English Teacher Skills: 10 Keys to Success

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you want to see the world while making a decent living?

As an English teacher, you can immerse yourself in different cultures, meet new people, and explore beautiful destinations.

Don’t know how to go about it? My guide will tell you all you need to know to succeed as an English teacher in foreign countries.

Why Be an English Teacher in 2023?

English is a global language. It binds different nationalities together, allowing us to share our ideas, thoughts, and innovations across borders. 

With 1,080 million people around the world speaking it as a second language, teaching English will allow you to share your expertise with foreign students and learn from their experiences. 

It’s a rewarding exchange, and you can get paid handsomely for it.

The Challenges of Being an English Teacher Abroad

Being a teacher abroad isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. 

There are certain challenges that come with it.

  • You may experience feelings of loneliness.
  • You will encounter cultural differences.
  • You may deal with different management styles. 
  • You have to put up with unconventional hours of teaching.

Knowing what to expect and preparing for the challenges can help immensely in your adjustment and integration.

What Skills Do You Need To Be an English Teacher?

Here are 10 skills you need to develop or enhance.

1. Effective Communication

Strong physical, verbal, and written communication skills are essential for creating a positive, engaging, interactive, and productive learning environment. 

Work on being approachable. Learn to express yourself clearly and develop tactics that help you present complex concepts in easy-to-understand chunks. Maintain eye contact to show interest. Actively listen to show students that they matter and help them feel engaged.

2. Adaptability

Whether modifying lessons to the specific needs or learning styles of students or tackling feelings of disengagement, teachers face many unanticipated challenges daily. Adaptability is thus important to adjust to the dynamic, ever-changing nature of teaching. This will improve your practice and help you thrive in your role.

3. Classroom Management

Brush up on your classroom management skills to foster an environment conducive to learning. Clearly communicate your expectations, encourage peer accountability, and establish a carefully crafted schedule. You can be more effective if you learn how to manage students and their challenges.

4. Cultural Sensitivity

Culturally responsive teachers tweak their attitudes and teaching strategies to create an inclusive classroom environment that values and celebrates differences. If you know how to be culturally sensitive,  students will be more comfortable, confident, and engaged.

5. Empathy

Empathy is a powerful skill that can help improve the dynamics of the teacher-student relationship. It requires you to put your feelings and emotions aside and look at a learner’s perspective. 

This allows you to see what experiences drive their behavior while instilling trust and confidence.

6. Innovative Teaching Methods

Every student has different needs, capabilities, and learning styles. Acknowledge these differences by using a combination of tried-and-tested teaching methodologies. Project-based learning, for example, is an engaging way to make learning more fun and relatable. Up to 65% of high school teachers in the U.S. leverage this technique for better teaching outcomes.

7. Patience

Since you’re dealing with students who have different abilities, ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, and languages, you must understand that everyone learns at a different pace. Encourage students to be at their best but accept that they have different learning styles. Even if teaching becomes frustrating, exhibit patience and understanding to earn your students’ respect and trust.

8. Feedback and Assessment

Planning exciting and interactive lessons isn’t enough. You must also evaluate your students’ work and assignments, give detailed constructive and actionable feedback (try feedback sandwich), and encourage them to keep improving. 

Be sensitive about the challenges they face and tweak your lesson plans accordingly to help them learn.

9. Time Management and Organization

Aside from going over daily lessons, you have to make time for reviewing assignments, revisiting concepts that may need to be explained again, and answering questions. Beyond your classes, you need to grade papers, create lesson plans, and put together your learning materials.

Your students need structure, organization, and continuous guidance. They must feel that there is a logical structure and direction in their learning which can make learning easier for them. As a teacher, proper time management and organization will boost your productivity while helping you maintain an ideal balance between work and life.

10. Professional Development

Continuously work on building your skill set to provide the best learning experience. You can attend conferences, workshops, and seminars. You can also establish a professional network that allows you to learn from your peers. 

What Are the Best Countries to Teach English Abroad?

Here are my top recommendations for the best destinations for teaching English in a foreign country. 

South Korea

Average Salary: $1,100 – $4,400 (1.5 – 6.2 million ₩)

South Korea has a solid demand for English teachers. These jobs come with great compensation packages that often sponsor your accommodations and airfare. It’s a stunning, well-developed country that fosters a stress-free lifestyle. Since you’ll be extremely well-paid, you can even save a large portion of your salary!

However, you’ll likely be working longer hours as South Koreans worked 199 hours more in 2021 than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average.

teaching english in south korea
I taught English in South Korea full-time in 2015


Average Salary: $1,400 to $4,000 (200,000- 600,000 ¥) 

If you’re a culture geek, Japan is an immensely fascinating country. Centuries of shogunate history, a blend of modern and futuristic elements, gourmet options, and stunning natural beauty attract teachers to this densely inhabited country. Transportation and other amenities are easy to find, but rent can be astronomical, so look for generous salaries that offer perks like a free apartment or a housing allowance.

It’s also a good idea to refer to this guide for teaching English in Asia


Average Salary: $850 to $2,500 (32,000-94,000 THB) 

Thailand offers good salaries (often with perks like free housing) and has a low cost of living, making it a long-standing favorite among English teachers worldwide. 

The historically Buddhist country also has a comparatively relaxed working culture, and mouthwatering cuisine full of unique flavors and textures. With many places of interest just a tuk-tuk ride away, you’re sure to have a wonderful time here.


Average Salary: $690 to $1,770 (700-1,800 EUR)

Spain has a notoriously relaxed lifestyle. Its rich culture, history, and cuisine are just the cherry on top. It offers different teaching opportunities for diverse skill sets, but the salary barely covers the cost of living. However, it accepts teachers with a bachelor’s degree so it can be a great starting point for a thriving career in an English language school.

Spain is also famous for its deliciously unique dishes such as paella, gazpacho, pollo al ajillo, tapas, and more.


Average Salary: $2,000 to $2,400 (63,000-76,000 TWD)

Taiwan has a subtropical environment that makes every day feel like a vacation, but it also has a strong work culture so you need to learn how to maintain your work-life balance.

It boasts a low cost of living with world-class living standards, performance bonuses, housing, flight coverage, a progressive mindset, vibrant street life, and an unlimited list of things to do.


Average Salary: $1,200 to $2,200 (28,000,000-52,000,000 VND)

Vietnam’s great work-life balance, thousands of miles of coastline, and laid-back vibes make it one of the best places to teach English abroad. It has low salaries, but the cost of living is also low so that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself.

Costa Rica

Average Salary: $600 to $1,000 (375,000-625,000 CRC)

Costa Rica is a slice of paradise on Earth. The best part is it’s located close to the U.S.! If you’re looking for a tropical hotspot with beautiful landscapes and surf-friendly beaches, you’re guaranteed to satiate your thirst for gorgeous natural environments in this Central American country.

Salaries are low but as you’ll be working less than the regular 9-to-5 so it’s perfect for enjoying a quaint, minimalist way of life. 


Now that you know which English teacher skills will come in handy for teaching in a foreign country, hone them to perfection. Take steps to become an English teacher and get paid to travel the world without missing a beat in your career.

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Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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