Judging by the reception to the blog post we wrote about Roma v Sevilla, there’s a significant crossover between fans of the Beautiful Game and those who want to explore the world teaching English.
Hey, why not? After all, the world’s most popular sport and the world’s most popular language are bound to meet at some points. After all, much of the language of football is English. Even countries that prefer to call it “soccer” are using an old English term, a shortened version of “association football”.
So, why not use an incredible opportunity – the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – to talk about some amazing TEFL destinations? And, at the same time, study some of the best teams in the tournament? Here, we’ll pick out who we think could spring a couple of shocks, and which players we should be watching out for!
Like the men’s game, there are some famous nations who will always feature heavily on the international stage. England, Brazil, Spain and France all have talented teams. However, it’s the likes of Costa Rica, Vietnam, the Philippines and other “smaller” footballing countries that could provide real tournament highlights, as lesser-known quantities who could provide a surprise or two over the tournament, hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
So, now the Women’s World Cup 2023 has kicked off, we’re going to take a look at some of the best countries in the tournament for TEFL opportunities, and see just how good their teams are!
Football fans in general might be surprised to see Vietnam have made a major tournament. The men’s team have been ranked as low as 172nd in the world by FIFA, but the women’s team are a different prospect altogether.
As a TEFL destination, Vietnam is utterly incredible. Much like its women’s football team, it might not have been considered a top place to teach English for the longest time, but nowadays, it ranks very highly. This is for a number of reasons. Primarily, as a place to visit, it’s both startlingly modern and steeped in amazing history and heritage, with both a range of UNESCO Heritage Sites and cityscapes like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
It’s also a fantastic place for TEFL teachers to explore and develop their skills. The typical salary is £920– £1,500/$1,200 to $2,000 USD per month, contrasted against a low cost of living, while the opportunities are widespread due to a real passion for English learning.
To hear all about living and working in Vietnam, check out this episode of ‘I Taught English Abroad’ with Frances Fraser-Reid. As Frances illustrates, while there’s a huge demand for English teachers, there are also opportunities to teach other subjects, such as science and art, but also in English!
Key player and expectations
Currently ranked 32nd in the world, Vietnam’s women’s national team are hoping to light up the World Cup and prove plenty of people wrong. Debutants to the World Cup, the women’s team only formed in 1990, playing their first match in 1997.
We’d recommend keeping an eye out for youngster Nguyen Thi Thanh Nha, who scored against Germany and is lightning fast. She and her Vietnamese colleagues might not have the highest hopes going into the World Cup but underestimate them at your peril.
We love Costa Rica here. The ‘Rich Coast’ is a supremely underrated TEFL destination and honestly? We’re not entirely sure why.
A tropical paradise but with vibrant cities, modern infrastructure and a huge appetite for English learning, Costa Rica’s proximity to both North and South Americas, mixed with its own immense cultural heritage, make it a fascinating and singularly exciting place to live and work.
Are the salaries anything to write home about? At approximately £300 – £700 / $475 – $1,000, you be the judge. Remember, though, the cost of living is comparatively minimal and while you’re unlikely to leave Costa Rica a millionaire, you’ll be able to live comfortably on a teaching salary. Alternatively, it’s a great place to build experience through voluntary work, with temporary tourist visas happily handed out to talented teachers.
Key player and expectations
Given that The TEFL Org originated in Scotland, and Scotland aren’t in the Women’s World Cup 2023, we do want to mention Priscilla Chinchilla. The Glasgow City forward has lit up the SWPL in recent seasons, and we’re excited to see what she can do on the world stage.
As for her side? Costa Rica won’t be on anyone’s list of favourites, but this team has a realistic chance of progressing past the group stage for the first time. Though women’s football isn’t professional in Costa Rica as of yet – meaning many of their national players ply their trade worldwide – a good showing in the World Cup could change that.
If you don’t follow women’s football, you might be surprised to see Philippines competing in a World Cup. Additionally, if you do follow women’s football, you’d also have every right to be surprised. This is the first time – after 25 years of trying – that any Filippino football team has made the World Cup.
We’ll get to the country’s footballing prowess before long, but as a TEFL destination, the Philippines is, in many respects, ideal. For one thing, the demand is enormous: more than 14 million Filippinos can speak English to some level. The school system supports English learning from an early age, and there are plenty of English-speaking immigrants who have entered the country over recent decades.
