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How to Teach English Abroad:

The Ultimate 2021 Guide




Got your TEFL certificate and are wondering where you can safely teach abroad in 2021? Here’s our How to Teach English Abroad: The Ultimate 2021 Guide. It’s full of answers to all of our most frequently asked questions – everything from qualifications to available jobs. Plus, there’s an entire section devoted to everything you need to know to work abroad during COVID – from safe ways to travel to the safest places to teach.  You’re welcome! 


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The good news is this. As more and more of us get vaccinated and the number of COVID cases begins to decline, the world is cautiously opening back up. This means more opportunities to travel and teach!

We’re not quite out of the woods yet though. As restrictions relax and as variants pop up, some areas may experience another wave of COVID cases. This doesn’t mean all bets are off for teaching abroad in 2021. It just means you’ll need to follow safety guidelines and be extra diligent when choosing when and where to go. 

Lucky for you, the team at TEFLPros  has done the research to take the guesswork out of teaching abroad in 2021! Read on to learn what you’ll need to do to turn your dream of teaching abroad in 2021 into reality!


Is teaching abroad right for me?


Children, India, Education, Classroom, Happy, Smile


Of course, this is a highly subjective question. However, if you’re looking to teach abroad in 2021 and you’re wondering if a teach abroad job will suit you, consider these questions:

  • Are you confident at meeting new friends?
  • Are you independent enough to find your way in a new country?
  • Are you willing to learn a new language and culture?
  • Are you ready to sharpen your skills as an educator?
  • Do you like helping others to gain a new skill?
  • Are you interested in sampling new foods, customs, and ways of living?
  • Have you always wanted to travel?


If the answer to these questions is a yes, then teaching English abroad seems like a great move for you.

Not only will you build skills and a strong resume in an international job, you’ll get a chance to explore the world as a local; trying new foods, understanding new customs, and absorbing new languages.

While having some confidence can help you land your first international teaching job, teaching English abroad can also be a chance for you to boost your independence and push yourself outside your comfort zone.

If you’re unsure about whether teaching English abroad suits you, consider booking a free strategy session with our team. 


Can you teach abroad without a degree?


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We get lots of emails from prospective TEFL teachers asking us ‘Can I teach abroad with just a TEFL?’ The answer to this question is a resounding ‘YES’. 

You can teach abroad without a degree. For details, check out our recent post on How to Teach English without a Degree.

To teach English abroad without a degree you usually need to be a native English speaker, but this isn’t always the case. If you have a TEFL qualification, many schools and teach abroad jobs will accept you based on the level of skill you demonstrate – thanks to your qualification.

However, it’s very important that you pick a TEFL course that’s internationally recognized, like TEFLPros 120-Hour TEFL Certification

If you choose to take a TEFL that isn’t internationally-accredited, you may find that schools abroad won’t recognize your qualification and won’t accept you as a certified ESL teacher.

If you’re wondering where to teach English abroad without a degree, you need to understand that you may face a few restrictions. While there are plenty of online  and teach abroad jobs that don’t require a degree, many international English language schools will ask for a degree (especially if you have no prior experience teaching English abroad).

Because of this, good places to start your job search is with volunteer programs, public schools, and community English projects. With a few years’ teaching experience under your belt, you may find that international English language schools will consider your application – no degree required!


Best Places to Teach English Abroad in 2021


School, Classroom, Boys, Girls, Students, Teacher


Due to high Covid numbers or outbreaks, some previously popular teach abroad countries may not be so safe to teach in, at least right at the moment.  For the time being, some countries to think twice about traveling to are Brazil, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Argentina, Columbia, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Mexico.

With this said, there are still plenty of places to teach abroad that have a low or moderate risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Keep in mind, when choosing your destination, you’ll want to consider what certification you need, living conditions, the cost of living compared to the amount you’ll earn and the crime rate. 


<<Low Risk Countries>>

Currently, the safest countries for teaching in Asia are China, Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei and Saba. You can find Covid safe countries on the African continent too, in Liberia, Uganda and Sierra Leon. For a complete list, see the Center for Disease Control’s interactive world map.


Teach Abroad in China

Although Covid may have originated in China, it is now one of the safest countries for teaching English. Chinese of all ages are eager to learn English, the lingua franca of the world. In order to teach English in China, most teachers will need a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certification, or at least two years of professional teaching experience. You can work anywhere from Beijing to Shanghai. The average salary for teaching in China is $1,400 -$2,200 per month.


Teach Abroad in Uganda

With Uganda’s booming tourism industry,  it is a country worth considering for teaching English. Most teachers need to have native English proficiency and either a degree or a TEFL.  The average salary of an English teacher in Uganda is several hundred US dollars. Keep in mind, the cost of living is very low. Although not a high Covid risk country, crime in Uganda is high. 


Teach Abroad in Laos

Laos is a small country situated between Vietnam and Thailand. You won’t earn as much teaching here compared to Vietnam or Thailand, but the cost of living is super cheap. Although helpful, a degree is not required to teach in Laos. You will need a TEFL though. Teachers can earn between $600-$1,500 USD a month, depending on the language school or international school. 


