Non-native English teachers teaching in English-speaking countries

Teaching ESL in an English-speaking country is a big challenge for non-native speakers of English even if they are qualified to teach ESL after receiving an MA TES/FL from a university in an English-speaking country. However, there must be some people including myself who want to challenge this. Aren't you one of such people? If so, do you have anything to say about teaching ESL in an English-speaking country: your desire, worries or questions? Or your advice, suggestions or opinions if you are a native English teacher or an experienced non-native teacher. Please click here and feel free to send them by mail. I will add them to this page later. When you send, please don't forget to give me your name, mail address and the name of the city, the state/province and the country you live in.

I'm an English teacher in Japan and very much interested in teaching ESL and Japanese in Australia. Though I'm not a native speaker of English, I'm qualified to teach ESL as I received an MA TES/FL from San Francisco State University while I was in San Francisco for two years from 1983 to 85. I turned 44 this year and I've been teaching English both at junior and senior high schools in Japan for nearly 20 years so far. I'm particularly interested in teaching immigrants from Asian countries. Does anyone know much about this? Where should I contact and what would my remuneration be? Is it possible for a non-native English teacher who is qualified to teach ESL to teach in an English-speaking country? This is going to be my big challenge, but I definitely want to realize my dream if I have a chance even if I quit my current teaching post. [Hiroyuki Yukita: Aomori, Aomori, JAPAN]

I am an ESL teacher in Australia. I have met ESL teachers in Australia who are not native speakers. It can be done! However, jobs are scarce at the moment in Australia. First enquire about a working visa. If you can get one, then try contacting AMES - Adult Migrant Education Service. [Carolyn Kassis: AUSTRALIA]

I read your request for information about teaching ESL/Japanese in Australia. So I thought I would try and help if I can by first of all telling you of our experience.

My wife Kayoko is Japanese and I am English and we migrated to Australia in 1992 after we finished our Master's degrees (in Applied Linguistics) in Scotland. Kayoko, a teacher of Japanese, was offered a lectureship at the University of Adelaide, and the University sponsored our migration. Japanese is a very important language in Australia and is widely taught, so qualified native speakers are in demand. The fact that you have a Master's qualification, albeit in TESOL, puts you in a good position for contract work at university level. To get work in Australia teaching at university, you are more likely to be successful if you initially approach it from a Japanese teaching perspective and then pick up some ESL work once you are here. For information on university jobs the best places to look are in The Australian (newspaper) Wednesday Higher Education Supplement, and Campus Review (a national academic newspaper).

I have worked in the TAFE (Technical and Further Education) field here in Adelaide, working with ESL students in an ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) centre. Several of my colleagues are non-native speakers of English, not only being accepted but also encouraged as an example of multiculturalism. Realistically, an ELICOS centre, many of which are in universities, is probably your best bet for an ESL position. The e-mail address of ELICOS is

Salaries vary, at both universities and TAFE (universities generally pay a bit more) but given your qualifications and experience, you should be able to expect $30,000-50,000. Living in the big eastern cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) is expensive by Australian standards (still much cheaper than Japan, though!) but the cost of living in smaller cities like Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Darwin is much cheaper.

Your task of getting an ESL/Japanese teaching position in Australia might not be easy but it is by no means impossible. You might have the best opportunity in Queensland, where the combined ESL/Japanese expertise is most in demand. [Richard Warner: Adelaide, AUSTRALIA]

For permanent employment, you would probably be best contacting the various state departments of education, located in each capital city. For example, you could contact the NSW Dept. of School Education, GPO Box 33, Sydney, 2001 (Phone 02 9561 8000). In NSW they would be the largest employer of teachers. The Catholic Education Office also employs ESL teachers for Catholic Schools. For work in private English Colleges or private schools, your best source of information would probably be the Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, if that is available. The top salary for an experienced ESL teacher is around $A 46,700. [Rebecca Mahoney: Winston Heights Public School, AUSTRALIA]

While I was looking for a new job, using the net, I came upon this new web site relating to work: Available Employees. All I had to do was load my full resume on this site, then let the job offers come to me, and it does not cost me a cent. They kept my personnel details confidential, yet everyone gets to see my resume. When the job offers arrive, I deal direct with the employers, no agencies. You should give them a try. It's worth a look. [Neville: AUSTRALIA]

I'm a non-native ELICOS teacher in Sydney. I count myself lucky to find teaching jobs after I obtained a BA and Certificate in TESOL (and currently undertaking my Master in TESOL) at UNSW. I've taught at different institutions and I've never under a single circumstance experienced negative effects from colleagues. I find the students who are in fact more likely to be abusive towards non-native teachers. [ Sydney, AUSTRALIA]

I am Japanese and teaching ESL at a college in New York City. I was born and raised in Japan, and I came to NY after I graduated from a university in Japan. As long as you're qualified and able to speak English fluently, you can teach ESL here. In fact, I've taught at many places and all of them even sponsor my working visa. Just be confident! [Hiromi Saito: New York, New York, USA]

I studied English and Italian at a university in our country. I worked for our Government as a PR assistant (interpreter and assistant for public relations), and after that I decided to teach in a high school and an elementary school. I taught for two years but the salary was bad. I taught pupils all day and I was so tired. It was really hard, because I had 38 classes per week. Nobody wants to teach because of low salary, but I like children and I like this job. I would like to teach pupils abroad. Is it possible to teach pupils anywhere in the world, considering that I am a non-native English teacher? I think that I am fit enough to do this job in a proper way. [Olivera Batizic: Montenegro, YUGOSLAVIA]

I'm a qualified Egyptian teacher who has been teaching English for more than eight years now, two years of which were dedicated to adults training. Finally I decided to do my CELTA to work in the adults training... and guess what...I can't even find a suitable placement within a country where Arabic is the mother tongue. It is really hard to find a full time position for a non-native teacher even in the countries where English is not spoken...I mean the Arabian Gulf...Nowadays it is becoming fashionable for an institute to look for native speakers than to look for qualified teachers. How can I get to work in the field I want to be? [Ahmed Taha: EGYPT]

I have been a lecturer in Business English for both undergraduate and graduate students at a university of applied sciences in Germany for 25 years now. I like my job a lot because I enjoy communicating in English so much that it has become my true vocation as well as my pastime. So my contacts to English-speaking people within the country are multifold but I would like to take the challenge using my teaching experience abroad. Of course, I would enjoy teaching German as well. [Regina Otto: GERMANY]

I'm Dragana from Serbia and Montenegro. I had been studying English for four and a half years and graduated on 19th of March, 2003. I'm 25 years old. I was wondering if someone could tell me what tests I should take in order to be able to teach English somewhere in the world? Is it only TOEFL? Is it possible for a non-native speaker to teach children in North America? Where can I find more information about it? I've been dreaming about it a lot and it looks like the greatest challenge for me. I would be very thankful for any kind of information about it. [Dragana: SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO]

Talking about the English language teaching in Japan

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