Where are the Most Popular Destinations to Teach English Abroad?

Life as an English teacher abroad is special. Imagine getting paid to spend time with groups of enthusiastic young faces that hang off your every word, in one of the world’s most captivating locations.

To break down the 5 most popular TEFL destinations and tell you how you can get a taste of life as an English teacher abroad is TEFL specialist Katie Baxter.

The experience of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (or TEFL) is open to absolutely everyone. With no previous experience necessary and thousands of paid opportunities around the globe, the world is wide open; but how on earth do you start when choosing where to go?

In most locations you’ll usually be able to negotiate free accommodation, reimbursed flights as well as other perks such as bonuses and healthcare – so TEFL is a great, low-cost option for those looking to travel for longer on a budget.

Here’s a run through of the five most popular TEFL destinations to help you narrow it down!

A group of excited students in Japan.

All You Need to Know About the Most Popular TEFL Destinations


Commonly referred to as the biggest TEFL hotspot due to the huge demand for TEFL teachers just like you! With decent salaries (around £800 per month), a low cost of living and amazing sights to explore in your spare time, why wouldn’t you choose to TEFL in China?

Degree? To legally work in China you will largely need a degree, but there are still plenty of programmes available for non-degree holders so China is wide open for applications!

Positions: There are ridiculous amounts of positions in kindergartens, state schools, one-to-one tuition and private language schools as well as Universities and Business English roles for the most lucrative of TEFL jobs.

Top locations: Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming.


If you’re looking for a TEFL destination that has awe-inspiring scenery, futuristic technology, amazingly polite students and some of the highest wages around (around £2k per month), Japan is the place for you!

Degree? A degree is required to obtain a working visa.

Positions: There are an abundance of TEFL positions in everywhere from private schools to public kindergartens, apply from home or when you arrive – it’s your choice!

Top locations: Tokyo (of course), Kobe, Kyoto.


Live in Thailand and you’ll soon find out why everyone smiles so much there, what’s not to love about sunshine, unspoilt beaches, friendly faces, delicious street food and perhaps an elephant blocking your daily commute? Thailand might not be the highest paying destination, but what it lacks in salary (around £650 per month) it certainly makes up in overall experience.

Degree? A degree is required if you’re looking to make Thailand your home using a work permit.

Positions: Where should I start? The tourism industry in Thailand means that there is no shortage of people looking to learn English. Hurrah!

Top locations: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket

Katie with a group of her students in Thailand.

South Korea

With demand for TEFL teachers booming, high wages (around £1,300 per month) and a low cost of living, it’s no wonder that first time TEFL teachers flock to South Korea. Twin that with fantastic cities, stunning beaches (it’s true!) and Gangnam Style and you’ll fall in love with South Korea.

Degree? In order to acquire a working visa, a degree is required.

Positions: Learning English is something of a national obsession in South Korea, with business workers heading off for English lessons before work, and with Universities demanding that all students pass an English proficiency test before being offered a place, you’re sure to find your perfect job.

Top locations: Seoul, Busan, Gwangju

Days off as a TEFL teacher are pretty special.


Does Spain really need an introduction? Oh ok then… over 300 days of sunshine, students desperate to learn English to get into the best Universities and a huge demand for TEFL teachers (despite the turbulent situation with their economy) all mean that Spain is a great choice! The monthly salary is around £700, so if you’re prepared to move outside of the big cities, you won’t save much but you can have a lot of fun!

Degree? If you’re an EU national, you can search for work in Spain the same way you would in your home country. If you’re not an EU national, you’ll need a university degree in order to get your work visa.

Positions: There are many jobs in Spain that require fluency in English, which is great news for you! You’ll find vacancies everywhere from state schools and kindergartens to private tuition and language schools.

Top locations: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville

If you’re interested in finding out more about teaching English as a foreign language, in one of these 5 locations, or the many others available, check out the selection of courses on our website.