Can non-native English speakers find TEFL work?

Can non-native English speakers find TEFL work?

Can non-native English speakers find TEFL/TESOL work?

In the second article in this series, Global English TESOL Director of Studies William Bradridge looks at some of the key issues which affect non-native English speakers after training to teach English.

Here he has gathered evidence from Global English TESOL graduates on how they found work and looks at how you can improve your chances of finding work if you are a non-native English speaker. 

Does being a non-native English speaker hold you back from some TEFL positions?

OK, it is time to face facts. If you are a non-native speaker of English looking to teach the language, then it is going to be harder for you to find work. As we noted in Part 1 of this article a couple of weeks ago, there is a strong preference towards ‘native English speakers’ and if you are not one then it will mean you need to be more determined to succeed. Despite the prejudice that non-native speakers find when they apply for positions, there are many success stories from people out there who have trodden this path successfully before you. So take heart – and read on…

Use your native tongue to your advantage

Have you considered offering yourself as a teacher of English and your native tongue? There could be openings for you that are not available to native English speakers, particularly as so many don’t speak another language. 

Ana-Sofia Guerreiro is a successful EFL teacher in a small English language school teaching English in Japan. She comments:

"My school was delighted that I could also speak Portuguese and French and they are now in the process of changing the school name from “Royale English Services” to “Royale International Services”. The school started advertising French and Portuguese lessons and I now teach one class of each per week, in addition to my normal English classes. It has been a challenge but extremely rewarding!"

The Jet Scheme in Japan recruits non-native English speakers. See here for more.

Another GE graduate did this teaching English in Spain:

"I like living in Spain very much. The weather, the people, the life style... I think there are a lot of opportunities as there a many private language schools constantly looking for teachers. They like to employ native speakers as it is always demanded in job advertisements. I’m not native English but I’m foreign. Obviously that was enough to give me a try.

I sent some applications via internet and some schools I just called to leave a message and I received answers from all schools I called. Sometimes they offer you just a few lessons a week, so you normally work for more than one school. At the moment I’m teaching English and German."

So your application might open doors in other countries in ways you haven’t yet considered.

If you are planning to teach English in the country where you come from, sometimes being a non-native English speaker can be to your advantage as well. Sabine Rosenthal says that in spite of the preference for native English speakers in TEFL in Germany:

"…people expect some knowledge of German (from their teachers), maybe not the school directors themselves, but the students feel much better and are more inclined to study hard if their teacher at least tries to understand them."

So as a non-native speaker, how can you improve your chances of finding work? There are several ways in which you can do this. Have a look at what some of our graduates have done previously, and how it has led to success.


Spend time in an English speaking country

If you can, it is great to some time (at least 6 months or more) in a country where you are going to be surrounded by English. If you are in Europe, this is relatively easy as you can find summer work in the UK or Ireland on your EU passport. Again, Sabine Rosenthal comments on teaching in Germany:

"Most schools here in Germany want to work with native speakers or expect you at least to have lived some time in an English speaking country and often expect some kind of teaching certificate as well. Also you should be prepared to work as a freelancer or on a self-employed basis."

Ana-Sofia Guerreiro, a Portuguese graduate, went to the USA where she was able to improve her accent. Here she describes her situation when she arrived in Japan with a TESOL qualification, looking for EFL work:

"I did not have a job before moving here and I definitely did not feel too confident I would get one. Although Japan has a high demand for English teachers, I felt sure that I would not be hired solely because I was not a native speaker. It took a lot of effort to keep myself motivated and, after a few months, I was finally called for an interview at the school where I currently work. I recently found out that, originally, my boss didn’t want to call me for an interview and that it was my American co-worker that convinced her that a non-native speaker might bring many benefits, such as a clearer pronunciation. I was quite nervous in class the first couple of weeks (most of my students are Pre-Intermediate or Intermediate) but it started fading away as I realised I knew much more than I originally thought (those years of grammar came in handy after all)."

Lada Nobilisova is Czech but has been living and teaching English in the UK for over 5 years now. She says:

"I have to say that I still feel a little bit insecure when it comes to teaching English. I lived in the UK for over 5 years, and I have lived in New Zealand for 4 years. I am told that my accent has certainly improved and I sound English with a slight Kiwi accent (worrying :-)) - my boyfriend is also English. If I was teaching back at home, I think I would be less insecure about accent/pronunciation. However, here I find myself slightly more under pressure to 'get it right' and conscious of what I am saying and how I am saying it."

Some employers fear that a non-native speaker will have a heavy accent, so do all you can to improve yours. You might consider some English polishing with a native English teacher – a few lessons can make an enormous difference. Perhaps consider some telephone English classes with a qualified EFL instructor. 


Get TEFL/TESOL qualified

Make sure you are as qualified as you can be, particularly if you can get a TEFL certificate issued by an independently accredited body, such as Cambridge or Trinity, which award independent face-to-face qualifications, or ACTDEC, independent accrediting bodies that award online TEFL qualifications. It can be helpful if you try to get one of these rather than an ‘anyschool TEFL certificate’.  

In Asia, there is a real increase in ESL/ESL teachers from countries such as the Philippines, so there is much more competition for jobs. Ana-Sofia Guerreiro comments on Japan:

"It really helps to have a qualification, like the TESOL. Most schools in Japan require one as “proof” that you are qualified. It is really important to mark the difference with an official document. This will also increase the chances of being called for interviews."

Global English graduate Gülsüm Özkılınç teaching English in Turkey supports this view and suggests that non-native TESOL teachers:

"…should join all teacher training courses, get every important certificate out there, try to be at advanced level for every skill  in English, get good references from schools you've worked for so far...."

If you are competing against native English speakers, you need to show that you can add something extra that they can’t. So get as well qualified as you can. Consider picking up TESOL certificates that show you have some specialist knowledge in an area students want, such as in teaching business English or teaching English grammaror consider a course that will give you greater knowledge of teaching English to teenagers or young learners.


Keep studying because English is always changing!

One of the key things to remember, especially if English is not your first language, is that English is a living language. Change is driven by technology and social factors and the speed of communication means that changes are happening faster. So no-one can say they have truly ‘learned English’ in a complete sense because it alters and morphs daily. So how can you make sure you are keeping up with your students? Well, Gülsüm Özkılınç has provided some practical advice to all language learners. She says that although she is confident with her level of English,

"….I try to improve my English all the time. And it's easy, just reading, listening to English music, watching movies without subtitles ... all these really help a lot."

Lada Nobilisova gives some useful tips here as well:

"I always try to do a lot of research (grammar books, Internet) before I teach grammar and I read tips from other teachers. Sometimes I practice pronunciation of 'tricky' words beforehand and check it online."


Get involved 

Consider joining a reputable association, such as IATEFL and certainly stay up to date with the latest ideas for the classroom. If you have a particular interest in an area of English Language Teaching, you can join one of the IATEFL Special Interest Groups for free when you subscribe as a member. Even if you can’t make it to one of the local conferences which are held around the world, check out the IATEFL conference online to keep up with developments – several of the talks and seminars are broadcast free over the internet. Contribute to discussions and ask questions – this is a friendly profession where people are often out to help each other and love to share ideas. 

Another idea is to subscribe to one of the main TESOL blog sites – one of the best we have found is via OUP where you will find some of the foremost TEFL brains giving ideas and suggestions on a whole range of topics and suggestions. If you have a particular area you are keen on, research it and offer to write for them. There is no better way to develop your knowledge than to get involved. 


Don’t give up

Accept that you will get knocked back. All of our TESOL graduates acknowledged that there is no miracle job if you are a non-native speaker. But if you can use your skills, your own language and if you are tenacious enough, you will succeed. Let’s leave the final word to Gülsüm Özkılınç:

"… this is my career, so I’ll keep trying. OK, so it's not my first language but I know I’m good at it. It's devastating hearing 'No' as an answer from schools but I know I can prove myself if I get my chance… and I’ve done that."


William Bradridge is Director of Studies at Global English TESOL, online TESOL course specialists. Join in the TESOL training discussion with William and the team on Facebook.


  • Author: Admin William Bradridge
  • Date: 01/01/2017


Ramdane Guerrouj

I never thought i would be teaching English in a country where English is the first language. It was not a miracle, but it happened. Through hard word , commitment and perseverance , i was able to get a job in USA as an ESL teacher. I have been teaching ESL for all levels for 3 years now and i proved myself.Despite the prejudice that is out there underestimating the Non- native Engish teachers, My advice to every non - native teacher is : " don't give up, think big and your dream will come true.".


i am from Brazil, got a BA in US. Can i teach english overseas? shoud i do the tefl course OR TESOL CERTIFICATION?


