Published 12th December 2019

Famous Brits Who Taught English as a Foreign Language

We know that probably all your cousins and their neighbours have done a TEFL certificate and are teaching English in Thailand, but you might be surprised to find out that a few familiar names have dipped their toes in the TEFL pool before heading onto more successful ventures. Let’s be honest, not everyone is meant to be a TEFL teacher, or a teacher at all. We all have our calling, and you may be surprised by some of these famous Brits who taught English as a foreign language.

Indeed, some people fall into TEFL by accident and become career TEFL teachers, but others use TEFL as a gap-filler between life stages. There’s nothing wrong with either approach; it totally depends on you and your circumstances. If you are thinking about teaching English as a foreign language but not sure if it’s your life calling, maybe you can take comfort in these famous Brits who did TEFL but moved on to another career.

Prince William – Duke of Cambridge

Believe it or not! In the year 2000 Prince William volunteered as a TEFL teacher in Uruguay for 10 weeks.  While we’re not sure if he actually did a TEFL course or not, who better to teach English than the Prince?!

J.K. Rowling

Yes, our favourite author taught English in Portugal in the 1990s – before she sat in a café in Scotland writing our favourite novel. She worked the typical European EFL teacher shifts and taught in the afternoons and evenings and wrote in the mornings. 

Benedict Cumberbatch

As If Cumberbatch needed to be more attractive, he taught English at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India after high school. He not only taught English but used the time to learn about Buddhism.

Charlotte Bronte

A bit older than some of our other teachers, Bronte taught English in Belgium in the 1800s. Admirably, she taught to pay school tuition for herself and her sister but it made such an impact on her it inspired The Professor

Famous Brits Who Taught English as a Foreign Language

Wilfred Owen

Owen might be more well-known for his poetry but he also earned his stripes as an English teacher in France, as a private tutor in Bordeaux.

Bob Geldof

The music mogul and philanthropist taught English in Murcia, Spain. He didn’t have a formal qualification but he did speak English and that was all he needed.


We probably shouldn’t mention this but Sting taught English in the UK before forming The Police. The band’s song “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” was apparently inspired by his teaching experience, which is why we’re not convinced he is the best example of a TEFL teacher, but…it’s Sting.

As you can see, the world of TEFL has attracted its fair share of celebrities. We’re not saying that you’ll get famous by teaching English abroad, but if it’s good enough for the Duke of Cambridge…

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