It’s hard not to look at almost everything through the prism of 2020’s Coronavirus pandemic, but safe to say everyone’s plans – from TEFL teachers to bus drivers to zookeepers – were thrown into chaos for a good two years.
Naturally, when we look at teaching English as a foreign language, we have to concede that the industry has changed. Schools went online, and for a while, the entire teaching industry connected to the web too. The idea of travelling abroad to teach seemed so unlikely as to be impossible.
Yet, here we are, facing 2023 head-on, and travel restrictions are a thing of the past. Your dreams of teaching in far-flung classrooms across the planet are back under a list marked “realistic”. All you need is high-quality TEFL certification and the drive to make things happen.
Meanwhile, economies are recovering post-Covid, meaning that when it comes to costs and converting currency, you don’t have to lose out by settling elsewhere on the planet. It might well be the case that you’ve saved up over 2022, and now is the time to reap the benefits.
What’s more, 2023 is an exciting year for myriad reasons, across the globe. From major sporting events to huge changes in international relations, there are plenty of reasons to change your career and shift into a brilliant teaching role overseas. The demand for teachers is considerable and constant, meaning that if you’ve got the qualifications, you’ll be welcomed in places you might never have heard of!
So, the year ahead really is yours to mould. Let’s explore why 2023 is the Year of TEFL.
Travel restrictions are (largely) a thing of the past
So, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: there are still some restrictions on where you can go and what happens when you’re there. For a world map of Covid-19 rules in certain areas, this is a great resource.
With that said, much of the world is still open to TEFL teachers, and even the parts with restrictions will accept you once you’ve taken the steps to ensure you’re Covid-free. Obviously, being vaccinated is a huge plus in this regard, especially if you’ve had a recent booster.
In general, it’s not careless or misleading to say that we’re over the worst of the pandemic. It’s certainly not the same story as the start of 2022 when it looked as though we could be in for another harsh year of stasis. If you can prove vaccination status, the options are widespread.
Additionally, if you’ve got a qualification already, and you’re living in the Western world, chances are you’re looking out of your window with a fairly glum expression. The weather in January and February is grim, so why not start 2023 somewhere where Vitamin D isn’t just available in capsule form? If you’re not already TEFL qualified, use your dreams of sunny beaches and long, glorious evenings to help you through the certification process. Countless people will tell you they’ve done the same.
With how little we could do over the past few years, it’s possible you might’ve built up a fund to achieve your TEFL dreams. This year is the time to make it happen. Of course, that’s not a universal thing – plenty of us suffered economically as a result of the pandemic – but if you’ve been fortunate enough to keep working over this dreadful time, moving abroad doesn’t need to break the bank. Get your passport out!
Finally, in terms of travel, it’s a good time to be a digital nomad. Spain is introducing new measures to attract remote workers who want to move to sunnier climes and the same is already true for a number of top European destinations like Greece and Croatia – more on Croatia later on.
It doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive to TEFL in 2023
Stay with us here, but there’s an excellent economic case for moving abroad to teach English as a Foreign Language. If you live in the UK or USA, for example, average wages haven’t grown to meet inflation. So, your pay packet might well have stayed similar for years while the cost of living has only risen.
In many popular TEFL markets, the cost of living has stayed the same, but wages have either increased or stayed around where they were – above the annual average. In countries like China, Hong Kong, and sections of Latin America and South Asia, the annual salary for teachers is quantifiably higher than national averages – though much depends on the institution you work in, your qualifications and your level of experience.
Depending on where you go, that really, really matters. If you’re able to take some savings to TEFL destinations in Latin America and South Asia, for example, where the cost of living is significantly lower than in the US, Canada or the UK, you’ve given yourself a head start. If not, don’t worry – your wages abroad will be worth more, even on the lower salary rates, especially in countries like Colombia and Thailand, emergent economies but still places where the cost of living is comparatively cheap.
