If you want to have a job in place and all the paperwork sorted out before you leave your home country, a TEFL placement program is certainly worth considering. Several countries across Europe and Asia have government run schemes that recruit foreign teachers to work in their public school system. The following options are long established and respected programs that offer a great opportunity to live and work in some of the most popular teaching destinations.
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The TAPIF Program, short for Teaching Assistant Program in France, is a government initiative that places applicants into French state schools to work as teaching assistants. The program provides a great opportunity to live and work in a country where long-stay visas can be difficult to secure for non-EU citizens. For those who meet the necessary criteria, the TAPIF Program could be the perfect way to fulfil your dream of living and working in France.
The program is open to those aged between 20 and 35. Participants work 12 hours per week in up to three different elementary or secondary schools for a period of seven months, running from October 1st to April 30th. During the application process you can submit preferences for where you would like to be assigned, but your destination cannot be guaranteed. The majority are located on the French mainland, while a few positions are also available in the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion. Each position comes with a work visa that is valid for the length of the contract, plus health insurance and a monthly stipend of 790 euro. Acceptance onto the program is by no means guaranteed. Each applicant's suitability is evaluated via the following criteria:
- French language skills (a level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is required)
- Level of university education
- Previous teaching experience
- Experience working with children
- Experience living abroad
- TEFL/TESOL qualification (not compulsory but highly beneficial)
As the requirements are subject to change, you should visit the TAPIF Program website for the most up-to-date information. As well as being evaluated on the criteria stated above, applicants are also required to submit the following:
- 500 word 'statement of purpose' in French
- Scan of valid passport
- Scan of university transcripts
- Language evaluation from university French professor
- Letter of recommendation from academic or professional
- $60 application fee
Although not an official requirement, completing a TEFL/TESOL certification course before submitting your application is highly recommended. As competition for places on the program can be strong, having an internationally certified teaching qualification will greatly improve your chances of acceptance. The course will also provide you with a better understanding of key teaching skills such as classroom management that will help to ensure that your teaching experience is both enjoyable and rewarding.
The Cultural Ambassadors Program (also known as the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program) is run by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Every year as many as 2,500 North Americans are placed through the scheme into elementary or secondary schools across the country to work as assistant language teachers. As Spain can be a difficult place for non-Europeans to secure an official work visa, this program provides a great opportunity for Americans and Canadians to legally live and work in one of the world's most popular teaching destinations.
The program is open to American and Canadian citizens aged between 21 and 60, although the upper age limit for placement in the Madrid region is 35. If accepted, participants are assigned as assistant English teachers in an elementary or secondary school from early October until May 31 (June 30 in the Madrid region). The position requires you to work a set number of classes per week in return for a stipend of 700 euro per month, health insurance coverage, and a long-stay work visa. Airfares and accommodation costs are not included. During the application process you can submit preferences for the cities or areas where you would prefer to be located, but there are no guarantees regarding your allocated place. The majority of positions are located in mainland cities and towns, with a smaller number available in the Canary and Balearic Islands. Successful applicants will be notified of their destination in April prior to departure. As this is a very competitive program there is no guarantee of acceptance. An applicant's suitability is evaluated on the following criteria:
- A practical demonstration of Spanish language skills (college transcripts, high school records, and Spanish language certificates can be submitted to provide extra proof)
- Physical and psychological suitability (a medical form is required)
- Academic achievement (BA or BS minimum, university junior, senior, or graduate)
- Previous teaching experience
- Experience working with children
- Experience living abroad
- TEFL/TESOL qualification (not compulsory but highly beneficial)
For the most up-to-date information regarding the application process you should visit the official website of the Cultural Ambassadors Program. To complete the application you will need to supply the following documents:
- 250 to 300 word 'statement of purpose' in English
- Copy of a reference letter from your employer or university
- Copy of your degree/diploma, or an official academic record
- Copy of valid U.S. or Canadian passport
While not compulsory, completing a TEFL/TESOL certification course before applying for the Cultural Ambassadors Program is highly recommended. As there are a limited number of places available each year and competition is usually very strong, the addition of a teaching qualification to your application form will give you a distinct advantage over many other applicants. The practical skills taught during the course, such as classroom management and error correction, will also help to make your time in the classroom far more productive and enjoyable for both you and your students.
Every year, thousands of new and experienced teachers head to Europe looking for adventure while working as an English language teacher. A large number of these will arrive in the usual hotspots across Italy and Spain where the competition for jobs can be very high. If you are looking for something a little different that is slightly off the beaten path, then the Central European Teaching Program (CETP) may be worth a look. The CETP is a long running program that places applicants into schools in Hungary to work as English language teachers.
