification.

Earning money and building a new career are two of the many options. The benefits of teaching English in a foreign country are plenty. You will be able to travel around the world, get exposure to different cultures, and possibly learn new languages. 

Moreover, the international experience can do wonders for your resume while applying for future jobs.

Another amazing benefit of traveling and learning a new language is exposure to a variety of part-time jobs. For instance, a job as a translator or interpreter or even a successful travel blogger. Moreover, the new atmosphere can boost your confidence on a personal level. You will be able to make new friends, go out with them, and do new things.

As mentioned above, there are many countries that look out for English teachers. The most challenging task is choosing the best place.

Criteria for applying for a job abroad as an English teacher.

  1. Which country do you want to apply for the job?
  2. What is the salary package they are offering?
  3. Cost of living in that country.
  4. How safe is the country?
  5. Which locality are you going to stay? For example, in China, the cost of living in cities like Shanghai and Beijing will be far more expensive than in rural areas.

Taking all of the above under consideration, what are the top 10 countries that are best to teach in 2020. Below are the lists.

Country #1: China – The third biggest country

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China is a geographically large country with more than a billion people. Due to its growing economy and high competition, an enormous number of people seek jobs abroad every year.

Moreover, parents want their children to learn English as they want their children to have more opportunities in the future. Because of this, there is a very high demand for English teachers across the country. 

You will find teaching in China fun because you will most likely teach children. Whether in kindergarten or daycare centers or schools, the little citizens are always playful and fun-loving. It’s a great joy to work with. Furthermore, interacting with children keeps you mentally and physically occupied and on your toes constantly.

The other reason you might love teaching English abroad is because of the attractive salary packages they offer. In most cases, someone will take care of your accommodation. Even your plane fare will be reimbursed at the end of the completion of one year. Thus, you will be able to save a substantial amount of money when you are there.

The cost of living in China is relatively low unless you are in cities like Shanghai or Beijing. So if you are a university student trying to pay off your educational loan or if you are a full-time teacher trying to save some extra cash, China is the best place. 

On average, the salary for both public and private institutions is between 10,000 – 15,000 RMB ($1412-$2188). In most cases, the accommodation is around 6000 – 7000 RMB ($847-$988).

Moreover, as China is an enormous country, it borders 14 other countries. So while you are in China during weekends or holidays go out and enjoy yourself. This is not only the best time to get exposure to a new culture, lifestyle, and different food habits but also for you to start a part-time career as a travel blogger as well.

Country #2: Japan – The land of the rising sun

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Even though Japan is a small country with just over 126 million people, the economic boom and the flourishing businesses are forcing people to communicate with westerners and to move abroad to seek new jobs. Thus, opportunities for English teachers are plenty. 

A lot of people come to Japan with a high expectation of embracing the Japanese culture and experiencing the overseas lifestyle and succeed in a unique environment too.  However, the important thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to decide whether you are a city-slicker or you are more of a reserved person who likes to stay in rural areas.

One of the main reasons which attract foreign teachers to Japan is its cleanliness which is indisputable. According to Travel Noire

When students arrive at school, they leave their street shoes in lockers and change into sneakers. Taking your street shoes off doesn’t only happen at school — when entering homes, you are expected to leave your shoes at the door.

As always, while being in Japan you will get the golden opportunity to learn Japanese which will help you in communicating with locals who find communicating in English challenging. 

Japan is generally considered to be an expensive country, but the salaries are also high there for English teachers. In the it says

In Japan the salaries of English teachers are approximately 250,000 yen and the expenses are roughly 144,000 yen. 

A major portion of which is rent. So if the accommodation is taken care of, you would be able to save a handsome amount of money without digging too much into your pocket.

An added advantage, if you are a native English speaker TEFL certification is not required, just a bachelor’s degree will be sufficient.

