Teaching Abroad: Requirements

While I can’t talk about the requirements to teach in every corner of the world, I can talk about what’s needed to teach ESL in Canada.

When I first landed in Canada, 8 years ago, I got a job teaching ESL right away. Honestly, when I started my job search, I didn’t really know whether my training and certifications would be enough to land me a job teaching, let alone the need to completely revamp my resume.

Personal File Photo – previously shared on social media

After spending 3 years as a teacher in that school, I took the role of Director of Studies, which helped me better understand what the requirements for teaching ESL in Canada were.

Requirements to teach ESL in Canada

Work Permit

The first thing you need is the right to work. Although I know it might deflate some of you, it is extremely unlikely that any language school in Canada should extend a job offer to someone who doesn’t yet have the right to work.

There are different types of work permits and, if you are interested in learning more about them, your best bet is either to consult with a registered immigration consultant or to check the Immigration Canada website.

I know there are many consultants out there, so choosing one might seem a bit daunting. If it helps, my friends Carol and Leo from Dreamies do an excellent job. Check them out.

Bachelor’s Degree

One of the requirements to be able to teach ESL in Canada is to hold a Bachelor’s Degree. And it doesn’t matter whether you graduated in Political Science, Applied Linguistics or Engineering: it’s all good.

Now, the catch is that, if your diploma was issued by an institution outside of Canada, you need to make sure to provide a Canadian Equivalency Report to your employer.

One of the places where you can get it done is the World Education Services (WES). They offer a quick check for free – to make sure your University and your program qualify. Some language schools in Canada may accept that as proof of equivalency but others may not.


TESL Canada and Languages Canada are two associations that seek to promote excellence in teaching and service in the field of Language Teaching in Canada. Both organizations uphold similar requirements for ESL teachers: completion of a recognized TESL training program which must be:

  • externally validated by a reputable examination body (usually a university or recognized examination board)
  • contain at least 10 hours of supervised teaching practice (ie teaching practice where a qualified and standardized assessor observes the trainee teacher teaching real students and gives feedback on his or her performance)
  • and 10 hours of observation of professional teachers
  • at least 100 hours of ELT/TESOL instruction

Examples: CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, Certificates issued by Canadian Universities or Colleges, TESOL, TEFL

Now that you know the requirements to land a job teaching ESL in Canada, is it something you would consider?

Coming up:

What it’s like to teach ESL in Canada: places of employment, teaching schedules, classroom, students, materials and more.


Immigration Canada

TESL Canada

Languages Canada

Dreamies – Immigration and Education Services

World Education Services



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