Can non-native Speakers Teach English & TEFL Abroad?

The prospect of teaching English abroad offers an exciting and enriching career path for many individuals. However, non-native English speakers may find themselves wondering about their place in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry. Despite some common misconceptions, non-native English speakers possess unique advantages and, with the right preparation, can secure rewarding teaching positions across the globe. This article aims to demystify the process and highlight the factors that can improve a non-native speaker’s chances of obtaining a great teaching position. From educational qualifications to flexibility in job location, we will explore essential tips and strategies for aspiring TEFL teachers who are non-native English speakers. In addition, we’ll introduce some great programs and placements we have on offer today that serve non-native English speakers.

Importance of Educational Qualifications

In the world of TEFL, holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher is often seen as a golden ticket to more job opportunities and higher salaries. While it’s not an absolute requirement everywhere, a degree can significantly enhance your employability, particularly for non-native English speakers. Educational qualifications serve as a testament to your dedication and intellectual capabilities, factors that schools and language institutes highly value.

Why Degrees Matter

A Bachelor’s degree, irrespective of the major, demonstrates a level of academic proficiency and commitment that many employers seek in their teachers. It assures employers that you possess a good level of critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to commit to and complete significant projects. For non-native speakers, this is particularly important as it also suggests a higher proficiency and familiarity with academic English. In addition, students place a premium, and tend to have more confidence in a teacher who has completed a degree.

Impact on Job Availability and Salary

The presence of a degree can open doors to countries with strict employment standards for teachers. In many Asian countries, for example, a Bachelor’s degree is a legal requirement for obtaining a work visa as a teacher. Similarly, in the Middle East and parts of Europe, a degree can be crucial for job eligibility. Beyond legality, a degree often correlates with higher salaries and better job benefits. Schools and language institutes tend to offer more competitive packages to teachers with degrees, recognizing their qualifications and the potential for delivering higher-quality education.

In conclusion, while it’s possible to find TEFL positions without a degree, non-native English speakers will find that holding a Bachelor’s or higher significantly broadens their opportunities. Not only does it facilitate the visa process in many countries, but it also signals to employers your commitment and capability, setting you apart in a competitive job market.

Demonstrating Language Proficiency

For non-native English speakers aspiring to teach abroad, demonstrating language proficiency is a critical step. Unlike native speakers, non-native individuals are often required to provide concrete evidence of their English language skills. This can be achieved through formal testing or alternative demonstration methods.

Formal Tests: IELTS and TOEFL

Formal language tests such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are widely recognized standards for assessing English proficiency. Achieving a high score in these tests can significantly bolster your TEFL job application. They evaluate your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, providing a comprehensive picture of your English ability. Preparing for these tests requires a focused study plan, covering all aspects of the English language. There are numerous resources available, including online courses, practice tests, and study guides, to help candidates achieve a score that reflects their true language proficiency.

English proficiency exam IELTS for TEFL

Video Demonstrations: An Alternative Approach

For those who may not excel in standardized testing environments, creating a video demonstration of your English-speaking skills can be a compelling alternative. In such videos, you can showcase your fluency, pronunciation, and teaching style. A well-prepared lesson demonstration, particularly one that highlights your ability to engage learners and convey material clearly, can be just as persuasive as a high test score. Remember to keep the video professional, clear, and concise, focusing on your strengths as a teacher and a speaker.

The Value of Teaching Experience

Having prior teaching experience, even if it’s not directly related to TEFL, can be a significant advantage when applying for teaching positions abroad. Experience in front of a classroom, managing students, and creating lesson plans are all transferable skills that are highly valued in the TEFL market.

Enhancing Your Profile with Experience

If you’ve previously taught in any capacity—whether as a schoolteacher, private tutor, or even as a volunteer—this experience can enhance your TEFL application. It demonstrates your ability to manage a learning environment and to adapt your teaching methods to different learners. For non-native speakers, this also provides additional evidence of your language proficiency and your capability to conduct classes in English.

