TEFL qualified teachers venturing abroad have a plethora of institutions eager to tap into their expertise. Some of the predominant employers include:
- Private Language Schools: Particularly popular in Europe and Latin America, these establishments often have the largest number of opportunities for English teachers.
- State-run Schools: Particularly prevalent in Asia, public educational institutions frequently hire English teachers to enhance their students' language capabilities.
- Colleges and Universities: Higher education institutions, in certain regions, seek ESL teachers for specialized English programs.
- Summer Camps & Special Programs: These settings, often seasonal, provide immersive English experiences and regularly hire foreign instructors.
Diverse as these options are, it is important for aspiring teachers to research specific requirements and benefits associated with each type of employer.
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A significant percentage of all ESL teaching jobs are located in language schools that are privately owned by individuals or independent companies. These can range in size from a single room school with one teacher, to large chains spread across several countries. Many of these private schools provide general English instruction to all ages and abilities, while some may specialize in teaching young learners or teaching business English. Although conditions vary from one school to the next, you should expect to teach somewhere between 25 and 30 hours per week, with a further 10 to 15 hours of planning time. As many schools cater to students looking to study after work or school, you should also be prepared to work some evenings and weekends. Class sizes can be anywhere from a single student up to 15 or more. Private schools in Europe and Latin America generally cater to the adult market, although the number of schools aimed at young learners is increasing every year. In contrast, Asian countries generally have a larger number of schools specifically created for young learners.
Certain countries also provide the opportunity to work as an English teacher in public or state-run schools. The majority of these positions are found in Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, although there are a smaller number of openings in Europe and the Middle East. The role of the teacher in these settings is usually to work as an assistant or in partnership with a local teacher, following a typical school routine from around 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. In order to qualify for a position in a public school in most countries, you will need to be a native English speaker with a four-year college degree. In return you can expect to receive a good salary and other benefits such as health insurance and paid holidays. Many positions also include paid airfares to and from the country and assistance with accommodation. Recruitment for these positions is usually completed from within your home country, around six months before the start date.
Working in an English language summer camp is a popular option for many ESL teachers as it involves short periods of work so you are not tied to a long contract. Teaching jobs in summer camps generally consist of four to six weeks working with children of various ages. Camps can be found throughout Asia and Latin America, although the most numerous opportunities are found within Europe, particularly Spain, France and Italy. Recruitment is often aimed at younger teachers under 30 years of age, with the majority of positions filled locally. Some camps do also recruit online so it is well worth checking out a range of ESL recruitment websites.
If you are a TEFL certified teacher who has professional teaching experience and high-level academic qualifications, you may be eligible to work in universities in some countries. Although small in number, these positions allow you to work with advanced level language students and typically offer a higher salary than public schools or private language centers.
- Unique Travel Opportunities: Volunteering can lead you to lesser-traveled, enriching destinations, unveiling a side of the world not seen by most tourists.
- Impactful Service: Deliver a vital skill to underserved communities, helping both children and adults who might not have had the chance to learn English.
- Flexibility: Many volunteer opportunities range from as short as a week to two months, accommodating different time availability. Some even offer extended stays for those looking to immerse deeper.
- Diverse Locations: Many charitable organizations in regions like Asia, Latin America, and Africa are in search of English teachers, giving you varied geographical options.
- Limited Financial Support: Often, these positions are unpaid, and you may need to bear some travel or living expenses.
- Resource Scarcity: Some places might not have state-of-the-art teaching tools or facilities.
- Cultural and Linguistic Barriers: Adjusting to new cultures and communicating can be challenging.
- Short-term Impact: Short-term positions might not allow a long-lasting impact on students due to the limited time frame.
If considering this path, it is important to research organizations and understand the expectations and support they provide to volunteers.