The Hot Zones – Top 5 English Teaching Destinations

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This post was written by Kaye McDaniel

There are plentiful EFL positions open across the globe but there are some that are more popular than others.  These locations can sometimes be competitive, and sometimes a breeze to get into.  Here are the deets on the top five English teaching destinations!

South Korea

Whether you are aiming to teach in public or private schools, there are tons of recruiters for South Korea looking to sweep in EFL teachers on a regular basis.  The government has recently started up a program called EPIK, which places English teachers in public schools around the country as well.  Placements in Korea are especially popular due to all the perks of the job – partial airfare reimbursement, free housing, insurance and high pay!  Teachers here can expect to rake in upwards of $2,000 a month with their monthly cost of living usually not exceeding $1,000.

Another perk – they are very welcoming of online certifications!  One thing to keep in mind is that you will likely be placed in rural or suburban areas for your year-long contract.


Again, East Asia is a popular place to go and again, mostly because of the benefits.  The pay in Japan is relatively high (some schools will pay you up to $3,000 a month!).  Outside of the government run and highly competitive J.E.T. Programme, you will not find that employers are keen to reimburse for airfare or provide housing (although they will always help you secure affordable living).  But you will get along the lines of seven weeks paid time off!  There are not as many recruiters for Japan as you will see with Korea, but plenty of private language institutes (eikaiwa) that are happy to hire you up.  Make sure you do your research ahead of time before going with a certain eikaiwa – some are not all that they appear.


Yes, we are still in Asia!  Thailand is a popular place to be since there are plenty of EFL jobs to be had and the cost of living is quite low compared to the pay.  Thai employers can be a bit more flexible and offer six – 12 month contracts, and their hiring season follows their school year for the most part.  You will see fewer benefits here but your money will take you quite far in the land of smiles and you can live very comfortably on the start-up pay.  While private language institutes are littered about, many positions are open in the public schools for assistant teachers of native or near-native English proficiency.


Buenos Aires is becoming more and more popular for those seeking English teaching positions and there are many opportunities to be had.  You will find yourself teaching adults more often than not and usually business-related English at that.  Argentina positions are available at their peak in the summer months and contracts can be quite flexible.  For those without bachelor’s degrees or who have a few more decades tacked onto them, Argentina tends to welcome all certified applicants.  Your monthly cost of living will match your pay so if you are looking for more experience than savings, this is a great place to head to!

Costa Rica

Who wouldn’t be drawn to the tropics for a laid back teaching life?  Costa Rica has plenty of EFL institutes and schools for certified English teachers.  With a hiring season that runs year round, you can head there almost anytime to start up your work contract.  Your monthly pay will usually exceed your cost of living, but not by a significant amount as you will find in most Central/South American locations.  Online certificates are readily accepted, but keep in mind you will probably have to conduct interviews face-to-face so taking an on-site course there can make the process smoother.

Keep in mind that these locations, as the hot spots, may pose more competition for you than other locations (see Diamonds in the Rough).  There are great places to teach all over the world, but it is always up to you where you want to go!

For a broader overview of the many TEFL destinations around the world, check out this region-by-region breakdown for newly certified TEFL teachers

February 25, 2011