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Where to start

Teaching English abroad is a great way to travel, live abroad and earn some money at the same time. You can teach English to businesspeople, teach young people through schemes such as the British Council’s English Language Assistants programme and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), or volunteer to teach in a developing country.



How to know if you’re suited to this sector

You need to be outgoing, friendly, interested in people, enjoy languages and be fairly organised. Some people find living abroad more challenging than they expected; research other people’s experiences and consider how comfortable you'd be living for several months in a totally unfamiliar environment.

Students often consider teaching English abroad because they want to learn a language themselves. Bear in mind that as an English teacher you will be speaking English all day. If you want to improve in the language of the country through informal socialising, you’ll have to be proactive and tenacious.

How to get the experience to be credible

With a Cambridge degree you are unlikely to need additional experience, though any teaching, coaching or tutoring you have done will be useful. Mention any languages you have learnt.

Further study or certification required

If you want to teach English in developed countries you will need a CELTA qualification, for which you need to take an intensive one-month course.

How to find employers or training courses

Most major towns and cities in the UK have a centre where you can study for the CELTA qualification. In Cambridge, the relevant centre is The Bell School.

The British Council is a well repected employer and useful place to start looking for jobs, though often they require previous TEFL experience.

JET is a two-year programme to teach English in schools in Japan.

DoTEFL is a global TEFL course directory where you can find TEFL courses from all around the world.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Make sure you check your spelling and grammar! Don’t wait for jobs to be advertised by business language schools - apply speculatively to schools in the City where you want to work. They usually recruit over the summer for a September start, so you’ll need to apply in July/August.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

Many language schools operate in Cambridge over the summer. See our vacation work page for information on what other Cambridge students have done.

JET does a presentation in Cambridge every Michaelmas term - find the date in the events section of Handshake.

Other things you should know

If you want to teach English to businesspeople abroad, you should probably plan to work for a year to be able to recoup the costs of your CELTA course. Business language schools may offer you a certain number of hours per week but beware that this may also require a lot of travel if you are teaching clients in their offices. It’s good to try and work in a language school that has classrooms so that at least some of the clients come to you.

Be careful, and properly research any employer before you jump on a plane. See the University's safeguarding guidance.

What to do next

Now you have looked at this page, think about your next steps. Everyone's journey is different. There are many ways to move forward. Here are some actions you could take now: