Teaching English Abroad

Teaching English Abroad

Teaching English abroad is a fun and rewarding experience. Here are some helpful resources. This is by no means a comprehensive list and may be amended as more useful information is discovered. 


In order to be competitive, it is best to have 1) teaching experience and 2) an ESL certificate. For some positions, it may require that you major in a related area such as English, education, and linguistics. For business English, they may expect a business background. Note that this is not always required, but the first two items are usually a minimum requirement.

1) How do I get teaching experience?

  • Tutoring! See how you can get involved in peer-tutoring with the Writing Center
  • Foreign Language Teaching Internships- The GSC has partnered with some Pittsburgh Public Schools and beyond to offer Pitt students with intermediate-advanced foreign language skills the opportunity to teach this language to small groups of students. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Lisa Bromberg, Assistant Director of Outreach, at lrb62@pitt.edu
  • Contact the Pittsburgh Literacy Council about teaching/tutoring opportunities 
  • Contact the Pittsburgh Project about tutoring in afterschool programs 

2) How do I obtain an ESL certificate?

These certificates have different names and are offered by different organizations all over the world. They are can be intensive programs that lest a few weeks or they can be longer programs spread out over a few months. There are also online options, although sometimes, schools will not regard them as valid. Prices vary depending on location. These programs focus on teaching English to speakers of other languages and require a substantial amount of reading, writing, and usually a teaching practicum component. These certificates are generally geared to adults.

  • Pitt’s Linguistics Department hosts a yearlong graduate-level TESOL certificate program. 
  • CELTA is offered through Cambridge English and has courses all over the world: 
  • Oxford Seminar is another certificate program offered in various locations. 

3). How much will I get paid?

This depends greatly on a) the type of teaching position you have, b) the specific location, c) the school, and d) your education level and experience.

Things to consider:

  • It is more expensive to live in major cities, so keep that in mind when comparing salaries
  • Generally, South Korea, Japan, and the Middle East will offer the most money, with the Middle Eastern countries offering the most.
  • Many Middle Eastern school positions require a teaching credential (certification to teach in public schools), but if you teach at a Foundation Institute, you only need a bachelors degree.
  • Some positions will include housing at no charge or will offer a housing allowance. Other programs will not offer housing or an allowance. Consider that in your budget.
  • If you do not have considerable financial obligations back home, it is very easy to save money while teaching abroad.
  • You are usually paid in the currency of the host country and you will open up a bank account there. Be aware of exchange rates and procedures for transferring money to your American bank accounts. In the Middle East and in South Korea, many of the banking platforms are NOT compatible with Mac OS and the process to make transfers can be complicated in the beginning.


Using a recruiter can help alleviate some of the stress of trying to find a teaching position. Many schools will outsource their recruiting to different companies. You submit your information and credentials to the recruiter and they find schools that may be a match. The schools ultimately decide whether or not to hire you. Here is a preliminary list of recruiters.

Job Listings:

You can search job listings and apply directly to the hiring schools. Most require an undergraduate degree. Some require a relevant major. Others may require a masters degree and a minimum number of years experience.

Special Programs:


  • Other countries have different policies regarding discrimination. They will often ask for a photo and they will judge you based on your appearance. Keep a professional headshot handy and do not show excessive skin, tattoos, or piercings in the photos.
  • They will search for you on social media, so be aware of what you post and lock down your privacy settings.
  • Bring toys, books, videos, games, and other items with you to share with your students.
  • Consider preparing a slideshow about life in your hometown and share that with your students as a means of cultural exchange.
  • Utilize social media to find others who have taught in the places that interest you. There are many Facebook groups and independent forums available. Be aware, that one of the main things that will shape your experience is your own ATTITUTE before, during, and after.
  • Practice the 3 Ps when you are living abroad: Patience, Politeness, and Persistence. Things are done differently in other countries. Sometimes it can be frustrating. It is important not to take things out on your students, your colleagues, or others in your new host country.

 Helpful Websites for English Grammar and Teaching: