Covid-19 & Teaching English Abroad

The coronavirus is crippling industries around the world. 

One may argue that no other industry has been hit harder than the travel industry.  Numerous countries have closed their borders and many flight paths have been cancelled globally.

As this is a teaching and travelling website, I’m going to quickly address how this modern day nightmare is affecting ESL teachers in Asia and Europe. 

English teachers in Europe are currently experiencing what teachers in China, Korea and Vietnam have been going through since February.  School closures have resulted in little to no pay, lack of job security and mass worry.   Hundreds of ESL teachers have already left their positions to either return to their home countries or travel to less infected areas.

Unfortunately, I think many private education centers and schools may not survive this uncertain period.   Many countries have not even begun to close schools yet and many in countries like China, are still undecided on when schools can re-open again.  All businesses and teachers are being hit hard. 

The next few months are uncertain, but regardless of the coronavirus timeline, I think it will impact the ESL industry in 2 stages.

The 2 Stages of ESL Teaching During the Coronavirus

Stage 1 – Online Demand

This is happening right now. A great deal of ESL teachers in Asia  have switched to online teaching.  Either they are teaching for one of the many online ESL platforms out there, or teaching their existing students via a portal organized by their school.

Stage 2 – Recruitment Boom

Fingers crossed that this all ends sooner rather than later, and when it does, be prepared for a in surge of emails from recruiters.    The coronavirus is going to leave a huge hole in the ESL market in Asia, and I suspect Europe too.    When the situation calms down, I think thousands of schools and learning centers will be without teachers.  This will lead to a growth in job opportunities. Keep yourselves informed.

However, when this may be, is anyone’s guess? 

My advice – To those who want to teach abroad in the future, use this time to do your online TEFL and build up some practice hours online.  To the existing ESL teachers, if you have not already, switch to online teaching (if possible) and keep your eye on Facebook groups, davesesl café etc. to update yourself on what countries are doing in regards to hiring teachers. 

Most importantly – stay safe, wash your hands, listen to government recommendations and take care of each other.

How do you think covid-19 will impact the world of TEFL?

What are you experiences?


12 thoughts on “Covid-19 & Teaching English Abroad

  1. That was a nice read, thank you. We, just a couple of months ago, left China (just before it all blew up there) for Canada. My husband still does some online ESL drama projects for the school he worked with and I’m completely off… I was teaching at a daycare center, so, yeah, no online lessons there. This is the time to start focusing on something else since we won’t be going back any time soon. And, as you mentioned in your article, when this all passes, there might be a lot of job positions available (the million dollar question though is – when?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was curious what the online ESL platform was looking like these days – I feel like online companies are probably getting slammed with an overwhelmingly large amount of ESL teachers looking for work – wondering how hard it would be to actually get students?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carol! Thank you for your message. I hope you’re staying safe 🙂 You’re right! There is a huge surge in online teaching applications right now. That said, if you’re willing to put in the work, it is quite possible to build a student base. Palfish also gives new teachers paid trial lessons to help them get started. If you’d like me to talk you through the recruitment process and help you get started, drop me an email –

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article!

    Unfortunately, as you said this is a very hard time for ESL teachers living abroad. I was teaching English in Vietnam previously and many of my friends who still live there had to return home as their school has been closed for 3+ months. Luckily, I have been teaching online as a source of income. There has been an increase in online bookings so that is a positive aspect.

    I believe that in the future the world of in class TEFL will see a definite decrease as many foreigners have returned to their home countries during this time, and international travel in the future will become very complicated/expensive. Maybe more schools will also try to shift to an online curriculum. Only time can tell!

    Also, I have written a blog post in regards to being abroad during Covid-19, and my experience in India during the lockdown. If you have a chance, I would love for you to check it out!

    Best regards,


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