The CETP is open to native English speakers from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., or any other EU country. As the scheme has no official upper age limit it is a particularly good option for older teachers who might find it difficult to secure jobs in some other European countries. The standard program runs for 10 months from September to mid-June, with an orientation week prior to the start. There are also 6-month positions available from January to June. Unlike many government run placement programs, the privately operated CETP requires applicants to pay a placement fee. While this might put off some teachers, the program does offer many benefits that warrant further consideration. Some of the main benefits of the program are as follows:
- A regular salary that is equal to local coworkers (no income tax is required)
- National health insurance
- A private, furnished apartment with all utilities covered
- Paid holidays
- Work visa that also allows you to travel across Europe
- Partners, friends or families can often be placed together
If you are interested in the program and would like further details you should visit the CETP website. In order to be accepted in the program applicants must submit the following documents:
- TEFL/TESOL certification that includes at least 20 hours of practical classroom teaching
- Letter from doctor confirming your good health (work visa requirement)
- Notarized copy of your university diploma
- Background check
The Teach and Learn with Georgia (TLG) program was setup in 2010 with the intention of improving the country's foreign language skills and to promote greater ties with the global community. Sponsored by the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science, TLG actively recruits native English, French and German speakers to teach in public schools throughout the country on a voluntary basis. While the primary goal is language teaching within a school environment, the program also has a strong focus on cultural exchange.
The TLG program is open to native speakers of English, French and German who are open-minded and highly motivated to make a positive difference in an unfamiliar environment. Contracts are for one academic year, during which time you will teach alongside local language teachers in primary age classrooms. A typical week involves 30 working hours from Monday to Friday which includes teaching, lesson planning and extra-curricular activities. Participants are also expected to provide three hours of language teaching per week for their host family.
The minimum education level is a BA/BS in education, linguistics or similar or a BA/BS in any other discipline plus teaching experience. Students in their final year of a bachelor's degree in education, linguistics, or similar discipline are also eligible to apply. A clean criminal record check and medical clearance are both required. Applicants who apply as either French or German native speakers will need to demonstrate an English language ability that is equivalent to the B1 level of the Common European Framework of reference for Languages. Any additional teaching qualifications, classroom experience, or voluntary experience with young people will be taken into account during the recruitment process. For further information please visit the official TLG website.
As TLG is a voluntary program it does not attract teachers who are simply looking to earn a high salary. The main attraction for many is that it offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable classroom experience and personal fulfilment in a region that is a little off the beaten track. Included in the contract are the following extra benefits:
- Monthly stipend of 750 GEL (400 GEL after tax and host family deduction)
- Paid airfare in and out of Georgia
- Room and board with a host family
- Medical insurance
- Paid winter holidays
EPIK stands for the English Program in Korea, a scheme run by the South Korean government that places foreign teachers into schools across the country to work as English language instructors. EPIK is one of the largest and most popular schemes of its kind as it offers a competitive salary, a good range of extra benefits, and the chance to experience living and working in a unique cultural environment. If you meet the specified criteria then you could be one of the thousand plus teachers heading to South Korea this year to join the program.
If you are interested in the EPIK program, we recommend reaching out to our TEFL recruitment partner Reach To Teach. Reach To Teach is an official partner of the EPIK program (English Program in Korea) and works with the Korean Ministry of Education to place English Language Instructors (ELIs) in Korean public schools throughout the country.
To be eligible to join the EPIK program you must be a native English speaker with a passport from one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K, or the U.S. Applicants must also hold a university degree and be able to prove a clean criminal record. In addition, you also require at least one of the following:
- TEFL/TESOL certification of 100 hours or more (preference is given to those with a teaching practice component)
- BA or MA Degree in Education with a major in teaching, TESOL, second language studies, or education
- Teaching license gained in your home country
- One year of full time teaching experience
If successful you will be required to sign a one year contract that runs from one of two start dates, either the end of February or the end of August. A typical working schedule is Monday through Friday from 8:40 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., with weekends off. Actual teaching time equates to approximately 22 hours per week.
Placements on the program can be in almost any province in the country, with any individual preferences dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis. During your stay you might be expected to work in a variety of primary and secondary schools within your designated area. If you have a preference for one particular area then it is recommended that you submit your application as early as possible. For further information please visit the official EPIK website.
The overall package offered by the EPIK scheme includes a wide range of benefits, including:
- Salary based on qualifications and experience ranging from 1.8 to 2.7 million KRW (currently $1,500 to $2,300) per month
- Fully furnished accommodation (not including utilities)
- Paid airfare in an out of the country
- 300,000 KRW settlement allowance
- 18 days paid leave plus all national holidays
- One month's salary bonus on completion of contract
TaLK stands for Teach and Learn in Korea which is a government sponsored program that places foreign nationals into elementary schools across South Korea. TaLK is a similar program to the much larger EPIK; however, the TaLK Program differs by focusing on placements in underprivileged areas that might otherwise struggle to attract foreign teachers. Participants in the program will gain valuable teaching experience throughout their time in South Korea. There is also plenty of free time for exploring the local culture and for travel across the country and the wider region.
