Am I Too Old To Teach English Abroad?

One of the most common questions that we’re asked here at i-to-i is ‘Am I too old to teach English abroad?’

The simple answer is NO! First things first, and we will never get tired of saying it – you’re never too old to teach English! Let’s take a moment to appreciate some advice from Katie, a retired i-to-i TEFL teacher who has taught in both China and Vietnam:

“You’ve got EXPERIENCE! You’ve got time, you’ve got patience. I’m not saying that younger people don’t have these qualities, but you shouldn’t ever put yourself to the back of the queue, or worse still get out of the queue entirely just because of what’s on your birth certificate.”

Unfortunately it’s not plain sailing finding TEFL jobs in your later years, as some employers and visas do have age restrictions in place. Many schools will think of a younger teacher as the ‘ideal’ candidate, but we know that’s not necessarily true, so here are some tips to make sure you don’t lose out to the younger generation.

group of TEFL students in a classroom

1) Sell Yourself and Your Experiences

Don’t be afraid to big yourself up. You’ve got lots of life experience which will be invaluable to you in the classroom. As an older TEFL teacher this will make you stand out from the crowd.

2) Be Confident

Confidence sells. A nervous candidate won’t come across as well as a confident one does. If you appear to be nervous about becoming a teacher due to your age, then the employer will be too.

3) Don’t Give Up

If you find that you don’t have any luck at one school, then try then next. There is a huge demand for  teachers worldwide, so there are plenty more TEFL jobs in the sea. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t have much luck at the start, keep at it and it will be worth it in the end.

Don’t let this put you off though, there are loads of TEFLers of a ‘more mature’ age. Just check out this group on Chalkboard if you don’t believe us!

Stand up! Be proud of how far you’ve come in life! The amount of times we’ve seen people post things on Chalkboard like:

“I want to teach English overseas but I’m worried I’m too old”

Who is it out there giving you this impression? Tell us and we’ll go and find them for you and give them a telling off!

Stop asking yourself am i too old to TEFL? You want to teach yes? You feel capable and fit and healthy enough to live in a new country? We have three little words for you… Go Do It.

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  1. Arlene Cloete

    This article was so encouraging. I completed a TEFL course 5 years ago with a view to be able to teach English abroad when I retire. The time has arrived and I am 64 years old and most sites I have been to said up to 45 years old. So please can you help and point me in thr ight direction. I also dont have a degree so I believe that too may preclude me from applying to certain countries.

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Arlene, thanks for your message – it’s so great to hear how excited you are to TEFL! That’s strange how most sites have told you you have to be 45, as that isn’t true at all – many TEFLers who train with us are in a similar position to you; they gain the qualification once they retire so they can move abroad and teach. I wouldn’t worry about your age or the fact you don’t have a degree – you’ll be able to teach in most South East Asian countries with the exception of Thailand and Vietnam (they both require a degree), all of South America and all of Eastern Europe. You can find out more information about specific countries here to see if any appeal to you in particular: In fact, your age may even work in your favour as you’ll have a lot of life experience that you’ll be able to pass on to students! The only thing I may suggest is that as the world of TEFL is ever-changing, courses have been updated, so for a bit of extra confidence in applying for a job, you may want to take a specialist module or practical training to put on your CV – you can find out more information here:, although that’s totally up to you, as your qualification will still be valid! If you want to have a chat, feel free to give us a call on 0113 205 4610 or request a call back here: to speak to one of our expert advisers. I hope this helps and good luck with your TEFL career!

  2. Arlene Cloete

    I love the world of TEFL and cant wait to use the skills I learnt to teach abroad.

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