Gaining Teaching Experience

adult TEFL courses

If you lack teaching experience, there are several pathways to gaining it before heading abroad. Volunteering at local schools, community centers, or language institutes can be a great start. Online teaching platforms also offer opportunities to teach English remotely, allowing you to build experience and confidence from home. Documenting this experience, reflecting on your teaching methods, and receiving feedback can all contribute to your growth as a teacher and strengthen your TEFL application.

Even experience teaching that is unrelated to the English language is a great asset to add to your resume. Conducting student learning camps, or training in other skills/subjects goes a long way in improving your profile.

Flexibility with Destination

Flexibility regarding your teaching destination can play a crucial role in the success of non-native English speakers looking to teach abroad. While some countries have stringent regulations that favor hiring native speakers, many others are welcoming to those with the right qualifications and enthusiasm, regardless of their native language.

Navigating Legal Restrictions and Cultural Expectations

Understanding the legal and cultural landscape of potential teaching destinations is vital. Some countries, particularly in the Middle East and parts of Asia, have strict visa regulations that include language and nationality stipulations. However, this is not universal. Being open to a range of countries can significantly increase your job prospects. Researching the requirements and norms of various countries can help you align your application with places where your background is seen as an asset rather than a barrier.

Advantages of Broadening Your Horizons

Embracing a variety of potential locations can lead to unexpected and fulfilling teaching experiences. Many countries offer rich cultural experiences, eager students, and supportive teaching communities that are particularly welcoming to non-native English teachers. By being flexible, you not only increase your chances of finding a position but also open yourself up to the rich personal and professional growth that comes from living and working in a diverse environment.

TEFL Programs and In-Country Training

For non-native English speakers, completing a TEFL program, especially one that includes some in-country training, can be particularly beneficial. These programs not only enhance your teaching skills but also provide a direct pathway into the teaching community of your chosen country.

In-country TEFL training allows you to gain hands-on teaching experience with the support of experienced instructors. It’s an excellent opportunity for non-native speakers to refine their teaching techniques, improve their language skills in a real-world setting, and build a network with fellow teachers and local employers. Furthermore, many of these programs include job placement assistance, making the transition to a full-time teaching position smoother and more assured.

Top Destinations for Non-Native English Speakers

While there are restrictions in some countries, many others offer excellent opportunities for non-native English speakers. Here are some top destinations where non-native speakers can thrive as English teachers:

Teaching English in Mexico

Mexico offers a unique blend of experiences for TEFL teachers, especially for non-native English speakers. With its rich culture, historical landscapes, and warm people, it’s an attractive destination for many aspiring educators.

TEFL Mexico courses

Program and Experience

The myTEFL internship in Mexico provides an immersive experience, allowing participants to live like locals, sample authentic food, and engage with the community. The program starts with a comprehensive 140-hour onsite TEFL course, which includes hands-on training and real teaching practice that employers value. After completing the course, teachers are placed in fully paid teaching positions, earning between $500 to $800 USD per month.

Accommodations are modern, furnished, and provided at an affordable rate, ensuring a comfortable stay. Additionally, participants are offered one week of professional Spanish lessons to brush up on their language skills, which can be particularly beneficial for non-native English speakers.

Legal Aspects and Requirements

Non-native speakers can indeed teach in Mexico, especially if they possess a Bachelor’s degree or higher. However, the rules have relaxed somewhat, and now, even those without a degree can qualify for an FM3 visa, provided they secure a teaching job and have a complete TEFL certificate.

Life and Attractions in Mexico

Mexico is not just about work; it’s about experiencing life to the fullest in a beautiful setting. From the sizzling tacos and vibrant street markets to the misty jungles of Yucatan and the picturesque beaches along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Mexico is a country of immense diversity and beauty. Places like Guanajuato, Morelia, and Oaxaca offer breathtaking views and rich history, making your teaching journey an adventurous one.

For those based in the bustling capital, Mexico City is filled with attractions such as the Zócalo square, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the ancient Aztec pyramids. There’s also the beautiful colonial architecture in towns like Puebla and the majestic landscapes surrounding Teotihuacan.

Earning and Living Costs

While salaries for TEFL teachers in Mexico can vary, the cost of living is generally lower than in many Western countries. This balance allows for a comfortable lifestyle while providing the opportunity to save or explore the country.

For more detailed insights, including application processes and additional benefits, visit our pages on teaching in Mexico: Teach in Mexico and Teaching English in Mexico without a degree.

Teaching English in Cambodia

Cambodia is known for its welcoming attitude towards non-native English teachers. The cost of living is low, and the demand for English education is high, making it a great starting point for new teachers.

TEFL Cambodia courses

Program and Experience

myTEFL’s internship in Cambodia is an immersive program designed for those looking to leap into teaching English abroad. The program begins with a comprehensive 120-hour online TEFL course, followed by a structured in-country orientation. This unique blend of online and practical learning ensures that interns are not only TEFL certified but also acclimated to Cambodia’s culture and classroom dynamics before they begin teaching. Upon course completion a fully paid job placement awaits.

Legal Aspects and Requirements

To teach English in Cambodia, the legal requirements are more lenient compared to other countries. While a Bachelor’s degree enhances job prospects, it’s not always mandatory. The primary necessity is a TEFL certification, which the myTEFL program provides. Visa and work permit guidance are part of the package, simplifying the process for international teachers.

Life and Attractions in Cambodia

Cambodia offers a vibrant cultural experience, from the majestic Angkor Wat to the bustling streets of Phnom Penh and the tranquil beaches of Sihanoukville. Teachers can explore a nation rich in history and natural beauty. The program encourages exploring local communities and landmarks, offering a balanced mix of work and adventure.

Earning and Living Costs

The cost of living in Cambodia is low, making it an attractive destination for teachers. Salaries range from $1,100 to $1,500 per month, sufficient for a comfortable lifestyle while saving money. Accommodation options are provided, ensuring teachers have a safe and comfortable living environment.

For more detailed insights, including application processes and additional benefits, visit our pages on teaching in Cambodia: Teach in Cambodia and more details about the internship which welcomes non-native speakers.

Teaching English in Vietnam

Vietnam offers a growing TEFL market with competitive salaries and a relatively low cost of living. The country is known for its natural beauty, friendly locals, and bustling cities.

TEFL Vietnam courses

Program and Experience

The myTEFL internship in Vietnam begins with a comprehensive 120-hour online TEFL course, laying a solid foundation in English language teaching methodology. Participants then transition to Vietnam for a cultural orientation and hands-on teaching experience. This blend of online and practical learning ensures readiness for the classroom. Upon course completion a fully paid job placement awaits.

Legal Aspects and Requirements

Vietnam’s regulations for English teachers are clear. A Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification are typically required. The myTEFL program assists with navigating the visa and work permit process, simplifying legal hurdles for program participants.

Life and Attractions in Vietnam

Vietnam offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, from bustling cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh to serene landscapes like Ha Long Bay. Interns can explore Vietnam’s history, cuisine, and natural beauty, enhancing their teaching stint with unforgettable experiences.

Earning and Living Costs

With a teaching salary ranging from $1,200 to $1,800 per month and a relatively low cost of living, teachers can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Vietnam. The program provides guidance on finding accommodation and managing expenses, ensuring a smooth transition for interns.

For more detailed insights, including application processes and additional benefits, visit our pages on teaching in Vietnam: Teach in Vietnam and more details about the internship which welcomes non-native speakers.

Teaching English in Hungary

This Central European country offers unique opportunities to teach English in a historic and culturally rich setting. There’s a steady demand for English teachers, and the qualifications for non-native speakers are more flexible than in Western Europe.

TEFL Hungary courses

Program and Experience

The myTEFL program in Hungary offers a holistic approach, blending online TEFL certification with immersive teaching experiences. It’s designed to equip educators with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Legal Aspects and Requirements

Teaching in Hungary requires adherence to local employment laws, typically necessitating a work visa and relevant teaching qualifications. The program fully supports the work visa application and paperwork.

