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How to be an ESL Teacher in the Philippines and Abroad?

You have probably heard about ESL (English as Second Language) teaching which is now one of the popular trends in the teaching field. ESL teaching started in the early 2000’s with the boom of different English learning centre in the world particularly in Asia. With English, considered as the lingua franca of the world, the need to learn it has rapidly increased in both developed and developing countries in Europe, in South America and especially in Asia.

In the past few years thousands of native English speakers have been reported to migrate to Asia to teach English. Even teachers whose mother tongue is not English have been reported to move to different countries which are in need of thousands of ESL teachers. Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and China are the popular destinations for teachers seeking opportunity and adventure as well. Among the qualified and commonly hired teachers come from USA, UK, Canada and (you might not believe it but it is true) of course, India and Philippines (as the teachers from these countries are known to have a good command and instruction skills in the language and sometimes, deemed better than the native English speakers.)


1. You must be willing to live abroad.

Yes, it is tough to live far from your family but if you want to be an ESL teacher, you too must be willing to travel to different places as schools might ask you to do so. Some ESL centers and academies do send their teacher to their different partner schools to better equip their teachers with good teaching skills. Doesn’t it sound exciting?

2. Online ESL Teaching.

However, your dream to teach students from different culture is still possible even if you don’t want to go abroad. You can look on different websites that look for online English teacher. However, the process of their hiring might be quite complicated as you have to wait for a long time for your application to be considered. If you also want to make Online ESL your full-time job, you can look for online ESL teaching centers and schools in your country. Most Korean and Russian investors establish their ESL teaching centers in the capital cities where they can find dynamic individuals who fit for the job.

3. Be ready to embrace other culture.

This involves trying different food that may look and taste absurd to you, meeting adults with strange behaviors, and even doing many crazy things you haven’t tries before. Students in different countries differ from one another and so you have to learn to adjust and understand these differences for you to fit well to their culture and to teach your students well.

4. Excellent Communication Skills.

You must be able to communicate yourself well (preferably in simple English). You must know the do’s and don’ts in their culture when engaging in a conversation and most of all− you must always have something to say and something to ask when speaking with your students as it keeps them interested. Having so many bright ideas on how you will talk to others and how will you able to make them talk is a plus point to the students and to the school administration. Make sure you have this selling point to stay longer in the ESL teaching world.

5. Patience and Excellent English Teaching Skills.

There’d be times when you have to repeat over and over again the things that you say to your students as they find it hard to comprehend it. Teaching English to the non-native speakers may be difficult as they are not totally familiar with its structure. To make your students understand what you teach, you must know many scaffolding technique.

Now, here is a simple challenge:

What would you do if your students didn’t understand it when you told them that you have to excuse yourself because you need to go to the loo?

Use very simple English.


Tell them the use of “a” and “an” without using the terms VOWEL SOUND and CONSONANT sound when explaining.


1. Search google and send applications.

A thorough research must be done first. You can find different websites of companies and schools looking for ESL teachers. There are schools that ask the applicants to personally email their personal HR. If you did so and haven’t received any response, just keep sending applications as these schools do a tough screening of applicants. Make sure that your cover letter is attractive and noticeable. The better selling points you mention, the more possible they put you in a shortlist.

2. Travel or send applications online.

There are ESL teaching schools (particularly in Malaysia and Vietnam) that entertain foreign applicants who visit their schools and directly send applications to them personally. You can plan a visit first and go from school to school and send you applications. This will give you a better chance to get hired. However, this is costly. The good alternative for this is to send your application through the website of the schools that you wish to teach in.

3. Complete your requirements.

Before the company hires you, you must process several necessary documents that would validate your stay in the country of your destination. These documents help you prove that you are qualified for the position you applied for and that you are allowed to stay in the country where you want to teach. Here are the general requirements often asked before the school hires you: Bachelor’s degree diploma, passport, master’s degree (often preferred for adult education teachers), certificate of employment form your previous employers, teaching license, TESOL/TEFL/TESL certificate and IELTS certificate.

4. Obtain Certification.

Certificates mentioned above are often required by the schools abroad. You would need to obtain TESOL and TEFL in particular for you to be considered a qualified ESL teacher. These certifications can be obtained by enrolling in different English Language Testing Centers (like British Council) in your country.

You may visit the following websites to know how much they charge you to obtain these certificates:


1. Your view of the worlds becomes wider.

As you witness and experience the traditions of different culture, you will realise that the world is made of different beautiful people and that what makes life colourful. Teaching diverse students widens your knowledge and understanding of the things unknown to you before .

2. You meet different dynamic and talented individuals.

When this happens, you’ll be able to be confident of your own capability. You will also realise that there are more to be learned and that you must engage yourself to life-long learning. Meeting and being friends with dynamic and talented individuals can be one of the best teachers you can have in life. Isn’t it great to work with and learn from people who know so much about your chosen field?

3. You gain more patience.

You will understand that not all people have the same capability. Some are strong and some are weak. Some learn fast and some learn slowly. Understanding differences among people develops your patience.

4. You save more money.

The parents of ESL students (especially in Asia) spend so much money for their children education and so there is money in ESL teaching. Aside from enjoying so many things teaching, you’ll also be able to save more money and fatten your bank account.


So? Do you have what it takes to be an ESL teacher?

Do you want to be an ESL teacher?

Apply now!


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Mark Anthony Llego

Mark Anthony Llego, hailing from the Philippines, has made a profound impact on the teaching profession by enabling thousands of teachers nationwide to access crucial information and engage in meaningful exchanges of ideas. His contributions have significantly enhanced their instructional and supervisory capabilities, elevating the quality of education in the Philippines. Beyond his domestic influence, Mark's insightful articles on teaching have garnered international recognition, being featured on highly respected educational websites in the United States. As an agent of change, he continues to empower teachers, both locally and internationally, to excel in their roles and make a lasting difference in the lives of their students, serving as a shining example of the transformative power of knowledge-sharing and collaboration within the teaching community.

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