The first steps in teaching English abroad

Here at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, we frequently receive inquiries about the different opportunities that exist to teach English as a second language (ESL) abroad. Teaching ESL to students around the world is a rewarding experience that exposes one to a new culture while also gaining quality skills needed to succeed in a global 21st century workforce.

If you are interested in participating in this unique work opportunity, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • The more teaching experience you can get before going abroad, the better – particular in teaching ESL. This experience makes you that much more competitive during the interview and hiring process.
  • To teach for any reputable organization abroad you should have some kind of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Certificate (one example is the CELTA). There are centers across the United States that host classes and certificate programs in this field. The length of program varies, as well as the intensity of the course. You should do your own research, but if you’re looking for examples check out Bridge-TEFL.
  • The amount of support an organization will provide while you are abroad varies on the company. Generally, a school should find accommodations for you, and offer trainings and workshops to help you transition into the classroom. Be sure to do significant research about any organization before you interview or sign a contract!

In some countries, the easiest way to teach is to be hired by a private language school. However, there are a number of respectable teaching programs you can go through around the world. We’ve provided a short list below. It’s always important to do your own research as these are not the only opportunities that may exist. Typically, the best way to apply is by sending your resume to the email address given on the respective websites.

A few well-known programs for teaching English abroad include:

In addition, the following sites provide listings on general teaching opportunities, as well as resources for aspiring (and current) ESL teachers:

Have a good resource from your own personal experience teaching English abroad? Let us know!