As there is a strong demand for TEFL qualified teachers in many countries worldwide, most course graduates should have little trouble finding a suitable position. However, to maximise your chances of securing the best jobs there are a few things you should be aware of. Where you should look for work, how to apply for jobs, and how to prepare for that all important interview are all covered below.
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Among the many attractions of teaching English abroad is the fact that you are free to choose not only the region where you would like to work, but also the specific country or even city. For some teachers the history and culture of Europe appeals most, while others are drawn to exotic destinations across Asia or Latin America. However, before you book your plane tickets you need to be aware that the requirements for foreign teachers vary greatly from one country to the next and these may limit your options. You should do plenty of research on whether any of the following issues apply to your chosen destination.
In some cases, language schools are restricted to only hiring teachers who hold citizenship of a native English speaking country. These are generally considered to be the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In some countries, it is a legal requirement that foreign teachers hold a 4-year degree. There are limitations on hiring teachers over a certain age in some countries, typically around 55. Across the Middle East region in particular, many jobs are restricted to men only or women only, depending on the gender of the students. Men only positions are typically more numerous. The length of contract you are required to sign can vary from six months in some countries, to twelve months in others. In Europe they might run for nine or ten months, as summers are often taken off.
The huge continent of Asia continues to be the most popular destination for teachers in terms of numbers. Across the region there are a wide variety of diverse destinations to suit everyone, from the high-tech modernity of Tokyo to the peace and tranquility of a Cambodian village, Asia has it all.
If you are hoping to save money while you teach overseas then more developed countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and China are definitely worth a look. Job opportunities are widespread in towns and cities throughout these countries and the salaries are generally good compared to the cost of living. Due to the high demand for teachers, it is also quite straightforward to secure a job before you leave your home country which provides significant peace of mind for those who are new to teaching and traveling.
Although Asia's booming economies offer plenty of well paid teaching jobs, most of these will be found in large towns and cities that may not be to everyone's taste. If you dream of relaxing in a hammock amongst swaying palm trees between lessons, you may want to look elsewhere. Thailand has long been a favorite destination due to the culture, lifestyle and climate. You may struggle to save any of your hard earned cash, but you are sure to create many memories that will last a lifetime. Another country worth considering is Vietnam where the demand for English language teachers is growing rapidly and salaries are rising accordingly.
Although considerably smaller in size than Asia, the Middle East is still one of the biggest draws in the teaching industry. Tax-free salaries and superb benefits await most teachers who manage to secure a position here. However, due to stiff competition for the best jobs you will probably need some experience behind you and many employers will also demand advanced level qualifications. The most numerous job prospects can be found in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whilst Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar are also worth checking out.
Although you can expect a high salary and great benefits such as paid flights and free housing, you also need to consider the conservative nature of society in most countries in this region. The strict social rules do not appeal to everyone, and female teachers may find it particularly difficult if they are not used to the local culture. However, many teachers quickly adapt to this new environment and many feel that a few inconveniences along the way are more than compensated for financially.
With a wonderful mix of modern attractions and centuries of fascinating history, it is no surprise that Europe attracts large numbers of English teachers. Right across the continent there are plenty of job opportunities to be found in diverse locations stretching from the sunny shores of the Mediterranean in the south, to the cooler climes of beautiful Scandinavia in the north. However, there are a few things to consider before you start packing your bags.
One major drawback of teaching in Europe is the high cost of living. You may be dreaming of life in Rome, Paris or London, but the reality is that a teacher's salary is unlikely to be enough to support a comfortable lifestyle. Another issue is that many countries prefer British English to American English so it can be hard for non-British teachers to land the better paid positions. It is also more complicated for non-Brits to acquire the necessary work permits and visas for popular destinations such as Spain, Italy and France. But don't despair; there are still opportunities for anyone who is determined to hunt them down.
