How to Teach Abroad if You are a Non-native English Speaker

How to Teach Abroad if You are a Non-native English Speaker

We often get asked; 'I’m not a native English speaker, is it still possible to teach English abroad'? This is a common misconception, a lot of people think just because English isn't their first language that they won't get hired to work as an English teacher. If you are a non native English speaker and you are currently researching opportunities then please don't put off your application as there are lots of TEFL jobs available worldwide.

Many people are often under the impression that in order to teach English as a foreign language abroad, you need to be a native English speaker. This is not the truth. Although it is true that some employers do favor native English speakers, but as long as you do research, make an impressive application and you can also converse and write to a good level of English then you shouldn't have too many problems finding work. There are opportunities all around the world to teach English and you shouldn't let anything out you off. Some employers even prefer if teachers are not native English speakers as they understand the learning process students go through to try to learn and improve.

Landing a dream TEFL job isn't easy, even if you are a native English speaker and it can be more of a challenge if you do not have a passport from an English speaking country. Some non-native English speaking TEFL teachers tend to stay in their home country to work as this can be the easiest way to get a job. Usually overseas employers need to justify their reason to hire you, and if you have the skills, experience, desire and also make a good impression you stand a good chance of getting hired in a number of destinations worldwide.

One of the main challenges you face is your own worry about being a non-native speaker! If you are confident and competent in the classroom and can get this across in an interview you stand a good chance of getting hired.


Best Countries to Teach English for Non-Native English Speakers

In most countries there are an equal level of jobs for non-native speakers as there are for native speakers and in the following countries you stand a good chance of finding employment all year round:


Best Places to Teach Abroad if Non-Native Speaker: China


This is one of the biggest TEFL industries in the world and one of the best places to get a job. There are always positions available for non-native English speakers looking to teach here and every year over 100 million children learn English here.



Experience history, food and a unique culture by challenging yourself to teach in developing India! There is one of the fastest growing TEFL markets in the world due to the country advancing economically and local people see English as a necessity to improve career prospects.



This has long been one of the most popular countries to teach for non-native speakers and the country is an incredible place to live and work. Try a company like Interact who help lots of non-native English speakers get work every year.



Other countries you might want to consider include Cambodia and Vietnam

Please note these are just a few of the countries where you can go, there are so many opportunities worldwide but we recommend Asia due to the huge TEFL job market - there are over 350 million English students in Asia.


Top Tips

If you are a non-native English speaker, you will need to really put a lot of effort into your job search, here are some recommendations:

  • If you do not think your current level of English (verbal and written) isn't as good as it could be try to improve this, learn online or book an English course.
  • Take an English language certification course like a IELTS or TOEFL language course, or get a CAE or CPE certificate
  • It always helps if you have a degree level education
  • Being proactive will really help you in your job hunt, try to decide what country you would like to teach in and then draw a short list of employers
  • If you have a telephone or face to face interview try to demonstrate your English skills - first impressions are everything
  • It really helps if you try to learn some basic words and phrases for the destination you are going to
  • Book a comprehensive TEFL course or an even more advanced certification like a TESOL or CELTA - this will really impress potential employers
  • You could apply for an internship or volunteering program to increase your hands on experience in the classroom
  • Read messageboards and check our TEFL Facebook page where recruiters often post messages about available jobs
  • Don't let initial setbacks put you off, some employers do have traditional values when it comes to hiring staff but there are literally thousands of jobs available worldwide


These are just a few recommendations and hopefully we have giving you the confidence to embark on a teaching career. As a non-native English speaker, you will need to be more proactive in your job hunt and you might get some setbacks but there really is nothing stopping you working overseas teaching English.


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