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Can non-native English Speakers Teach English Abroad? Yes, it's possible although it depends on where you want to teach and the school.

Usually schools in Asia require teachers to be a native speaker and to have a degree to get a legal visa.

And schools often prefer a native speaker to a non-native English speaker (NNES).

But it depends.

Now I'll try to answer this question for Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan.


Can non-native English speakers teach English in Japan?

Yes, it's possible. The rule according to the Japanese government site is that if you are not a native speaker then you need to be able to prove that you have studied English for 12 years, however I have a German friend in Fukuoka who got a job teaching English in an eikaiwa and she said the rule is that you have to be able to prove that you have 10 years of experience learning English.

She didn't apparently have to offer any proof of that, but she is German and Caucasian which might matter somewhat in some places.

The Germans and Dutch both tend to speak English well and they do study it in school.


I met a guy online through the course who was from Mexico (if I remember correctly) and he was there teaching English on a humanties visa - the visa often given to English teachers.

Are there special jobs for non-native speakers teaching English in Japan?


I don't think you will find many posted jobs in Japan saying:

  • Teaching jobs in japan for non-native English speakers 2020-2021

You have to apply to various positions and the truth is that many schools may still prefer to hire a native speaker first, but some will consider you.

Can a non-native English speaker teach in China?


I met many non-native speakers teaching English in China. More importantly I have met various teachers online through the course that were non-natives and taught there legally on Z visas.

The ones that I can remember were from Holland and Czech Republic.

The legal visa is a Z visa.

The not-so legal visa for teaching is the F visa. Some schools may provide that, however it's not the official visa - it's a work around. 

Can non-native English speakers teach English in Korea?

Not legally that I am aware of unless you can get one of those visas below. 

However, I have heard something about an E-1 visa if you are a professor. But other than that you need to be a native speaker to get the usual E-2 visa.

What about in Taiwan?

Not that I am aware of, but you can check your options for other visas below.

The VISA is the reason why you often need to be a native speaker.

But if you can get another kind of visa then you may have more options.

Here are some other kinds of visas that you can get that may allow you to legally teach English.

  • working holiday visas
  • spouse visas
  • student visas
  • heritage visas

These sorts of visas may allow you to have a job possibly part time or more, but they may not apply to you if you are not from a certain country, married to, studying, or have ancestry there.

You may also learn more by reading teaching without a degree.


If you look different then you are going to stand out and get some discrimination in some places and that can vary depending on your race.

Everyone discriminates.

Relationships are an act of discrimination. Why did you choose your girl or boyfriend over another?

Employers (all over the world) always discriminate. But in Asia it's common for employers to say they want a female teacher or a Caucasian teacher. This sort of discrimination can be shocking for some.

Because in the west you won't find that on paper or advertised.

But think about it.

Who gets the job?

The person who they think is going to be the best.

Caucasian teachers are preferred by many schools. But it doesn't mean that you can't teach abroad if you are not white, but some schools definitely prefer that.

And then when you add the fact you aren't a native speaker then your chances decrease.

Will a CELTA, TEFL, or TESOL certificate help?

They don't replace the fact that you aren't a native speaker. They don't guarantee anything either. It's something that you can put on your resume that won't hurt it, but it doesn't compare to actual experience teaching English.

If you want to hear a different story then you can go do a search for TEFL courses and many of them will tell you that you will get a better job or make more money. But in my experience that is mostly B.S. marketing.

The main benefit you should get out of a course should be what you learn because getting a job is just the beginning and you can often get a job without a course.

Choose wisely though as courses are not created equally.

I would choose a course that's targeted towards teaching the students you want to teach. ESLinsider's courses are targeted towards teaching mostly children in Asia.