Hello Cyntia

Thank you for your message about teaching English. The answer is yes you can teach English overseas as a non native English speaker. I imagine your English is very good - and you have a degree which is also very helpful and even essential for a work permit to be issued in certain countries. As explained above, it will be tougher if you are a non-native speaker but hard work and perseverance should pay off in the end.

However, TEFL/TESOL really mean the same thing and are used to mean the same thing in the industry.

My suggestion is to take a good TESOL course. Any of our online level 2 courses or even level 3 courses are a good idea since they are accredited to a high level. You can see our range of TESOL training courses here:

I hope this helps, Cyntia. Happy to help if you have any more questions.


hello well am not a native english speaker am from egypt and i have an academic certificate in english literaturefrom Assiut university and i got also TEFL . so english is my field. well could i find a job in Asia or in Argentina ? its so important for me cause i wanna be sure that i will get the job before i travel anywhere cause it will be horrible for me and such a lose to travel faraway and fail to get a job and back again . thank you very much


Hello everyone,
I am one of the non-native Tesol qualified teachers. I have always dreamt about moving to Portugal.I'v sent about 50 applications so far and i am hearing the same thing over and over again ''u must a native speaker"...My accent is very mild as I have spent past 17 years in the UK. i love teaching English, and my plan is to go to Portugal and apply for the job personally...but do you think it would help?

Louisa Walsh

Hello Mario - it is not as easy but it can be done. But it is easier if you are in place.

South Korea will be difficult but Thailand not so much generally. Have a look on major TEFL job websites like to see some options. Good luck!

Louisa Walsh

Daniela - many of our non native English speaking TEFL trainees are teaching successfully but being in situ is a huge advantage; it also means you are in place for freelance teaching which you cannot organise from overseas. Just make sure you have enough funds to support yourself, check out the legal working regulations and choose the right time of year. There's more on teaching English in Portugal here:


thank you, luisa :-)

Caroline Thornton

Get a CELTA - not cheap, but it will be worth it and f you want to stick with TEFL, then doing a Cambridge ESOL Delta is also recommended. I am speaking from experience - German, teaching English in the UK. ;-)

Louisa Walsh

If teaching in the UK in language schools, Caroline, then I agree a CELTA can be the best option. The frustration is that even with a CELTA, finding year round work in the UK is difficult - and that is a lot of money to find for training only to be unemployed for much of the year.

An alternative is to take good accredited online TESOL training with 1-1 or business ( which lend themselves well to freelance teaching and be more creative about finding teaching work in the UK. See how some of our graduates have done this here:

Mary Sumer

I came across this site trying to find help from non-native speakers who have been able to make a career as an english teacher.
Well, I guess people will always be affected by the stereotypical belief that only a native speaker can speak and teach the language. It hurts to know that and I won't lie about it but I love to teach and mingle with young minds; and I am looking forward to make a career as an English teacher as well.
Could anybody please let me know which country or most probably people are open minded to non native speakers?
Also,which academy would be best to get a TEFL/TESOL certificate from?


I am from Asian country where english is taught as a foreign language. I have been an english teacher for 11 years. Seeing from the experience of native speakers whom I was working with, benefits for students are lees low compared to non native speakers, including english grammar.
Ans also I got TEFL in the USA.
It is said and proven in life that experience makes perfect. But it is not in this case.

I want te teach english in higher developed countries in Asia such as Japan or South Korea.

In the beginning I had a hope to be hired as an english teacher, but not I am loosing.

Much less hope


Hi everyone! I'm Pat, I'm from Argentina and I've been dreaming about living and working abroad since I remember!
I have a Degree as an English teacher for Kindergarten and Primary school and I've been working for 5 years now. I'd like to know if I have a chance to find a job in the USA or the UK or any other english speaking country. Do I need to take the TEFL course as well?
Thanks in advance


This message is for Ramdane.
Hi Ramdane.
I have found your story very inspiring and I was wondering if you could share a bit more of your story. I have been living in the UK for the last 14 years and I have been teaching languages for the last 5. I have a degree in English, another in Translation and TESOL certificate. I have just started looking for ESL work and I would be really grateful for any help I can get!
Thank you so much in advance.


I was born in South Africa and lived there my whole life but I have a German passport. Is it at all possible for me to teach English in South Korea? I would like to know because technically I am a native speaker of English. I just have European citizenship because my father is German.


I'm not sure if it works for Asians.
I am a very experienced English language and soft-skill trainer in Malaysia. I have a degree from USA and recently took up TEFL 120 hours course. But no one at TEFL told me is that the countries they listed as partner teaching countries requires me to be a UK, US, Canada, South Africa, NZ or Australia passport holder.
So I'm with a TEFL certificate which is applicable only for caucasian country passport holders, but also wasted time studying for something I can't even use in my own country!

Louisa Walsh

Hello Shirley - sorry to hear about your experiences. You didn't do your TEFL course with us at Global English - but if you had - and asked us beforehand about your prospects, we would have been honest about the fact that it will be tougher as a non-native. Sometimes you will need to be a UK etc. passport holder as part of the Visa process. Other times, there is a just a preference on behalf of schools. In such cases it really helps if you can be in situ. Your 'soft skills' training may also enhance your appeal to the business sector...have you considered freelance business English training? Also, the partner schools are not the only jobs out there. Look at for example. Don't give up!


Hi everyone, today I finally finished my TEFL course and I would be very appreciated if any of you can give some advices about finding a TEFL job in Turkey! :)
Generally I am from Lithuania and in the last 3 years I've been living in Turkey, UK and Ireland. Therefore I have Bachelor's degree in Economics and Law and recently finished Airlines Customer Service course in Dublin, maybe it will be helpful :)

Waiting your responses and comments :)

Best wishes,

Vaidas :)

Kim Ooi

I am Chinese by race so many people regard me as a "non-native English speaker" and I have come across huge barriers in my attempts to find work in the EFL field. This is extremely frustrating because I was born into an English-speaking family and am actually far more fluent in English than in my native language. However, I may be the exception rather than the norm and this is where the problem lies. If we non-native English speakers want to prove that we are as good as native speakers then the first thing we must do is to ensure that our own grammar and spelling is perfect. The following mistakes made by non-native teachers do not help their case at all:

1. Mario Alfred: "..and I got also TEFL" and the use of the word "cause".
2. Baska: "I am from Asian country where english is taught as a foreign language. Seeing from the experience of native speakers whom I was working with, benefits for students are lees low compared to non native speakers, including english grammar. "


I am a Moroccan Bachelor of Art holder. I am 22 and I would really like it to take a chance and teach English overseas. I'm not a native speaker, but I don't have a heavy accent. in Fact, many Americans and Brtish friends all tell me that my English is so American and flat. So, I just want to know wether there is going to be a chance for me or not.
thank you,


Hello everyone!

I'm a non-native English speaker as well (I'm Greek), but I'm proficient in the English language, and currently my big dream is to start teaching English abroad. I have got my Bachelor's degree in Biology at a good and reputable university of Scotland, and also got the "Proficiency in English" certificate of the University of Michigan. Now I'm saving up for the CELTA teaching certificate and a few additional seminars and workshops.

Do you think I will stand a chance when applying for teaching jobs abroad?? Any advice would be more than welcome! Thank you very much in advance!

William Bradridge

Hello Dimitra

As you will have seen from the article above, where we have written on teaching English abroad as a non-native speaker, I think you will stand a good chance of finding work.

Having the Proficiency qualification will stand you in good stead, but the level of success you have looking for work will depend on you too. There is competition for places, especially in western Europe where things are more challenging economically at the moment.

The best advice I can give would be:

1) try to travel to the country you would like to work in and apply in person. This gives the employer a chance to meet you and you can demonstrate your English level, as well as show your qualifications.

2) get some experience in teaching before you travel - even if you only do some volunteer teaching, it is very worthwhile and will help you put into practice what you learn on your course.

3) think about whether you look for work in a country where there is an opportunity to use your own native language, so you could advertise yourself as a Greek and English teacher'. This is what one of our German trainees did after completing a Level 2 course with us and going to work in Spain:

I hope this helps you and good luck!


Hello all!

My situation is a bit different than most people above.

I recently obtained US Citizenship, but I was born in Ukraine. I'm proficient in English, Ukrainian (native) , Polish and Russian. However, I am not interested in teaching at any of those countries. Spain an Italy spark my curiosity. What are the chances of getting a teaching position when I am a US Citizen, but not native born? My accent is minimal, and I'm constantly improving it.

