Where to Teach English Abroad: 5 Government Programs

Getting Around By Western Union Global Social February 8, 2017

English is not only the third most commonly spoken language in the world behind Mandarin and Spanish, it’s the lingua franca, common language, for international relations, news, scholarship, commerce, and culture. So it’s no surprise that there’s a huge demand for English teachers overseas.

Besides being a great resume builder, teaching English abroad is one of the few ways you can get paid to live overseas without much work experience. Check out which countries have government-sponsored teaching programs that make it easy to find legal work and explore a new country at the same time.

1. South Korea

Program: SMOE, GEPIK, or EPIK

Pay: $1,500 – $2,500/month as of 1/30/17

Average Hours: 22-40/week

The Korean Ministry of Education has established co-teaching opportunities with three different organizations.

  • The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) covers all schools in Seoul and is the most competitive of the three programs.
  • Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK) is located in the province just outside Seoul and due to recent budget cuts, mostly offers positions at the elementary school level.
  • English Program in Korea (EPIK), encompasses the remaining 15 provinces and has the most openings by far.

Technically, SMOE and EPIK only require a bachelor’s degree, while GEPIK requires a bachelor’s degree in literature, English, or Linguistics or a bachelor’s degree in any concentration in addition to a teaching certificate.

On top of the great pay, all three programs provide a settlement allowance when you arrive, furnished housing, health insurance, 18–21 days of vacation time, and a one-month bonus at the completion of your contract.

2. Spain 

Program: North American Language and Culture Assistants Program

Pay: $750 $1,070/month as of 1/30/17

Average Hours: 12-16/week

Native English proficiency is so in demand in Spain that their Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport hires thousands of American and Canadian students and graduates each year to serve as language and culture assistants in their Auxiliares de Conversación program.

All it takes is a U.S. or Canadian passport, a clean background check, at least two years of college, and some Spanish language skills to qualify for a position as a language and culture assistant. If chosen, you’ll receive a monthly post-tax grant and public health plan in exchange for 12-16 hours teaching in a public elementary, middle, or high school classroom each week. Most participants also assist in bilingual class like P.E., art, or music.

Since Auxiliares only requires you to work part-time four days a week, you’ll have plenty of time to teach private classes on the side, get to know your new home, and travel.

3. France 

Program: Teaching Assistant Program

Pay: $845/month as of 1/30/17

Average Hours: 12-16/week

Like Spain, France’s Ministry of Education offers a program designed to attract Americans to teach English in its public schools. Known as TAPIF, the program provides you with a visa to live and teach in primary or secondary schools for seven months.

TAPIF is more competitive than Spain’s Auxiliares, requiring participants to pass a French language proficiency exam and lead classes instead of just assist the primary teachers. Depending on the school’s needs and your strengths, you may also be asked to oversee bilingual conversation groups, provide small group tutorials, and give talks related to American studies.

4. Japan 

Program: Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET)

Pay: $2,400 – $2,900/a month as of 1/30/17

Average Hours: 30-40/week

English is taught in Japanese public schools from age five through the end of high school. JET, or the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, sponsors U.S. citizens with bachelor’s degrees to work as either Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in public and private schools or Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) as translators.

In addition to your primary responsibilities, you’ll be expected to attend activities in the local community and learn rudimentary Japanese.

Though Japan’s known for its high cost of living, JET pays a high salary and provides flights to and from Japan. Since JET employment is a full-time position, you’ll also have access to Japan’s national social health insurance. But these perks are in demand: roughly one in five candidates are selected each year.

5. Chile 

Program: English Open Doors

Pay: $100/month as of 1/30/17

Average Teaching Hours: 28/week

Though technically a volunteer opportunity, the English Opens Doors Program provides a work visa and school placement for 21-35 year olds interested in living in a developing country. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, and experience living or travelling in another country is preferred.

In addition to teaching, you’re responsible for leading an extracurricular activity for four hours a week. You’re also expected to participate in English camps, public speaking competitions, spelling bees, and other EOD initiatives happening in your region.

The volunteer allowance for this program is small, but accommodations and meals are provided by a host family. Plus, you’ll receive a week-long TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training upon arrival, access to online Spanish classes, in-country health insurance, and a week of paid vacation in addition to regular holidays.