Teaching jobs abroad for Indian English teachers

We are often contacted by people asking about teaching jobs abroad for Indian English teachers and what countries are out there offering positions. Rather than give our advice, we invited four English teachers from India teaching abroad to tell us their stories.

Obviously, English is widely spoken in India, a throwback to its two centuries of British rule as part of the Empire. Now, there are two official languages in India – English and Hindi, as well as 21 other languages. This means that many Indians are bilingual, particularly those of British heritage and those who studied in English-medium international schools.

While not considered ‘native English speaking teachers’ by some countries and companies, many Indians have English as their mother tongue, and there are opportunities around the world for Indian English teachers. We worked with an Indian teacher in our first teaching job in Thailand, and we have worked with others since then in Vietnam, Spain and China.

In this post, four Indian English teachers working abroad talk about working in Spain, Vietnam, the Middle East, Japan and in India.

Where can you find teaching jobs abroad for Indian English teachers?

A lot of jobs you see on Facebook and on jobs boards are in China. In China, you can only qualify for a Z visa to teach English if you are from a specific country: the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Because these are the most frequent job adverts, it can look like there are no options for Indian English teachers who want to teach abroad.

However, there are actually only a very small number of countries that restrict visas for English teaching by passport. Taiwan and South Korea also do, but most other countries do not.

In Japan, you can teach English there if you had your education in an English medium school. In Vietnam and Thailand, if you have the right TOEIC or IELTS score, you can also teach English. There are lots of options in various countries in the Middle East if you have the right qualifications.

Even in Europe, there are options. Language Assistant Schemes in Spain now accept teachers from India provided that they have CEFR C2 level English. You can also work in Poland and Germany.

Read more about teaching opportunities in Poland.

How can an Indian teacher of English work abroad?

I’m going to let the guys below give you their advice on that one, because they have done it. The bottom line is that with the right English level and qualifications, Indian teachers can find jobs abroad. By the right English level, I mean CEFR C2 – IELTS 8.0 or higher. Without this, it will be very difficult. In terms of qualifications, as they say below, the most opportunities are available for those with a Cambridge CELTA or a Trinity certTESOL, because these courses include assessed teaching practice of real students.

Anyway, enough of me. I’ll let them tell you their advice.

Teaching English in India and Bahrain

Indian English teacher, Sharoon, who’s currently in Chennai, has also taught in Bahrain.

Where do you teach?

I teach with the British Council in Chennai. I teach adult courses mainly- IELTS, Business English, General English. However, I also have some young learner courses too.

What do you like about it?

I am an engineering grad who took to teaching coz this is satisfying. I enjoy teaching and is usually very happy to see growth in students, that smile on their faces when they learn the language. This is often measured my learners in terms of success at study or work. So, it is tangible at times.

How did you become an English teacher?

I can describe it as an experiment that turned out to be a career later. I was an engineering student at that time and has done BEC certificates- Prelim and Vantage to improve my prospects of getting employment and to get time off from regular classes, for fun basically.

I did well in the exams and was asked to help the next batches of students doing the exam. Though voluntary, it was a good experience. During my final year at college, I got a part-time job to teach English at a small-time language institute in the town that I lived and then later, to teach English at a nursing college.

While I finished Engineering, I took an engineering-related job. But, in due course of time, I went to work with the training dept and properly took to this after a CELTA. Now, I have got a CELTYL and DELTA with over a decade of ELT experience.

Find out what these acronyms mean and what type of qualifications they are.

Where else have you taught?

This is my 9th year with the BC. I have worked with the BC in Bahrain for two years between 2016 and 2018. I have worked with two other companies- Orion Edutech and Mphasis, a HP company.

Bahrain provides teaching job abroad for Indian English teachers
Bahrain by night

How did you find your current job?

After the CELTA, I applied to the British Council learning that there was a vacancy. It was in 2011 that I started with the BC. When I came back from Bahrain to Chennai in 2018, I saw this ad on their website and applied to go through the entire application process again.

Find out where to find English teaching jobs at the British Council and similar companies that recruit from abroad.

What advice would you give to other Indians who want to teach English abroad?

There are two sides to this. Many say it is difficult to find employment abroad if you are a non-native teacher. I agree! But, it is not impossible. 

I`ll suggest you get two to three years of teaching experience- preferably documented full-time experience in wherever you live, or wherever you can find a job. With 2 to 3 years of experience and a DELTA or a TYLEC, your prospects are high in finding a job abroad.

Some get on to the CELTA with the dream of flying away, but opportunities are not often the same as your dream out there. Not usually a lot out there in Europe or the US or Canada, if you are an Indian. As a matter of fact, people from these countries move elsewhere to be English teachers. So, you can imagine!

