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ESL Tate
I have been an ESL Teacher for more than 15 years and a Teacher trainer for the last three. Now I help new teachers start their journey traveling and teaching English abroad.
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The following article is the most complete TEFL/TESOL guide for traveling the world teaching English. We will discuss what is needed to get a job teaching English abroad, along with passing the interview, getting a TEFL / TESOL certificate and excelling on the job.

But there are some questions first that will help you decide if teaching English abroad is for you.

Do you want to travel the world teaching English? Have you thought about it but don’t know where to start? Do you want to get paid and also travel? Do you enjoy helping people improve? Do you like to go on adventures and taste different foods from around the world? 

If most of the questions above are a yes, then traveling the world teaching English is for you. There is a world of adventure waiting for you out there. But wait a minute, you might be thinking!

How do I travel the world teaching English?

It’s really simple, I have been doing it for the last twelve years. And in that time I have been to over 68 countries paid for just by teaching English.

I started in South Korea. Pyeongtaek was the name of the town. From there I taught in Yeosu. And while in Asia, I explored the surrounding countries.

teaching in Pyeongtaek
South Korean students learning English in Pyeongtaek

I moved on to Europe, taught privately and explored while being based in France. Now I am in the Middle East. I am exploring and learning about this region while also teaching English.

Great, isn’t it?

Yes, but are there requirements I must meet?

Yes! There are certain requirements that need to be in place for one to teach English and travel the world. Some of them we have complete control over and some we do not. The one we do not have control over is where we are born. Take a look at the table and see what is needed.

What is needed to teach English abroad.

Native country (must)

USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa

Visa Requirements

TEFL (or an equivalent); bachelor’s degree or any college degree passport from an English-speaking country as mentioned above. Some places do not require TEFL/TESOL.

Clean History

A clean criminal background check. This usually means no felonies on your record. This does not include traffic fines etc.


Employers for teaching English overseas value personality even more than the west. To be fun, outgoing and engaging is an asset. 

Non-Native Speaker?

There are requirements for none-native speaker so getting a job as one is not as hard as many think. 


Generally speaking, if you fit the top three of the above table, things go very smoothly. That is not to say that you cannot get a job without these, but it just depends on where and how. Online jobs have different requirements a lot of times. 

Sometimes a TEFL is not asked for until later in the job. It depends on the school. Often times, a lot of private schools in Korea don’t ask for one at first, but later on they do. It is certainly better to have one because it helps the Teacher, and it shows the employer that the individual is serious about their own development.

Then we come to the next question:

How do I choose a TEFL course?

TEFL course checklist

Choosing a good course is essential. There are few things we want to make sure the course provides before choosing one. The basics are straightforward. The course must allow at least six months to complete it.

If most of the course is online, it must provide a 24 hour access. Good and dedicated trainers are a must and the ability to get a certificate sent within 24 hours of completion is industry standard. But that’s not all, there are other factors to consider: 

  1. Course Length – The reason for considering this is because most reputable institutions do not accept a less than 120 hour TEFL course. Courses less than this amount of hours are meant for knowledge brush up. 
  2. Course Content – Content is everything when it comes to TEFL/TESOL. The material needs to be able to deal with Teacher knowledge, classroom management ideas and essential tips to succeed as a Teacher. It needs to include step by step instructions and expand on TTT (teacher talking time) as well as simple methodology on classroom motivation. 
  3. Accreditation / yes or no – this one is debatable because to be frank accreditation doesn’t always mean high standard. I am not by all means saying it is not important, but it shouldn’t be the main factor when choosing a course. Why?

Because an accredited TEFL course only ensures that we are receiving good quality training if the TEFL accrediting body itself is reputable and maintains a high standard. eslbase

I couldn’t agree more with the above quote. Thus, just because a course is accredited, doesn’t mean it is good. An accredited course is only as good as the accrediting body. What the course provides for the Teacher is far more important than accreditation.  

Most accrediting bodies are businesses, just like the TEFL course providers they work with, and so accreditation involves payment of a fee. The fact that a business transaction is involved can mean that ensuring high quality is not at the top of the accrediting body’s list of priorities. That is one of the main reasons accreditation is not something so pivotal in choosing a TEFL course. 

4. Certificate of completion – The course must offer a way for one to show that they have completed the course. And a course competition certificate that is sent to employers is important.

5. Well trained and qualified instructor/s – A trained and easy-to-talk-to instructor is essential, because they not only need to explain the material when needed, they are your first line of contact. They need to be able to channel their experience and expertise on to the trainee. 

