It’s that time of year again; Christmas songs are playing in the shops, stocks in calendar companies are finally showing dividends and we’re rapidly approaching a brand new year. Yes, it’s really been 12 months!
For the TEFL community, the landscape is always changing. Just like the news cycle, the environment for TEFL teachers from one year to the next is ever-different, with new challenges, new areas opening up, and economic and geopolitical circumstances having a real-time effect on the English teaching industry.
With the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, though, a lot of the travel complications from early 2022 are gone. Thankfully, that means there are myriad opportunities for the intrepid TEFL teacher, with new markets springing up and new adventures on the horizon.
So, where’s hot? What does the TEFL world stand to look like in 2023? Let’s explore.
Where is there a demand for English teachers in 2023?
The simple answer to this would be “nearly everywhere”. English is the lingua franca of business, and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon. As such, governments worldwide are keen to bring new generations through a suite of English lessons in order to be competitive on the world stage.
It’s also proven that learning a second language is enormously beneficial to the overall schooling experience. It can improve cognitive function and problem-solving, while also having the knock-on effect of improving a student’s abilities in their native tongue.
It’s particularly in emerging economies where English teachers are in demand. We’ll speak more about them later, but countries like Thailand, with its enormous travel industry, and Colombia, which is incrementally improving its educational infrastructure in an era of peace and relative prosperity for the country.
Latin America and South East Asia, then, can be seen as the specific regions where English teaching is particularly in demand. However, as our TEFL Org Jobs Centre illustrates, there are always opportunities across the world.
So, “nearly everywhere” for a short answer.
What do you need to TEFL in 2023?
If the idea of teaching English as a foreign langauge sounds like your kind of thing, you might be interested to know that it’s more accessible than you may have thought.
You need a high-quality TEFL certification, first of all. The TEFL Org has a range of fantastic courses, from the industry standard 120-hour course through to Advanced TEFL courses, which can really bolster your CV. Through Advanced TEFL courses, you can carve a niche for yourself, such as in Business English or Teaching Young Learners, which will really give you an advantage in certain regions.
In some parts of the globe, or with specific employers, you may also need a bachelor’s degree. For some countries, getting a working visa to teach English necessitates a degree – some are specific about the kind of course (English Language, English Literature, Linguistics or Education), while others don’t mind what you’ve studied as long as you’ve graduated. The need for a degree is a country-by-country or employer-specific thing, so there’s no hard and fast rule about this. If you don’t have one, don’t worry – there are plenty of opportunities to TEFL without a degree out there
In terms of character, you need to be outgoing, willing to take on new challenges, and a voracious reader of grammar books, with more than a few ideas about what makes a challenging and engaging English lesson.
5 best places to TEFL in 2023
So, where are the best places to TEFL in 2023? There are countless options, but looking at the job market, climate, salaries and other factors, we’ve whittled the world down to 5 great options.
If you’re after adventure, building some savings or crossing another country off the map, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in our 5 top TEFL locations!
Average salary: £1,280 – £1,600 ($1,670 – $2,000)
TEFL hotspots: Seoul, Busan, Bucheon
South Korea was one of our top 5 for 2022, and it remains so for 2023. Simply put, the country is awe-inspiring, with an incredible 15 UNESCO Heritage sites, endlessly fascinating cities and the feel of a country which is both forward-thinking and immensely proud of its rich cultural history.
Not only is it a fantastic venue for your next adventure in general, it’s also an ideal place for TEFL. A lot of South Korean jobs provide benefits, like accommodation and subsidised air travel. There are a wide range of jobs available within South Korea, from the government-run EPIK programme, to the tens of thousands of hagwons (private language schools). If you’re looking outside of the school system, there are government jobs, businesses are hiring English teachers, and many prestigious universities have openings.
Average Salary: £740 – £980 / $1,000 – $1,280
TEFL Hotspots: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Kora
Thailand greeted over 7 million tourists between January and October 2022. That’s a staggering number, but equally, it points to just how attractive The Land of Smiles is as a destination for tourists and TEFL teachers alike.
The country is a growing TEFL destination, helped enormously by fantastic initiatives like the Thailand Teaching Programme, which pays well, and includes airport pick-up, visa assistance, flexible contracts and teacher-friendly working hours. If you’re looking to go straight into permanent employment, the demand is huge from kindergarten to university level and beyond, and it’s one of the more suitable locations for non-native level English speakers – so don’t feel intimidated if you’re TEFL qualified, but English isn’t your first language.
Sound good? Read our Thailand country guide for more!
Average Salary: £920 – £1,500/$1,200 to $2,000
TEFL Hotspots: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi
South Asia has become increasingly popular as both a tourist destination and somewhere to teach English. Why? Well, the touristic potential of countries like Vietnam and Thailand are obvious – history, beautiful views and buzzing cities – but also because emergent economies like Vietnam’s require a higher proficiency in English.
That’s where TEFL teachers come in. The demand for teachers is constant – you’ll find plenty in our Jobs Centre at any given time. In terms of actually living in Vietnam, you’ll find warm and friendly locals, innovative fashion and street food par excellence. It’s also a great place to live in terms of travel; if you’re looking to explore neighbouring nations like China, Laos or Thailand, it’s easy!
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree along with a TEFL qualification, but the rewards – especially in relation to the cost of living – make Vietnam a fantastic destination for any English teacher.
Average Salary: £400 – £800/$500 – $1,000
TEFL Hotspots: Bogota, Medellin, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, and Cali
The international reputation of Colombia has changed in recent years. Nowadays, the South American nation is keen to project an outward-looking, tourist-friendly image, and part of that has involved strategising around English teaching in their schooling system.
As such, the demand for TEFL teachers is rapidly growing, with the government really pushing for heightened proficiency in English. The wages are good, on average, especially considering the cheap cost of living in Colombia. It’s cheaper to live in than 91% of the world, so expect your TEFL wages to reach pretty far.
A degree is preferred, but not necessarily required, meaning that in many cases you only need a high-quality TEFL certificate to get going. It’s a new entry in our annual list, but Colombia has so much to offer.
Everywhere – as a digital nomad!
Working remotely, especially since the pandemic raged through 2020 and 2021, has become something of a norm. In the past, it was a practice met with cynicism, and was far from the usual across most industries.
Nowadays, though, things have changed. Companies are seeing the benefits of a global office, where people can cover different hours, and offer a range of perspectives. Plenty of individuals, meanwhile, are setting up an office at home, and working freelance. The lack of a central job location means that, really, anyone with the wherewithal and resources can work for a range of different companies, or indeed, for themselves. The rise of the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle, then, is really no surprise.
Being a digital nomad means locational independence. You can work from anywhere. To be a digital nomad TEFL teacher, all you need are:
- At least a 120-hour TEFL certificate
- A laptop
- Access to reliable WiFi
- An online teaching job and/or your own freelance online teaching business
A lot of countries are making that nomadic life much easier. For example, Spain will have a digital nomad scheme in place in 2023, catching up with countries like Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Portugal and Greece.
In 2023, the conditions are excellent for people who want to travel while they work. Again, the pandemic has ceased to cause problems for globetrotters everywhere, and a new understanding of working life has emerged from the dark days of 2020 and 2021. If this lifestyle sounds appealing, read our guide to becoming a digital nomad!
Where will you TEFL in 2023? Download our FREE Guide to The World for inspiration!