Published 27th July 2016

famous tefl teacher

There is no doubt that TEFL is fast becoming one of the most popular jobs around the world, whether it be a long-term career decision or a chance to take a break from the humdrum of everyday life. These days it may seem like everyone from your best friend to your next-door neighbour is considering becoming a TEFL teacher. In fact, TEFL teaching has been a popular choice for quite a few years and while there are a handful of famous figures in the TEFL industry (Scott Thornbury, Stephen Krashen, Jeremy Harmer, for example) there are a few familiar faces you may not realise were TEFL teachers at some point in their lives, though they are now famous for something quite different to teaching.

J.K. Rowling

Arguably the most famous TEFL teacher of them all, the author of the best-selling Harry Potter series taught English in Porto, Portugal for two years from 1992. This was before she became a highly successful author, of course.

Nick Hornby

You should recognise the name Nick Hornby as the author of the novels High Fidelity and About a Boy. The award-winning novelist spent some time teaching EFL in London.

Dan Brown

Another author who was involved in TEFL before hitting the big time was the author of the bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Brown taught English in America before he decided to focus on his writing, which turns out to have been a good decision.

Oliver Stone

The film director and screenwriter is more well-known for his films like Scarface and Natural Born Killers, but he taught English in Vietnam for six months.

Bob Geldof

The music mogul and earth-saver spent a few years teaching English in Murcia, Spain. Luckily for us, he moved on to slightly bigger things.


Probably before he realised his musical talent was where his success lay, Sting taught English in the UK. Apparently the song Don’t Stand So Close to Me was inspired by his time teaching (but we won’t make any assumptions about the connection).

So if you are looking for a reason to justify your decision to up sticks and move to a faraway country to teach English, let these celebrities be your inspiration. If you start out Teaching English as a Foreign Language for a break from your deskjob or as a conscious career move, you never know where your TEFL journey will take you.