10 Best Places to Teach English in 2019
It’s worth noting that these rankings are based on liveability and lifestyle – not the teaching environment, context or academic factors. We choose to do this because as always, the employer you work for is the most important thing, as is choosing a place with integrity and professionalism, along with continuing professional development opportunities and high ethical standards towards providing students with the best English learning experience possible. We take teaching English seriously, and this should always be the number one consideration of any teacher.
In short, the list is intended to be fun and provide an insight into the life you can have in the country outside of work. For academic stuff, check out our other blogs on teaching methodology, curricula, and classroom practice.
Our rankings of the best place to teach English each year began in 2017, and we’ve always had amazing responses from readers, newspapers, and media outlets. We’ve been featured on local and international news for giving the fairest, most insightful, and unique rankings of destinations to teach abroad, varying depending on the year, location, and global changes in the TEFL Market.
Without further ado, here are our rankings for 2019. Countries are ranked based on a number of different factors, including the demand for employment and the briskness of the TEFL market, the lifestyle and cost of living, salaries versus workload and benefits, and the climate and general live-ability of the country. So, here we go, starting with number….
10. Hong Kong
A long time favourite for many English teachers, Hong Kong has entered back into the rankings in 2019. As a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has always been thought of as something of a mix between East and West. Hong Kong is eminently liveable, ranked 7th in the world on the UN Human Development index, Both language centres and schools recruit for English teachers in Hong Kong, and the trade is brisk.
However, our research indicates that while salaries might seem high, it is balanced against a very high cost of living, and in some cases exceptionally high cost of renting property. That’s why Hong Kong is a firm number 10 in our list for 2019. Good salaries are abundant though, as are good benefits and an exceptional standard of living, being as it is, one of the most developed areas on the planet. International TEFL Academy state that it’s possible to gain savings of up to $600 a month working as an ESL teacher in Hong Kong.
– – –
Italy slides into number 9 this year. While salaries are generally lower than other countries, and cost of living can be relatively high, Italy still is an exceptional place to be a teacher of English in 2019. Yes, you will have to budget a little more, but the culture, history, and opportunity to travel in the region is unparalleled.
Italy also does a roaring trade in English teaching, and there are plenty of job opportunities around the country. Italy is, in addition, highly ranked in terms of entrepreneurial opportunities, for instance starting a language centre, as it is one of the most economically and socially developed countries worldwide, and one of the countries that attracts the largest number of visitors from around the world. It’s especially relevant if you want to teach English in the hospitality field, due to the huge tourism industry there.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the cuisine. Cheap, delicious food, fresh pizza, pasta, and a healthy mediterranean lifestyle, along with excellent wine and a cafe culture mean that in Italy you can enjoy an excellent work-life balance, and enjoy your free time, and meal time, outside of work.
Due to the flexibility of the lifestyle and opportunity for work-life balance, particularly outside major cities, you may be able to take the time to indulge in extra study and really hone your teaching.
Sure, you may not put away as much money as teaching elsewhere – ITTT state that the average salary is between 1,000 to 1,500 EUR. But the romance of the Amalfi coast and Sardinia,the food, culture, and lifestyle of Italy means that if you have the chance to spend a stint working here as an English teacher, it might just be one of the best things that you can do.
– – –
8. South Korea
South Korea has been a mainstay of English teaching for decades, and maintains a good reputation in our rankings for 2019. Salaries are generally good, demand for English teaching is exceptionally high, and the country offers the best of both worlds, in terms of city living and countryside retreats.Hot summers and snowy winters, excellent, unique cuisine, and an ultra-modern capital are all pull factors for South Korea.
Go Overseas states that salaries can be up to $2650 per month in public schools, and over $3,000 at universities, often including airfare, subsidised accommodation, and other benefits.
Another consideration that puts South Korea in our top 10 is the EPIK programme, which, provided you can get a spot, takes almost all of the legwork out of finding legitimate English teaching employment, and often provides reasonable salaries, benefits, and even accommodation and flight tickets, as well as a clear development plan for your professional abilities. In terms of teaching in Higher Education, South Korea is also an attractive destination, with a large contingent of excellent, globally-ranked universities looking for visiting professors.
