Keen to teach English abroad? These are the places you’ll get paid the most

Teaching English as a foreign language can be a fun - and lucrative - career choice
Teaching English as a foreign language can be a fun - and lucrative - career choice Copyright Taylor Flowe via Unsplash
Copyright Taylor Flowe via Unsplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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These are the countries where you’ll get paid the most for teaching English as a foreign language.


Teaching English as a foreign language - better known as TEFL - has become a popular route for travellers wanting to spend an extended stint abroad.

The practice actually dates back to 1862, when China opened the first institute for teaching English as part of its Westernisation movement.

In 2024, TEFL is a popular career option, especially for young, English-speaking Europeans who want to travel and broaden their horizons while educating people abroad and earning cash along the way.

These are the most lucrative places worldwide to teach English abroad - and what it’s actually like to take on the job.

TEFL-certified teachers are in particularly high demand in Asia and the Middle East

Research undertaken by the TEFL Academy, the world’s first TEFL course provider to receive official recognition from government-regulated awarding bodies in both the USA and the UK, reveals which countries offer the highest paid teaching jobs.

Prospective teachers taking the academy’s courses will graduate with a globally recognised Level 3 certificate, which takes 120 hours of study, or a Level 5 Diploma, which takes 168 hours.

That means they can apply to nearly 3,000 vacancies on the online TEFL jobs board and join a global community of over 200,000 TEFL teachers.

But where are these graduates likely to find the highest paying TEFL jobs?

Although China has had an established TEFL presence for decades, it still has a high demand for English teachers.

Teaching English as a foreign language can be basic or far more complex
Teaching English as a foreign language can be basic or far more complexElement5 Digital via Unsplash

If you fancy spending time in China while teaching, you can expect to earn between €1,165 and €2,333 per month.

In South Korea, that figure rises to between €1,750 and €2,450, while in Japan you could net anything from €1635 to €2333.

The top two most lucrative places, though, can provide wages to rival many jobs - and have the possibility of paying more than full time teacher gigs in Europe.

In Taiwan, some TEFL teachers may earn between €1,868 and €3,500 every month.

It’s even higher if you choose to teach in the Gulf Arab States. Also starting from €1,868, some could earn as much as €4,668 per month.

That list is not exhaustive though, with TEFL-certified teachers in high demand across Asia, specifically China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, as well as Latin America and parts of the Middle East.

All of those regions have accredited English language programmes in schools and language institutes, meaning they are legitimate organisations.

What’s it like to teach at a TEFL school?

TEFL is well known for offering flexibility with full-time, part-time and freelance opportunities, including both in-person and online work.

Short term roles as TEFL teachers are common but there are also long-term career opportunities on offer.


If you’ve ever wondered what the day-to-day life of one of these teachers is like, the TEFL Academy has answers.

It has introduced TEFL Tales, a series that features some of its British graduates who have gone abroad to teach English.

Many of them use their new jobs as not just an opportunity to earn money and help people learn English, but to visit surrounding countries, too. These are some of their stories.

Aoife Hynes taught English in Poland. “Eastern Europe was inexpensive and getting from one country to another was a veritable piece of cake,” she says. “Within a month I had seen Slovakia, where I caught up with old friends, and Vienna, Austria, a city of childhood dreams. By Easter I was in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Before the school year was out I had seen Belarus (my first foray beyond the EU).”

In Poland, she’s enjoyed visiting Krakow and Zakopane to the south” which boast “mountains, sheep’s cheese, hiking”.

TEFL teachers can educate all ages, from young children to adults
TEFL teachers can educate all ages, from young children to adultsNote Thanun via Unsplash

She also recommends visits to Warsaw for “the history”, as well as “Torun with its mediaeval walls. Gdansk by the Baltic Sea and the Brobdingnagian castle at Malbork. Arty Poznan in the west.”

Caitlin Beck is teaching in Guinea. “English classes in Guinea are very different from those given in Western classrooms,” she says. “We have no smart boards, iPads, computers, or internet, and so I need to plan my lessons carefully to ensure I bring all the relevant teaching materials with me.”

She says she enjoys using a traditional blackboard, which is “somewhat of a novelty these days, in most of Europe.”

“Daily I have to adapt to unique circumstances, such as the extreme heat in the classroom, by thinking on my feet, and taking the lesson outdoors,” Caitlin explains. “Having a bank of ideas in the back of my mind for EFL games that I can use with my students helps in these scenarios.”

In Vietnam, teacher Daniel Owen has taken the chance to use his 10 months in the Asian country to explore the region.


“I’ve managed to visit Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore and Bangkok a few times for weekend trips.”

He explains that the salary for English teachers in Vietnam compared to the cost of living is “pretty great”. “Even with those trips and a few other splurges, I’ve managed to save enough money for a three-month adventure during the summer break,” he says.

His favourite thing about teaching in Vietnam though?

“The school sleeps at lunchtime; that’s right, we have nap-time… nap-time is so under-rated in the UK!”

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