Diamonds in the Rough – Little Known Places to Teach English Abroad


When choosing where to teach English abroad, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to decide where to start.  Some obvious choices come to mind because we all know someone who taught English in Japan, South Korea or China.  And while these locations certainly have their own appeal and a plethora of TEFL jobs, they are like the Golden Retrievers of teaching abroad; handsome, dependable, accessible, but perhaps a tad overdone.

For those looking for something a little more off the beaten path, don’t fret, there are some great alternatives.With so many English language institutions in Asia, it is easy to overlook some of the smaller gems like Cambodia and Vietnam.  After years of civil unrest, Cambodia is rebuilding and needs English teachers to educate its very young population.  As in many Asian cultures, teachers are revered and students are eager to learn.  If you are TEFL-certified and professional, finding work is easy, and in many cases you don’t even need a university degree.  The pay is high relative to the cost of living, so working 15-20 hours per week will have you living luxuriously.  Visas are also cheap and easy to come by.

A similar story holds true for Vietnam.  With a growing economy, learning English in Vietnam has become extremely important over the past several years.  Most jobs here will require a university degree and of course a TEFL certification.  Again, the low cost of living allows teachers to live very comfortably and even save some cash. But don’t forget about Malaysia on your way to the bank.  Their government has recently pledged several billion dollars in funding for education with Vision 2020, their plan to transform Malaysia into a wealthy, developed nation with a bilingual society.

Looking at Europe, most of our thoughts jump to Spain, France, and Italy.  But don’t be romanticized!  Some of the best opportunities are in Eastern Europe.  While many economies are in the tank, Russia’s is booming.  There is a steady demand for English teachers and benefits often include housing, airfare and the all-too-hard-to-find work visa. Another undiscovered treasure is Georgia.  The Georgian Ministry of Education is funneling loads of money into its “Teach and Learn” program; a great starting point for TEFL beginners and pros alike.  They provide airfare, room and board, a modest salary and the infamous Georgian hospitality.

This post was written by Rachel Spillane.