Published 5th February 2021

TEFL opportunities for non native speakers

There are a number of misconceptions about teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad, which we’d like to take a minute to debunk right now:

MYTH: You need to speak the local language

MYTH: You can’t teach without a degree

MYTH: You only teach children

But today let’s look at one in more detail:

MYTH: Non-native speakers can’t get TEFL jobs.

Can non-native speakers teach English as a Foreign Language?

Make no mistake, a solid knowledge of the English language and a high level of fluency is needed to be able to teach English, but it is not a requirement to be a native speaker. Let’s say that again: it’s not a requirement to be a native English speaker to be a TEFL teacher. There is no reason a non-native speaker can’t have the same language knowledge and the same teaching capabilities as a native speaker – just as there is no guarantee that if you are a native English speaker you will be able to teach someone to speak the language.

As an added bonus, because you’ve learned the language as a second or a foreign language, you know exactly what EFL learners are going through. This will give you a level of empathy and understanding for your students which native-speaker teachers can never have. You can be a role model for your students and an example of a successful language learner.

Read more: The Advantages of Being a Non-native English Teacher

However, because there are sadly still TEFL employers who prefer native speakers, if you are a non-native English speaker and you would like to be a TEFL teacher, you will need to show that you have near-native fluency, which means at least a C1 level of English. During the interview, your employer will also take into account your accent, but this is customary with any TEFL applicants – an accent is not a problem as long as you speak clearly and intelligibly.

TEFL opportunities for non native English speakers

TEFL opportunities for non-native speakers

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at the different options for non-native speakers.

Read more: How Teaching English as a Foreign Language Will Change Your Life

In theory, TEFL teachers should be eligible for any job, regardless of their first language. Sadly, this is not always the case as there are some companies that require you to be a native speaker and some countries which have restrictions on non-native speakers. But don’t freak out, there are also loads of jobs for you whether you speak Italian, Thai, Portuguese, or Afrikaans.

Face-to-face teaching opportunities for non-native speakers

We must first just say that there are a few countries that won’t issue a work visa to teachers unless you are a native English speaker. This will be made very clear in job advertisements and if that’s the case, don’t waste your time applying for those jobs – those are government regulations.

And there are tons of other places where you can get a teaching permit. Central and South America is a good first option, simply because there are so many amazing countries you could live and work in. If you have eligibility to work in the EU then that is another option, as a work visa won’t be necessary. Eastern European countries like Turkey, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic are all friendly to non-native speakers.  In Asia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are waiting to welcome you with open arms.

So your biggest problem is going to be choosing where you want to work!

Online teaching for non-native speakers

Then there is always the possibility of teaching English online. Here are a few companies who are happily hiring non-native speakers to teach English as a Foreign Language online, as well as their application requirements:

Zebra English

You need a C1 level of English, a degree, a TEFL certificate, and be legally allowed to work in the US or Canada. Experience teaching Young Learners or teens online is preferable but not essential.

COREnglish

All you need is availability between 6 am to 8 am EST at least 2 hours a day, 4 days a week. A degree and/or TEFL certificate is preferred but not essential.

Palfish

You should have a degree or currently be studying towards a degree. Experience is preferable but not essential.

Cambly

No degree, TEFL certificate or experience required!

Engoo

You must be at least 18 years of age.

Preply

No degree, TEFL certificate, or experience is required as it acts as a database for teachers so while these will make you more attractive to students they are not essential. Simply sign up, record an introductory video, set your rate, and wait for the students to book you.

Top tips for applying for TEFL jobs as a non-native speaker

Finally, we want to leave you with a few tips and tricks which might make your job search a bit easier.

  • Proofread your CV. Make sure there is not a single language error on your CV and cover letter.
  • Be clear. Highlight your language achievements and your teaching experience and qualifications.
  • Be confident. Employers like to see confident teachers and showing your nerves is not going to help you.
  • Network. Build up a network of connections in EFL who can vouch for you and your skills and who might one day have a job for you.
  • Don’t give up. Finding a job can be tough for anyone. If you can’t find a job, don’t assume it’s because of your language skills – have faith in yourself and keep looking.

Being a non-native English-speaking TEFL teacher means you may have a few more hurdles to jump over than a native speaker. But don’t let that deter you from finding the job of your dreams. With a TEFL course under your belt, you are ready to handle whatever any EFL classroom will throw at you!

  1. Hi there! 🙂

    I am in process of obtaining my TEFL qualifications, hopefully I can achieve it by early summer 2021.

    I am native Polish speaker, but I left Poland at 18 years old and since then been studying, working and volunteering in the UK and across the EU.

    I have a degree BA (Hons) and MSc (Hons) degree obtained in Scotland/England, and now I am PhD Criminology candidate with UK-based university on full funded scholarship. Very briefly, I am specialising in Criminology and Forensic Mental Health disciplines, but my expertise and knowledge goes much beyond those.

    I have a vast experience working in policing settings, research in HE and development in professional EU organisations, therefore I am looking for opportunity to teach students that may have higher aspirations than simply become fluent English speakers. I can assist in cultural, higher education and general understanding of the UK/EU environment training.

    My time is precious and schedule quite busy, therefore I am looking for organisations and students who are disciplined, driven and ready for volume of engagement that need to be put into studying other language and its variety of cultural nuances.

    Would you kindly direct me to the right place and people? 🙂

    Thank you in advance!

    Roksana

    1. Hi there Roksana. Thank you for commenting on our blog post. It’s great to hear that you are currently studying for your TEFL qualification. It’s also wonderful to hear of your vast experience and your desire to teach English. We have now sent you an email with some further information that you may find useful in your search for teaching positions.

  2. Hi, I have been an English/ESL teacher for more than 15 years in an Australian International School in Beijing, China. I was also a former deputy head in English Language Center. I am currently looking for an overseas teaching job especially in Poland. I am very much willing to work and live in such a picturesque land of Poland. Currently, I am teaching online to Chinese student nationals. I also had an experience teaching Korean nationals way back in 2002. I really hope I can be given a chance to teach, work and live in Poland this year.

    1. Hi there! Thank you for commenting on our blog post. It’s great to hear that you would like to teach in Poland! We have a jobs board on our website where you can search for jobs worldwide. You can access the jobs board on our website through the following link: https://www.theteflacademy.com/tefl-jobs.

      I would also recommend searching through Google for other ESL job sites. We do have a range of internship and volunteer programs that you can apply for though our website at the following links: https://www.theteflacademy.com/internships and https://www.theteflacademy.com/volunteer.

      I hope you find this helpful and I wish you all the best with your search.

  3. Hi there

    I am really interested in enrolling, but before I enroll in the course, is there someone I can talk to regarding how to apply for jobs, what certification is the best etc…

    I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Regards,
    Reyisha

    1. Hi there Reyisha. It’s wonderful to hear that you are interested in taking a TEFL course. We would love to have a chat with you and answer any questions that you have. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call on +1 347 434 9694 or you can request a callback by simply emailing us to hello@theteflacademy.com

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