Teaching English Abroad

Considering teaching English abroad? Learn about how to get started with the right training and find job opportunities.

Preparing to Teach-Certificates and Degrees

We offer several different levels of preparation for teaching abroad or in the USA, including an Undergraduate Certificate, a Graduate Certificate, and a Master's Degree. 

The recommended course of preparation depends on the requirements of the desired position. A private or commercial language school, for example, might only require a B.A. in English or Linguistics, or a B.A. plus a 120-hour, non-credit certificate like the one offered by the Center for ESL (http://cesl.arizona.edu). Other positions might require for-credit coursework or a certificate, a graduate certificate, or a Master's degree. Market trends and government policies will determine what a potential employer will require of a competitive applicant; for example, many EU countries have their own certification system, most jobs in Japan require an M.A., and many jobs in China need only a certificate. To get an idea of what jobs are available, visit http://www.eslcafe.com/joblist/.

If you want to teach English as a Second Language in the USA, certification requirements varies significantly according to job and state. Working at the K-12 level requires ESL endorsement and an education degree, which are offered by the UA College of Education (see: https://www.coe.arizona.edu/majors-list). An undergraduate or graduate certificate may be adequate for teaching adults at community centers for refugees and immigrants (e.g. http://www.literacyconnects.org). An MATESL is necessary for teaching at university-affiliated intensive English programs like CESL at UA, for teaching ESL at community colleges like Pima CC, or for teaching second language writing at universities like the Foundations Writing Program at UA in the English Department.

  • The English Department offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Global Language, comprised of four English courses (12 units; note that some Linguistics courses can count for 6 of the units). The Certificate is a good complement for undergraduate majors in English, Creative Writing, Linguistics, Education, Foreign Languages, and many social sciences and humanities. More information is at: https://english.arizona.edu/undergraduate-certificate-teaching-english-….
  • For students who already hold a Bachelor's degree, the English Department also offers a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language, comprised of 5 courses (15 units), both in-person and online. The Grad Certificate is useful for students who do not want to or cannot commit to a whole MATESL, or for those completing full graduate degrees in related areas. More information is at: https://english.arizona.edu/graduate-certificate-tesl.
  • The best preparation for those planning on building a career and teaching more than 1 or 2 years is the Master's in Teaching English as a Second Language, comprised of 11 courses (33 units) taken over 2 years. Because the demand for training in TESL is so high, the program has a very high job placement rate, and graduates find work all over the globe. For more information visit: http://english.arizona.edu/ma-tesl.

Structured Programs

There are a number of structured programs recruiting new graduates for teaching positions abroad. Many provide orientations, trainings, and other supports. These positions typically cover the living expenses as well as providing a modest stipend.

Other Resources

Transitions Abroad – available from many libraries and international newsstands. This magazine often carries articles on the Teaching English as a Foreign Language job market as well as other topics relating to overseas work, life, and travel. The January/February issue each year concentrates on teaching English in a foreign country.

Dave's ESL Cafe – this is the biggest and best website for English as Foreign Language teachers. The Job Center section contains many useful pages, including jobs postings, job discussion forum, and teacher training discussion forum.

GoAbroad.com – contains directory for teaching positions around the world – educational opportunities, paid and volunteer international teaching positions, searchable by country.

ESL.net – this is a distributor of English as a Second Language (ESL), general educational development, and foreign language training software, videos, audio, handheld translation devices, and textbooks. They also have a list of ESL resources.

TheAsianLife.com – lists number of resources and opportunities in South Korea.

GoOverseas – lists English Language Learner/English as a Second Language teaching jobs and other resources.