Close this search box.

Teaching English Abroad: Taking Advantage of ESL Programs to Traverse the Globe

Many young Americans experience their first taste of foreign cultures and distant lands while in college, taking a semester or year abroad to hone their foreign-language skills, broaden their cultural understanding, and, more often than not, party with the locals. Now, faced with a dearth of jobs at home and the prospect of moving in with mom and dad, many American youth are turning their skill-sets and desire to travel the world to teaching English abroad.

Being one of those young Americans, I have spoken with many college graduates who have decided to forgo grad school or the daunting recession-era job search, opting instead to teach English abroad. Whether through international placement programs, TEFL/TESOL certification courses, or their own initiatives, these students are finding a wealth of opportunities teaching their mother tongue to children and adults. Below you will find some helpful information about getting started in ESL teaching.

Organizations and agencies like the Peace Corps, the State Department (which administers the Boren Fellowship), and the Institute of International Exchange (which sponsors the Fulbright Fellowship) have given young people the opportunity to conduct research and provide international assistance for several decades. More recently, however, multitudes of language-driven programs have cropped up, some global and others country-specific, that help connect potential ESL teachers and their students. One such company, Oxford Seminars, provides a handy inventory of the introspection and preparation required to begin teaching abroad. Doing the sort of preliminary research suggested on their site is the best safeguard against succumbing to the initial difficulty and discomfort inherent in living and working abroad.

While many ESL jobs do not require certification, others demand either TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) credentials. As the market for qualified native speakers becomes more competitive, many agencies supplant hands-on teaching experience with training and certification programs in which the teacher is granted certification through either online classes or in the course of teaching abroad.

The options for teaching abroad have expanded rapidly in the past few years, giving more Americans the opportunity to immerse themselves in foreign cultures and languages while providing non-native English-language learners with invaluable skills and knowledge. More information for potential ESL teachers is available on the U.S. State Department website, as well as through most major university sites.

Pupils with counting-frames in classroom, about 1930. Courtesy of Nationaal Archief / Spaarnestad Photo

Other Resources

November is Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month has officially been celebrated in the United States each November since 1990. This is recognized on the federal, state, and local levels with special programming and events to highlight and honor the traditions, culture, history, and...

Learn More

5 Fascinating Facts About the Hawaiian Language: A Look into its History and Significance

Hawaiian language, also known as ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, is one of the two official languages of Hawaii. While the language was banned in schools after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1896, there have been revitalization efforts since 1978. Today...

Learn More

What is Heritage Language?

Individuals who speak multiple languages or live in multilingual households may have a “heritage language.” This term describes the language the individual speaks or hears at home, but it is not the dominant language spoken in the community. In the...

Learn More

Contact Us

Get Started Today

Interested in our language services? Complete the form or call us during business hours (9 AM to 6:00 PM ET) at 800.895.8210.

Preparing for your test?

View our test prep materials or FAQ’s for common questions about taking a test.