It is no secret that the best way to travel and experience different cultures is to take a job teaching English in a country. And why wouldn't it be? You're living there, eating there, spending time with your students, and all the while making some money. Not only are you gaining money, but you are also gaining work experience for better jobs when you do decide to settle down. If you are a prospective teacher, there is not a school in the world that wouldn't smile kindly on teaching experience in a foreign country. While you may face some difficulties adapting abroad, the hardest part of the experience is deciding which country you want to teach in. Some people have a dream country they have always been fascinated with, but others have a little more trouble deciding. Below is some information that may help ease your decisions.
South Korea is probably one of the easiest countries to live and teach in. Due to the large American military presence in the country guarding the border, there is a demand for knowledge in the English language. While some countries require a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, South Korea only requires you to have a Bachelor's Degree in most schools. If you are looking for a decently high salary, stick to the big cities. Especially since most big city schools, in particular in the area around Seoul, have perks like free airfare or housing.
Sticking to the schools in big cities also leaves less chance of you getting in over your head. Be sure when applying that the school is a reputable institution and is paying you an appropriate amount according to the cost of living in the area, except when they provide other perks like housing.
The cultural etiquette can be difficult for a foreigner to pick up, but the fellow teachers and other young English speaking travelers will be happy to help you adapt.
China is one of the most populous countries in the world, and with their ever increasing international trade dealings, English is very sought after knowledge. With such a large amount of people in China, there also comes a large demand for English teachers. This leaves room to negotiate with various schools for higher salaries or perks. If you want have a good chance of running into other foreigners when you are meandering about town, try to find a job in Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangshou. Though there are perks of teaching in more rural communities, such as a more authentic experience of Chinese culture and a more "community" oriented experience. Although, the jobs out in the sticks may likely pay less.
The requirements for teaching in China will vary from school to school. Some may merely require the ability to read this, while others will want you to have a teaching degree or TESL certificate.
However, if internet access is an absolute must for you, China may not be the best place. They have spotty internet access in some places and when you do connect you will find many common pages blocked.
Japan, like South Korea, is one of the safer places to teach English. Teachers over there are also fairly well respected. However, when you see that "huge" salary try not to get excited, Japan also comes with a huge cost of living so by proxy your salary will be rather low. Japan is easy to teach English in because many programs will place you in a school, such as the Jet program. The big cities are relatively easy to find a job in, however if you want to build a close relationship with your students, you can find a more rural school.
Like South Korea, Japan only requires teachers to have a Bachelor's Degree, though some more prestigious schools may require a TEFL certificate. If you are travelling there to find a job, be aware that the best time to go is in February or March, as the school year begins in April and it will be difficult to find one during the school year. For those who are not in a program and finding it difficult to get a position at a school, you can also apply eikaiwa. Eikaiwa are essentially extracurricular cram schools that teach both children and adults who wish to improve their English.
If you are looking to teach English abroad and make those big bucks, Saudi Arabia is the place to go. I've heard stories of teachers making around $60,000 dollars a year, definitely a wage teachers won't see in America. However, there is one catch. In most public schools, the jobs are only available for men. If you are a woman, there may be some jobs available for you, many of them privately tutoring other girls, but it will be significantly more difficult to get a job than any other country.
If you are an American in particular, you may find life there a little difficult. It is not difficult to figure out why they have some animosity of Americans. It should also be noted that while Saudi Arabia is rich in culture and history, the life is relatively quiet and there is an alcohol ban on the whole country.
Maybe travelling to Asian countries or Saudi Arabia is a risk you are not prepared to take yet. France is a definite winner if you still want to experience another culture, but not one completely different from your own. It is definitely a plus that France has one of the highest quality of life standards in the world and getting a visa there is incredibly easy. However, because of this, France has higher demands on those who want to teach English in their country. They insist you have a TEFL certificate as well as know at least basic French. Anyone who has been to France without knowing at least a little French knows how rudely a lot of people will treat you.
However, if you have your TEFL certificate and know your French, you may never want to leave. With the wine, the fashion, and the food, it is easy to get lost there for a long time. Perhaps even forever.
You can easily find a job teaching France through the French Embassy's "American Assistants in France" program, you only have to decide where you want to do. If a large international community is a must, seek work in Provence or Cote D'Azur.
Brazil is becoming a massive international destination and has an ever-growing international community. Because of this they are, like many countries, in demand for English teachers. If you don't mind the humidity and heat, it is a great place to live with a vibrant and fun night life. However, if you are a soccer fan, you may want to leave your team's jerseys at home, they are serious about their soccer over there. The requirements for teaching English in Brazil require that you have a Bachelor's Degree. However, a strangely large portion of schools require some in-house training, which will actually ease your transition into the culture.
Though you may run into a bit of a trip up getting a work visa to teach down there though, they can be difficult to get at the best of times. If you are looking for a good job with a good salary, definitely try for Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. Those cities also host large international communities and have the best night life.