For many teachers the best solution is to look towards Central and Eastern Europe. Compared to their western neighbors, many countries in this region make it far easier for non-Europeans to obtain visas and work permits. The cost of living is also considerably lower making it possible to live comfortably and even save some cash while you work. The most popular destination is the Czech Republic which has plenty of job opportunities plus a fun and laidback lifestyle. Other countries with a growing market for English teachers include Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.
This vast region stretches from the US/Mexico border in the north, all the way down to the wilds of Cape Horn in the south. Although large in area, Latin America does not offer the huge job markets and high salaries that can be found in other parts of the world. However, what it does offer is an abundance of natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure.
Chile has long been one of the hottest destinations for English teachers in South America. Here you will find plenty of jobs on offer and some of the best salaries in the region. Due to its popularity you can also expect stiff competition when applying for the best paid jobs so you may need to look towards lesser known markets. Countries such as Colombia and Ecuador have a steadily growing demand and are well worth a look. Traditional favorites such as Argentina and Costa Rica are also still popular, although the competition for jobs is very high and the balance between salaries and the cost of living can make it hard to live comfortably. There are many other beautiful countries to explore across Latin America but most only have a small market for English teachers. The bottom line is that teachers don't come to this region to earn their fortune; they come to enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
Many of the world's biggest and most lucrative markets for English language teachers are restricted to native English speakers only. Destinations such as Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, are all great options for native speakers but not for thousands of other qualified teachers whose first language is not English. But don't despair; there are still plenty of exciting destinations all over the world where non-native English speakers can confidently apply for teaching positions. In countries where restrictions on nationalities are in place, the term 'native English speaker' generally refers to teachers from the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Other countries where English is widely spoken, such as India or the Philippines, are generally not accepted.
As the market for English language teachers is huge right across Asia, there are plenty of opportunities for non-native English speakers. One of the most popular options is Thailand which has a fascinating culture, world famous cuisine, stunning tropical beaches, and a consistently high demand for teachers year-round. To be eligible for a work permit you need to reach a certain standard of English, either 600+ on the TOEIC test, or 5+ on the IELTS test. A four-year degree is also necessary. A TEFL certification is not an official requirement but it is likely to improve your employment chances as a non-native speaker. Another popular option in the same region is Cambodia. Here there are even fewer restrictions making it a good choice no matter where you were born or what qualifications you have. Salaries are not typically large when compared with some neighboring countries, but it offers a good chance to gain valuable classroom experience while living in a rich and vibrant culture. Although non-native speakers do not qualify for a work visa in China, the huge market for teachers means there are always options to be explored. Teachers from all over the world will find employers willing to bend the rules in order to fill vacant positions. One common method is for the employer to provide a business visa, although this does mean you are working illegally and liable to be deported if caught.
Latin America has endless opportunities for non-native English speakers as most countries have few official restrictions and plenty of available jobs. A TEFL certification is usually required, but as long as you are in the country ready to work, that is generally the only thing needed to guarantee employment. There are significant markets for language teachers of all nationalities in countries throughout the region, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
Options for non-native speakers to teach English across Europe are generally quite slim. However, teachers who have a passport from a country within the European Union may be in luck as they are free to work in other member states without a permit. One possible option for non-Europeans is Turkey, although a four-year degree is required and you may also need some previous teaching experience. The best approach is to arrange a Skype call so you have an opportunity to convince the employer that your language skills are sufficient for the job.
If you are a non-native English speaker there are a few things you can do to increase your employability. Although it is not an official requirement in every country, gaining a TEFL certification will improve your teaching skills and show potential employers that you are serious about being a language teacher. Another effective way to impress employers is to show them that you have previous experience in the classroom. Before leaving home you can volunteer your services in community centers or language schools to practice your skills in a genuine classroom environment. Being able to prove your English language ability is also highly recommended. Showing an employer that you have a high score on either the TOEFL or IELTs tests could go a long way toward convincing them of your suitability for the post. Similarly, by meeting the employer in person or over Skype you have the chance to demonstrate your language skills and dismiss any concerns they may have regarding your accent.
