Top 5 TEFL Destinations for Graduates

Many university graduates find themselves in a state of limbo after graduation. Let’s face it: you’ve spent the last 17 years in full-time education and you just aren’t ready to start your career yet.  There’s a big bad world out there and you can’t wait to grab it with both hands, but you’ve a student loan to start paying back and you spent the last of it on your graduation party! Help!

Well, believe it or not, there is a really simple answer to your woes – TEFL!

The TEFL world has grown at lightning pace in recent years and the demand for English teachers is at an all-time high.  It’s also become more regulated, which means not only better conditions for the teacher, but also schools placing higher demands on them in terms of qualifications.  These days, the majority of countries require (by law) that their teachers have at least a BA degree (don’t worry, your Philosophy degree counts!).

With graduate jobs becoming more and more competitive, it’s also important that a prospective employer can see that you’ve done something worthwhile on your ‘gap year’.  You’ll be able to show you’ve travelled, experienced and immersed yourself in other cultures; and also shown you are responsible enough to command a class of English learners.

So, where can I go?  The answer, really, is anywhere, but if you have a student loan to pay off and/or want a real break from the norm, here are our Top 5 destinations for recent graduates:

South Korea

Demand for EFL teachers in South Korea is HUGE!  And it’s a fantastic place for first time TEFLer’s.  The Koreans really know how to look after their teachers and despite the massive difference in culture, they really do make the transition as easy as possible.  That means they’ll often pay for your flights, sort you out with a nice apartment (paid for by the school), pick you up at the airport and on top of that, provide you with a pretty decent wage!  Entry level teachers can expect a starting salary of c. £1300 p/m.

Gayle (who you may know from our live webinars!) spent 4 years in South Korea after graduating:

“Working in Korea was wonderful especially from a financial point of view.  It was the first time in my life where money wasn’t a constant concern.  I travelled around the region regularly on my teacher’s salary, visiting the likes of China, Japan and Taiwan to name but a few.  I constantly ate out and with beer being pretty cheap, managed to come home with money in my purse after a night out!  I was able to pay off my loans and still have a little bit left over at the end of the month.”


Conditions in Japan are very similar to South Korea and you can expect a starting salary of at least c. £1400 p/m.  The majority of teachers go to Japan on what’s called the JET Programme (Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme) which places teachers in the public school system.  However, the absolutely FANTASTIC thing about JET is, you don’t actually need to be a native English speaker to apply and they welcomed participants from 42 countries last year!

Here’s what long-time TEFLer Paul has to say about it:

“Japan literally does have everything, something for everyone. You can teach in the big cities and have western comforts.  Up-to-date technology, gizmos and gadgets, mixed with hidden shrines and temples.

OR you can go to the countryside, be in a fishing village, which in turn helps you to learn more about traditional Japan, and actually learn the language faster.  You can help on the east coast, support communities, give hope, and join volunteering groups to rebuild.  We even have sub-tropical climate in the south of Japan.

There’s an endless love of food – not just sushi… most major cities have some kind of famous dish – Sendai is famous for cow tongue!  Aomori is Apples!  Hakodate is squid in soy sauce to make it wriggle whilst you eat it!

All companies pay you a transportation allowance to work and back – some give you a rental car – the trains are usually always on time (occasionally 2mins late).  Pay is about £2000 a month – your contract is usually mon-fri doing 29hours of ‘work’ (sometimes work is a matter of playing games, going to sports day etc. – for most part you teach a max of 6x50min classes a day… even then, as an ALT you might only teach 10min of the class)”.


Vietnam is another fantastic destination for new teachers/recent graduates.  Although the pay isn’t as good (c. £900-£1000p/m) the cost of living is considerably lower and err, you’ll be living in Vietnam?!  The country is steeped in history and remnants of its troubled past are all around but Vietnam has really got back on its feet in recent years.  In fact, Ho Chi Minh is the fastest growing city for the super-rich in the world, as the number of millionaires has soared 400% since 2004!


Ah, the land of smiles (and full moon parties!), Thailand has got something for everyone.  It’s a really popular destination for TEFLer’s of all ages, but if you really want to let your hair down after graduation, Thailand is a great choice!  You’ll live very comfortably on your teacher wage (c. £650p/m) and an apartment will usually come as part of your contract.  Although you’ll be teaching during the week, you’ll have enough money to make sure your time off is well spent – island hopping, jungle trekking, snorkelling in crystal waters, and that’s just during your lunch break!

Saudi Arabia

Teaching in the Middle East isn’t for everyone (blog on what to expect here), but if you want to earn some serious coin after you graduate, it’s definitely one to consider!  Do bear in mind that you’ll have to have a degree in linguistics or education and some teaching experience, but if you do manage to land a job here, that student loan could be history in a matter of months!  Saudi’s pay their teachers extremely well and perks include flights (as well as one or two home each year), an apartment and a starting wage of c. £2700 p/m.

Want to get TEFL qualified? Take a look at our courses!

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