Also, I have been contemplating whether to get TEFL certification here in Chicago, or at the destination country, any advice on that?

And, finally, I have BA in Education (Geography) that I received in Ukraine, but didn't attend any college here. On the other side, I worked at ESL Department and was assisting ESL teachers. What are the possibilities on getting a job aboard in my circumstances?

Any feedback, will be much appreciated.
Hope everyone gets a position they want, despite their native language.

All the best,


Hi everyone

As everybody here, I would also like to teach English as a second language despite the fact that this is not my first language.

However, I have been living in the UK for 6 years and currently I'm in the process of obtaning bachelor's degree with honours from the Open University in Britain. I also hold a degree from my country of origin,which enables me to teach German as a second language.
Besides, I managed to get the highest certificate testing the English language proficiency, issued by the Cambridge University.

Having read all these posts here makes me realise how discrimination operates to excude highly skilled, motivated and very well educated people, whilst many advertised jobs favour a native speaker status to e.g.a high educational standard or even life experience.

Having an experience, as not just a teacher, but also a student, I remember that some of my native English teachers were unable to explain more complex linguistic phenomena; particularly when teaching higher level students (upper intermediate and advanced). Not all of them were quite dedicated neither.

I think that many non-native English teachers have an invaluable experience as learning English as a second language, therefore they might be able to equip students with useful learning tools quite effectively.

It is hard indeed to see an exciting job opportunity, that must be missed, because one is a non-native English speaker....

Nevertheless, we need to try to persue our dreams in spite of all the obstacles.

I wish you all good luck



I'm 24. I'm also a non-native English speaker. I'm Russian and I've always lived in Russia. I've been learning English together with Russian since I was 2-3 years old (?). My school had tons of classes in English, be it literature, basic maths, art and so on and so on. But it was like... 50/50 - 50% taught in Russian, 50% taught in English. How can I prove it? It's not mentioned in any of the school documents of mine.

I'd like to teach English in Japan. I passed JLPT N3 last year, currently working towards JLPT N2.

Honestly speaking, I think I'd make a very good teacher, because I've been tutoring kids since high school, but I don't have any "official" experience.

What would you recommend?
Thank you!

louisa walsh

Firstly, non-natives are working in Japan but there are 2 issues - visa rules (do enquire from the Japanese consulate in your own country) and secondly, obtaining a job when most of the advertised positions will state 'native speaker'. This requires persistence. If you can travel to search that will also be helpful. An IELTS score (a test of English) will be a good proof of your English and you should also list your tutoring experience. Your knowledge of Japanese should also help. It won't be easy. Try also for advice:
Good luck!


First of all i want to say thanks for the very interesting tips you people put up here, like using your own skills as well as your own native language.

Still, i would love to do a TEFL course, or TESOL ( whatever provide me the most) but reading all of this makes me wonder if i would make a right choice. Costa Rica is on my mind as destination. Can anyone help me out, cause as u might have guessed already, i am also a Non-Native English speaker

With dear regards, Stan

PS: can the people from global english contact me also by e-mail, thanks

louisa walsh

Hello Stan
I am glad you found the TESOL training article helpful. I am going to contact you direct to find out more about your background but hopefully you will also read from the article that yes, it is tougher for non-natives, but that it can be done.



I'm currently studying Hispanic Literature at my university in Peru, but I've never been that passionate about Spanish-speaking authors. The dream of my life has always been to study and teach English Literature. Therefore, in pursuit of that dream, I'm thinking of getting a BA in English Literature from UBC (Canada) and settle in that country for good. But there's something that quite frightens me - and is the possibility of not finding a job because of being a foreigner, a non-native English speaker.

What would you recommend? what kind of degrees and experience -besides of BA in English- should I obtain first in order to be an English teacher there? Please help, I don't know the path I must follow.

sindur sarker

this is really frustating to learn about the fact that how much hard it is for non-natives to get jobs. I am from bangladesh. I have a bechelors and a masters degree in english literature from a reputed university of my country. I have passed two ELT courses during my graduation and post graduation. One in grad level and other in post grad. I am teaching english in a high school for two years here and now i am willing to get a teaching job abroad.
What are my chances to teach english abroad? Do I still need a TEFL certificate?

(it will be really helpfull if anyone can contact me via e-mail and help me with some advice and suggestion).

Louisa Walsh

Hello Jennifer
It will be more tricky since the place you are going to is full of qualified, native English speakers. However, to teach English literature in state schools I imagine you will need to be qualified to teach by the Canadian authorities. This is not TEFL/TESOL and so you will have to explore the traditional teaching route for Canada.

Louisa Walsh

Hello Sindur
It will be more difficult. A TEFL/TESOL certificate will help since this is also what is looked for but it is still no guarantee. You might have more opportunity in Turkey, possibly and maybe even the Middle East. Keep looking on major job sites the latest TEFL jobs and requirements. Good luck.

roman s

I got my CELTA 2 years ago and now I'm still in doubts about investing in DELTA. I'd love to go somewhere abroad to teach, but I've never heard of Russian teachers teaching English anywehere in Europe or Asia. Has anyone heard of any such stories? And can anyone please comment on the usefulness of DELTA for real-life teaching career?

Louisa Walsh

Hello Roman
It is harder if you are non-native but it can be done. A Delta should help in some ways since few have this qualification but it may not be the deciding factor. What really helps a non-native speaker is being in situ. You might try Eastern Europe first since it is generally a little less competitive than Western Europe and consider freelance teaching if work in schools is difficult to obtain. Then network, make connections and keep an eye on opportunities. When you have some more experience and are in the industry you will be able to assess opportunities better and decide whether a DELTA is a good idea.

Urvi Gada

I am am indian soon would be relocating to china. I have done my masters in counseling psychology and working as a school counselor currently. I want to know chances of esl job for an indian in china. And which course / institue will be beneficial for me to increase my chance to get employed. Im looking for a tefl course in china.
Thanking you in anticipation


Hi guys,

I am a European living in the US (I am married to an American) and by the time I will have a MA in TEFL, I should be an American passport holder. However, I don't really know whether it improves my situation in finding employment abroad as I am not, by any chance, an English native speaker (though my level of English is near native speaker). I would love to teach in Japan or some other Asian coutry, but are not sure they would be interested in hiring me.

However, I wanted to point out that, in my experience, Americans are not really prejudiced against non-native speakers in teaching English. I know plenty of permanent residents teaching English here. Yes, most of them are European, but I also know of a Chinese professor who is a great teacher in the US. I feel like America is less biased against that, especially if you have a TESL/TESOL Master's degree or graduate degree. I will be teaching English at one of the universities soon, too. Of course there is also a problem with a work visa in US and, since there are plenty of ESL teachers that have a Green Card, that might be a bigger problem. Good luck though!

Louisa Walsh

Thanks, Paula. Interesting to hear how this works in the US.
Urvi; For China, if applying for positions in China from abroad, then it will be harder for you. However, when you are in China, it will hopefully be a lot easier for you since you will be in place and able to prove your language competency. The only issue is the legal working regulations and so do check those out yourself. Our most popular course for China is our 100 hour online, accredited TESOL with young learners. It is portable so you can do it from anywhere in the world and take it with you:
Hope this helps as a start.


Can non-native English speakers find TEFL Work?
To be honest, it all depends where you are looking for work and the type of school you want to teach. First of all, I have to say that the best ESL teacher I ever had is Cuban and was my first English teacher. In fact, he was among the very best in Cuba. Today, he teachers at Miami Dade College in Florida. I started to learn English at 16. I completed a BA in Cuba than moved to Toronto where I completed two TESL Certificate and took a few courses in Applied Linguistics at York University in Toronto. I've been in the USA for 10 years, and here I finished an MS in TESOL and I am currently finishing another MA in English Lit. The fat is that we Hispanics and other who are non native English speakers have to compete hard in the market and prove ourselves. Jobs are tougher in the USA and Canada, but in other countries like Qatar, Brazil, and Asian Countries there are still a great demand of EFL teachers. Of course, some countries like Korea are have too much prejudices in hiring non native English speakers. I can tell you that back in the 70s' and 80s' in Cuba there were amazing English teachers in many universities. I believe that there are many great language teachers who are non native who are better teachers than many natives. It is the same that there are many UFC fighters that are better fighters than Japanese and Asians. Then one should ask the question aren't Japs supposed to be better fighters since they invented Martial Arts. Well the answer is not. The same rule applies for language teaching. I have seen many mediocre teachers as I have seen many great teachers.

