Are There Any TEFL Jobs for Non-Native Speakers?

One of the most popular questions we get asked at i-to-i is ‘are there any TEFL jobs for non-native speakers?’

We’re happy to say, yes! There are lots of TEFL jobs out there for non-native English speakers. In fact, there are probably as many opportunities for non-native speakers as there are for native speakers, providing you speak a good level of English.

Over the years, English has become the international language of business, communications, technology and travel. This global reach means that most people using English around the world are non-native speakers speaking to other non-native speakers (Polish businessmen speaking to German businessmen, for example). So sounding like a native speaker has become less relevant. Schools need international English and they want a teacher with good levels of both English and teaching skills.

student in China

You’ve already learnt English, so you can teach English

Another plus is that because you have learned the English language from scratch, you probably understand English grammar on an intellectual level to a much higher level than most of your native counterparts who understand it on a subconscious level having soaked up the language from birth.  And if you think about it – students being taught by a non-native TEFL teacher can really motivate and inspire them, because if you’ve learnt to speak, write and teach English to such a high level, they can too!

Student working

What are the challenges of being a non-native TEFL teacher?

The main challenge that you’ll have is your own worry about being a non-native speaker! But your students know you’re not a native speaker and don’t expect you to be one. You’ve worked hard to learn the language to such a high level, so be confident – all that hard work you’ve put in will help you teach English as a foreign language to your students just as well as a native speaker could.

You may encounter old attitudes from some employers who feel that the native speaker is still the ideal. Don’t worry – there’s so much demand for TEFL teachers, you can just choose a different employer. These attitudes are changing rapidly – any good school now is looking for skills, not ‘native-speakerness’.  Some countries generally require proof of nationality from an English-speaking country to get a work permit (e.g. South Korea). There’s not much you can do about that unfortunately, but these prejudices about what makes a good teacher are changing, and we expect them to disappear in the near future.  It’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t need to be a native speaker to teach English as a second language in England!

classroom games

Do I need specific TEFL training?

Whatever anyone says, you don’t need any extra TEFL training so long as you have your main TEFL qualification. You are the equal of the native speakers, and should not put yourself in a separate category.  Obviously, if you’re going to teach English online or abroad, your English level has to be very high; and if you’re not confident about your English, you’ll need to work on it in a targeted way. Get a detailed diagnosis of your speaking and writing from an expert and work on the areas you need to improve: whether that’s fluency, pronunciation, sentence stress and rhythm, use of articles or tenses – a few more hours effort will open up a world of opportunities.

World TEFL guide

What job opportunities are there for non-native speakers?

As mentioned above, apart from the few remaining countries that require you to hold certain passports to issue teaching permits, you have the same opportunities as a native speaker and that’s worth remembering when applying for TEFL jobs.  TEFL is market-driven, so if you can show an employer they need you and that you can do the job just as well as someone from the UK, the US or Australia, you shouldn’t have any problems.  An employer may ask for ‘native speakers’ because they (mistakenly) think it will mean better teachers – show them they’re wrong by highlighting your high level of English and your TEFL skills.

TEFL teacher

… But I keep on getting rejection letters!

If you keep getting knock-backs from mainstream TEFL jobs because of your ‘non-nativeness’, don’t despair!  There are quite a few TEFL jobs and internships aimed specifically at non-native speakers – the chances are that once you’ve completed one of these type contracts, you will be in a much better position to find work.

5 top tips for non-native English speakers by TEFL teacher Denise in China

Here are a couple of great teaching opportunities for non-native speakers…

1. Be confident. You’re the equal of a native speaker in the classroom.
2. Sell your command of English, your teaching skills, and the fact you understand students’ situation as a former learner yourself.
3. Get proof of your level of English – such as a high IELTS or TOEFL score, or a CAE or CPE certificate.
4. Get proof of your teaching skills such as an i-to-i TEFL certificate.
5. Network with other non-native speaker teachers for support and job opportunities.

So you see, there are jobs for non-native speakers – you just have to go out and find them!

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    its all the more inspiring and encouraging! hail Universal ism!Apart from the language skills, there is lot to be shared and discussed worldwide. let our conscience awaken and guide us to the destination of universal brotherhood. thanking you for your embalming and enervating gusto.

  2. Sudheer Thosar

    Hi i have done my online TESOL certificate course from American TESOL institute . i am graduate BA with Economics and have two years of teaching experience to Young adults in India. i am an Indian so NON NATIVE seeking English Teacher job in China or any where in South East Asia for Immediate Employment .

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Sudheer, we’re not actually a recruiter – we’re a TEFL course provider, so we’re unable to help you secure work. Good luck with your TEFL career!

  3. Aleax Schofil

    Such a inspirational article ,

  4. Mahdi Siminpour

    Dear Sir / Madam I am an international and qualified English instructor but I am non native speaker every college and schools in Turkey only want native teachers

  5. Mahdi Siminpour

    Why many colleges in the world advertise be qualified by means of passing the TEFL or TESOL or CELTA courses while the schools do not hire non native teachers?