When researching your options for teaching English abroad, you may come across articles stating that it is difficult or even impossible for Americans to find work in Europe. However, the good news is this is simply not true, as there are plenty of great opportunities for American teachers in many countries throughout Europe. Due to the huge numbers of people learning English in Europe, there simply aren't enough teachers from within the EU to fill all the available positions. To meet this demand, language schools across the continent look towards native English speaking Americans who possess a TEFL qualification. Every year thousands of US citizens find teaching jobs in major cities such as Rome, Madrid, Berlin, Moscow, and Prague.
In Western Europe there is a strong preference for British English in some countries, and excessive bureaucracy also makes it harder for US citizens to legally find work. However, countries such as Italy, Spain, and Germany all offer large job markets and good opportunities for non-EU teachers. The French and Spanish governments even operate programs to recruits classroom assistants for their public school systems. Eastern Europe is perhaps the best region for non-EU citizens to find work as it has a strong demand for TEFL qualified teachers, and also a lower cost of living than many countries in the west. The Czech Republic has long been a popular destination, while countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Russia also having growing markets. Another country that is well worth considering is Turkey. As it is not a member of the European Union, Turkey is a great option for American teachers as there is no bias towards teachers from EU countries. It also has a great climate and a fascinating culture that blends both European and Middle Eastern influences.
The majority of jobs in Europe are filled following a face-to-face interview, so it is essential that you are on the ground in the country of your choice at the right time of year. For most language schools across Europe, the main hiring season runs from September to October. During this time, thousands of schools are looking to fill positions that were vacated at the end of the previous school year. January is also a good time for job hunting in many countries. Exceptions to these hiring periods include Russia and Turkey, where schools tend to hire at any time of the year.
For countries such as Turkey, Russia and Poland, it is generally necessary to apply for a work visa in advance from within your home country. Elsewhere, the norm is to simply arrive in your country of choice on a tourist visa. In some countries, including hotspots such as Spain and Italy, it is common practice for teachers to work with nothing other than a tourist visa. This is not technically legal but is extremely common and there are rarely any repercussions for foreign teachers. Alternatively, in countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic, you will have a work permit processed locally once hired. Another option is to enroll in a language study program in your chosen country. Often this will include a student visa that allows you to work up to a certain number of hours per week.
For anyone planning an adventure teaching English overseas, the amount of cash needed to cover the initial start-up costs is an important question to consider. As with any move there are certain expenses that cannot be avoided, although these will vary depending on where you plan to teach. In most cases the basic start-up costs will include:
- Obtaining TEFL certification
- Travel costs to your chosen country
- Funds to support yourself until your first payday
The cost of obtaining TEFL certification can vary considerably depending on the style of course you choose. At ITTT our least expensive online option can be completed for under $200, while an in-class course will typically cost between $1500 and $2000, not including flights, accommodation, meals etc. However, you should not base your choice of course solely on the cost, as there are fundamental differences to consider.
Online courses offer an affordable way to obtain TEFL certification, and they can be completed in your spare time without any loss of income. They can also be completed from any location worldwide that has an internet connection. However, most employers insist on TEFL certification of at least 120 hours, so the cheapest options are unlikely to be sufficient for securing a well paid job. Also, online courses do not include any practical teacher training or teaching practice with real students, something that might put you at a disadvantage in a competitive job market.
The big advantage of an in-class TEFL course is that you receive direct instruction from a highly qualified and experienced teacher trainer. During the course you will also have the opportunity to practice your skills in a genuine classroom environment with real students of English. However, the higher cost of attending an international TEFL training center can be prohibitive for some potential teachers. Completion of an in-class course also requires attendance for a 4-week period which might not always be possible.
Heading off to teach English abroad will often involve a long and costly flight to your chosen destination. However, in countries where it is normal to hire teachers in advance from within their own country, many employers routinely provide free airfares. This is common practice in much of Asia and the Middle East, and less common in Europe and Latin America.