Country # 3 South Korea – The Republic of Korea

South Korea has a massive industry of electronics, telecommunication, automobile production, steel, etc. among many others. As a result of this, interaction with foreign companies and people has become important. Also, a large number of people often migrate to foreign countries. They do not only go overseas for different careers but they do go for higher studies as well.

Because of the high demand for English teachers there, the salaries are also high. They even provide you accommodation and your flight ticket to Korea.

Though Seoul is a great place to hang around and have fun, be prepared to work hard. As your salaries are high, the amount of work you have to put in is far more than in most countries.

According to the cost of living can be anywhere between $600 – ~$1400+ depending on your spending habits, while your salary could be between $1,800 – $1,900 a month.

Country # 4 United Arab Emirates – Dubai and the City of gold

Dubai is an astonishing city of luxury, high raised buildings, nightlife, and a stunning amount of people from different countries.

Dubai is an expensive city, but the salaries are also good and they are tax-free. Usually, TEFL teachers get paid between $3000 to $4000 per month. Moreover, contracts generally last for two to three years, so for those looking for job security, this is an added advantage.

Moreover, most schools take care of your accommodation and reimburse your airfare.

Interestingly, if you are interested in a teaching career, you could pick up other languages for teaching too. This will help you earn that extra cash for saving or paying off loans.

Having said the above, there is a small disadvantage where English teachers are expected to have a TEFL degree and two to three years of experience. 

Teaching English in a foreign country like Dubai can be a culture shock because there’s still a large sense of conservativeness in the population despite the modern-day facilities.

Country #5 Taiwan – A country full of culture and traditions

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One of the most popular ports of call for English teachers in Taiwan. 

Taiwan is an island country that’s located close to China, Japan, and the Philippines. This country has a mix of Buddhism and Taoism and also an overwhelming Chinese culture.

Even though many of them complain that it is a bit difficult to adapt to Taiwanese culture, you get to learn Mandarin because of the strong Chinese influence. Thus, this makes it easier if you are looking for better opportunities in China in the future.

One of the main reasons that make Taiwan popular among English teachers is the low cost of living and high earnings. 

Another advantage is that like in Japan, you do not need a TEFL certification to teach in Taiwan.

And because Taiwan is close to China, Japan, and the Philippines, you have an added advantage of traveling to these countries during holidays which makes it one of the best places when it comes to teaching English abroad. With that said, there’s a lot to see in Taiwan alone.

Country # 6  Saudi Arabia – Oil-rich country

When thinking of moving to Saudi Arabia, the first thing that might come to your mind is how you get adjusted to the culture shock. If you are ready for it, it is one of the best destinations for teaching English abroad.

Again, most English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia do not really require a TEFL certification if you are a native English speaker. Moreover, they will provide you accommodation, insurance policy, and even travel reimbursement.

You can earn up to $4000 a month. Interestingly, like in Dubai, the money you earn it is completely tax-free.

However, as stated above, Saudi Arabia is a religious country that has very strict cultural and religious norms and you need to learn to manage the severely restricted culture in Saudi Arabia. 

For example, if you are a woman you can only teach women and you will need to wear a burqa wherever you go out etc are part of their cultural norms. Moreover, being a Muslim country alcohol, movie theatres, etc are strictly prohibited there. 

In summary, if you are prepared to face challenging cultural restrictions there, it’s a good place to work and earn money.

Country #7 Spain – The country of passion

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Spain is an amazing and vibrant city and it’s one of the famous tourist destinations with amazing beaches, mountains, and nightlife in the cities. 

Teaching in Spain can be fun for the following reasons.

  • Working hours are comparatively less.
  • Though salary is estimated to be 1000 euros a month, lesser working hours mean that you can earn side income through various means.
  • Because Spanish is among the three most spoken languages in the world, it will be a golden opportunity for you to learn the language spoken by over 450 million people.
  • Learning Spanish can have other benefits too. This will not only make your communication with the local people easier but you can work as a full/part-time translator-interpreter as well. It can also do wonders when traveling to South America in the future.
  • If you are a non-European citizen, they can help get you a European visa which is generally very tough to get.