– – –
In our 2017 rankings, Vietnam featured in at number 2. Still one of the most attractive destinations to teach English, the things that make the country desirable haven’t changed – very low cost of living, good salaries, friendly locals, and an abundance of natural beauty are all to be found.
As a rapidly developing nation, Vietnam is placing high emphasis on learning English, and the demand for English teaching is very high, possibly among the highest in the world. This means that there is good job security. Add in delicious food like Pho and Bun Cha, amazing jungles, forests, and coast lines like Ha Long Bay, and Vietnam is still very high in the global rankings of where to teach English abroad. Salaries generally range from $1,000 up to $2,000 per month or even more, depending on how much you work. Given the low cost of living, it may be possible to save up to $500 a month, while maintaining a good work-life balance.
– – –
A new entrant emerges, and Kazakhstan is now in at number 6. Why? Well, a good range of employment opportunities, and something of a ‘new frontier’ vibe in English teaching make it attractive. Not only do you have a vast, huge country, filled with ancient culture, unique heritage, and beautiful landscapes, ranging from expansive deserts to snow-capped mountains, you also have a warm, welcoming environment and the chance to be an ‘early mover’, thus opening up more opportunities in the country in future.
Kazakhstan won’t be for everyone, but there are chances here to work in good schools, higher education institutions, and big-name language centres What really makes Kazakhstan stand out though, is the fact that until lately, it’s been relatively unknown as an English teaching destination, except for only the bold and brave few. This is one of the far frontiers of English teaching for now, but it won’t be forever – so you might want to get in there quick!
Salaries and remuneration for the right roles in Kazakhstan are very high, including tax-free base salaries, airfares, and often other benefits such as accommodation. Many of the best jobs however require a high level of qualifications and experience.
– – –
Thailand, like much of Southeast Asia, is firmly entrenched in the teaching English world, as well as the world of tourism. The fact is though, that while salaries are often lower than in China or other regions – there’s good reason for this. The fact that the cost of living can be wildly low, there are beautiful beaches, excellent development of tourism infrastructure, and just the sheer appeal of the culture and landscapes, all reflect the full package that teaching in Thailand can offer you. High level academic and teaching positions are also available, although these tends to be confined more to international schools and universities or colleges than language centres.
Thailand is a staple, a mainstay, and deserves its recognition as number 5 in our list based on liveability, ease of finding work, cost of living, and even natural beauty. English education is important in Thailand for many reasons, including the bustling tourism economy, and for those interested in teaching ESP, especially teaching in the hospitality sector, Thailand is a perennially attractive destination. According to Go Overseas, salaries range from $1,700 – $2,500 per month, which given the very low cost of food, accomodation, and entertainment in Thailand, can be an extremely comfortable living.
Thailand also offers excellent study opportunities, with some world-class universities and internationally partnered universities. This means that if you’re looking to study a Master’s degree, or even a Bachelor’s degree, you may be able to do so at a lower cost, while working on the side – a very attractive option.
– – –
China is so vast that really we could write a few thousand words more about living and working there. Each city is a world unto itself, and boy are there are a lot of cities.
Speaking as a whole though, there is good reason for China to be in our rankings this year. The demand for English in China is still booming, and along with this is the opportunity to find excellent, rewarding work. Students are very keen to learn English and very happy to study. Teachers are well respected, and well compensated for their work. Add in the fact that you have the opportunity to be mobile around the country, experiencing cities and regions from the coast and huge metropolis of Shanghai to the inland inner Mongolia, and the SIlk Road to boot, too.
Much has been made of living and working in China, and of course it’s not for everyone. For those who are determined, and want to experience a very different, and very exciting culture, while earning good money and enjoying their teaching time – it’s the place to be.
Salaries in China are known for being very competitive, and the potential to earn great money and save for the future is very high. Teach Away state that the salaries for a licensed teacher can be up to $4,700 per month. This is likely lower for most TEFL teachers, and especially those who are in more rural areas, but the lower cost of living, other benefits including airfare and accommodation, and base salaries of around $1,800 – $2,600 a month mean that China is very competitive in terms of earning potential.