Once on the ground you will need sufficient funds to see you through until you receive your first pay packet. If you are heading to Europe or South America, it is likely that you will travel there before starting the job hunting process. In this case you should budget for around two weeks to find work, plus a further month until your first pay day. During this period you will need to cover your initial accommodation, a deposit and one month's rent for an apartment once you have found a job, as well as groceries, transport costs, and phone credit. The sum required will vary depending on country and lifestyle, but you should budget around $2000 to $3000 in Western Europe, while Eastern Europe should be roughly half that amount. Those heading to Latin America could get by on as little as $750 to $1000. If you are heading to Asia or the Middle East there is a good chance that you will already have secured employment before departure. In this case you will need the funds to see you through the first month of work only. Many employers in these regions also provide free or subsidized housing which can further reduce your expenses.
The age, background, and motivation of the students in your ESL classroom will vary greatly depending on where you are teaching and the school or institute you work for. You could have a class full of university students, hotel workers or even high flying business executives. Alternatively, you might work in a government school teaching a class of children aged anywhere from five to sixteen. Each of these groups has its own characteristics, and different teachers have their own preferences. Just remember that by completing a reputable TEFL certification course before you head off abroad, you will learn all the skills required to deliver effective and enjoyable lessons to almost any group of learners.
A large percentage of teachers working in ESL classrooms overseas will find their classes are full of adults of various ages and backgrounds. This is particularly true across Europe and Latin America as few countries in these regions allow foreign teachers to work in public schools. Subsequently, most teachers work for private language centers that either conduct classes on their own premises or send teachers to work with company employees directly onsite. The students in your classroom could come from many different walks of life such as employees of cross-border businesses, workers in the tourism and hospitality industries, university students planning to study overseas, or individuals who simply want to have a better understanding of English language media such as music, books, movies and television. When working with adult students it is worth remembering that the vast majority will have work or study commitments during the week so you should be prepared to work evenings and at weekends.
Unlike much of Europe and Latin America, Asia has a huge market for teaching ESL to young learners. In countries such as South Korea and Japan, there are government programs in place that recruit large numbers of foreign teachers to work within the public school system (other countries including Spain, France, and Chile have similar programs on a smaller scale). Summer jobs working with young learners in English language camps are another area that is popular in many parts of the world. In some countries it is also common for parents to send their children for extra language instruction on top of what they receive during school hours. Many thousands of teachers work in private language academies in countries such as China and South Korea where the majority of lessons are conducted in the late afternoon and early evening. As well as general English instruction, many students also attend these lessons looking for help in passing the English language college entrance examination known as TOEFL.
As well as working in a government-run school or a private language academy, many teachers across the world turn to tutoring private students to top up their income. If you decide to branch out into private lessons you can choose to limit your services to certain groups or you can mix things up across all ages and backgrounds. Just remember that the rules and regulations regarding private lessons vary from country to country so it is wise to do your research before you get started. Your main employer might also have some concerns if you decide to poach their students for private lessons away from the school.
While teaching English abroad you could find yourself working in a wide range of schools, institutes, academies, colleges, universities, camps and other settings. The most numerous opportunities, particularly in Europe and Latin America, are generally found in private language schools. State-run schools also offer a high number of teaching positions, particularly across Asian countries.
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 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.
Volunteering as an ESL teacher is a very popular option as it allows you to visit fascinating parts of the world that are generally less travelled. It also offers a unique opportunity to provide a valuable service to children and adults who would otherwise have little chance of accessing language instruction. Many volunteer positions are on a short term basis ranging from one week to two months, although longer stays are also an option in some instances. Charitable organizations offering language teaching positions can be found in many developing areas of the world including Asia, Latin America and Africa.
