Teaching English Abroad

Why should you think about teaching English abroad after you graduate?

Well, English-language teachers are in demand world-wide, and taking a position as an English-language teacher is one of the few ways in which recent U.S. college graduates can find paid employment overseas. But more importantly, teaching abroad offers an incredible opportunity for your own continued education and growth.

Teaching English 
Photo: AGU, ChatRoom, Tokyo, Japan, Summer 2018

Teaching abroad offers you the chance to live and work in another culture.  In doing so, you will improve your own foreign-language skills. Through your interactions with students and co-workers, you will gain a greater understanding of the culture in which you live and work, and you will also learn a great deal more about your own culture as you try to explain it to your students.

You will gain valuable work experience, whatever your future plans.  You'll learn to be part of a multicultural workforce as you gain practical work skills; you'll create an international network of friends and colleagues; you will become more adaptable, flexible, and confident.

There are many more reasons to work or teach abroad, but you will have to find them out on your own.  Below, though, we offer some guidance on gaining experience and finding a teaching position and provide links to some organizations and government agencies that help place English-language teachers.

Gaining Teaching Experience

You don't need to be an education major to find work teaching English abroad. However, acquiring some experience - as a teacher, a tutor, a mentor - will both make you a more desirable candidate and also better prepare you for your role as a teacher.  So here are some ideas:

Take Advantage of Campus Opportunities

There are ways you can gain teaching experience here on campus. Become a tutor in your discipline; work in the Writing Center; volunteer with the International Office to be a conversation partner for an international student; look into Registered Student Organizations that mentor or tutor students in local school.

Volunteer in Your Community

There are also lots of opportunities for you off-campus.  Certainly, you can join an RSO that will connect you with the Bloomington-Normal community or find a local organization on your own, but also think about volunteering in your home community over the summer and during breaks.


While being a native speaker is a desirable trait, it alone is not sufficient to qualify you to teach English: Teaching requires patience, effective communications skills, and thoughtful lesson planning. And so you might want to look into a training program.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses provide valuable training, including reviews of English grammar, training in creating lesson plans, information on cross-cultural communication styles, and general teaching tips -- all of which can make you a more qualified and desirable candidate.

Courses vary widely in length, depth of training, and costs, so do some research and think carefully about the type of training you want or need.  Try looking at actual job postings to see what qualifications are required for the country, type of school, or length of contract you are looking for.

How to Find a Teaching English Position

Placement Programs

  • Paid and volunteer positions
  • Pre-determined placements and support from the program provider

Government-Sponsored Programs

  • Paid positions through established government programs
  • Often do not require previous experience but may be more competitive than other options

Teaching at a Private School (independently arranged placement)

  • Research available positions and contact the English school directly
  • Negotiate the terms of your contract

English-Language Teaching Programs

CIEE -- Asia, Europe, Latin America

InterExchange -- Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America

WorldTeach -- Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Pacific Islands

Government-Sponsored Programs

French Embassy Teaching Assistant Program

  • Assist with English classes in a French school
  • Seven months in duration

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships

  • Opportunities for English language and conversational classes are available in several countries in Asia, Europe, and South America
  • Grant duration, requirements, and grant amount vary by country

Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme

  • Work as a teaching assistant in a Japanese school
  • One year in duration with an option to renew the contract

Peace Corps

  • Teach middle school, high school, or university students in one of over seventy countries around the world. 
  • Two year commitment

North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain

  • Promote cultural, educative, and scientific knowledge exchange
  • Support Spanish teachers in teaching and students in learning the Spanish language
  • Foster understanding and appreciation between different cultures