Can a non-native English speaker become an ESL teacher?

Can a non-native English speaker become an ESL teacher?

English is a global language, it’s a language of communication that is used not only for travelling but frequently for business purposes. That’s why today when you search for a job you may notice that one of the skills required is English language Prociency. Nowadays, it’s like an essential part of knowledge you should possess, and an obligatory point of your CV.

For this reason, a lot of people throughout the world are studying English. And the global importance and demand here is to find professional ESL teachers. That is why different language schools of various countries are searching for well-qualified tutors from all over the world.

But if you are a non-native English speaker, you may face different problems when search for a job as an ESL teacher abroad or online.

Let’s answer all questions that can arise.

The most important questions for English teachers who search for vacancies as non-native speakers are:

Do really all English schools worldwide hire only native speaking teachers?

Unfortunately yes, very often. There are many organizations that hire only native English-speaking teachers. And what is worse, sometimes they want their potential teachers to come from a specific list of English-speaking countries, preferably from UK, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. And one more interesting fact is that this list even excludes countries, such as India and the Philippines, where English is an official language.

Visa problems

There are also some more countries where you can teach English if you are not a first English speaker but unfortunately you will face visa problems because of the specific requirements in law for who can get the visa as an ESL teacher. These countries are: South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
What is the reason of such discrimination? The answer is simple. Such countries are in need of professional teachers. And they expect to hire a highly qualified first language speakers who are guaranteed to be fluent in English.

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Can I teach English abroad if I am a non-native English speaker?

Being a native English speaker doesn’t always mean being a professional teacher! To be a teacher is a talent. Therefore, well-qualified, totally in love with their profession, teachers are highly on demand.

The list above shows that there are countries that want to hire only first language speakers. And it really seems unfair and even discriminatory. But there are also 180 other countries where you can teach abroad. And moreover, there you’ll have advantages of being a non-native English-speaking teacher.

Your advantages as a non-native speaking teacher.

  • You feel the language as your students because once you were in their shoes.
  • You faced same studying problems in grammar rules (articles, prepositions, tenses, exceptions, conjunctions, etc.) and now able to explain all of them understandably.
  • You can explain the pronunciation of English words even better than a native English speaker because you spell English words from knowledge, instead of gut feeling.

And that is a list of your advantages you should remember and mention on the interview!

So, what are the countries where you can go and teach English as a non-native speaker?

There are at least eight perfect locations (countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America) that offer opportunities for non-native speakers. And here you can successfully apply for a job as an English teacher.


What an exotic and undiscovered country! But the more pleasant thing is that Cambodia is the easiest place for a non-native speaker to find a job as a ESL teacher.

The government of Cambodia doesn’t require neither TEFL/TESOL certificate, nor a four-year college degree, nor a proof of native-speaker residence. However, your chances to get a job are higher if you have a certificate.

Unfortunately, the salary is lower here than in neighbor countries, such as Vietnam and Thailand. Average monthly salary range vary from $1,000 to $1,200 while the average monthly cost of living varies from $600 to $1,100.

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