English Language Teaching Statistics

The Basics of Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Are you curious about where the English Language Teaching world is at in 2020? This, the year that affected all of our lives in so many ways. 

In order to get a sense of where the industry stands at this moment, and in response to news organisations and media requests, The TEFL Academy has conducted an in-depth analysis of the industry as a whole.

*If you are a journalist and are interested in English Language Teaching Statistics please do not hesitate to get in touch with us directly for more information

Alongside our analysis we conducted a survey of qualified and aspiring English language teachers. Through this process we have compiled the most up-to-date information on the English language market as a whole.

Jump to a category, or keep reading for our top statistics and findings.

  1. The value of the English Language Teaching Market 
  2. Language Travel and Student Mobility
  3. Trends in the EFL Market
  4. Shift To Online Teaching
  5. How COVID has impacted TEFL Teachers’ Journey
  6. Attitudes Towards Teaching Abroad in 2020 and Beyond
  7. Teaching English Online in 2020 and Beyond

1. The Value of the English language Teaching Market 

ELT stands for English Language Training. ELT can be used interchangeably with TEFL. It is training of teaching English to advanced learners language skills and competency in an international environment

An impressive 20% of the Earth’s population are English speaking learners— that’s an estimated 1.5 billion people. It’s the world’s most commonly studied foreign and it is spoken in more than 100 countries. No wonder there are so many TEFL positions available across the globe. As the world population grows the number of people looking to study English increases steadily. 

In the UK, the ELT market creates £1.4 bn annually by 550,000 international students who travel to study English. This market create 35,000 jobs for TEFL teachers in the UK. 
In South Africa, the English teaching market was worth R870,198,781 (US$65,104,587) in 2018.

2. Language Travel and Student Mobility 

Teachers and students travel around the globe to teach and learn English. With the ease of travel and technology advances, it has become easier to connect with people around the world.  

As the world becomes a more mobile population and trends in traveling for work and pleasure have increased.  There were 4.2 billion air transport journeys in 2018 alone— that’s a 263% increase from 2000.  Unfortunately, COVID has put air transport to halt, and we will see a dramatic decrease in air travel for 2020. 

Education and travel has been widely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At The TEFL Academy, we wanted to find out more about TEFL teachers’ thoughts on moving abroad concerning the current situation.

3. Trends in ELT Market 

Growing globalisation and a drastic rise in online learning and education continue to grow the English language market. A survey conducted by Wall Street English surveyed individuals’ thoughts on learning English as a foreign language, which revealed that 73% believed that learning English will become a necessity in the coming years. In comparison, 65% of these participants thought that the English language helps build relationships around the world. 

The language service industry has seen higher growth as world cultures, economies, and the population becomes increasingly interconnected.  The global language market has doubled in size over the past ten years, amounting to 46.9 billon U.S dollar industry in 2019. 

By 2025, the English language market is predicted to grow at a rate of 7.1% and amounted to an impressive  $54.5 billion US dollars. 
Over a five year period from 2018, the ELT market in China market alone is predicted to have an annual growth rate of  22%.

4. Shift to Online Teaching 

The effects of COVID have had a major impact on the ELT markets around the world. With the sudden closure of schools, institutions had to devise new ways to deliver classes.

Covid has left many looking for new revenue avenues and working from home has become a requirement for most. The closures of in-classroom schools did not lower the need for TEFL teachers around the world, but Instead schools have switched to online learning methods.

Online class enrolments have increased across educational institutions. The amount of students taking at least one online class is now 32%  — the highest seen yet. Higher educational institutions are moving towards more online programs and at the beginning the stages of planning Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). 

Over half of the net is in English, meaning the new users will have to attain English skills to make full use of information that can be found there.”

-”The rising number of live streaming courses in rural China is expected to drive the growth of the ELT market in China

-For instance, VIPKid alone now employes 65,000 teachers that teach over half a million Chinese students online. VipKid is just one of the many online teaching platforms. 
Online education was on the rise before COVID, but have seen in the previous months a rapid growth in the industry. There are hundreds of online teaching jobs available online, and the need for online teachers continues to grow while the travel restrictions remain across the globe.

5. How COVID Has impacted TEFL Teachers’ Journey?

We’ve heard from many of our students and TEFL teachers who’s original plans and ambition has been changed this year. Maybe yours have been to? If so, these statistics and findings from our recent survey will definitely make for some interesting reading and some might even surprise you. Some countries have re-opened schools for TEFL teachers currently in the country. 

However, many foreign teachers have moved to their home countries during the pandemic which has left many schools without English language teachers. Now that they are re-opened, the schools cannot fill all of their positions due to closed borders. Some employers have resorted to recruiting teachers to teach remotely until foreign teachers can travel once again. 