Non-native TEFL teacher

Dear Sirs,thank u very much for your guide.I'm an Iranian M.A in TEFl for 30 years and teacher trainer.I have had more than 15 papers and workshop in CALL and language teaching and learning.I s it possible for me to find TEFL job in Dubai or Qatar.All the best Morteza

Louisa Walsh

Hello Morteza
Thank you for your mail. It is possible but I suggest finding agencies that operate in the region for Dubai and Qatar. This is because jobs that you see on the web often specify native English speakers so you may need to be more creative in your search. What might you offer that natives can't? You are certainly very well qualified. Are you able to email prospective schools and colleges and try to arrange a visit to get in front of potential employers and convince them of your language level, personality and expertise? I wish you every success, Morteza.


Well as it was mentioned, showing a proof for you English level will help a lot. Thats one side of the matter. The next thing to consider is the accent. We can not deny this but most non-native speakers have a kind of strange accent( as it was said a heavy accent). So thats the issue most employers are worry about. Because when you as a teacher do not have an authentic accent, your students are exposed to that accent and they are likely to adapt it. I hope that my comment would come in handy. And honestly, I am a non native speaker of English and I have never lived in an English speaking country. I just picked it up on my own. Regards

Hi everyone

I am non-native English speaker, I have BA in English philology and Master in British and Irish studies. I am planing to obtain teaching certificate.
I would like to teach English in Germany or UK.
I have hard time finding a site on which I can apply for work in both countries.
I would like to ask you to help me on this.
Thank you in advance


Hi everybody,

May I just ask one question: How is a native speaker of English distinguished from a non-native speaker. If the level of English proficiency is very high in each respect, it shouldn't be possible to tell the difference. People who have actually lived in English speaking countries and who have University degrees from these countries should be regarded as native speakers, even though their first language might be a language other than English. I myself have lived and studied in the U.S. and even taught English to Mexican Amercian students in California and nobody ever asked me whether I was a native speaker or not (even though my first language is German).

Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL

Thanks for your valuable and encouraging comment! Great teachers (native or not) are teaching successfully worldwide. It can be more difficult for non-native speakers if a) they have an accent from language 1 and b) if they are applying abroad for a job which specifies a certain nationality or that specifies you need to be a native English speaker. Then you need to get creative and find ways to prove English competency. Thanks so much for sharing your experience however. Non-native English speakers take heart!

Shin Lee

Hello. I'm Shin Lee. I have a bachelor's degree in Korea and I've been studying in the States for about 2 years. Actually when I was young I had the opportunity to live in the US for 7 years. So when I speak English I don't have an accent. The only difference is my looks. I would like to teach English in the Middle East (Saudi, UAE, Morocco). Would I have a disadvantage or can I apply?

Louisa Walsh

Hello Shin Lee and thanks for your email. The issue is more likely one of nationality and 1st language. For Saudi I have only seen English teaching positions specifying native English speakers from countries where English is the first language. For Morocco it may be easier but you don't see so many positions advertised for Morocco outside the country. In truth I suspect it will be difficult - but maybe not impossible.


I am Nadezhda from Bulgaria and I am very interested in teaching English language in Spain. I graduaded English philology and before that I studied at English language school so I have studied English language for more than fifteen years. My level is proficiency and I think soon I will get a certificate in TEFL. Before, I had TOEFL result but alas, it's not valid anymore. I was an Erasmus student and I did also another Erasmus practice in Palma de Mallorca so my level in Spanish also is very good. It is my dream job to work in Spain to teach English. Do you think although I am not a native speaker, I have any chance at all? Is it necessary to have experience in teaching in my home country? I did a short practice but I don't know whether I can teach if I haven't worked for more than a year this profession. Thank you in advance!



I am a non native English language teacher. Now I am teaching a modern history in English in Ulaanbaatar, English speaking secondary school.

I would like to work as a teacher in Japan.



My name is Ioana and I would like to teach English in Abu Dhabi. Since I am not a native English speaker, could you please tell me if I stand any chance of getting hired? The difference between me and other teachers that want to teach in Abu Dhabi is the fact that I already live there and own an apartment. Thank you in advance. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Louisa Walsh

Hello Ioana
While there is a strong preference for native English teachers, the fact that you live there makes a huge difference. It helps if you can prove your language competence - with a good IELTS score, for example or even, can you send a short audio of you speaking with your CV to show your accent is good? There are other options including freelance teaching or teaching English online so you can build up your experience and impress schools. A good TESOL will be an enormous benefit. Do have a look at our accredited online level 4 courses here, there is 20% off this January:


Hi everyone :)

I am really impressed with your comments, I read it all to see how other people are thinking and I have to say it really helps a lot. I am from Serbia, ex Yugoslavia. European country, but not part of EU. My question is: Would it be hard for me to find a job in Italy as I am not EU citizen? I speak italian which is maybe an advantage, but still I am not native speaker of english. I guess maybe it will help if I finish TEFL course in Italy, because after training I can also apply for a job directly in Italy. My second option is Turkey, I am beginner in turkish language so may be there will be easier and I heard Turks are not so strict about native speakers.

Thanks in advance!
Good luck everyone :)


I am happy to see valuable informationon English language teaching. I have twelve plus years of teaching experience in colleges in Oman. I am currently residing in the Uae andfind it hard to getan opening here. I would like to know if the Cambridge Deltacourse will give me an advantage to get back to teaching. I already hold a celta certificate.

Thanks in advance!

Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL

Hi Shoba. The Delta could well give you an edge since so few have it compared to the number with an entry-level certificate. I would do some more homework first to check. Can you see what the local requirements are, investigate what employers are asking for in their adverts? Are you able to freelance? Is there more demand in certain sectors - e.g. young learners or teaching English for business and can you address these? Ask - is there something else that is stopping an employer from taking me on? Hope this helps. Kind regards, Louisa


Thank you Louisa Walsh for you valuable tips.I'd be thankful if you explain to us what you mean by "What really helps a non-native speaker is being in situ."

Louisa Walsh

Hello Abdullah and thanks for your comment. Being in situ means being in the country you want to work in. It is harder to obtain work in your chosen country when applying from abroad. When an employer can interview you face-to-face or knows you are nearby, it is easier for them to investigate your level of English, your personality and it reassures them that you can easily get to work without having to relocate, source housing etc.


Hello everyone!

I am a Filipina and a holder of a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. However, I'm not exactly the type of person who finds joy in sitting in the office the whole day and reading numerous documents and stuffs like that. I've always dreamt of travelling the world, so when I've read an article about teaching english as a second language in other countries, I thought why not? I mean, English is a second language in my country. I've been taught to speak the language as early as my preschool years so I don't think I'll be having much difficulty with acquiring a TESOL certificate. My real concern is that considering the preference most countries give to "native English speakers", finding a job as an English teacher is not really a sure thing even if you have the certificate. I'm thinking will it be feasible for someone like me to invest in a TESOL course?


Hi there,
I am a non native English language teacher. I received my PhD degree in TESL and I have 23 years experience in different schools and universites. I published different articles and participated in different conferences as the presenter. I want to go to New zealand for living. I am not sure if can I find my job there?


I am a non native speaker from africa,fluent in english language and a great passion for english level is near native.i intend to enroll onto a tefl/tesol course soon precisely in asia.i need you to advice me on a good accreditated tefl/tesol program in asia to enroll,my reason for asia is because i wish to teach english after the course.where in asia do you think will be possible as a non native speaker of english to teach?

Louisa Walsh

Re: Reza enquiry: Hello Reza. It is hard to say about prospects of finding work in NZ. It is not easy to emigrate to NZ. Plus they will have plenty of well qualified native speakers on hand. Have you looked into whether you qualify to work legally there in the first instance?

Louisa Walsh

Hello Young
There is a strong preference for native English speakers and in some countries, you will need to be a native English speaker from 1 of around 7 countries in order to work there legally. (South Korea, for example.) So, it won't be easy! China and Japan are possible but still difficult. Also, try countries off the beaten track, like Cambodia and Laos, for example. We are carrying a job for non-native speakers on our jobs page for Japan for our TESOL course graduates. If you are interested in our accredited, courses or want more information on prospects, do see our courses tab at the top of the page and please email me on the address under the header. Hope this helps. Louisa


I couldn't agree more with Maria!!! How would you distinguish a native from a non-native speaker if both sound the same? Another key skill is writing: even reading the above posts I've noticed certain phrases that the native speaker would construct differently. As far as the Cambridge exams go - with adequate level of preparation, anyone can do it without setting a foot in English speaking country. Unfortunately, in order to compete with natives it takes much more than official qualifications.
KUDOS TO MARIA once again, you've nailed it!