If you are looking for a job outside the country you are currently in, then using online searches is a common option. There are many job boards online that post available positions from countries worldwide. The majority of these jobs will be in regions where the demand for teachers is so high that employers are happy to hire teachers without the need for a face-to-face interview. These are most likely to be found in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Once you have found a job or several jobs that interest you simply fill in the application form online or send in your CV/resume and wait for a response. If successful, the next step will probably be an interview via Skype or even telephone.
The great benefit of this method is the security you get by having a job already in place before you leave your home country. On the downside there is always a risk in accepting a position without actually seeing where you will be working or meeting your fellow staff members. The best advice here is to ensure that the contract is very clear on important issues such as salary, working hours, contract length and issues involving early termination of your employment. In the worst case scenario that the job is not all you hoped it would be, you will at least be in a good position to look for new employment from within the country.
Another popular option for ensuring you have a job before you leave your home country is to apply via a recruitment company. Many employers, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, use outside recruitment companies to fill their available teaching positions. The upside of this method, apart from job security on arrival, is that it can reduce much of the hassle involved in organizing the whole process including visas, work permits and other paperwork. The downside is that a small proportion of these companies are less than reputable so you should always do your research and ensure that you are clear on all the terms of the contract before signing.
Also worth considering are government sponsored programs that operate in some countries. The two most popular programs are the JET Program in Japan and the EPIK Program in South Korea, both of which recruit large numbers of teachers every year to work in state schools. These programs tend to be quite competitive so you will need to meet certain criteria to have a chance of being accepted.
Being in a country where you are looking for work clearly has many advantages over applying from abroad. This approach generally provides many more options than you will find online and also allows you to visit the school and talk to current teachers before you make any decisions. Applying for jobs locally can be a great way to land a job in any country worldwide and is realistically the only way in certain regions such as Latin America and parts of Europe where few jobs are posted online. Unfortunately this approach does require adequate funds to see you through to your first paycheck, and it is hard to know how long that might be.
If you are not yet TEFL qualified it is worth considering an in-class TEFL certification course in the region where you are keen to work. This will allow you to get used to your new environment and also research the local employment market whilst becoming qualified. Most course providers will also include some level of job hunting assistance that can prove invaluable in kick starting your teaching career.
Of course, you are not restricted to using only one method of finding a teaching position. Once you have decided on a region you can sign-up for a TEFL course in that area, contact recruitment companies to see if they have any openings and also send off your CV/resume to jobs you have found online. The more options you explore, the better chance you will have of landing the perfect teaching job to suit your plans.
When looking for jobs teaching English abroad you will inevitably come across various agencies offering guaranteed job placements for a fee. On the surface this could look like a convenient way to start your new career as it removes the need to send job applications and to attend interviews. However, there are several things to consider before you hand over your hard earned cash for a service that you might not need.
The market for English language teachers across the world is simply huge. According to some estimates there are as many as 1.5 billion people learning English worldwide. In China alone there are thought to be up to 300 million people currently learning the language. With such an incredible number of students, it is no surprise that there are hundreds of thousands of teaching positions available every year. In fact, the number of vacancies far outweighs the number of teachers in some areas. Due to this strong demand, you should have little trouble finding a suitable position without having to go through an agency that charges a fee.
By paying for a job placement you can seriously limit the choices available to you. Not only will you have a limited say as to the country, town, and neighborhood where you end up living and working, you will also have to accept the salary provided and the hours you are expected to work. You could potentially find yourself with insufficient hours or salary to live comfortably, or be overworked and paid significantly less than your colleagues. Whether you plan to live overseas for just a few months, or see it as a long-term plan, working in an environment that isn't right for you could quickly turn your dream into a nightmare.
Another serious point to consider is do you want to work in a school that is happy to hire teachers without meeting them or even speaking to them first? If you would prefer to work in a school that only hires teachers of a professional standard, then you need to be able to choose which jobs you apply for. Applying for multiple positions in the area where you want to live will allow you the freedom to pick the specific position that is right for you. If you decide to pay for a placement you lose this freedom of choice.
