English Teachers Make a Break for the East

Woman travelling to yangjae.

Around the world, Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) are finding innovative ways to travel and work amid global lockdown restrictions. With many countries re-opening their borders to international travellers, those who are qualified to teach English as a foreign language are securing work visas and migrating to East Asian countries where they can enjoy fewer restrictions and better quality of life, while vaccines are being rolled out. 

According to The TEFL Academy CEO, Tom Gibbons “The pandemic has impacted work and travel plans across the board. Graduates and young professionals in particular feel like they’re missing out by not being able to travel once they finish school or university. Securing a work visa is a safe way to travel to certain countries that have eased lockdown restrictions, without having to wait for the pandemic to end.”

Read more: How Teaching English Abroad Can Help You Become a Digital Nomad

Survey findings

A survey conducted by The TEFL Academy has revealed that the top four countries to teach in during Covid-19 are; 


South Korea



Relaxed lockdown restrictions and monthly earning potential – which ranges from €862 to €2587 per month, depending on experience – are attracting English teachers to these regions. 

TEFL teacher travelling around South Korea. Wearing mask

We reached out to our alumni who have made a break for the East during the pandemic and who are currently enjoying life teaching English overseas. When the pandemic hit Ireland last March, Rebecca packed a very large suitcase and moved to Seoul, South Korea. She has been teaching English to kindergarten students ever since. “I never imagined living so far away from home, but it turns out that opening that door, opens up a whole new world to explore, experience and thrive in.”, says Rebecca Walsh, a past student of The TEFL Academy.

Worldwide statistics

Of the certified and in-training TEFL teachers surveyed worldwide, 60% want to live and work in Asia in the long term, with almost 40% planning to migrate in 2021 to avoid lockdown restrictions at home. 60% say they will teach online this year – while 1/3 of this group hope to use this experience to secure a job abroad in the future. 

Statistics infographic

Those searching for employment opportunities can take advantage of the relatively short period of study required to get certified, as well as the current scarcity of English teachers abroad. “With the likelihood of a third Covid-19 wave in the near future, many people are looking for a quick, and reliable route out. When studied full time, a TEFL course can typically be completed within four to six weeks – and with English teachers in short supply, there is a huge demand for English teachers at schools in Asian countries,” says Gibbons. 

In most cases, international arrivals are subject to a Covid-19 PCT test and 14 days of self-isolation at a designated location. “Those looking for jobs overseas should contact their job recruiters for more information beforehand to see if assistance on travel, accommodation and isolation costs are available,” says Gibbons.  

Take the plunge

TEFL teacher travelling around South Korea. Wearing mask

Alumna Matthew Rees had grown tired of his 9-5 lifestyle, he wanted his work to have a purpose and to try something completely new. He enrolled in our Level 5 TEFL course and in only 4 weeks, he secured his internationally recognised Level 5 TEFL certificate. He used the country-by-country breakdowns in the TTA TEFL World Factbook to help him decide on his destination. Matthew made a break for the East and headed for China in November 2020, and he admits he already feels like a “Shanghaier”! “There is so much to see in China, and I’m spoilt for choice for country escapes and city breaks. There are next to no Covid-restrictions here and I am living a normal life. My advice? Take the plunge.”

Read more: The Benefits of Teaching English in China

The post English Teachers Make a Break for the East appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.

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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