So you may be wondering how do you teach English abroad? Or how do I become an English teacher in a foreign country? This here is a simple checklist for getting started teaching English abroad.

How do you get prepared to teach abroad?

1. Choose a Country

It's important to spend some time investigating the country and culture that you are thinking about teaching in. This will make for a better experience living abroad. Things can be very different in another country. Most contracts are for one year and that's a long time to be in a country where you don't want to be.

You should also know that countries also have different...

2. Requirements and qualifications

What qualifications do you need to teach abroad?

Each country has it's own set of standard requirements to obtain a work visa. And each school can have it's own requirements or preferences as well. Typically in most cases in Eastern Asia you will need to be a native speaker (have a passport from an English speaking country) and to have a bachelor's degree in any discipline. That is for your legal working visa which your school will help you obtain.

In some cases you may need:

  • A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate
  • To be a certified teacher in your home country
  • To hold a master's degree (not often)

Recruiters can sometimes be a good source of information. Inquiring with several will often help you find out what is exactly needed to teach in that country. Requirements frequently change in some places and they can be a good source of what's current.

However, I do not necessarily recommend using a recruiter to find a job. 

3. Create your resume

Make a resume for teaching ESL. Here you want to typically simplify your resume and cater it to teaching. Put the related info on top and if you don't have any experience find a way to relate what you have done to teaching. 

ESLinsider's TEKA course includes a section on how to create a resume that stands out.

4. Prepare your documents

You will need to get together the following documents.

  • Diploma. In Korea you will need an apostilled diploma and in other countries you may need the original and/or a photo of it.
  • Any certificates
  • University transcripts. You may need these for Korea.
  • Photos. You'll need at least 10 passport sized photos (headshots) for visas and other documentation that you will have to do.
  • Criminal background check. You'll need this for Korea, China and more recently Taiwan.

You'll also need to be able to pass a health check.

5. Look for a job

After you have your resume together it's time to start looking for a job. Sometimes you can find a job in your home country and others while abroad. There are loads of websites out there for finding jobs in different countries. 

  • How to get a job teaching in Taiwan "eslinsider"
  • How to get a job teaching in Korea "eslinsider"
  • How to get a job teaching in Japan "eslinsider"

6. Learn how to teach English (starting with lesson planning)

What should I teach first when teaching English? I'd recommend taking a course. I would spend a lot of time on training since it's going to be your day job. On ESLinsider you will find a lot of how-to videos that will help you and if you really want to learn try ESLinsider's TEKA course.

Learn warm-up activities and icebreakers

For your first day you'll need some warm-up activities & icebreakers.

Learn classroom activities and games

You'll need these to keep your students engaged and motivated especially if you are teaching children. Here you can learn ESL games and activities.

But what's the best way to use these games? And what's the proper procedure?

I recommend taking a course.

Learn classroom management

After you have learned how to lesson plan and make your classes fun, engaging and interesting you will need to learn a bit about managing your classroom. All students are not created equally and there will be times when you will have difficulties with some students.

Some may disobey the rules, be disrespectful, or be difficult.

So then what will you do?


This was a general step by step guide to help you get prepared to teach English abroad. So to recap this is how you get prepared to teach abroad:

  1. Research countries to determine the best place (for you)
  2. Check requirements to see if you have what they need
  3. Prepare your documents
  4. Prepare your resume
  5. Apply for jobs
  6. Learn how to teach

Steps 1-5 will get you there, however if you do not invest in #6 you are unlikely to have a good experience abroad.

Learn more about teaching abroad by taking an online TEFL course especially geared towards teaching English to Asia's largest job market.