Teaching Opportunities for Non-native Teachers

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Many people believe that if you speak English you are able to teach English as a Foreign Language. If you have even been in an EFL classroom or taught English to a language learner, you will know this is totally untrue. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is not the same as speaking the language. In order to become a TEFL teacher, there are a number of requirements you need to satisfy.

The first, and most obvious, is you need to be TEFL-qualified. You need to take (and pass) a TEFL course – preferably one with at least 120 hours. Another requirement is your own level of English proficiency. If you are a native speaker of English you don’t need to worry any more, as that is proof enough. However, if you are a non-native speaker, you may find you need to jump through a few more hoops for potential employers.

There is a big debate about the differences between native and non-native EFL teachers. Some countries unfortunately are not very open-minded when it comes to this and may not be as welcoming to non-native teachers as they should be. So if you are a non-native teacher, here are a few things you should know.

Who is considered a non-native speaker?

Native English speakers are citizens of the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Even if English is spoken as the primary language in your country but it is not on this list (such as The Philippines, India) you will be considered a non-native speaker.

Where can I teach if I am a non-native speaker?

In theory, anywhere. There is no reason a native speaker should be given a job over a non-native speaker if their level of English is high enough and their qualifications are good enough. Sadly, this is not always the reality so non-native speakers may find it harder than native speakers to find a job. Unless you look in the right places!


If you are an EU citizen, you should have no problem finding a job in other EU countries and in Eastern Europe. If you are not an EU citizen you will find it difficult finding a job in Europe but this is an issue for any teachers because of visa regulations. The one exception is Turkey, which is more than happy to offer jobs to non-native speakers and it does not have the same strict visa rules.

spain Almeria


Some countries in Asia are generally welcoming to non-native speakers, regardless of nationality. Thailand and Cambodia are good choices, while Japan, South Korea and China are stricter. However, if you went to an English-medium school for twelve years and did a degree in English, then you’ll qualify to apply for jobs in Japan, but the rules are very strict. There is also a small chance of finding a job in China but legally this is not allowed so if you do find a job you won’t be able to apply for a working visa – so we don’t recommend this option.

Top TEFL Destinations

Central and South America

Central and South America are other good options as most countries will have good opportunities and do not differentiate between native and non-native speakers. Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil are all popular options.

mexico 1434022584


As you can see, there are numerous places you can find a TEFL job if you are a non-native speaker. In fact, there are more countries you can teach in than you can’t. So don’t let the small detail of your first language put you off wanting to pursue a career in TEFL. The bottom line is, if your level of English is high enough, you can teach English as a Foreign Language and get a job as a TEFL teacher.


Hi there, my name is Moeketsi and I’m from Lesotho. I completed my 240 hour expert TEFL/TESOL course. I do not have much teaching experience but I have been teaching at a local primary school. I’ve been applying to jobs abroad and have not been able to get an offer. I have a BA degree in social sciences. Could you assist me? Please.

Moeketsi, 26th March 2019

Hi, my name is Madhu. I am from Bangalore, India.

I finished my final year B.com exams and awaiting results (working adult).

Plan on taking up 120- hour or 210 hours TEFL course online. But now, I am anxious to take up this course after reading above comments where, Ms. Bhuvneshwari is finding difficulty in getting a job abroad and how she keeps hearing rejection from each and every employer just because she is a non-native speaker (in my case both non-native speaker and skin colour, I’ve read a few blogs where it read – few country’s do not hire you cause of your skin colour and nationality).

I am afraid the same thing might happen with me as well. I would like to invest my money where the end result is going to be good and not be a waste. Hope I am making sense.

What should I do now? Please advise.


Madhu, 17th December 2018

Hello,I am 28 years old fromAlgeria and I have Master degree in English language ,I am searching for a job as English language teacher.

Somia, 20th September 2018

Good afternoon!
My name is Judit and I am looking for online teacher job currently. I have just qualified TEFL recently. I have been living in the UK for seven years and also I have been teaching private students for over 2 years. Is there any chance to apply for your company if I am not native speaker without degree? Also, I will start teaching in a private language school in evenings from September.
Thank you.
Kind regards.

judit, 12th August 2018

Good Morning,
I have a desire to Pursue a TEFL English Teaching Career, However I get a little worried about that I am from Botswana and I am Black. From some Youtube Videos I wached recently I got the feeling that skin color is something like a “silent” factor in the TEFL Teaching Industry, to getting jobs.

However I have one of those “Rusty” Bachelor’s degree Certificates in which I majored in English and Sociology. I currently work in Mining Company in My Country as A Mining Administration Assistant.

I am looking to enrol with your Academy before end of this year.
I hope to hear from you .

Kagiso Ngakaemang, 29th July 2018

I am a thirty two year old certified Panamanian English Teacher. I have worked for primary and secondary schools for thirteen years now. I usually use different strategies and methods to help my students improve their English skills. I would like to join your team to work as a teacher.

Eric Valdés, 26th July 2018

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