You’ll also have the opportunity to undertake study, and learning Mandarin Chinese is certainly a major tool in the global economy, as is having familiarity with China itself. Many teachers have gone on to set up successful companies in China after having lived there to teach.
– – –
Slipping down from number 1 back in 2017, 2019 rankings have Myanmar at number 3. Still as a frontier country in the ELT world, the demand for teaching English is growing here, but it’s still in its early stages, meaning that many jobs are only available for licensed teachers in a few international schools, although this is changing. Myanmar is also an excellent place to consider voluntary teaching.
The opportunity to live and experience a unique culture such as Myanmar leads to us rate it very highly, and the free-time opportunities as well, such as Bagan, Mandalay and Inle lake are potentially once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The market is slowly growing for teaching English, a reflection of Myanmar’s increased tourism numbers and appeal to more and more tourists.
Put simply, Myanmar is an excellent place with growing opportunities – although they may be difficult to find at the moment, it’s not impossible, and it can be a wonderful place to begin or develop your teaching career.
– – –
Some of you might be wondering how Singapore made it onto this list, especially considering that the country already has an excellent standard of English, speaking generally – the average IELTS score in the country is almost 7.5.
But, there is reason behind this choice! When all things are considered, Singapore has a lot to offer for an English teaching career.
Employment may be competitive, but if you can find the right job, Singapore offers an excellent standard of living and salaries in excess of $3,000. One of the world’s most developed nations, Singapore is a clean, green, beautiful city-state, and is geographically convenient for exploring the whole of Asia. It’s an international hub, meaning that travel home is easier than in other places, and there are a range of opportunities for teachers to both teach and study – some of the best universities in the world are located in Singapore, as well as numerous language centres, colleges, and schools.
Cost of living is very high, and particularly in Singapore it’ll be difficult to go out and party if you like to drink (don’t even ask about the cost of alcohol!) but if that doesn’t matter to you, and you want a clean, fresh environment, high standard of living, and professional atmosphere to work in, then Singapore is the place for you.
Another consideration that puts Singapore high on our list is the ease with which you can work and live there – Singapore has a huge expatriate and foreign worker population, many creature comforts are available, and you won’t be feeling like an outsider living there. That’s why, all things considered, if you can find good work, Singapore is an excellent choice for a long-term liveable destination.
– – –
And our winner is Chile! Why you ask? So many reasons, but Patagonia is one.
Chile is without a shadow of the doubt, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with old-school architecture and stunning village squares, cities nestled behind mountains, and exceptional cuisine.
Demand for TEFL in Chile is there, and there are jobs available, although often times it can be better and easier to go through an agency – one of the pitalls, as Go Abroad states, is people attempting to work on a tourist visa who haven’t sought out the right opportunities.
Any other reasons for Chile? In short, yes. The thing that really stands out about Chile is the opportunity for exploration and discovery. Easter Island should be on everyone’s bucket list, as should seeing the Andes from Santiago. International Living also state that Chile has the strongest economy, highest standard of living, and lowest level of corruption and poverty in Latin America, and what’s more, you can drink water from the tap!
Salaries in South America are generally lower than in Asia, but Chile has salaries ranging from $500 – $1,700 according to Go Abroad. In Chile, with a lower cost of living than many areas in the world, this can be enough to live very comfortably, and put away significant savings if you’re smart about it, especially if you earn towards the top end of this scale.
So that’s why, we have our only South American entrant for this year’s rankings, and it’s at number one!
– – –
Rankings for 2019, done!
Remember, this is just for fun and an overview of the countries. We can’t guarantee the information is accurate and things can always change on the ground as well. The most important thing in any teaching job is to look at the academics, the role, and the opportunity first.
Our opinion is always to make sure you only work for reputable employers who care about teaching and invest in you and your practice, including offering CPD and training opportunities – and follow local laws and regulations to the letter, this will ensure you have an enjoyable teaching experience and get the most from your job, as well as delivering the best teaching you can and benefiting your students’ lives.
Let us know what you think of the rankings and anything you agree or disagree with – the more experience you want to share with us, the better.
See you next year!