Oddly, though, the Philippines struggles to recruit teachers en masse. Honestly, there probably hasn’t been a better time for qualified TEFL teachers to look for accommodation in cities like Manilla and get teaching. The salaries – typically between £800 and £1000/$1,040-$1,300 per month – are more than enough to comfortably cover the cost of living, with schools, language schools, universities and international schools ready to welcome over more TEFL talent. Find out if you’ve got what it takes to teach English in the Philippines!
Key player and expectations
The Philippines probably wouldn’t have qualified for the World Cup 2023 without their star striker and undoubted talisman Sarina Bolden. Bolden has had a varied and exciting career already, having spent spells in Sweden, the USA, Taiwan and Japan, before signing for Western Sydney Wanderers in Australia. That’s a CV that’d impress any TEFL teacher!
The Philippines will need Bolden’s goals to achieve a knockout stage berth, but it’s not beyond them. Their group stage opponents are Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand – a tough group, no doubt, but you can’t rule them out of a second-placed finish entirely.
Football is absolutely huge in South Korea. That was the case prior to 2002, but when the men’s World Cup came to the Korean Republic and Japan, the country’s fascination with football went into hyperdrive. Ever since, some of the most celebrated and decorated players in European football have come from South Korea; Park Ji-Sung with Manchester United and Son Heung-Min with Tottenham Hotspur are just two examples.
As for a TEFL destination? There’s no official ranking of popularity (maybe an idea for another blog post…) but if you were to comprise a top 3, South Korea would very likely be there. Korean culture, the combination of hyper-futuristic cities and idyllic, historical countryside and an extremely welcoming outlook means that South Korea is an enormously popular destination for TEFL teachers.
It helps, of course, that wages and job opportunities are extremely noteworthy. Starter salaries tend to come in at £1,280 – £1,600/$1,670 – $2,000, with a lower cost of living than the UK or USA, and exceptional public services. The demand for English, meanwhile, is huge.
Key player and expectations
It’d be a surprise if South Korea didn’t do well in this World Cup. Currently ranked 17th in the world by FIFA, 2023 hasn’t been the team’s best year, with a poor showing in the Clark Cup. That said, their group shouldn’t pose too many problems to a squad brimming with experience.
Talking of experience, 33-year-old Jung Seol-Bin will be expected to lead the line (though she can also play in midfield). Jung, who’s spent her entire professional career with Hyundai Steel Red Angels, has scored 22 times for the South Korean national team.
Morocco’s men’s team surprised a lot of people in Qatar last year, making it to the semi-finals before losing to France. Even with some familiar talents in Achram Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, it was the collectiveness and team ethos that drove the north African nation to the final four of the World Cup. Can the women’s team do something similar in Australia and New Zealand?
We’ll get to Morocco’s footballing chances shortly, but before then, we’ve got to acknowledge something – Morocco is supremely underrated. Yes, it’s a popular tourist destination to some extent, but for TEFL? As with much of northern Africa, you could reasonably argue that people have looked past its potential for years.
Mediterranean weather? Check. Huge cities and a mix of disparate cultures and cuisines? Check. Amazing nightlife, colourful bazaars and an appetite for learning English? Check, check and check. With typical teaching salaries of £720 – £1,500/$1,000 – $2,100, you can live more than comfortably factoring in a comparatively low standard of living. That said, jobs are harder to come by, and the education system isn’t as well-equipped and funded as other countries on this list.
If you’re an experienced TEFL teacher and want to try teaching somewhere a little off the beaten track, teaching English in Morocco is an excellent, challenging and illuminating choice.
Key player and expectations
Expectations for this group of Moroccan players is not particularly high, unfortunately. However, there are shoots of optimism. As this brilliant summary from The Analyst points out, they have an excellent – if pragmatic – manager in Reynald Pedros, who won the UEFA Women’s Champions League twice with Lyon Feminin.
They also have a Women’s Premier League star in the form of Rosella Ayane. The Tottenham winger will be playing centrally for Morocco, and it’s on her shoulders that Morocco’s hopes of making it through a tough group sit.
The Women’s World Cup 2023: a great opportunity to think about the world
International sporting events are a great opportunity to learn about different nations. History, culture and environment are big factors in how well a country tends to do in certain sports. That is if you ignore Scotland’s prowess at Elephant Polo, which frankly we cannot explain.
Whether it’s the Olympics, the World Cup or any world-famous sporting event, it’s not uncommon for sparks of inspiration to fly. Although our world is smaller, and we can access other cultures more readily through the internet, big sporting events allow us a window into countries and continents that is hard to replicate elsewhere.
It’s bound to be a fantastic watch, even if Scotland aren’t in it!
Are you looking to explore the world and teach English as a foreign language? Check out our course page to get started on the adventure of a lifetime!