This is great advice. Indian teachers often ask about CELTA as a way to emigrate to Canada, the USA or the UK but this isn’t really a route to the right to work in such countries for people of any nationality. You need to already have the right to work there.

On the contrary, you can find good employment in the Gulf, Middle East and East Asian countries such as Vietnam and, in the past, China. Some jobs and countries have restrictions saying that its only for the native speakers. And I don’t see a point fighting with them. And, believe me, East Asia and Middle East are great places to be. Good money too!

Read more from Sharoon on his blog RubinELT

Parvathy is an Indian English teacher teaching in Japan

Indian English teacher in Japan

Where are you from?

I am from Chennai, India. I grew up in Chennai. But I lived in New York City and New Jersey for about nine years

Where do you teach?

I currently teach at Kindai University, Osaka, Japan and have also taught with JICA Nihommatsu Training Center.

The kind of teaching I do is primarily EAP at Kindai and with ELS Learning Centers. I also teach Communicative English with JICA. My students at JICA are basically Peace Corps Volunteers. My interest in primarily in teaching adults.

What do you like about it?

As a former science teacher, I have several years of experience teaching at universities and colleges. However, I often felt that traditional methods of teaching were formal, and sometimes dull and boring. When I decided to switch careers, ESL called out to me since I have always loved learning languages.

Additionally, living and working in an English speaking country affords me the unique experience of both being a teacher and a learner. I enjoy interacting with students from different countries. While I love teaching Academic English, as it affords me a chance to edit writing, and teach graduate level writing skills – something that I have plenty of experience in, I have begun to appreciate the joys of teaching communicative English to adults. The wide variety of topics that I can exploit to teach adult, advanced level communication, enables me to learn more about different cultures and enriches my knowledge.

Indian English teacher in Japan
The streets of Osaka

How did you become an English teacher?

My initial interest in becoming an English teacher was triggered when I observed a few English teacher friends, both in and out of their classrooms, interacting with their students. I was in awe, and envied them for their influence on the student community. I appreciated how language is one of those unique subjects that can be of immediate use to students and can help expand their horizon immediately. When I decided to switch careers, I initially chose to freelance as an IELTS instructor. Once I made up my mind to seriously teach ESL, I completed my CELTA Certification with IH, Budapest.

Where else have you taught?

Outside of Japan, I have taught in my home country, India. I have taught General Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Medical Terminology in the United States.

In India, I have primarily worked with students from Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, China, Ivory Coast, Buddhist Monks from Northern India and Tibet, and Japan. I do believe cultural sensitivity and understanding helps tremendously while teaching ESL.

How did you find your current job?

I was formerly working for ELS Language Center, Chennai – This is a branch of a larger language school headquartered in Princeton, NJ. Kindai University has a collaborative program with ELS Language Centers in the US whereby freshmen students in Japan complete one semester of ESL in Japan and are then able to move to the US for a year-long exchange program. There was an internal opening for me to come to Japan and teach at Kindai and I gladly accepted the offer.

It is very difficult for non-native teachers of English to get a foot-hold to teach in other countries, let alone teaching adults in a university. I have been quite fortunate in this regard.

What advice would you give to other Indians who want to find jobs abroad for Indian English teachers?

If you are an Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan or a Nepali (People from the subcontinent), it is important to keep your expectations real. I do not like to give advice. But I do hope my experience might be valuable for others.

I would definitely advice you to improve your pronunciation and neutralize your accent, to begin with. Do not think of teaching ESL as a hobby, or as a fast way to earn money, or as an easy way to travel around the world. Instead treat it as a serious career choice.

Moreover, definitely invest in a TEFL certification (CELTA – British Council, India; or Cert TESOL from CILA, India). This would give you a leg up, feedback from teaching practice, and a couple of references. It would also give you some connections.

Then think of internal opportunities in your country. I got my first taste of ESL teaching in my hometown of Chennai and it was invaluable. International schools and IB schools are good starting points to teach English.

Then look for countries where it is possible to teach outside of your home country. Be realistic and keep trying. Do not leave your job till you are certain of the opportunity abroad. Be ready to take a few risks, and the world is yours.

Working as an Indian English teacher in Vietnam

Punit, from the state of Maharashtra, works in Vietnam

Punit, an Indian English teacher working in Vietnam

Where do you teach?

I teach at Apollo English Junior, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The school is a reputable one in Vietnam (Apollo English is the first school Kris and I worked for in Vietnam – Kate).

I’ve got kindergarten- and primary-level classes. In primary classes, I train students for Cambridge Starters, Movers and Flyers exams. Other than that, I provide private tuition to adults as well. I prepare them for the IELTS

What do you like about it?

I like teaching all of my students because now, they have started enjoying my classes. And we have a rapport, which enables us create a friendly environment in the classroom. Sometimes, the kids are so cute that I forget the stress of my entire day when I see them. Of course, that doesn’t mean I always have perfect classes, but to build this rapport, I’ve invested a lot of time in them. That’s why everything’s smooth now.

