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Why teachers should look beyond Europe 

Is teaching English still a good career choice? That’s a good question, especially if you’re British and looking at the complicated visa situation for those hoping to work in Europe after Brexit (Irish teachers, by contrast, will find themselves in huge demand in a market that still privileges white native speakers).

However, Europe isn’t the only destination. Demand for proficiency in English is a growing worldwide market. As the most-spoken language in the world, with 1.35 billion speakers (including native and further-language speakers), its usefulness fuels itself: to get ahead in a number of fields, including tourism, and science and technology, it’s necessary to have a good command of English.

European countries already have the highest proficiency of English as a further language, according to the latest English Proficiency Index compiled by Education First. The Dutch and the Scandinavians are at the top of the tree, but even the Latin countries, such as Spain and Italy, long the biggest market for teachers, are fast catching up. These results are apparent not just on the EF rankings, which is based on an exam that only tests speaking and listening, but also in the 2019 results for the TOEFL exam, which tests all four skills (ie, including reading and writing) and is widely used for university entrance. 

On both exams, Asia stands out as the region with one of the widest ranges of proficiency. EF has Singapore sitting at 10th place globally, with Thailand way down at 89th and happy to welcome teachers, both native and non-native speakers, as long as they have a degree.

Coming in at 100th place on the EF index is Tajikistan, where the (quite limited number of) schools are keen to attract English teachers, so they offer a generous (for Tajikistan) salary and benefits package. The schools there will help you navigate the substantial paperwork required to work in the country, but for a fascinating experience abroad, this could be for you. In other words, as the demand for English grows, so too does the demand for English teachers.

Image courtesy of Simon Sun on Unsplash
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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