The TaLK Program is open to college graduates or current undergraduate students who have completed at least two years of a degree course. You must also hold a passport from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or Ireland. There is a minimum age requirement of 19 but no official upper age limit, although those over 35 are typically encouraged to join the EPIK Program instead. A national criminal record check must be submitted during the application process.
Participants on the scheme sign a one-year contract that starts in either February or August. Prior to the start date there is a one-month orientation program that covers a wide range of teaching related subjects such as classroom management, curriculum design, and teaching methodologies, as well as cultural subjects designed to help you adjust to a new life in an unfamiliar environment. On average the program requires around 15 hours per week of actual classroom time from Monday to Friday, plus extra time for lesson planning.
Placements on the program are primarily in rural areas of the following provinces: Chungnam, Gangwon, Incheon, Jeju, Jeonbuk, and Jeonnam. Unlike the EPIK Program, applicants are not able to request a particular area for placement; therefore, all placements are effectively made at random. For further information, please visit the official TaLK Program website.
If accepted onto the program you will receive a range of benefits during your stay in South Korea, including:
- A monthly stipend of KRW 1.5 million (currently $1,300) per month
- Furnished accommodation, typically a studio apartment (not including utilities)
- Flight allowance of KRW 2.6 Million to cover transport in and out of the country
- Settlement allowance of KRW 300,000
- Seven vacation days per semester
- Medical insurance coverage
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) is a government backed scheme that has been operating for over 30 years. Every year around 5,000 foreign nationals are placed into schools right across Japan with the intention of raising the language skills of young people. Unlike many similar programs in other countries, the JET Program also has a strong focus on cultural exchange between participants and the local population. Competition for places on the program is generally very tough as successful applicants receive a competitive salary and a range of extra benefits.
The program is open to college graduates up to the age of 40, although its status as primarily a youth culture exchange means that recent graduates have a greater chance of success. The main criteria required is a minimum of a bachelor's degree or alternatively a three year teaching qualification at either primary or secondary level. In addition to this basic requirement, there is a strong emphasis on youthful energy and a desire to fully embrace the Japanese culture, language, and overall way of life.
There are three types of position available through the program. The most common, at over 90% of applicants, is working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). Duties of an ALT include assisting a Japanese teacher in the classroom, preparing teaching materials, and participating in extracurricular activities such as sports or language clubs. If you have a good standard of Japanese language skills then you can also apply as a Coordinator of International Relations (CIR), while sports professionals can apply for the role of Sports Exchange Advisor (SEA). For more detailed information please visit the official JET Program website.
The specific benefits available to successful applicants vary from one position to the next but you can expect to earn a pre-tax salary of 280,000 JPY (currently $25,000) in your first year. Working hours are approximately 35 per week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Airfares for travel to Japan, plus homeward flight on completion of the contract are paid for by the program. Paid holiday time varies between 10 and 20 days, plus all national holidays. Please note that all participants are liable for a mandatory monthly salary deduction of around 40,000 JPY to cover health insurance and pension contributions.
The NET (Native-speaking English Teachers) Scheme is a recruitment program initiated by the Hong Kong Education Bureau that places qualified teachers from overseas countries into state run schools. The scheme recruits hundreds of teachers every year to work in either primary or secondary level schools across the territory. The stated goal of the scheme is to share and promote innovation in teaching practice, and to provide an authentic classroom environment for local students. Participants on the scheme will receive a generous salary and extra benefits, as well as a unique opportunity to live and work in one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan parts of Asia.
To be eligible, you must be a native-English speaker or possess an exceptionally high standard of English language competence. Successful applicants are required to sign a two year contract with one specific school that begins at the start of the school year in August. Although the scheme is open to teachers of all ages, Hong Kong has a mandatory retirement age of 60 so applicants must be less than 58 years of age at the contract start date.
The scheme is split into two separate areas for primary level teachers and secondary level teachers known as PNET and SNET. Applicants for the PNET Scheme work with primary students aged from six to twelve, with a typical class size of 30 to 37. The qualifications required for these positions are a degree in English, a teacher training qualification in primary education, and a TEFL/TESOL certification. In the event that not enough teachers meet these requirements, those with a lower level of qualifications are considered. If accepted on the SNET Scheme you will work with secondary students in an average class size of 40 to 45. The stated criteria for these positions are a degree in English or education, a post-graduate diploma in education, a TESOL diploma, and at least one year of teaching experience at secondary level. Once again, if recruitment numbers are not met then applicants with fewer qualifications are considered. For further information, please visit the official NET Scheme website.
Teachers who are recruited through the NET Scheme will receive a monthly salary of between HKD 25,000 and 60,000 (currently $3,200 to $7,700), dependent upon their relevant experience. In addition to the monthly salary, the scheme also includes several other benefits such as:
- Assistance finding suitable accommodation plus a housing allowance of around HKD 20,000 per month
- Paid round-trip airfare from your home country, including up to four family members
- A relocation allowance to assist with the transport costs of personal belongings
- A stipend for medical insurance coverage