Teach Abroad in Brunei

Where’s Brunei, you ask? Think south of Thailand, and across from Malaysia. It’s a small country. In order to teach English in Brunei, most teachers will require a native English proficiency, a bachelor’s degree, preferably in English or teaching, and at least three years of experience. The average salary for teaching in Brunei is $2,500 – $4,600 per month.


<<Moderate Risk Countries>>

Two popular teaching destinations that are currently relatively safe for teaching in (as long as you have no underlying conditions that could cause serious effects if you contracted the virus) are Korea and Dominica. Other countries with a moderate risk of infection are Cambodia, Belize, Benin, Dominica and Nepal. 


Teach Abroad in Korea

South Korea has now reopened its borders after its initial lock down, meaning you can now teach abroad in Korea. Keep in mind, all travelers to S. Korea must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued within 72 hours of their departure. Be aware that you won’t be able to hop on an internal flight until you have completed the mandated 14-day government quarantine, regardless of your vaccination status. 

However, once you’re ready to go, you’ll find lots of international and public schools with open positions for ESL teachers. 

Your teaching experience will vary considerably depending on whether you’re teaching in a city or out in rural areas. Cities are very advanced and fast-paced, whereas rural areas are a little more laid back. In both cases, be prepared to struggle with the language barrier but be excited for a whole new world of food and fashion.

If you’re teaching in an international school, you’ll make between $1600 and $2500 a month. Public schools pay a bit less.


Teach Abroad in Dominica

Dominica, or the Dominican Republic, shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It’s the most visited country in the Caribbean. Because of its booming tourist industry, there’s always a need for English teachers here, especially in the smaller towns. Although you don’t need experience, a TEFL certificate is required for getting hired. 

The starting salary for an English teacher is around $1,000 and with the cost of living being relatively low, it’s possible to save enough money to travel around the Caribbean. Just imagine, lunch in a typical restaurant is about $3. Delicious street food is plentiful. Rent for a one bedroom apartment is about $250.



How to teach abroad in 2021


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Teaching abroad may look a little different in 2021, with COVID measures in place. That said, there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer abroad and to teach abroad and get paid.

Here’s a rundown of some of the ways you can teach abroad in 2021.


Volunteer To Teach English Abroad

If you’re looking to put your heart and soul into making a difference in 2021, why not teach English abroad on a volunteer basis

Volunteer English teachers work with all kinds of programs that connect educators to schools and English-learning programs overseas.

Some of the top volunteer overseas English programs running in 2021 include International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ),GVI, Volunteering Solutions, The Mighty Roar, and Projects Abroad. Each of these programs has an updated list of programs and destinations along with Covid guidelines. 

To volunteer as a teacher abroad, you’ll usually need to be a native English speaker. You don’t need a degree and technically you don’t need a TEFL, but it is preferred. 

You’ll certainly benefit from the teaching skills that the TEFLPros 120-Hour Online TEFL Course can provide you when offering lessons in classrooms abroad — especially if you don’t speak the local language.

Teach Abroad And Get Paid


Classroom, Students, School, Class, Learning, Young


Here are just a few ways to teach abroad and get paid. Three things will determine your salary: the country you work in, the type of school or learning institution you work in, and the qualifications you hold.

To teach abroad and get paid, you will almost always need a TEFL certification at the very least. Besides this, many international English language schools will also require that you have a degree – in any subject!


What are the Best Teach Abroad Programs?

One option for finding a job teaching English abroad is to go through a teach English abroad program. 

These companies are familiar with the requirements needed to place you in a reliable teaching position and have very good connections. They will also provide you with support, advice, and sometimes a little training.

To access teach English abroad programs that pay decent wages, you will need to be a qualified TEFL teacher. 

Here are some of our top picks for teach abroad programs in 2021:

  • CIEE – Teach abroad all over the world, from Spain to Korea to Thailand
  • GeoVisions – Teach abroad and get paid $20,000 – $30,000 a year in China
  • WISE Abroad – Find teaching placements in Central and South America * Note: Make sure the country you want to teach in is a Low or Moderate Risk country for Covid.


Find Teach Abroad Jobs Independently

While teach English abroad programs help you find placements easily, they’re not always the most well-paid teaching jobs

If you’d like to find your own teach abroad jobs independently, try exploring job boards such as:  

Is teaching abroad worth it?


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Now that it’s so easy to teach English online, we have many TEFL graduates asking us if teaching abroad is worth it.

If you’d like to push yourself, expand your horizons, and see the world in ways you’ve never seen it before, then yes, teaching abroad is certainly worth it. If you ask any TEFL teacher who’s spent time abroad, they’ll all tell you that they’ve learnt a lot about themselves and the world in that time. I know we’re super grateful that we spent time teaching abroad.

Not only that, teaching abroad shows future employers how independent you are. After all, you are demonstrating initiative while building real-world skills at the same time. 

