How to Become an ESL Teacher Abroad Even If You’re a Non-native English Speaker

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Do you dream of working abroad as an ESL teacher but you’re hesitant because you’re a non-native English speaker?

If yes, and you’re wondering if you can, then wonder no more because the answer is yes!

You can teach ESL even if you’re a non-native English speaker.

With the skyrocketing demand for English teachers worldwide, it is not a wonder why non-native English speaker can also enter the world of ESL teaching.

Let’s start by asking yourself these…

  1. Do you speak English proficiently?
  2. Do you have a bachelor’s degree?
  3. Do you have a love for teaching?
  4. Do you hold English proficiency certifications i.e. ESL, TEFL, TESOL certificates?

If your answer to the above is all yes, then congratulations! You can now go on your way to your dream ESL teaching job.

Although you still have a lot to learn and do, the good thing is, you now know you have the chance. You can now start taking the path to becoming an ESL teacher abroad even if you’re a non-native English speaker. Ah wait, correction, ‘now you have the edge’ – there!

The reason why I said it’s more like an edge and not just a chance for non-native English speakers is that, contrary to what we usually believe that native speakers have more edge in landing an ESL teaching job, the non-native ones are the ones who actually have more advantage than the natives.

Think of this — you’ve experienced the best of both worlds. As a bilingual teacher, you’ve been an English student before. You know exactly how it’s like working hard to learn the English language. Just being ‘you’ is a living proof that everyone can learn the English language. If you have done it then so are your students. Imagine how motivating is that.

Another thing is that, because you earned your skills and not had it automatically since birth, your understanding of the concept of proper grammar is more in-depth than the native ones. Bear in mind that being a native English speaker doesn’t mean being better than you in terms of grammar and teaching. They, too, also have to earn and prove themselves.

So if you’re thinking twice in entering this wonderful industry because of the competition, stop right there. If you’re thinking it’s easier for the natives than for the non-native English speakers, then, hold it, it’s a myth that we just had debunked – yes, you also can!

Now here’s another myth that needs debunking – Not all people raised in countries where English is a primary language are considered what they call natives.

It would still boil down to what kind of passport you are holding. The countries that are considered as native English speakers are US, UK, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

It may seem unfair as there are also other countries wherein English is their primary language, it’s a general rule that one should be holding a passport from one of those countries to be considered as native speakers.

But hey! Before you feel discouraged, remember this. While the general rule is, one should be holding a passport from one of the mentioned seven countries to be considered as natives, not all employers, recruiters and agencies require ESL teachers to be natives.

Now speaking of countries, you probably want to know what are the countries that mostly or usually accept non-native English teacher.

There are plenty don’t worry, and these are Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Colombia, South Korea, among others.

There are still countries that accept non native teachers and online.

So how can you be an English teacher in those countries?

As mentioned many times, being a non-native speaker is not an issue. Yes, you can in pursue your dream of traveling the world while teaching English. In this part, I’ll tell you how. Two steps…

1. Arm yourself with knowledge.

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2. Prove yourself with certificates.

So you can speak English fluently, good for you! But just like with other jobs, it’s not just about telling the employer, recruiter or the agency that you know the job, you have to prove it with a written paper that you do know the field you wish to enter to. These certificates could be something that shows your English proficiency level such as TEFL, ESL or Tesol, or could also be an employment certificate from your past teaching jobs.

3. Keep honing and improving your English language skills.

Life is a never-ending process of learning. It may seem that you know a lot and may feel like you don’t need any more training and practicing, you’re wrong. The English language is quickly adapting and changing continuously. Always read English books, listen to English music and watch English movies and shows. These activities can help you keep up and improve your English proficiency level.

Okay, so now you know that you can be an ESL teacher abroad even if you’re a non-native English speaker. The only thing that will stop you now is you. Again, the key is to arm yourself with knowledge, prove yourself with certificates and never stop improving your English language skills.

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