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TEFL: 6 countries where you can teach English as a non-native speaker

TEFL for non-native speakers

Uday Tank explains how teaching English to foreign learners (TEFL) works and outlines the six countries that may hire non-native English speakers from the get-go.

It’s really tough out there getting English teaching jobs if you’re a non-native speaker of the language.

If you’ve ever tried searching for TEFL jobs whether online or abroad then you must understand what I?m talking about.

For example, you?d see some job ads only open to native English speakers, and even those that don’t say it outright end up selecting native speakers ahead of non-native speakers.

There’s huge discrimination out there!

But that’s the situation of things, and there’s little anyone can do about it.

However, there are still some countries that are very favourable for non-native speakers.

In these countries, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a native or non-native speaker; as long as you’re good enough to teach English to foreign learners (TEFL) and you possess the basic qualifications they require, you?ll be hired.


If you’re a non-native English speaker looking to teach English abroad, your first bet is Cambodia.

Of all the countries in the world, Cambodia is the most indiscriminating when it comes to accepting English teachers.

In fact, some teachers who haven?t taken any TEFL courses online or haven’t undergone any college degree still find jobs in Cambodia.

It’s easy getting English teaching jobs in Cambodia.

However, as a non-native speaker, your chances of landing a job will be boosted if you have TEFL certification and/or college degree.

On the downside, though, salaries are quite low in Cambodia as compared with other neighboring countries like Thailand.


China is home to the biggest TEFL industry in the world.

Thanks to the size of the market here, there’s a huge chance for non-native English speakers to find jobs.

In fact, there are too few qualified teachers to fill positions. As a result, most of the institutes have no choice but to hire both native and non-native speakers.

On the downside, though, there’s a certain stigma about not being a native English speaker in China.

Although you may find schools willing to take you, don’t be surprised to see many of them lying to your students’ parents about you being a native speaker so that they can charge more for your classes.

There is a far greater level of respect accorded to native English speakers than non-native speakers in China.

Finally, native speakers tend to earn higher salaries than their non-native counterparts in China.

This is mostly because the highest paying TEFL jobs are usually big on applicants being native English speakers.

Note: Ensure you get your TEFL certificate before heading to China to TEFL. You can register for a TEFL course here.


Are you a non-native speaker but an EU citizen?

If so, head to Turkey.

Turkey is the friendliest European destination for non-native English speakers looking for English teaching opportunities.

As for non-native English speakers who?re also not EU citizens, you can raise your chances of finding jobs in Turkey by getting a college degree and gaining some valuable teaching experience before traveling.


It is possible to get a job in Japan as a non-native speaker.

But trust me, it’s not easy.

In fact, I’d say you should only consider Japan if you don’t find the other countries on this list befitting enough.

As a general rule in Japan, before a non-native speaker is hired, you?ll need to prove you’ve received twelve consecutive years of English-only education and you have a four-year college degree (in English).

This is great for those who have grown up attending international schools and possibly received their degree abroad in the US, Canada, or the UK.

Latin America

Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Peru are your best birth in the Americas.

These countries have nothing against you if you’re a non-native English speaker.

As long as you have a TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certificate and can prove that you’re a good teacher, you’ll be hired.


The biggest difference between Thailand and Cambodia TEFL job opportunities is that the pay is higher in Thailand.

However, the process of getting jobs here is more rigorous than in Cambodia.

First, you?ll need to prove your English proficiency skills as a non-native speaker by taking language fluency tests like IELTS (minimum score of 5+) or OEIC (minimum score of 600+).

Secondly, you?ll need to have a college degree certificate.

And finally, having a TEFL certificate is also a must.



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