As demand for ESL teachers is continually high in many parts of the world, there are several countries where you can realistically expect to find employment at any time of the year. However, some regions and individual countries have specific seasons when the majority of hiring is done. If you have particular areas where you want to work as an EFL teacher, it is important that you are aware of these seasons so you can plan your job hunting strategy effectively.
Language school season: year-round. Across much of Asia there is such high demand for English language instruction that private language schools often hire throughout the year. This is generally the case with all the most popular destinations in the region for teaching English abroad such as China, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.
Public schools: One of the biggest employers of teachers in the state-run sector is South Korea. Each year thousands of native-English speakers are hired through the EPIK Program to work in schools across the country. Interviews are conducted during the spring and early summer for positions starting in August and September, while some schools also recruit later in the year for positions starting in January, February or March. Another popular option is Japan's JET Program which requires applications to be filed by December 1st for positions starting in the autumn of the following year.
Main language school season: September/October. Secondary season: January. During these windows large numbers of teachers leave their positions across the continent, creating a huge demand for new employees. As many as half of all ESL teachers in Europe are estimated to leave their post during the summer months, making this a great time to be on the ground, ready to attend interviews for positions starting in September and October when the new school year begins.
Public schools: The number of opportunities available in the state-run sector is considerably lower in Europe than in Asia, although there are government programs in place in Spain and France. Applications for these programs need to be filed by March for positions starting in September. Exceptions: There are some countries in the region such as Turkey and Russia who tend to hire throughout the year rather than during specific seasons. If you are looking to work at a summer language camp, these positions are usually filled during the previous winter/spring.
Language school season: year-round. There are typically no specific seasons for hiring teachers in language schools across Middle Eastern countries.
Public schools: In countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar, recruitment for public schools (as well as private elementary/high schools, colleges and universities) takes place during the spring and early summer for positions starting in August and September. Some schools also recruit later in the year for January, February or March start dates.
Main language school season: June/July. Secondary season: January/February. As competition is often quite high for the best positions in Central America, it is recommended that you are in the country of your choice during the relevant season, ready to conduct interviews in person. Exceptions: In Costa Rica many schools conduct interviews during December for teaching positions starting the following January, while schools across Mexico generally hire at any time of the year due to a high demand for language instruction.
Main language school season: February/March. Secondary season: July/August. To ensure you have the best possible chance of securing a good position, you should arrange to be in the country of your choice during these hiring seasons as employers typically prefer to interview in person.
Due to the anonymous nature of the internet there are always a few unscrupulous characters looking to make easy money, and the world of ESL job recruitment is no exception. Although the overall quality of schools and the contracts they offer varies greatly, the truth is that most advertised jobs both good and bad are totally genuine. To avoid the small percentage of positions that are not what they seem, it is recommended that you always follow a few simple rules.
The single best defence against job scams is to ensure you thoroughly research the teaching market in your chosen destination. If you are fully aware of the typical salary, expected benefits, working hours, and normal visa requirements, you should have little trouble spotting potential scams. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true then it most probably is. Once you have found an advertised job that catches your eye there are a couple of simple checks you can do online. An internet search of the school name might quickly identify any well known scams via blacklists, blogs, and ESL articles. Often scammers will use the name of a well known school in their advert so you should also check the email address provided against the one advertised on the genuine school's website. A common trick is to use a similar address with a different domain, such as [email protected] instead of the genuine school's address - [email protected].
Although there are some genuine programs that require an upfront fee, you should be wary about sending money to an employer before you leave home. Some of the most common scams involve bogus employers requesting money upfront for plane tickets, visa fees, security deposits etc. Some employers will expect you to pay for your own airfare and then reimburse the money once you start work, but no genuine employer should ask for flight money upfront. A bit of research regarding the cost of visas in your host country will also help you to avoid being overcharged in this area.