And of course, you’ll get a chance to sample incredible foods, immerse yourself in amazing cultures, and meet a global network of international friends.

ultimate guide to tefl in 2021






Before heading overseas, we recommend checking out the following sites. What’s that saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


Note: The recommendations below are from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as of April 20, 2021. Keep in mind, everything is subject to change as more people are vaccinated, the rates of COVID-19 change, and additional scientific evidence becomes available. 🙂



To help you make an informed decision, it’s not a bad idea to start with the numbers! Take a glance at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) dashboard for global numbers and numbers of COVID cases by country on a daily basis.



If you haven’t already gotten vaccinated, go ahead and sign up to get the “jab”! On April 6, U.S. President Biden directed all states to make the vaccine available to every eligible adult by April 19.   

Here’s a list of vaccine availability by state from US News & World Report (as of April 20). 

Keep in mind, you’ll need to wait two weeks after your last vaccination before safely traveling abroad! 



In 2021, you’ll need to continue with the safety measures we’ve become all too familiar with. Wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands and avoid crowds. 

According to the CDC, you need to wear masks on all forms of public transportation. This includes planes, buses, and trains traveling into or out of the U.S. and in transportation hubs like airports and stations. 

Again the CDC – Keep in mind, even fully vaccinated travelers are at risk for getting and spreading new COVID-19 variants. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands.



Before you go, check out the CDC’s great Travelers’ Health page. It has links to updated (April 2, 2021)  recommendations for fully vaccinated domestic and international travelers

And most importantly, according to the CDC, “Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, you test positive for COVID-19, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test. Learn when it is safe for you to travel. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.”



You can check the COVID-19 situation in your destination with the CDC’s amazing (yes, amazing! 😉 interactive world map with corresponding lists of countries according to level of risk – LOW, MODERATE, HIGH and VERY HIGH. Because the COVID situation is so fluid. It’s easy for a country to move from one risk level to another quickly. 



For a complete list of countries, view the CDC’s interactive world map



As of this writing, the following countries in Asia were at low risk:

China, Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei and Saba. In Africa, 

Liberia, Uganda and Sierra Leone are the Covid safest bets.



Countries currently on the “Moderate Risk List” include South Korea, Cambodia, Belize, Benin, Dominica and Nepal.


Note: If you’re at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID, you should avoid travel to these countries unless it’s essential. If you live or visit with someone who is at increased risk, you need to take precautions to protect yourself from getting COVID.



For the time being, some countries to think twice about traveling to are Brazil, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Argentina, Columbia, France, Italy

United Kingdom, Mexico.


For a complete list of countries, view the CDC’s interactive world map and keep in mind, the list can change.




One other thing we recommend to make your travels and teaching go more smoothly in 2021 is to set yourself up to get travel automatic advisories.  The US Department of State has the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you set up an account and provide the details of your specific trip, the agency will email you new travel advisories and alerts as soon as it issues them. It also posts Travel Advisories and Alerts to its @TravelGov Twitter and Facebook accounts.


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The CDC is recommending that you get tested 3-5 days after travel.



To be on the safe side, we recommend googling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Consular Services and your destination’s embassy (like these examples for the country of Japan) to find out the latest info on entry restrictions and quarantine information. The consular services sites are great places to find out about visa information too.

Another great, user friendly tool for finding entry restrictions is kayak.com’s color-coded  entry restrictions map. As of April 20, 2021, 50 countries are completely closed, 122 are partially open, 5 are reopening soon and 43 have no restrictions. Also, this site has handy links to consular services.



To work in many countries, you may need to quarantine for at least two weeks, even with proof of a negative COVID test. Your best bet to find out the exact procedures for the country you’re going to is to contact its consulate or embassy.  



According to the CDC as of April 2021, “All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, before they board a flight to the United States.  If you need more details, you can check out their  Frequently Asked Questions page. 



So, you’ve finally made it to your country of choice and have chosen the school that’s best for you. We recommend finding out your school’s COVID guidelines and procedures well ahead of your arrival. Find out when you’ll be able to start teaching. Also, what about safety measures – will you be asked to stay 6 ft. apart? Will you need to wear a mask? And, are there procedures in place to continue online teaching in case the school needs to close its doors? 



There’s one final thing to keep in mind while teaching abroad in 2021. There’s a chance a region may need to go into partial or full lock-down for a while to stop the spread of Covid. Also, a school may need to close its doors to in person instruction for a while. If this happens, you’d want to have a little more of a nest egg saved up before you head out than would be the case in a normal year.


Next steps

If you’d like to take the leap to teach abroad in 2021, you’ll need to qualify as a TEFL teacher first.

Sign up to the TEFLPros 120-Hour Online TEFL today and start your training to become an internationally-certified English teacher.

There’s a reason our TEFL course is number one on both GoAbroad and Go Overseas — it’s because our graduates have success teaching in-person and online.

If you’d like a little help teaching English abroad in 2021, book your free strategy session with our team today! 


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