Hello! I am actually planing to teach in South Korea this Fall. i am also a non-native English speaker, although I hold an American passport. I do not know if they take that into consideration or not. Would someone be able to clarify that for me? Do they just look if you have a passport from one of the English speaking countries (USA, UK, Canada, etc.)or will they actually ask where I was born? I also have two different certificates a TEFL 160 Hours and a TESOL 100 Hours + Teaching Practice certificate.


Despite being a non-native English speaker , I was almost ready to sign up for a 120 hours Professional TEFl Certificate course since English was my first language of study throughout my study period in India, but after going through everyone of the comments above i lost all hope and am now in dilemma.
I do have a proficient language, passion for teaching as well as exploring the world, but if the case is as discussed above do i stand a chance ?

Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL

Hello Bhagath
It depends where you want to go. It is hard to work in Europe if you don't have the legal right to work there but one idea is to build up experience in your own country first which can help with certain positions - for example, teach English online. We have also published job opportunities for non-natives on our site from employers in Japan and China. They are keen to hear from our Global English TESOL graduates. So, while there are fewer positions open to you, there are still opportunities. I have emailed you direct and I hope this helps.

Abu Bakker Siddiq

Hi every body...
I invited by TEFL institute in Bangalore for its 120 hours course in TESOL from American Tesol institute.
As a non native speaker can i find a job in abroad easily.
Is it worthy and a better carrier.
I do not have experience in teaching too...
For now my English speaking is Intermediate level..
Please suggest me for my carrier.
Thank you.

Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL

Thanks for your comment, Abu. You will need to improve your English first to have any real opportunities to teach English. The sad fact is that many TESOL course companies will sell you a course - even if they know your English is not a good standard. We are accredited so we need to have a policy on this.
Regarding opportunities to teach English once you have a good level and a TESOL certificate, it will be more difficult to teach abroad if you are non-native. However, it depends on many factors and I hope the above article helps. Good luck with your English, Abu!


Hi there!

I am a non-native English speaker (from The Netherlands) who is dying to work as an English teacher in Japan. I have no interest whatsoever in other countries.

I hold a bachelor in Business Administration and i plan to take TEFL online course. I know an online course is less than actually learning things in class, but my current job/financial issues won't allow me to do the TEFL course in-class.

Do i have any chances of getting a job?
And what online TEFL course is recommended?
Any other tips/information that would largen my chances of getting a job in Japan?

Louisa @Global English TESOL

Hello Nora
Thanks for your post. If your English is excellent and you have a degree, then Japan offers some of the better options for teaching English if you are non-native.
In fact a recruiter from Japan is keen to recruit our own TESOL course graduates (native or non-native English speaking) for teaching business English. I will send you an email direct but do see our jobs pages. Also, our online level 4 TESOL with business which is our most popular course for Japan.
Did you see the quote from Ana-Sofia in the article above? She is one of our non-native TESOL course graduates and is successfully teaching so I hope that gives you some hope. I am not saying it is easy...the second job will be easier to gain than the first. But it can be done as our TESOL course graduates prove. Hope this helps! Louisa.

Madamidola Olufemi

What is the cost of your online tefl training. I have a master degree in Adult education. What id the chance of getting a teaching job abroad? My bachelor's degree is in adult education and English. Olufemi


I am from Morocco (non native english speaker), but my english is quite good. I got a BA in the english studies option:linguistics and now is my second year working as assistant teacher in the American school in my city. I would like to Know if i can work as an english teacher in Japan, China or Corea of ourse after getting my CELTA certificate as I am planning to.
Thank you.

Louisa at Global English TESOL

Hello Madamidola and Fatima
Where are you from? There are many countries which will prefer English speakers from around 7 countries: UK, Ireland, USA, AUS, NZ, S.A, Canada - this may be due to Visa regulations - so your options will be more limited depending on your nationality. However, you may have success in Japan, China and online, for example.Korea is unlikely due to nationality restrictions. We have a variety of accredited online course options but the course I would suggest is at least our level 4 TESOL since it is accredited to a high level:
I will email you, too in case you have further questions.


Hi everyone, I'm a non-native English speaker but would like to teach in China. I've got a BA in English and MSc in Translation and TESOL from a Scottish university. I read that having a high score in IELTS might be helpful if I'm not a native speaker, but I'm not sure whether general or academic IELTS would be a better choice? Could you please advise me on that?


Hi everyone,
I am from Turkey and I have been teaching English for 2 years in Turkey and the school I am working for is applying a global citizenship programme. I have been working with native speaker teachers for 2 years so I have chance to use English actively everyday. Is it possible for me to get a job as an English teacher abroad? If the answer is yes, what should I do? Which certificate should ı get?


I am from India a non native speaker of English. I am a Graduate with a Primary Teachers Training Certificate and two years of work experience in a Primary School. I am very interested to get TEFL certified and teach abroad. Can anyone guide me regarding this as in what are the prospects for Indians after getting TEFL certified.
Any help will be appropriated.
Thank you.

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Simaya and Burcu
Thanks for your post. I have replied in more detail by email. Your options will be more limited but there certainly are options. Do see the TEFL jobs advertised on our jobs page for which our TESOL grads who are non-native can apply. These are for China, Japan and Colombia presently- just to give you a flavour. I have also mentioned ensuring your have a TESOL course that will help you stand out, such as our advanced level 5 TESOL. Hope my email helps. Do get back in touch if I can help further.


Dear Louisa
Currently i am in Pakistan waiting for my Canadian spouse visa expected in the mid of 2016. In Pakistan I am an English teacher. While waiting for my visa I want to utilize my time positively by learning and doing teaching English courses that help me in making my career as an English teacher in Canadian primary schools I know that it's quite impossible but that's the only thing i can do. As we all know Education never goes waste and I am very passionate in learning and teaching English. Some recommended me do tefl some tesl. I also want to know that for non native speakers before doing tefl or tesl or any other English language or teaching course Ilets, Tofel or CAE is required? as living in Pakistan I can only do is online courses but what should I do for practicum? Nowadays I am doing TKT from Cambridge university as cambridge has authorized centres in Pakistan. Kindly HELP me and guide me it's so kind of you.


Hello everyone,

I'm from Ukraine, so I am also a non-native speaker of English. However, I got my Master's in Applied Linguistics from the University of Oxford obtained CELTA in Oxford and taught English at one of the biggest language schools in Oxford for half a year. I also spent a year in the US as part of an exchange programme and taught English at various levels in Ukraine for over 3 years.
My husband is going to Brussels to study next year, so I will probably be going with him. I would like to get a teaching job there, I'm especially interested in business English teaching (and I have experience in this). But most job adverts from private language schools in Brussels seem rater daunting, with their "native speaker" requirements. Do you think I could find anything from abroad?
I currently work as a methodologist for a publishing company (Pearson), if that helps.


Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Kate
Thanks for your question. You will really need to be in place to secure work in Brussels - especially as a non-native English speaker. Once on the ground you can network, see how other non-natives gain work, specialise in business teaching 1-1 with learners from your region, consider translations, teaching English by Skype to students elsewhere. You may gain work through your husband's contacts? However, this is all best organised in country. Good luck!

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Shazia
Thanks for your mail. In English speaking countries there is no doubt it will be more difficult for non-native English speakers. Consider Skype teaching to worldwide trainees, freelancing and seeing whether there are people from your country there who need to learn English. In the meantime, we offer accredited online courses and have a 20 hour teaching practice option you can easily add to your online programme; you can do this from your location. Plus, you do not need a formal English qualification, just an excellent command of the language. I have responded to you by email personally. Hope this helps. Kind regards, Louisa


Dear Louisa,
I hold a BA in English as A Foreign Language from a Greek University, an MA TESOL from a British University and I have already got the QTS from the DfE. I have been living in the UK for the last 2 years and I'm really confused with the required qualifications (e.g. CELTA, DELTA, etc.) in order to teach here. All the job ads I have encountered, ask for a DELTA or equivalent. Do I need to take a DELTA course, even if I have a QTS, in order to work as an EAL teacher in the UK ?


Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hi Helen

Thanks for your post. By EAL I'm presuming you mean as a specialist teacher for kids in mainstream schools. This is slightly out of my remit since mainstream schools have their own criteria. However, it seems from some initial research that there are no hard and fast rules. Much depends on demand in schools for EAL teachers and funding.
You can see more here:

I hope this is helpful and have also answered by email. Good luck! Louisa

Amine Aouali

I am a fresh Moroccan graduate willing to pursue this job as my career, i've also noticed that Louisa is quite experienced in this field of work and I'd like to ask you for an honest answer. If a non-native speaker had the ability to speak as fluently as a native speaker, as well as having a clean accent, would they be able to, and given a chance to compete with native speakers, without being hindered by the title "non-native speaker". I'd also like your recommendation in where should I take my TELF certification, moreover, which one should I start with while keeping in mind that it will be appealing to employers.
Thank you for your time.
My email:



I have been thinking a lot lately about teaching English in certain countries. I am not a native speaker but I lived and studied in the States for six years. I have a Bachelors of Business Administration degree. I live in Germany and I'm originally from Croatia. I would like to know how long a TELF course lasts. Where is the best school and how much it costs? Is an online study program as effective as going to a school. Please can you give me as much information as possible? Many thanks!

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Lily
TEFL course lengths vary greatly. Our online courses range from 70 hours to 250 hours, and we work at your pace. In terms of the best course possible, it really depends on where you want to go. I will say native speakers are preferred. However, it sounds like your English may be excellent and if you want to stay and teach English in Germany, then this is ideal as you can more easily get in front of employers and prove your English and skills. In addition, your business admin degree may be of real interest in Germany since business English is in demand. Have a look at our level 4 with business. I will also email you more details direct. Hope this helps.



I would really liked to go and teach english abroad (in South East Asia). I am a non-native speaker, but I lived in UK for 10 years where I finished my BA and MA degrees in Visual Communication (animation and media). I been teaching creative thinking past three years in different universities in Estonia (where I'm from originally). I have experience teaching animation to kids as well (so I learnt how to keep them focused and working along in the class with me). Recently I have really thinking about teaching abroad. I love teaching and would definitely like to continue my career as a teacher. I was wondering that could you give me some advice to get job in SEA as non-native speaker. I do have my TEFL certificate. Should I do any online courses such as English Grammar, Online Childcare Course, Certified Child Psychology Course etc? Would any of these courses boost my change to get a job as a teacher abroad?
Any advice would be very helpful.
Many thanks!

Rachelle Rai

What are the chances for Indian nationalities to find English teaching jobs in Japan?

Louisa Walsh - Global English

Hi Rachelle
Thanks for your comment. While there will be a preference for native English speakers from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, NZ, Australia, S. Africa, Japan is one of the easier Asian countries to find teaching work in if you are from outside these countries.
In fact, we have an employer in Japan keen to recruit our TESOL course graduates advertising for applicants at the moment:

Our most popular course for Japan is our 100 hour level 2 with business:; a 4 module online course you can start any time. We work at your pace with the full support of a personal tutor.
since it has a business specialism which is very much in demand in Japan. Such a qualification can help you stand out to employers.

I have emailed you direct as well but I hope you find the above helpful.


Hi Louisa,

I've read all comments carefully but would still appreciate your input on my case. I recently graduated in a business degree from a UK university and have spent 8 years in Pakistan and India, where I started learning and speaking English early on. Like many users above, most people can't pinpoint the origins of my accent and I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that I am close to a native level of English. However, I have a European passport (from a non-English speaking country) and being half Asian, I wouldn't "look the part". Seeing as I wish to teach in Asia and potentially in Europe, I'd like to know whether investing in a TESOL certification and in a career abroad would be a wise decision? Please be completely honest.

Any advice would be much appreciated.



Hi,i'm from Croatia and i'm interested in teaching English in South Korea. I'm fluent in English but i have heard that getting a job as an English teacher in South Korea is almost impossible unless you are native,any tips?

Iulia P.

Hello, everyone
I also am a non native English speaker living in Romania and brought up bilingual. I am currently 17 and studying at a bilingual highschool. This year I will be taking the Cambridge Advanced exam, C2 level that is, and aside from being 99% sure that I will get the Proficiency certificate, I am going to study English and Korean at university and get a BA in English Literature. I would like to know if with the aforementioned qualificationsan, I stand the chance of working as an English teacher in Korea or Japan after university. I am aware of the fact that I am a non native speaker and that might cause slight impediments but apart from that, my level of fluency is close to a native and so is my accent. Please let me know if you see any chance of success in the career path I've chosen. I am very much aware that I might have a hard time getting a job in one of the 2 countries I mentioned but I am not willing to give up on my love of teaching.
Thank you for your time and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.


Hi,Iam Indian living in Oman..i don't have desire to work in any country except Oman or Online teaching.My accent is good since the day 1 everything is taught in English from school to college.i want to know whether taking tefl course helps me getting job online and in oman..if so where can i get good tefl course online which elevates my cv to the recruiter and any agency to guidee getting job..Thanks Shaki

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Shaki
Thanks for your post. The first thing to say is that there is demand to learn English and mostly, people teaching English are Omanis or people from places like Egypt and Jordan; there are few native English speakers. Having said that, private language schools may have quite tough criteria for recruiting and so it does depend on demand where you are locally. However, there is also a lot of private tutoring available - especially to help people pass the English exams needed for university entry. (See ads online or in newspapers or you can advertise there.) In addition, there are a number of international online language schools which are a possibility. As a freelance tutor, you could also consider offering 1-1 business or general lessons via Skype.
So, the course I would recommend is our 100 hour hour TESOL with how to teach 1-1 and free Skype teaching eBook:

You can start any time and we work at your pace with the full support of a personal tutor. Plus it will help give you the skills and confidence to teach online and market yourself as a freelance 1-1 teacher; quite a unique offering.

Ensure your teaching CV is excellent (we can help with this) and that you attach a voice file with your CV so an employer can hear your accent.

I've emailed you direct on this so let me know if you have further questions.

Kind regards, Louisa Walsh

Louisa Walsh - Global English

Hello Mia
Yes - unfortunately at the present time, if you are not a native English speaker from 1 of around 7 countries, you would not get the legal right to work in S, Korea. I wish you every success elsewhere? Would you consider other countries?

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Rioud
Thanks for your post. With your background and a European passport, Europe is open to you but with a preference for native speakers, it would help to be in the country. For Asia, Cambodia and Japan are the best bets if you have not got an English passport. I think it is wise to play to your strengths - include a voice file with a CV, ensure it is highlighted that you studied in the UK. Plus, business English is often in demand (especially in Japan) and marketing yourself in this field could be a good idea. In short, it will not be as easy but demand is high so it is a question of positioning yourself as something other than another English teacher. Take a TESOL with business English specialism (see our course pages) and set yourself apart. Hope this is helpful.


Hi, everyone i am indian obviously non NES but i have been teaching english in maldevis for the past 4 years and have various experience in teachin, could anyone guide me how far this TEF/TESOL Programme could show the jobs on overseas,could i trust those programmes would help me out to work abroad being a indian , as many recruiters demanding only NES for ESL jobs how the future of NON-NES english teacher. You could meet me on :

Piyali Shome

I am Piyali from India,want to obtain a TEFL certificate,I am a allied health graduate and off course a non native English speaker,my question is that from which trust able organisation I can obtain my TEFL certificate by on line, and after getting the certificate what will be job prospect in Latin america,Europe,South Korea & japan.

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Thanks for your comments Daniel and Piyali
As Indian citizens with degrees, there is demand but also restrictions. Sorry, Korea and Europe will be difficult for you. Japan is a possibility if you have been educated in English or have 3 years verifiable English teaching experience. However, there will still be a preference for natives. Having said that, check out our jobs pages for Japan where an employer is recruiting non-native English speakers for business English teaching roles. I will email you direct so you can ask any further questions. Hope this is helpful. Regards, Louisa

Steffi Barthalomio

I am an Indian citizen. Is it not possible at all to teach English in Korea?

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Sorry, Steffi...due to visa requirements the answer is no. You will need a passport from one of 7 English speaking countries. As mentioned above other countries are potentially possible. Do reply to my personal email to you if I can help further.

Giorgia Marinelli

I'm Giorgia. I have a degree in Oriental Studies (with Arabic and English languages as main subjects) and a high school diploma in a Linguistic high-school (with English, Spanish and French as main subjects). I've been living in the UK since September 2013, and I'm currently living in Brighton with my English boyfriend and working as an Italian private tutor, so I've been spending the last year teaching Italian in English. I'd like to get an English teacher certification in Asia (maybe Thailand) and then try to look for a job there.
I have three questions:
1. Which certification would be the most suitable for my situation: CELTA or TEFL?
2. Would there be more opportunities to be hired if I'd apply also as Italian/Spanish teacher? Are there many job opportunities as Italian/Spanish teacher in Asia (or South America?)
3. Being an Italian citizen, would it be possible to me to teach English in Asia? Do I need a Passport from one of the 7 English speaking countries?