As the jobs you are applying for are most likely in a different country, a face-to-face interview might be difficult. However, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices it is now possible to video chat in most situations. If a potential employer is not keen on a video interview or even a phone call it is wise to assume it is not a genuine job offer.
Another effective strategy when applying for teaching jobs is to ask to speak to a foreign teacher who is currently working at the school. If they refuse it should raise a few concerns. As well as putting your mind at ease regarding scams, speaking to a current employee should also give you a good picture of the general working conditions at the school and what to expect if you decide to take the job.
At ITTT we offer all course graduates extensive help with finding suitable teaching jobs in their country of choice. As the need for English language teachers is very strong in many countries worldwide, those who are serious about living and working overseas should have little trouble finding a teaching position that suits their plans. To help you through the process we provide a variety of services including:
- Extensive lists of potential employers in the countries of your choice
- Exclusive leads on unadvertised jobs
- Advice on constructing a high-quality CV or resume
- Advice on writing cover letters
- Assistance with planning trial lessons for job interviews
It is impossible to provide a figure for how many of our graduates find work after completing their course as there are many factors to consider. A significant number of our trainees are already employed as teachers before they start a course, while others are not looking to find work until a later date. All we can say is that the vast majority of our graduates who take advantage of our job support services go on to find work teaching English at home or abroad.
As soon as you begin your training course you will be in a position to start applying for jobs that require a TEFL certification. Some trainees are able to find work before they have even completed the course, while most should be able to secure employment within a few weeks of finishing their training.
The worldwide market for teaching English abroad covers dozens of countries and many types of employer. In some situations it is normal to complete the recruitment process before leaving home, including an interview conducted via Skype or phone. However, in many of the most popular destinations employers prefer to recruit their teachers via face-to-face interviews on the school premises. While each interviewer will have their own criteria for choosing the right candidate, there are a few simple steps you can follow to give yourself the best chance of securing the job.
It is said that it only takes seven seconds to form a first impression, so it is vitally important that you get the basics right to avoid blowing the interview before it has even got going. Rule number one is simple: don't be late. As obvious as it may seem, many potential positions have been lost due to basic timekeeping. On arrival, introduce yourself to the interviewer and don't forget to smile. Politeness can go a long way and a simple smile can demonstrate confidence, positivity, and an outgoing nature. All of these positive traits will be absorbed by the interviewer before you have even sat down. One of the major things the employer wants to know is 'are you serious about teaching and will you see out the length of the contract?' By being enthusiastic about the position, the school, and the country you are in, you will help to allay the employer's fears and hopefully land the job at the end of the interview process.
The word to remember here is professionalism. Regardless of the location, any job teaching English abroad should be taken seriously, particularly when it comes to dress. It might be a sweltering day outside, but turning up for an interview in shorts and t-shirt is almost certain to lose you the job. For men, a suit is ideal but a collared shirt with tie is also fine in most situations. For women, a business suit, smart dress, or knee-length skirt and blouse are recommended. Long hair should be tied back and tattoos and piercings discreetly covered.
As part of the interviewer's job is to gauge how you would perform in the classroom, it is important to consider your language carefully. Always speak slowly and clearly using the same language that you would use in front of your students. Don't forget that the interviewer will most likely be a non-native English speaker, so don't try to be too clever with your vocabulary. Although many teaching jobs will involve using only English in the classroom, learning a few basic words of the local language is another way of making a good impression during an interview. Don't overdo it, just a simple 'hello' and 'goodbye' in the native language of the interviewer is likely to be appreciated.
Brushing up on the local culture and customs before arrival could help to avoid committing a major faux pas during the interview. Many cultures have potential pitfalls surrounding handshakes, how to sit, hand gestures etc. Although minor issues are likely to be overlooked, showing you have made the effort to find out about the local customs will certainly be in your favor.