According to the International TEFL Academy 

Apart from obtaining a TEFL degree, you need to save for start-up costs. A four-year college degree is not required, although it can still be strongly preferred by employers.

Country #8 Thailand – The land of smiles

Thailand has a booming tourist industry where an enormous number of people visit from all over the world. 

As stated above, because of the large number of people from different countries visit Thailand every year the need to learn English is absolutely necessary for the local people.

Generally speaking, students, even if they pass out of college, tend to speak only Thai. In Thailand, students who can communicate in English have far better opportunities than those who speak only Thai.

Salaries for TEFL teachers generally are about $1000 – $ 1100 dollars a month, but if you follow a simple lifestyle you still can save some money. For example, the average monthly rent there is just about $120 and every meal costs around $2. It’s an extremely cheap country in terms of the cost of living, which is why the number of ex-pats in Thailand has increased over the years.

Moreover, there are other advantages of paid holidays and traveling options which makes Thailand one of the best places for teaching English abroad.

Vaga brothers in their video say

It’s pretty easy to find English teaching jobs in Thailand and most public schools have two-three months off per year fully paid. So this is the best opportunity to backpack around South East Asia.

Country #9 Jordan – The country of ancient monuments

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Jordan, a country known for its ancient monuments and beautiful beaches.

But you should mentally prepare for a culture shock. It’s unavoidable, you get used to it, it is worth it as it helps open up your mind. 

When you think about teaching English abroad, definitely Jordan is a recommended place because it is a country that values education, and English teachers are in high demand there. Most schools are located in major cities like Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid. 

Firstly,  you’ll be hired as a home tutor in Jordan. So you might have to live with a family there and you might not have to worry about accommodation. Traveling in Jordan will be a unique experience due to the cultural and historical significance of the land.

Secondly, generally speaking, you will not require a bachelor’s degree to teach English abroad if you are a native English speaker.

Country #10 Brazil – The Samba Nation

Interested in teaching English abroad? You can add Brazil on the list because Brazilians are usually friendly and open to foreigners.

Even though there are no teaching jobs available in public schools, there are plenty of opportunities in private schools or as a private tutor. Because of this, it’s better to live away from major cities like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.

Generally, getting a visa is quite difficult, but if you get through the visa processing, it’s the best opportunity for you to learn some Portuguese. Brazil is among the only non-Spanish speaking countries in the South American continent. However, it’s the ‘liveliest’ country, filled with joy, excitement, rich culture originated from various parts of the world and the craziest football/soccer fans on the planet!

Things to take home

Teaching English abroad is a good career opportunity especially if you are a native English speaker. But keep in mind teaching English in a foreign country has its own pros and cons.

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  • Guaranteed salary and decent comfortable accommodation.
  • Chance to learn a new foreign language.
  • Numerous opportunities to travel around to many new places and explore the world more.
  • You can get to know new cultures, lifestyles and food habits of other countries.
  • You can look out for other part-time jobs, especially if you know the local language.


  • The language barrier becomes one of your biggest problems unless you learn the regional language.
  • The contracts are usually only for a short term, maybe for a year or a couple of years. Job sustainability in such a case is a bit disappointing.
  • The culture shock can hit you hard unless you go with an open mind.
  • You stay hundreds of miles away from your relatives and friends. This can make you pretty homesick especially if you fall ill etc.
  • Staying in rural areas can make you feel withdrawn.
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Ranjana Gopinath has been working as a medical transcriptionist for the last 10 years. She is an English Literature graduate who has also successfully completed a professional course in copyediting and proofreading from Rehoboth Academic Services in Bangalore. She has also completed basic computer programming in New Jersey, US and is an aspiring content writer. She is a perennial student who aspires to get into digital marketing. At home, Ranjana is a wife and mother of two sons. She has an immense passion for cooking, cinema, and wine-making. Her articles in Henry Harvin will focus on an array of topics

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