How to start an English teaching job abroad?

Are you a Filipino teacher and wanted to teach abroad?


Dear Ateh D,

I’m an online ESL teacher and as most Filipinos, I’d like to try my luck working abroad— as an English teacher. How did you start and find your teaching job? What advise would you give me to start my teaching career as a Filipino abroad?

Ivy from Bulacan


To be a Filipino English Teacher Abroad

My career as an English teacher started in the Philippines. Never have I thought, that I would end up teaching outside the country. But my teaching experiences were all inside a classroom setting. I believe that if you wanted to jump start your teaching career abroad, you must start gaining experiences in a classroom setting, otherwise it will be difficult to find an employer that will accept your online teaching experiences.

I had three years of classroom teaching before I moved to Beijing. This was circa 2006, when the English teaching market in China was starting to flourish. I heard that these days, it has become a very competitive industry for everyone who wanted to just live there.

Sad fact though, we, Filipinos have a lower employment rate in the English teaching industry as compared with our “Western looking” counterparts although some of them are also non-native speakers. It is still sad to see job posts that indicates, “WE ARE ONLY HIRING WESTERN LOOKING TEACHER.” 😢

I do believe that it’s about time to change that tone and start inclusion. English teaching is for the experienced teacher and who really has a background in teaching, not just because your mother tongue is English.

English teaching-- like any other profession out there, is a job that one must know how to do, studied how to do it, and has a broad experience in administering it.

Employing someone should not be based on the color of his skin, the first language he spoke, or the country of his passport.

It has to be about his passion, patience, commitment, and discipline that comes with the job.

On that note, here are my advises to you on how to start your career on English teaching abroad:

  1. If you are not a certified English teacher, get yourself certified. There are a lot of online courses on the internet these days but you have to get the one accredited in the whole world. Some of these, are through the British Council or if you wish to teach English with children, get a TEFL certificate. So choose which age group you would like to teach, courses that suited with your schedule, and the course price within your budget.

  2. Gain more classroom experience. Most employers are looking for at least two years of classroom experience, so go get that one. If you have to do volunteer teaching, so be it. Nothing will ever prepare you for any teaching related circumstances if you have not taught inside a classroom full of mixed characters.

  3. After you’ve accomplished the first two, create your CV and set up your career network through LinkedIn or any other professional forum. It is through networking, that you will find people who can direct you to some work opportunities and at the same time can vouch for your skills.

  4. Join ESL/EFL teaching groups on social media. These days, this has been my source of job information in the English teaching field, around the world. It is through this platform, that you will know if the job offer is legit or scam. Or if a school is good or not. Or if they can really provide for a working visa or not. So be very mindful.

  5. Send out your CVs as much as you can. I always believe that if a job is rightfully for you, it will come to you. If the employer likes you, they will hire you. But of course, you have to be proactive in sending out your applications. Don’t give up hope!

  6. Lastly, on your interview— always present yourself in a subtle confidence. Wow the interviewer about the skills and assets that you can contribute to the job. Think about your weaknesses as well, for they are also part of your whole well-being.

As a Filipino English teacher, I have come to know that our best asset in this job is that, we are very committed and hard-working, almost double to what our “Western looking” counterparts can do. We are the ones who showed up in time. We are the ones who work in compassion with our students. We are the ones who are respectful to our colleagues and coordinators. We are the ones who hardly complain. We are the ones who will carry on a smile on our face even on a hard day. And we are the ones who will stay up late just to get things done. Like seriously.

I hope these tips and advises will help you with your teaching career in the future. I wish you all the best. And happy teaching!!!😍

Are you a Filipino English teacher, too? How was your employment experience abroad?