Life and Attractions in Hungary

Hungary is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and thermal baths. Teachers can explore vibrant cities like Budapest and scenic regions such as Lake Balaton.

Earning and Living Costs

The $1200 tax free salaries for TEFL teachers in Hungary offers a comfortable lifestyle, given the country’s reasonable cost of living. This balance allows educators to enjoy local experiences and travel.

For detailed insights and experiences, visit the myTEFL Teach in Hungary and Amazing Places to Visit in Hungary pages.


Thailand presents a vibrant tableau of culture, history, and natural beauty, making it one of the most sought-after destinations for teaching English abroad. The country’s increasing integration into the global economy has spurred a high demand for English education, creating numerous opportunities for non-native English speakers. Completing a TEFL certification, such as the one provided by myTEFL, opens the door to a rewarding teaching experience in this tropical paradise. Not only does it allow for professional growth, but it also offers a chance to immerse in the rich Thai culture, making it an ideal choice for aspiring educators.

TEFL Thailand courses

The myTEFL Advantage

For non-native English speakers, the journey to becoming an effective teacher in Thailand begins with a solid foundation in teaching methodologies and language skills. myTEFL stands out by offering a comprehensive 120-hour online TEFL course tailored to meet these needs. The course covers essential teaching principles, classroom management, and effective lesson planning. Additionally, myTEFL supports its graduates with job placement services in Thailand, ensuring a smooth transition into their new teaching roles. The support continues beyond the classroom, guiding teachers through cultural acclimatization and professional development.

Legal Aspects and Requirements

Teaching in Thailand is an attractive proposition for many, but it comes with its own set of legal requirements and visa regulations that non-native speakers must navigate. Firstly, a Bachelor’s degree is generally required alongside a TEFL certification, such as the one provided by myTEFL. Non-native speakers also need to demonstrate proficiency in English, which can often be validated by their TEFL course completion. Visa applications typically involve securing a Non-Immigrant B visa, which requires sponsorship from the employing school. Understanding these legal steps is crucial, and myTEFL assists its graduates with this process, ensuring that they meet all the necessary criteria to legally work and reside in Thailand.

Life and Attractions in Thailand

Thailand is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush jungles, offering a picturesque backdrop to the teaching experience. The country is steeped in history and culture, providing endless opportunities for exploration and learning. Teachers in Thailand can indulge in the local cuisine, visit ancient temples, and participate in traditional festivals. The welcoming nature of the Thai people adds to the enriching experience, making it easier for new teachers to adapt and immerse themselves in the community. Life in Thailand offers a balance between adventure and tranquility, making each day a new exploration.

Earning and Living Costs

The financial aspect of teaching in Thailand is a critical consideration for many. While the cost of living varies across different regions, it is generally affordable, especially when compared to Western standards. Typical monthly earnings for TEFL teachers range from $1,000 to $1,500, which can comfortably cover living expenses, including housing, food, and transportation, with enough left for leisure activities and travel. myTEFL provides guidance on managing finances, negotiating salaries, and finding accommodation that fits within teachers’ budgets. This support ensures that teachers can make the most of their earnings while enjoying the rich cultural tapestry that Thailand has to offer.

For detailed insights and experiences, visit the myTEFL Teach in Thailand Placement page.


Teaching English abroad as a non-native speaker offers unparalleled opportunities for personal and professional growth. From Mexico’s vibrant culture to Cambodia’s historic sites, Vietnam’s bustling streets, and the architectural wonders of Hungary and the Czech Republic, each destination provides unique experiences. By meeting educational and certification requirements, demonstrating language proficiency, and being flexible with locations, non-native speakers can embark on rewarding TEFL careers. This journey not only enriches the lives of students but also allows teachers to explore diverse cultures and landscapes. For more on teaching English abroad, consider exploring specific programs and locations tailored to your interests and qualifications.

The post Can non-native Speakers Teach English & TEFL Abroad? appeared first on myTEFL.

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