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Mahdi, provided you are fluent in English and have a TEFL certificate, you will be able to find a job teaching English. Take a look on our jobs board here for vacancies: Alternatively, depending on where in the world you want to teach, you may stand a better chance of finding a job whilst in-country – print off some CVs and hand them out in schools. Hope this helps!

  6. Mahdi Siminpour

    Is there any solution for non native teachers?

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Mahdi, there are positions out there for non-native speakers, as long as you are fluent in English. Try private language schools as opposed to state schools/international schools; and you could also widen your search to Eastern Europe and South America. You can check out our jobs board for vacancies here: Good luck!

  7. Khalid Chiki

    I am Moroccan English teacher.I wouldl like to teach English overseas

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Khalid – all you need is a TEFL qualification, and then you’ll be able to teach English overseas! You can find out more about our courses here: or alternatively, give us a call on 021 300 2852 and our expert advisers will be happy to provide you with more information

  8. Sonia Reimannova

    Bravo! So wonderfully put! I, being a non-native speaker, keep fighting against the misconception that only natives can teach English effectively ever since I started teaching. Today, it has been 8 years. Unfortunately, changing the mind-set of people in the business seems as a rather unsurmountable task and it takes some stamina, to be honest. I have to single out the British approach for praise though, because, and in accord with the author’s opinion, it is pretty easy to find a teaching job (at least a seasonal one) in Britain, if you prove you are a professional. So, strangely enough, one of the biggest markets for TEFL seems to be as well as remain its cradle. This smart and witty article should be read by many recruiters and schools’ hiring managers who still seem to demonstrate a very poor understanding of what really constitutes quality teaching. Last year, when I tried to find a (legal) job in China I was successful, however, faced some problems obtaining the correct visa eventually. This year I am trying again, hoping some reasonable people out there may find a way of getting around this effectively. So, it all comes down to luck, persistence and ability to “sell” your skills at the right place. I therefore couldn’t agree more with the author and wish good luck to all who keep trying to fight against the misconception with us, whatever their country of origin. Thank you for such a lovely and, above all, inspirational piece of information!!!

  9. Md Misbahussadat

    excellent !

  10. Mariam Iskandaryan

    Hi, I’m Mariam from Armenia and would like to teach English in China. I hav Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics and also worked as an english teacher in a private centre of languages. Do I have any opportunity?

  11. Brian Pronit Kumar Biswas

    Hi, this is Bryan. i am from India and i kind of followed all the tips provided intuitively but still to no success. i have a good command over English given that both my school and college were institutes with English as their primary mode of instruction and communication. I have a Masters degree in Biotechnology and a TEFL certificate of 220 hours with specialisation in both Young learners and Adult learners.Also I took the TOEFL and score 111/120 with full marks in speaking section. I even worked personally on my accent to make it sound more American. However i am constantly getting discriminated at every step. I am primarily aiming to get employed at Russia however they are all rejecting my applications on the basis that i am a non native speaker of English. One of the schools had even hired me and sent the contracts and terms and conditions only to later inform me that they cannot hire me. Do you think I have any chance at getting employed at Russia or perhaps you can suggest any better place based on my profile and qualification. P.S. I am aware that you are not providing employment opportunities rather you are providing some form of career counselling, so I would appreciate it if you can answer me accordingly without misunderstanding my query.

  12. Chitransh

    From which country I do a TEFL course I am a non native English speaker so which is best country for me and

  13. Hira Singh

    Hi i am studying TESOL 4 semester course in a nepalese university. After this course should i do tefl or not to apply for english teacher please suggest me…

  14. Sohan Lal

    you have created a new inspiration in me.

  15. ESL Teacher !

    I’m a non-native speaker of English, but I majored in ESL teaching at college (a 4 year degree) and I hold a masters in linguistics. This is my 6th year in teaching and for the last one year, I’ve been teaching at college levels in the U.S. If you’re in the U.S. you’ll eventually notice that bilingual or trilingual people are more in demand in the ESL teaching business. Good luck!

  16. Priyamvada mehra

    Such movtivating words! Thank you.

  17. lee

    Hi, thank you for the useful article. I am a non-native English literature graduate, with teachng experience; and was wondering if I need any other certification?

    • Rebecca Potts

      Hi Lee

      Thanks for getting in touch, glad to hear you found the article useful. If you’re wanting to teach English as a foreign language you will need a TEFL qualification. We offer a number of different courses which can get you qualified in no time at all, take a look at our TEFL courses here:

      Thank you
      Your i-to-i team

  18. Norris Ifinedo

    I need to network with other non native english teachers in China for Support and Job opportunities particularly this june. Please connect me to a website,link or whatsapp group. Thank you.

    • Rebecca Potts

      Hi Norris

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’m afraid we don’t have access to a network or whatsapp group of non-native teachers in China. We’d recommend searching our jobs board to see if there are any opportunities you’re interested in:

      Thank you
      Your i-to-i team

  19. Diana Concepcion Cadillo

    I want to be trained and to work as a teacher , what kind of programs you can offer me ? Thanks for you time

  20. Marjorie

    Great article!!!


    I am a lawyer, a teacher and a writer and I would like to teach English abroad.

  22. Mokone Rantsaila

    I am not native English speaker,but I have majored in English teaching at College level. Yes I am interested in teaching English abroad.



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