TEFL Jobs For Non-Native Speakers

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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 English speakers can’t get TEFL jobs

Who is considered a non-native speaker?

First of all, let’s get one thing clear. Who is considered a non-native speaker of English? 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.

Can non-native English 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-speaking teachers can never have. You can be a role model for your students and an example of a successful language learner.

Read more: Can You Teach English If You are a Non-native Speaker?

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 leastC1 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.

Read more: What Level Should My English be for a TEFL Course?

TEFL opportunities for non-native teachers

TEFL jobs 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.

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 jobs 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. 


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.

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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 these countries, but the rules are very strict. 

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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.

Argentina is an alternative TEFL destination

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

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

Online teaching jobs 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.


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.


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


No degree, TEFL certificate or experience required!


You must be at least 18 years of age.


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.

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Top tips for applying for TEFL jobs as a non-English 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!

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TTA alumni teaching abroad

Just look at Caro. She’s from Argentina and speaks Spanish as her first language. She is now teaching in Thailand, and this is what she had to say:

“While I was in New Zealand, after more than four years of working with kids (together with other jobs), and after giving it a long thought, I decided to become a TEFL teacher. During all my years traveling, I heard lots of people talking about being an English teacher and traveling the world, but all of them were native speakers (from England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), so I didn’t think I could make that career path possible for myself being a non-native speaker, but I decided to give it a chance. Anyways, I wouldn’t lose much by trying, right? So I did my TEFL course in Auckland, New Zealand and until today it was, by far, the best decision I’ve ever made. Now, I’m into my second year contract in a language school in Thailand, and I’m loving every second of it.”

And then there’s Rihards, from Latvia, now teaching in China:

“It all began at the start of September when I was looking for TEFL courses to gain my TEFL certificate so that I would then have a qualification to teach English in China. As a non- native speaker, I needed all the help that I could get because recently they changed the rules making it harder for non-native English speakers to obtain the Z work visa.

After graduating from The TEFL Academy in November, my search for a TEFL job began. I didn’t need to look far, fortunately for me The TEFL Academy provides a good amount of job advertisements on their website. I chose to work in China, as it was the first country in Asia that I wanted to start teaching English. So, I began sending my CV and cover letter to employers. To my surprise, the next day I had already lined up seven interviews for potential job opportunities. So, after going back and forth with potential employers, I selected my new job location, which was in the middle of China. 

On 1 March, it was time to start teaching young children in my kindergarten. I had no prior experience in teaching, but thanks to The TEFL Academy’s TEFL course, I had confidence. I can truly say that I got this great job thanks to The TEFL Academy’s excellent TEFL jobs board. I am confident on finishing my 1.5-year contract and maybe even staying on in China. I would strongly suggest to anybody who wants to do something new and interesting, China is a great place to start.”

Convinced? Check out our TEFL courses and start your journey to find a TEFL job for a non-native English speaker today!



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