Louisa Walsh at Global English Feb 2016

Hello Giorgia
Thank you for taking the time to post. You are really well qualified, are teaching and have lived in England for a time which is all good and helpful. There will still be a preference for a native speaker and so you will need to be in place to try and secure work and impress employers direct with your credentials. I'd suggest Thailand, Cambodia (S. Korea is a no for Visa reasons. Japan is a possibility if your degree etc. was conducted in English.) You could do a CELTA in Thailand but if there is a preference for a native speaker it won't really overcome this. It helps to be bold, network, even offer to volunteer to start if finding work is difficult. In short, success will partly be due to personality. Consider also freelance teaching, teaching English online and so widening your employment options. A good TESOL CV that ensures your teaching experience, experience living in the UK is essential. I will email you more and hope this is helpful.


Hello! I am an NNEST with native like competency in all the four language skills. I have studied through the medium of English from primary to university. My MA TESOL degree is from the University of London, and I did PhD in English Phonology. I have taught ESL to NNS at the university level for 22 Years. Is there any chance for me to teach young adults/adults in Summer Schools in UK?


I'm soheyla from iran, Do you think is there any chance for non natives to teach English in future in South Korea? I mean is it possible that their rules change in next 2 or 3 years?

Louisa Walsh at Global English Feb 2016

Hello Kalyani - you are sooo well qualified! Still it will be hard for you to get a summer job teaching English in the UK. There is a strong preference and ready supply of native speaking English teachers here already with the legal right to work here. Sorry.

Soheyla - thanks for the picture: always nice to put a face to a name, I don't know what S. Korea immigration policy will be like in 2 or 3 years so wouldn't like to comment. For now it is not possible, though. Again - sorry to say this and every success to you both.


It is heartbreaking for me but anyway thank for answering and i really appreciate that.


Thanks so much, Louisa for your time and and the honest response. I appreciate that very much. Thanks again.

Camille Hernandez

Good Evening everyone!

I am very thankful to find your site where I can read many comments and reliable articles about teaching English abroad. So, just want to take this chance to express my gratitude to the owner and author of this site before stating my concern..

Currently, I am a graduating student and soon will have a bachelor's degree in Education Major in English this year. After I finish my course, I am planning to teach in S.Korea. However, there are doubts in my mind if I will be qualified because I am non-native speaker of English. With this, I want to know if it's really hard to be placed in Korea as a English teacher given that I am a non-native speaker. Also, I want to know, in behalf of my classmates who really want to teach in Korea, about the present qualifications to be an English Teacher in Korea. I hope you can help me (actually US) to know about these things. Actually, I've read a lot articles about my concerns but I find your site/page more dependable. So, I hope you can help me with these matters of mine.

Thank You! God Bless :)

Louisa Walsh at Global English March 2016

Hello Camille. Thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to post. It sounds like you will have a great degree behind you. However, unfortunately, for Visa reasons one of the stipulations to work legally is that you will need to hold a passport from one of 7 English speaking countries. Sorry about that. In some other countries in Asia there will still be a strong preference for native English teachers but it is not always a legal necessity. I will email you direct should you need any further help. Kind regards, Louisa


Hello to all of you!
I've read some of the posts and the contribution you're doing to the teching community is outstanding. I have seen some ads that say "non-native" in their requirements, but they usually offer a lower pay than they do to native speakers, besides i think they mean european speakers. Anyway, mi concern has to do with reliable agencies and websites; if you could point me to those or maybe if there is something in this site.
Where I have worked I had to make ideas of my own in order to effectively teach; that's why I would like to try something in Curriculum Development. I'm a Non-native English Speaker, I'm a Linguist and English Teacher. I have a Bachello'rs Degre in Linguistics and Languages, with years of experience in teaching. I'm from Bolivia.

Thank you in advance.




I am considering teaching English in Vietnam, got a Hungarian passport, 7.0 IELTS score and living in the UK for 5.5 years. My question is that how a UK residency card would be evaluated compared to claiming for a British citizenship which still wouldn't make me a British born person... but would ruin my bank account... I mean, obviously I would still claim for it if it comes up that it still makes a huge difference-


I was wondering if you still can be an ESL teacher without a degree and just with the TEFL certificate? Or a degree is a must? Does it also gave to be a certain type of degree like English literature? Or any degree is fine?


Hello! I'm from Paraguay and I've been teaching English in my country for two years. I'd like to know if I need more then a TEFL and a TESOL certification to teach in Canada (Toronto specifically). And also if there are good online TEFL programs where I can get certified.
Thank you very much

Louisa Walsh at Global English March 2106

Hello Esther
As a non-native English speaker without a degree, your options will be more limited. Demand is high however and adventurous EFL teachers are making it work but it is only fair to tell you of the limitations. I will say a degree in anything is usually fine. I will email you direct to find out more from you and see if I can help.

Louisa Walsh at Global English March 2016

Hello Pattylu
Thanks for posting. We do offer some great, accredited, online TESOL courses. However, as a non-native English speaker going to an English speaking country, there are 2 issues: first, do you have the legal right to work there? Secondly, there will be plenty of other native English speaking teachers already resident that will likely be first choice for jobs. It is different if you already have the legal right to work there and are looking to freelance perhaps to teach other migrants from Paraguay and/or teach online. I will email you direct for more to see if I can assist further.


Hello, I am a Greek biologist (12 years of teaching experience in public schools in Greece) and a master degree from Trinity College, Dublin (Drama in education). I also have a Cambridge Proficiency (a really old one). I adore teaching as well as travelling. So, the main reason I'm considering to enrol for a TESOL certificate is the opportunity to travel. Do you think I have good prospects? And which TESOL certificate would you recommend? Another thing is that I am married with also a teacher (mathematics) with a Med and (20 years of teaching experience) and we have 2 kids. Is it easier or more difficult for a family to find a ESL job abroad? Thank you in advance,

Louisa Walsh at Global English April 2016

Hello Maria
Thanks for your post and that's a really interesting question. The short answer is, there are definitely prospects since there is such demand for English teaching. However, there are some restrictions for you: native speakers are preferred so it helps to be in place to secure work (is that an option as a family?) and typically TESOL wages from 1 person are not enough to support a whole family; you do not tend to get ‘packages’ from recruiting schools to include children (e.g. school, accommodation, flights, medical.) However, if you are not necessarily looking for packages, are up for an adventure, are extrovert in terms of making contacts and impressing at interview, then TESOL could be for you.

Hope that is helpful. If interested, I would suggest our 120 hour TESOL as a minimum (see the courses tab.) I have also emailed you direct to see if I can help further. All the best in the meantime, Louisa


Hello all,

I've read through the comments and have more or less found out what I suspected, but I'd like to run my situation by everybody just in case.

I'm Dutch by birth (and passport), but have lived, studied, and worked in the USA for the past 17 years (since age 7). I completed all of my education from 2nd grade onward in American schools, including a Bachelor's degree in English from an American university.

Since I moved to the US at such an early age, my English is completely without accent and my fluency is perfect. By all accounts, my English is better than my Dutch, even if Dutch was technically my "first language". While I understand there are legal barriers for certain countries, would my Dutch passport truly negate the rest of my English proficiency when it comes to finding work? Given my credentials and unique situation, how much trouble would you suspect I might have in finding work?

I have my sights set on South America as of now, but I'm flexible and open to suggestion. I am already on the road and plan to apply in person to any available positions.


Hello. I'm June from S.Korea. i finished my bachelor degree in Korea (English education) and have a CELTA certificate. My teaching experience is only related to private lessons.
Would it be available for me to teach English abroad? Any country would be fine if I could have opportunities!

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Hello Bandi
Thanks for posting. I think you should do pretty well. The main reasons are that you already have a degree and a good level of English but the main reason is that you will get in front of employers in the Americas which makes all the difference. I would strongly advise a TESOL course and that you perfect your CV. I'll send you links to help. Good luck!


Hello all!

I'm from China and I hold a B.A. degree of English. Currently I am teaching English to adult students at one of the prestigious language training institutions in Shanghai. Prior to teaching at the institution, I've 2 years of English tutoring experience. Despite the fact that I'm not a native English speaker, I speak English with slight American accent, and I'm often mistaken for an ABC (American Born Chinese).

I really enjoy teaching and I would like to take teaching as my long-term career. In fact, I've signed up for a TESOL program and I've just finished my final demo, waiting for the result.

