Throughout the world a significant percentage of ESL teaching positions are filled locally via face-to-face interviews. However, there are many countries where recruitment is typically undertaken in advance from within the teacher's home country. This method of securing a position is particularly convenient for newly qualified teachers and those with little or no experience of international travel. The application process is usually conducted via email, while interviews take place via Skype or phone.
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Securing a job in advance usually means you will receive assistance with obtaining the necessary visas and work permits. Employers may also provide financial assistance with airfares, health insurance and accommodation on arrival. One drawback is the time needed to complete the recruitment process, including obtaining visas etc, can sometimes be up to six months or more.
Asia has several popular destinations where schools typically prefer to recruit teachers from within their home countries. China is now the undisputed leader in ESL recruitment, with tens of thousands of jobs available every year. When securing a position in advance you can expect to have your airfare paid for and housing arranged for the length of your contract. You can expect similar benefits when applying for positions in South Korea, another major employer of native English speakers. Two other popular destinations that typically hire in advance are Japan and Taiwan. Both offer good salaries, although other benefits may vary from one employer to the next. A smaller number of teaching positions are also available in Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Although employers in Thailand and Vietnam generally prefer to interview face-to-face, interviews can often be arranged in advance via phone and email.
The oil rich nations of the Middle East are well known for offering some of the best salaries and other benefits to be found anywhere in the world. The majority of these positions can be arranged in advance, however, competition is very high so only those with experience and advanced qualifications are likely to be successful. The largest market is Saudi Arabia where tax-free salaries, paid airfares, health insurance and free housing make for a very attractive package. The United Arab Emirates is another popular option that offers similar pay and benefits. Other destinations worth considering include Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. These countries have less numerous opportunities than the 'big two', but positions can typically be organized in advance and the salaries on offer are still very competitive.
The majority of ESL positions across Europe are filled locally, so being in the country with your TEFL certificate and resume in hand is still the best approach in most cases. The main exceptions are Russia and Turkey where many employers do look to hire in advance from overseas. Also, in France and Spain there are government-run programs that place teachers in state schools. Applications can be made online in March for positions starting the following September. There are other popular destinations in Europe where ESL positions can sometimes be secured from outside the country. The Czech Republic has long been one of the top teaching locations in Europe, while countries such as Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania are all home to fast growing markets. Even if a position cannot be secured in advance, you may be able to organize interviews before leaving home.
ESL positions in Latin America are primarily secured via face-to-face interviews. However, there are a few countries where a significant number of positions are advertised internationally. Chile probably has the largest number of paid jobs in this category, as well as a government-run scheme for volunteering in public schools. With a large population and close ties to the USA, Mexico is another good option to explore. Brazil is also worth checking out due to its rapidly expanding economy and increasing importance on the world stage.