Teaching salaries – and again, we say this in general terms – still compare well to the cost of living in most places. What’s more, employers are once again in a position to help out, so you might be able to save on transport costs, accommodation and the like. As ever, this is a case-by-case story, and it’s always worth checking our salary advice to get a clearer picture.
For many who did suffer economic difficulties as a result of the pandemic, 2022 might’ve been too soon to make a drastic change. 2023, though, looks like it’ll be far more economically stable as we come out of the pandemic era.
2023 is crammed with amazing events
As if the lure of teaching abroad wasn’t enough on its own, you’ll be delighted to know that 2023 is absolutely packed with brilliant events.
If you’re the sporty type, it’s a jam-packed calendar. There are the World Ski Championships in France, the Nordic Ski Championships in Slovenia, Cambodia is hosting the South-East Asian Games, Poland’s got the European Games, and the Phillippines play host to the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Depending on where you are, you can catch Rugby Union in the form of the Six Nations, and unlike the 21-22 season, you can attend incredible football matches worldwide. Consider the Argentian Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate, or the incredible Atlético Nacional–Millonarios derby in Colombia if you’re thinking of a South American adventure.
The big hitters around the world are also very much in play, from a non-sporting perspective. Carnival in Rio de Janerio, Harbin International Snow & Ice Festival in China, La Tomatina in Valencia, Spain (essentially a gigantic food fight), Dia De Los Muertes in Mexico… the list goes on and on. If 2020, 2021 and, to an extent, 2022 limited these festivals, then 2023 is a very different story.
A special mention goes not to an event, but an opportunity. In 2023, Croatia joins the Schengen agreement, meaning that citizens of European member states can travel and work there freely. That’s a major boost, as a country that’s already welcomed digital nomads from across the globe.
Your life as a TEFL teacher abroad goes beyond the classroom. What better time to take in some one-of-a-kind cultural experiences?
Demand remains high
If, for some reason, you thought TEFL teachers weren’t in enormous demand world-wide, think again. As we’ve covered, in both the online and offline spheres, language jobs are plentiful, and if anything, there are plenty of cases of making up for lost time from the pandemic.
Specifically, demand is high in Latin America, where there are 659 million people and a growing number of people in the market for English lessons. It’s also one of the best places for non-native English speakers and those who don’t hold a degree to get started in the industry.
The Middle East has made plenty of headlines after Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup. Dubai, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, aforementioned Qatar and other countries in the region have English jobs available for highly-qualified candidates. Expect to see the most lucrative jobs in English teaching while pursuing opportunities in the Middle East.
South Asia is rapidly becoming a go-to TEFL destination, so it’s about finding opportunities while they’re available. Cambodia, for example, is a fantastic place to live and work, as is Vietnam, which is crammed with amazing street food and art, as well as eye-catching fashion. For more on living and working in Cambodia and Vietnam, check out our TEFL podcast, I Taught English Abroad.
Teaching programmes around the world
If Thailand’s more your thing, why not consider applying for the Thailand Teaching Programme in 2023? It’s a great opportunity to get started in the TEFL industry, with airport pick-up, a competitive salary and visa assistance included!
Or, if you want to venture to East Asia, there’s always an extremely high demand for TEFL teachers. Nowhere is this more true than Japan and South Korea, where government-run programmes such as JET and EPIK integrates hundreds of teachers annually into the Japanese and South Korean schooling systems.
Don’t discount opportunities in Europe either. The TAPIF Programme in France is constantly on the lookout for enthusiastic, qualified applicants. And there are always European job openings at our The TEFL Org Jobs Centre; at the time of writing, institutions in Romania, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Greece and more need TEFL teachers.
Throw in online work, whether freelance or for the countless online teaching companies out there, and you get the picture. There isn’t a corner of the world that doesn’t need English teachers in 2023, barring Antarctica and the Arctic – to the best of our knowledge, at least.
So why not you, and why not now?
Do you see the picture now? 2023 is your year to either forge a career in TEFL, pick up where you left off before, or think about getting TEFL qualified.
The jobs are out there, the culture is out there, the sights, the sounds and smells are out there, just waiting for you.
What do you have to lose?