Teaching English Abroad
What qualifications do you need?
If you are planning to teach English abroad, you should be aware that qualifications
and preparation vary widely. In some cases, your BA in English
is sufficient, but in other cases, employers may require additional training,
such as completion of a TESOL certificate (Teaching English to Speakers of
Other Languages -- also referred to as a TESL, TEFL, or ESL certification)
or a master's degree in TESOL, English, linguistics, or a related area of
study. Qualifications will be different in different areas of the
world, and they will also vary by the type of institution. For example, some
private language academies require less preparation, while colleges,
universities, and international schools will usually require more. Market trends
will also determine what a potential
employer will ask of a competitive applicant.
A MATESOL degree (Master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
is the best preparation, and if you are planning to establish a career teaching
abroad, this is the most sensible route. The UW English Department offers a
two year MATESOL program, as do other
here to learn how to prepare for making application to a MATESOL program while
still an undergraduate.
If you are hoping to teach abroad for just a few
years while you travel, however, you can often secure a job without the master's
degree. Below is a list of local training programs that offer TESOL courses,
certificates, and degrees.
Experience in teaching or tutoring English Language Learners (ELL) is also
very helpful. If you have an opportunity to tutor ELL students, intern in a
at a community organization, or work at one of the local private language
academies, you will strengthen your
Some places to begin to gain experience are volunteer opportunities with
the UW International and English Language
Programs (housed on the 13th floor
of the UW Tower, but with classes held across campus), with the UW's
Language Exchange Program, with English language programs at most local
and with many public K-12
language schools and academies where undergraduates
as tutors or teachers (do an internet search for "esl classes seattle").
In addition, there may be volunteer opportunities with ESL courses and resources
profit and community organizations
Centro de la Raza, the Refugee Women's
Alliance, the Seattle
Public Library, the YMCA, The
Literacy Source, the Saint
James ESL Program, Horn of Africa Services,
Presbyterian ESL Program, and others.
In some regions, there are many teaching jobs, while in other areas there
are very few. Salaries also range widely. A third consideration is the availability
of work visas in a particular country. In general, jobs are plentiful in Asia
and in some parts of the Middle East, whereas paid jobs in Western Europe,
Africa, and Latin America are relatively sparse.
In the case of Europe (especially Western Europe), a work visa can be difficult
to secure. In addition, many Europeans already speak English, so there is less
for English teachers from abroad. The most commonly available jobs will be
with private language academies, especially those geared for business people.
Paying jobs in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are scarce owing
to economic factors. There are sometimes jobs in major cities, but far fewer
outside international non profit opportunities through such organizations as
Corps or World Teach, or
through educational/grant organizations such as the Fulbright
English Teaching Fellowships, the English
Language Fellows Program with the U.S. Department of State, and other international
and governmental fellowship organizations.
There are a number structured programs that recruit new graduates
for teaching positions abroad, and many provide orientations, training, and
other support. Here is a sample (please note that the UW does not endorse particular
These positions typically cover living expenses and often
stipend. As you investigate programs, make a note of application deadlines.
Whenever possible, make contact with alumni of these programs to ask them
about their experiences. You may be able to connect with some of them through
the UW Career Center.
Provides information and advice for teaching English overseas, including a
book, Teaching English Overseas: A Job Guide for Americans and Canadians.
Transitions Abroad: Available
from many libraries and international newsstands: this magazine often carries
articles on the TEFL job market as well as on other topics relating
to overseas work, life and travel. The January/February issue each year concentrates
Dave’s ESL Café: Run by Dave Sperling, this is the biggest and
best website for EFL teachers. The Job Center section contains many useful
pages including: Jobs Offered, Job Discussion Forum, Job Information Journal
and Teacher Training Discussion Forum.
TeachAbroad.com: Directory for teaching
positions around the world -- educational opportunities, paid and volunteer
international teaching positions, searchable by country.
ESL.net: Distributor of ESL (English as a Second Language), GED, and foreign
language training software, videos, audio, handheld translation devices,
and textbooks. They also have a list of ESL
Teaching English in Asia: List of resources and opportunities in Asia.
ELL/ESL teaching jobs and other resources.
Some Local Training Programs
Washington MATESOL Program
University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education, I-TEFL Certificate Program
The School of Teaching ESL (S-TESL),
affiliated with Seattle Pacific University
Washington Academy of Languages (WAL), affiliated with City University
Seattle Central Community College TESOL Program
Seattle University TESOL Program
Seattle Pacific University MA-TESOL Program
Please note: This information is a guide. It is
not a complete list nor is it a listing of endorsed or recommended programs.
be sure to be thorough in your research before committing yourself to any program.