Top 5 Underrated TEFL destinations

It’s fair to say there are some top-rated TEFL destinations. Who wouldn’t want to live and work in fascinating countries like China, Japan, South Korea or Spain? There are plenty of opportunities, significant infrastructure for teaching English, and even programmes to help ease the transition into full-time teaching.

These are all very worthy choices, and nobody with any knowledge of the TEFL industry would begrudge you the chance to live and work in Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul or Barcelona. It might just be, though, that you’re a bit different.

Yes, maybe you’re a little esoteric. The idea of big cities and a robust education system sound a little… obvious, perhaps. It might be that you want to get off the “beaten track”, you’re obsessed with an “authentic” English teaching experience and you want to elicit a few raised eyebrows with your job choices.

Is it playing the TEFL game on ‘Hard Mode’, or just exploring the length and breadth of your curiosity to go somewhere that’s more than a little underrated as a TEFL destination? Here, we’ve had a think about some less-heralded, but no less worthy, places to teach English as a foreign language.

As an accompaniment to this article, you might want to check out Carl Cameron-Day’s excellent webinar on “TEFL off the beaten track”, which features fantastic advice about finding work, contracts and so much more.

Hopefully, these suggestions might scratch that wanderlust itch you’re having!

Northern Iraq

Given the last two decades, Iraq might not be the most obvious choice to teach English as a Foreign Language. However, Iraq’s children and adult learners, particularly in the north of the country, require English lessons as much as anyone else.

“It was a really, really great year I spent there, [with] some fantastic students”, Carl Cameron-Day told us. “It’s a cool place you might want to think about. It’s where I met my beautiful wife, and I had a great few months there.”

What will you need to teach there? Indeed, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. Iraq’s education system has historically been acclaimed, and standards haven’t changed. You’ll also need a teaching license from the country you began doing English lessons, and a TEFL certificate of at least 100 hours of training. If you’re looking for particular places to teach, try Erbil, Morsil and Baghdad.

Perhaps it’s not one for newly-qualified teachers, but Iraq has so much to offer if you’re able to meet the requirements. 

Ancient temples in Cambodia


While so much of Asia is teeming with TEFL talent, Cambodia isn’t always seen as a must, in the same way as Japan, South Korea, China or even Thailand. Perhaps it’s an image issue but Cambodia is an absolute delight.

In an episode of I Taught English Abroad, Daniel Gillard told us all about the delights Cambodia has to offer. For music fans, there’s a thriving sound culture – Daniel even starred in a music video – while the food is incredible, the locals are extremely friendly, and the options for career progression are considerable.

What’s more, English is fast becoming a second language in Cambodia, and context-dependent learning is common in the Higher Education system. Similar to countries like Vietnam, classes in other subjects are being conducted in English, to give students a chance to practice the language in a professional context. As Daniel told us:

“There are so many opportunities… here in Higher Education, they’re recognising the importance, as they have done for a long time, of English. Every single street sign is dual-language… There’s not many places on Earth, as a TESOL [TEFL certificate] holder, [where] you can help build a Higher Education curriculum. You’re shaping the linguistic opportunities for generations of people to come.”

What do you need to teach in Cambodia? The upper age limit is 65, and you’ll definitely need a high-quality TEFL certificate to do it. Schools and universities are full of job openings all year round, especially in more populous areas like Phnom Penh and Krong Seim Reap. To read all about teaching English in Cambodia, read our comprehensive guide!


We’ve been banging the drum for Chile this year, and this seems like another great opportunity to extoll its immense value. Chile has awe-inspiring landscapes and sights to see, from the Andes mountain range to neoclassical cathedrals and incredible museums. A geographic anomaly, this distinct, all-coastline country is great for surfers and beach enthusiasts. Yet as a TEFL destination, we feel it still goes a little under the radar.

What will you need to teach there? A degree is certainly helpful in terms of gaining a visa, but it might not be a necessity. A TEFL certificate, as ever, is a must. Santiago, the capital, is a great place to start looking for jobs, but never discount the likes of Valparaíso, Antofagasta, Concepción, Punta Arenas, La Serena, Ovalle, Arica, Iquique, Talca, Valdivia, Osorno, and Temuco – there are so many places to explore!

A landscape with a monument in the foreground displaying the Honduras flag


A highlight in Latin America – again, an underrated place to start out as a TEFL teacher – there’s a growing English learning market in Honduras. It’s great for gaining experience and starting out as a TEFL teacher, and as the region should make you expect, Honduras has unique beauties. You’ll find 2 UNESCO Heritage Sites: the Maya Site of Copán – “one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization” – and the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, one of the few remaining sites of tropical rainforest in Latin America. Pretty cool!

Don’t expect to make mega bucks in Honduras, but students are incredibly keen and the location – nestled between North and South America, is great for travelling. To work there, like Chile, a bachelor’s Degree is preferred not but always necessary, and a TEFL certificate is always your friend. 

For more on Honduras, here’s our guide!

Wherever you like, as a digital nomad

Maybe your thirst for travel is just so unquenchable that the idea of staying rooted in one place for even a short period of time seems unfathomable. Fair enough, we say, and nowadays, you can achieve all your travel goals while working as a TEFL teacher.
Yes, being a digital nomad might be exactly what you’re after. A lot of countries are offering incentives for freelance workers to live and ply their trade teaching English, and if the idea of not being anchored sounds up your alley, we recommend it!

All you’ll need is access to reliable internet and somewhere quiet to teach, and you’re golden. Whether you’re working for an English Teaching business, or you’re freelance, you’ll be required to pay tax in whichever country you’re staying, however long – for a fuller picture of the digital nomad lifestyle, check out our guide here, including a list of nomad-friendly countries to get started!

Where do you want to TEFL? Check out The TEFL Org Guide to the World and get inspired!

Share this page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.