My boyfriend is in Germany and I would really like to find a job as an English teacher there. I am picking up German now as I understand this will surely be a plus while looking for a job in that country. I was just wondering if there's anything else I could do to increase my chances of getting a teaching job in Germany? Is it even possible for an Asian person to find an English teaching job in an European country? Certainly it would be a lot tougher but could you please offer some advice in my situation? Any bit of help will be appreciated!

Thank you! :)


Hello Louisa, I'm Andrijana from Republic of Serbia, currently studying English language and literature, University of Belgrade. I would like to hear your opinion on my options for finding a job in South Korea after graduating and holding my B.A. degree. Now I am aware that I am a non native, but the reason why I inquire about S.Korea is that I will probably live there after getting married to my current fiancee who is S.Korean. That means I will have their citizenship and I am not sure if that makes a difference or not regarding my chances of teaching there.
I do have teaching experience, including teaching Koreans.
We are also considering living in Spain, but from what I read so far, Spain also seems less open for a case like mine. I am of course planning to get certified, hence I would appreciate your advice on which certificate would be the best option for me.
Best regards,

Louisa Walsh

Thanks for your post, Andrijana.
A work permit for Korea is usually only issued to native speakers and this is very strict. However, as I understand it, if you are married to a native Korean, then you may be able to get a business license to teach English as long as you hold the right type of visa which you should have by virtue of marriage. However, I am not an expert on business visas for Serbian nationals in Korea and so do please check this out to your own satisfaction with the Korean embassy.

Spain is difficult if you are not EU citizens. Some non-EU work on a student visa but this is dependent on age and which countries Spain allows under this scheme so again, this is really a question for the embassy.

Increasingly people are working online which technically means you can work anywhere. It does not pay wonderfully but while you are exploring options, it could be a way to gain experience and earn teaching English. See the jobs listed here for our TESOL graduates, for example:
I have responded to you by email in more depth so we can continue there. Regards, Louisa

You do not need the most extensive courses to teach English online but a level 3 is a good idea since 120 hours is fast becoming an industry standard and you may want to teach face-face as well:

Really hope this is helpful as a first step and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Kind regards
Louisa Walsh


Hi Louisa,

I'm Jay (aka Jasmin). Originally from Germany I moved to Canada a little over 8 years ago. Soon, I think, I'll apply for the Canadian Citizenship. I will be studying English soon and afterward I want to obtain the CELTA certificate. For the future it is my wish to teach English in East Asia (Japan or Korea). I am married to a Japanese, hence my family name is Japanese as well. I would be a non-native English speaker with a Canadian passport and a Japanese family name. How do you see my chances of getting a teaching position in Japan or Korea?
Also, by the time I would be going to one of those countries, I would have lived in Canada for at least 14-15 years (if that makes a difference). I'm taking my time as you see *lol*

Thanks in advance for you answer.


Louisa Walsh

Hi Jay
Thanks for your post. Firstly, S. Korea is stricter and you will need the Canadian passport, plus a degree. I have heard of some age bias above 50 for S. Korea so keep that in mind if you are thinking of going long into the future. By virtue of marriage, Japan should be far easier. In fact, check out the Japan job on our jobs page - an employer is keen to recruit our Global English TESOL course graduates of various nationalities to teach business English. In fact you may find yourself teaching both English and German. This happened to one of our graduates in Japan; she was French and used our teaching course to teach both English and French and they renamed their institute as a result - from an English teaching institute one to a language institute.) A CELTA is not essential for either country. Our graduates are working in both Japan and Korea with our accredited online TESOL courses - see our courses page for more. Hope this is helpful. I've replied by email directly in case you have further questions.

Abdiaziz Said

Hello. I recently graduated with a B.A degree in English: Literature from an American University. I'm getting set to start my MA program in TESOL fairly soon. I was born in Somalia, I came to the United States at a very young age (7 years old), I have lived in America for almost 20 years now, I;ve completed elementary, middle, high school and now college. I also want to mention I do have a US passport and my English speaking level is pretty much near native if not completely native. My goal is to go and teach in one of the gulf countries (Saudi, UAE, Qatar etc..). What do you think are my chances of getting hired?

Would greatly appreciate your input
Thank you


Hello everyone, I am a non Native English Speaker, a Nigerian to be precised, with a Bachelor's Degree, Post Graduate Diploma in Education and TEFL in view. Please, i would like to know which destination would be more appropriate for me to teach English.
Thanks in advance.
Your candid response will be highly appreciated



Hello all,

I do appreciate everybody's contribution here. Mine is a simple one. Could anybody here be knowing any black person from Africa who got any such job in any country esp. Middle East? I will appreciate any replies. Cheers.


Hi guys,

So I wonder what is implied by a "native speaker" phrase? I was born in Eastern Europe, but my family moved to US when I was a child. I consider English to be my native tongue (as well as a few other languages spoken in my family), am US citizen and lived in this country for a long time. However, in order to save some money, help me to immerse in a different culture and become fluent in other languages my parents sent me back to Eastern Europe to get a BA in marketing. After getting my degree in Europe I got back to the States and had a career in another field. Just recently I decided to join others on a journey to become a TEFL teacher (I also have lots of experience as an assistant teacher, tutor and professional child care consultant here in the US) and got so disappointed by finding out I wasn't able to apply because I hold a degree from a European country! And it is being automatically assumed that I am not a native speaker. I was always proud that I could study in Europe and get so much international experience, but now I feel awkward. It seems to be a disadvantage rather than advantage when it comes to TEFL. So what is a "native speaker" thing all about? How is it evaluated and judged by others? No one ever wanted to talk to me over the phone to hear my accent or "check" my English. They all make their conclusions based on my resume which reveals the facts about where my degree is coming from..
Can anyone advice anything on this matter? Thank you!


Louisa Walsh@global-english

Thanks for your post. It is a complicated picture 'native speaker' and there is no universal absolute in terms of what it means. For some countries it is the passport from an English speaking country that is enough (as well as a degree) but for others, the degree needs to have been conducted in English, too. I would ensure your resume states: nationality: American. Perhaps include a short voice file so people can hear you. Also, add something like: while all of my education to 18 has been conducted in the states, I wanted to widen my cultural appreciation and decided to take a degree in....
Not all countries or schools are so prescriptive. There are still a lot of options.
Good luck!


I am an Indian and I've completed my graduation in English Honours from India itself. I am now planning to teach the same in South Korea but as I've researched most vacancies are offered to the native english speakers only and infact the very criteria for eligibility is being a NES. Can you suggest me a way out? As to how can i teach there getting a good pay without being discriminated like that.

Louisa Walsh@gobal-english

Hello Aashima
Thanks for your question. Unfortunately to teach English in S. Korea you additionally need to have a passport from either the UK, Ireland, USA, NZ, AUS, Canada or S.Africa. There can be a bias elsewhere, too but I've emailed you to see if I can help further.

Marius Constantin

Hey everyone!!! I'm a romanian living in the uk for the past 3 years. i do not have any qualifications but me and my girlfriend are thinking about taking a TEFL course together. she is slovak and her english is perfect. we are thinking about Asia but the truth is we love to travel so anything would be appreciated. If you can share your advice we would be grateful thanks everyone !!!

Louisa Walsh@gobal-english

Hello Marius
Thank you for your comment. While there is a strong preference for native English speakers (and in some countries this is a Visa requirement) with good English, a TEFL, there are still options. It helps if you have a degree and travel to the country to find work. Your best options may be Thailand (in rural areas) Laos or Cambodia. There are also options to freelance, teach English online. In short: there are certainly options. Hope this is helpful. We have many non-native English speakers on our TESOL courses - check out the courses tab at the top of the page. I have also emailed you to see if I can help more specifically. All the best!


I am from Manipur, India. I taught English under Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China in 2016-2017. Hard work always pays.

Laura G

Hello everyone, I have been interested in working as an English as a Second Language teacher abroad for many years. I am starting university in 2019 and was wondering if it is necessary to earn an anglophone bachelor's degree to be admissible in most teach abroad programs(JET, EPIK,etc.). I live in Canada and am bilingual but the bachelor's degree I want to study in is in french... What do you think?

Louisa Walsh@Global English

Thanks for your comment, Laura. Re: teaching English in Korea and Japan with a degree conducted in French.

As far as I can see, there are no degree language restrictions for the Korean EPIK scheme. It is only South Africans who have to prove their education was conducted in English. However, it may be best if you contact EPIK direct to check and also, check back as things can change. Here is the site:

I can


Hi, I am from Asian country. I really want to teach English abroad. As a non native speaker and had no experience in teaching, do you have any suggestion as non native which first step that I should take?

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