Teach English in Korea if You’re From These Countries

One of the main requirements for all English teaching jobs in Korea is to be from an English speaking country.  That is, a country whose native language is English.  The core list that most jobs reference are as follows:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. Ireland
  4. New Zealand
  5. South Africa
  6. United Kingdom
  7. United States

There are numerous countries who have English as an official language or they speak it as a second language (as opposed to speaking English as a “foreign” language as in Japan or China).  For example, the Philippines speaks English as a second language.  Many people there speak English quite well.  One of the reasons so much work is outsources there from America.  However, if you are from the Philippines, you will not qualify to apply for an English teaching job.  I realize many people from the Philippines speak far better English than some back home, but unfortunately, this won’t mean anything when seeking employment abroad teaching English.

If my memory serves me, I recall an exception when I applying to come to Korea where an individual who had lived in a country from the above list for a substantial period of time (10 years I believe) and scored well on the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), you could qualify to apply.  That said, with all the applicants who were native English speakers from birth, it would be a tough road for those with anything less.

I also came across a job posting on a large recruiter’s website, where having a passport would qualify you. To get a passport in the United States you have to be a citizen.  To obtain citizenship if you’re from another country, you need to be a legal resident for a minimum of 5 years (3 if married to a citizen).  My guess is that this would signify the likelihood of speaking English at a higher level since one would be immersed in the culture and language.  This exception to requirements is very rare.  Again, I’ve only seen this once, so it’s not a safe bet to depend on that isolated case.

If you’re from one of the English speaking countries above though, you’re half way there.  I hope you take the plunge – teach on!


  1. I was born in Austria but moved to England when I was 13 years old and live here ever since. Do you think I have a chance?

  2. Yes you do!

  3. Sorry I realize this question was asked previously, but I am also not a native English speaker. I moved to the US at the age of 11 and have been here for 12-13 years. I completed middle and high school here as well as college. Do you think my chances are slim of finding a job? Honestly:)

    • It would likely be a challenge, but you never know. You may need to take the TOEIC exam to show your proficiency level. The best thing to do is reach out to a recruiter and see what they think your chances are. If they can place you they will.

  4. Hey Tom,

    I’m a second year undergraduate whose really considering teaching in Korea, specifically in Seoul.

    I’m born Australian (have the passport, am a citizen and all), but I’ve been living in Hong Kong my whole life. While Hong Kong sees English as a second language, I’ve studied in English Medium schools since kindergarden and English is my native language. On that basis, can I still consider myself an applicant from Australia?

    Thanks! Chris

  5. Avatar Cem Burak says:

    Hello there,

    I am very keen on teaching in asian countries but I am not a native speaker.I am an Esl teacher,though.Do you think I have a chance?And is an Esl certificate enough to apply or would there be any kind of a test I have to take?

    Thanks for your answer in advance.Have a nice day!

    • The important part is to be a citizen from one of the native English speaking countries. It’s an immigration law thing. If you are, you should be able to qualify for some of the jobs out there.

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