We are following these transitions around the world and providing you updates with the latest developments via verified sources such as the WHO’s Covid advice page

We asked TEFL teaching the question ‘Has COVID impacted your TEFL journey’? From which the majority of people have felt the effects this year.

Has COVID Impacted your TEFL journey?

We asked if responders had begun their TEFL journey or become TEFL qualified before COVID reached your country of residence? This was almost an even split but the majority of people (52%) said that they started with journey after COVID became a feature of their lives.

Did you Start your TEFL Journey or Become TEFL Qualified before COVID Reached your Country of Residence?

With our world in this precarious and uncertain place it finds itself in at this time, we wanted to gauge what concerns people with regards to teaching at this time? Covid itself is surprisingly not the biggest concern for TEFL teachers today, with The availability of jobs and travel restrictions being the most pressing worries.

What Concerns Do you Have, if Any, with Regards to Teaching at this Time?

We asked those who have just completed or purchased a TEFL course, what motivated them to do it? The two biggest motivating factors were using the free time that some people experience during lockdowns and also those who were looking to embark a journey of teaching english abroad.

If you have Just Completed or Purchased a TEFL course, what Motivated you To do it Now?

Are people still motivated to travel abroad (when it is permitted to do so in their region) despite the macro factors? The answer was overwhelmingly yes! New and experienced TEFL teachers are still keen to travel the world.

Are you Interested in Teaching Abroad Once Travel Restrictions are Lifted?

6. Attitudes Towards Teaching Abroad in 2020 and Beyond

While people are still motivated and hopefully to travel soon, how many of our respondents are actually currently abroad? Well, not that many for now. Only 7% of total respondents are teaching abroad at this time.

Are you Currently Teaching Abroad?

As we have already seen above, the sentiment for travel is strong despite the fact that an overwhelming majority are not currently teaching abroad. So where do people who are currently studying to become TEFL teachers want to teach? Well the answer to that has two parts. Firstly, teaching online is the most popular choice when put as an option, followed closely by Europe and Asia.

If You are Still Studying, Where are You Planning to Teach?

There are multitude of factors and variables in this COVID era that will influence a person’s decision of where to travel and teach.

If you Have Taught or are Planning to Teach Abroad, why Choose that Country?

Does the Current Rate of COVID in a Country That you May Teach in Concern You?

Despite the overall openness to the Online teaching revolution from our respondents, which we detail below, when faced with the scenario of living abroad 67% said that they would prefer to teach in a classroom as opposed to Online.

If Living Abroad, Would you Prefer to Teach Online or in the Classroom?

When do you Plan to Move Abroad?

8.Teaching English Online in 2020 and Beyond

The world has become much more ‘au fait’ with digital communication and work generally in the past few months. Our survey results in total really drive home the point that qualified and aspiring TEFL teachers are for the most part ready and willing to take up online teaching jobs.

Are you Planning to Teach Online?

We asked if people are aware of the online teaching platforms available to teach english online to which only half responded ‘Yes’. The good news is that there are many platforms out there like Education First, iTalki and Palfish.

The confidence that our respondents show when it comes to their ability to deliver an online lesson is really excellent to see. 75% of people said that they would have no problem adapting their lessons into online content.

Flexible schedules, the comfort of home, and no commute or extra travel expenses are some of  the responses that we received when asking what are perceived as the advantages of teaching online. Many over respondents spoke about the benefits of having the option to work from anywhere in the world, including home; being able to teach a wider range of students (different abilities, different nationalities, different reasons for learning English) and being able to work regardless of international travel restrictions.

What Would your Wage (per hour) Expectations be for Teaching Online?

The vast majority of survey respondents were conscious of the fact that wage expectations are dependent on the country that the person is teaching in. Here are some average expectations in a range of countries/regions;

USA – $20.00 – $30.00. UK -£15.00 – £20.00. EU – €15.00 – €20.00. South Africa – R200 – R300

Do you Feel that Online/Blended Learning in EFL Teaching (and Education in General) will Become the Dominant Delivery Method post-COVID?

As a more existential point we posed this question to our respondent to see what they are expecting. A huge majority of 81% believe that in the post-COVID world, online teaching will be the dominant mode of delivery for EFL teaching and education more generally.


As we have all come to learn in the last number of months, everything we do and know is subject to change. But one thing is not changing. People desire to learn english as a foreign language and for people to learn how to teach it! The TEFL Academy’s market leading TEFL courses are truly the best way to get qualified to teach, in whatever way that our new world presents you with!

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I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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