6. Practice, practice, practice – ample opportunities for practice is necessary, especially for brand new teachers. The practicum part is a pertinent but an interactive element, scenarios and role-play are very important in building Teacher’s confidence. Remember:

“An accredited TEFL course is only as good as its accrediting body!”

These are arguably the most important things to look for when choosing a course. We work with a few partners that offer just that. They are trusted, well-known and provide excellent support which is essential to a Teacher’s progress. 

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Does having a TEFL, CELTA, or DELTA affect my pay?

Let’s use having a TEFL as an example: does having a TEFL affect my pay? Is it necessary to have a TEFL certificate? 

For the sake of simplicity, yes it does. How? In South Korea for example, we get a boost in pay if we have an English degree. Another boost if we have a TEFL certificate. And on the second question, is having a TEFL certificate necessary? For the most reliable and good positions that we may want to stay at longer, yes. Not saying that jobs that do not require one are none of these things. There are many benefits to having a TEFL, CELTA, or a DELTA certificate.

One of the great benefits is the knowledge that comes with one. If the course really goes in depth about teaching and managing a classroom, then it is worth it because that is so much more essential in being successful as a Teacher. Thus it is good to have one.

“Yes, that’s great advice, but I want to know about the interview process. “


That about covers it for the certifications. Let’s move on to discuss interviews and the interview process. 

What is the interview process like for teaching English as a second language?

The interview process is very straight forward. The expectations are that the person applying for the job is qualified. For a first time teacher, training is provided. The interview is usually over Skype or another social media platform. For the interview, these tips will help:

  • Dress professionally;
  • Be well groomed;
  • Be enthusiastic and show that you want the job;
  • Be outgoing and be attentive;
  • Ask questions and be fully engaged;
  • Take notes after asking questions about the job.

Doing the above shows enthusiasm and your overall interest in getting the job. It might seem trivial but it really isn’t from an employers perspective. I have been on both ends of the chair and it does help.

TEFL TESOL CELTA DELTA – which one do I need?

It varies. Your degree plays a role. If for example one has obtained a BA in English, a Masters in TESOL then a TEFL course is not really necessary. However, if one only has a BA in English, then a TEFL or better yet a DELTA is highly recommended.

Why? Because they open up the job market immensely. A lot of high paying jobs require a Masters or a BA and a DELTA along with experience. Thus again, it depends on one’s education level when choosing which certification to go for. And once that has been obtained, then all that’s left is applying and preparing for an interview.

What are most common ESL Teacher interview questions?

The interview seems to always start with the general statement: the “Tell me about yourself” interview question. So, how do you answer it?

Do not make the mistake of answering this question as if someone is asking to get to know you on a personal basis. This is a great opportunity to open the conversation in your favor. What the interviewer is really asking is:

  1. How can your past experience help our company?

The best way to approach this question is given a summary of your experience and demonstrate how you progress through the company because of your unique skills and attributes. For a example, you could say:

I started out as an English Teacher. After 8 months of teaching, my manager called me in his office for a meeting. He informed me that I will be the new Lead Teacher. I asked him why he chose me for this role when other teachers had been in the school longer than me. He said that he liked my calm demeanor in stressful situations, he liked what I brought to the team: qualities like punctuality, respect, hard work and the can-do mindset. And since he wanted someone who can lead by example, he chose me to be the new Lead Teacher. [/su_note]

2. Why do you want to work here?

It’s important here to know a little bit about your employer. One should have done a bit of research into the company and get a few stats. That way saying something factual about the company and linking that to one of the reasons you want to work there can be seen as impressive.

3. Are you familiar with the requirements of the job and do you think you can do it?

This one is a no-brainer and often asked to see if they person applying has read the job description. That is the basic thing to do before applying for a job.

4. Are you familiar with the terminology that goes with the job?

One the questions I often ask potential candidates is when applying for teaching jobs is whether they are familiar with formative and summative assessment. Because, as an educator, one should know how their students are learning, where to take them and where they have been in terms of their educational progress.

These are common questions in one variation of another and it’s important to do research and know the company that you are interested in working for. Passing an ESL job interview just takes some research, knowledge about one’s role and showing the enthusiasm to do the job.

Check out the job board and start traveling the world. This guide has hopefully given you a heads up, what to, how to and all else you need to know.

If you have something to add or comment on, please do it below. Sharing is caring, we love to hear what you think.

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