For more stories of non-native speaking teachers working in Vietnam, see our interviews with Nadja and Angela.

Vietnam is a possible country with teaching jobs abroad for Indian English teachers

How did you become an English teacher?

I had been preparing for it since 2014, but I didn’t have proper guidance or the exact information. However, I came across a few experts and experienced teachers on Facebook in 2019, which gave me the direction to follow this career in Vietnam.

It was really tough at the beginning because I had to take the CELTA to gain the upper hand, and to be honest, for that one month, I felt like cut off from the entire world. I could barely sleep for 3-4 hours every night.

Read about why the CELTA or Trinity certTESOL are the TEFL qualifications we recommend, particularly for non-native speakers

Be that as it may, all of that hard work was worth it because I got my job immediately after finishing the CELTA course at Apollo. Nevertheless, it’s not that easy now because of the immigration laws. Non-natives have to prove their English proficiency to get the work permit. So the IELTS band above 7.5 can get you a job here for sure.

Where else have you taught?

I haven’t taught anything else besides English. English has always been my interest, and I’ll stick to this career for a very long time if everything goes on well.

How did you find your current job?

I didn’t have to look up anywhere for this job. Luckily, I decided to do the CELTA course at Apollo. They always have a career-guidance session at the end of the course where they walk you through the job application process at Apollo and other schools in Vietnam. They also put you in touch with the head of the recruiters of Apollo, so you can exchange some email addresses and talk about your concerns and queries.

And trust me, everything will be answered to your satisfaction. So I applied at Apollo itself after the course, and after some interviews, I got this job.

Read our guide to find out more about teaching English in Vietnam

What advice would you give to others looking for teaching jobs abroad for Indian English teachers?

A word of advice is, it’s not that easy anymore to get a job here but not impossible for sure. All you have to do is, get your IELTS certificate first. Make sure you score above 7.5 or 8 because you are coming here to teach English, not to learn English.

The more score you have, the more chances you have to land a job. And trust me with a score of 8 and above, you’ll be on top of the competition.

However, the CELTA is a must. I would recommend only the CELTA or Trinity cerTESOL, no other TEFL course for Indians. If you want to stay on top in the competition, then the CELTA is the only option because you are competing here with native speakers.

Teaching Jobs abroad for Indian English teachers in Spain

Hi, I am Manpreet Kaur Bitta English Language and Cultural Assistant working in Spain 2019-20. I teach in CEIP colegio, primary school for young learners.

Manpreet, Indian English teacher working in Spain

What do you like about it?

I love my job as I am always surrounded by little kids and they are just adorable. The best part about my job is that my kids treat me as one of their own kind, as if I am a 5-year old kid just like them and they give me Pokémon cards. This is a blessing to be one of them although being a kid with them doesn’t turn them disrespectful towards me.

How did you become an English teacher?

I won’t say I always wanted to be a teacher, but that was one thing which I was always good at and according to my parents I own every characteristic of becoming one. Somehow, my career took a turn from becoming an Engineer towards the study of English literature and completely changing my stream from science to arts. I did my Masters in English Literature and my love for languages increased and in the due course I developed my interest in teaching.

Where else have you taught?

I have taught in my home country to the kids who can not afford expensive tuitions but need help.

How did you find your current job?

This program is run by The Government of Spain which is a scholarship program for young graduates and so on who are recently graduated, done their masters or Ph.D. or for those who are final year students for one Spanish school year and you have to go through certain procedure and interview. This was the first time 2019-20 when they recruited language assistants from India and fortunately enough, I got selected and became the first cultural ambassador representing my country at an international level. Also, some level of Spanish language is a must to survive in Spain and to be selected in the program.

Read more about language assistant schemes in Spain

What advice would you give to other Indians who want to teach English abroad?

To be harshly honest, I am still searching that answer even for myself because I am just as confused as anyone else is. Being an Indian passport holder there are challenges if you want to teach abroad but well yes, the program is one opportunity to give a shot but keep in mind that this too is temporary. We are lucky enough to finally have this kind of opportunity for Indians and hope there shall be more.

Are you an English teacher for Indian working abroad? Where do you work? Pleae get in touch and tell us your story so we can add it to our post to let others know about teaching jobs abroad for Indian English teachers.

Want more advice, stories and country guides? See all of our posts on teaching English.

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3 Responses

  1. Bhupinder says:

    Very satisfying reading about the times and experience of the Indian Teachers of English teaching abroad. Indeed, it was a great source of both information and inspiration

  2. Sofia mondal says:

    Want to teach international students

  3. Soumyojyoti Banerjee says:

    Taiwan is open to citizens of any country which has English as an official language, including India for ESL teacher positions , fyi

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