The employer will certainly want to form an impression of who you are as a person, so expect questions such as: What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? If the job is outside of your home country you can also expect some questions regarding how you will adapt to a new environment. Typical questions might include: Have you travelled abroad before? What cultural differences have you encountered on your travels and how did you cope with them? Why do you want to work in this school/country? This last question provides a great opportunity to make a good impression so don't be afraid to flatter the interviewer regarding their home country or place of work.
Your previous work history is certain to come up so you should be prepared to answer questions about your past responsibilities, what you have learned from each position and why you want to leave or have left your last job. If you are an experienced teacher these questions may include: What ages and language levels have you taught? What course books have you used in the past? Have you experience using teaching aids such as interactive whiteboards, video and DVDs etc? Other questions in this area will also be relevant to new teachers who have completed a TEFL certificate course. How would a one-to-one lesson differ from teaching a group? How would you approach a class that had mixed language levels? How would you deal with a disruptive student in the classroom? If you are also able to relate any of your answers to specific occasions in the classroom then your credibility will be greatly enhanced.
Due to the nature of international English teaching, every job interview will be different. They could be face-to-face, on the telephone or via Skype and can last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour or more. If it is a face-to-face interview you may also be expected to teach a trial lesson there and then so it is advisable to ask about this in advance and to ensure you are fully prepared. As with any job interview, if you look and act professional and are well prepared with solid answers to a wide range of typical questions, you have a good chance of landing that dream job.
Due to the huge number of English language training providers operating in countries all over the world, it is inevitable that there are some that are badly run. The good news is that by asking a few simple questions you should be able to avoid the jobs you don't want and greatly increase your chances of landing the right position to suit you. Questions you should ask the employer during an interview include:
- What tasks will I be expected to undertake outside of normal teaching hours? (You may be expected to write reports, attend staff meetings, consult with parents, produce lesson plans or undertake lunchtime duties etc. Some schools will pay for these extra responsibilities and some will not).
- What is teacher turnover like at the school? (This can be a good indication of how well teachers are treated. Although teachers do often change jobs, you should be wary if no one stays for more than one contract).
- What kind of classes will I be teaching? (This may require a few questions to get a full picture of what your classes will be like. What is the average class size? What age are the students? Is the curriculum set or will I have to prepare my own?).
- What is the payment schedule? (It is essential to know what the starting salary is and whether there is any set policy for pay increases. You also need to know how and when the salary is paid so you can ensure you have the funds to cover your stay until the first paycheck arrives).
- What teaching resources do you have? (Is there access to internet connected computers, printers and photocopiers? If so, are they free to use? Do the classrooms have interactive whiteboards, overhead projectors or plain whiteboards? Is there a budget to cover any extra materials you want to include in your lessons?).
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.
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.
The most common contract in European schools is for an academic year that generally runs from September to June. The great thing here is you will have a couple of months off during the summer break to travel or earn some extra cash working with private students or at a summer camp. Summer language camps are very popular across much of Europe and usually run for 4 to 8 weeks, providing a great opportunity for short term work. Three and six month contracts can also be found in some countries but these are less common than the usual full year contract. If you are keen on a short term deal you will need to do plenty of research to locate them.
Once again the most common contracts are for one year; this could either be a full twelve months or for an academic year. The academic year does vary considerably depending on the country and type of school so this could begin in January, May or September. Short term contracts are also available in smaller numbers across the region but you will probably need to be in the country to have a good chance of securing them.
Similar to Asia, most countries in this region prefer to offer one year contracts that either cover the school year or a full twelve months. Once again, the start of the school year does vary from school to school so you will need to do some research before you make any firm plans. Some less developed countries in the region also offer short term contracts and volunteer based work, which may be a good option for those looking for adventure and to get off the beaten path.
Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar offer some of the most attractive contracts to be found anywhere in the industry. Paid airfares, free housing, paid holidays and a tax free salary are just some of the benefits available, although you will probably need to sign for 12 months or even two years to land the most lucrative positions. Shorter contracts may also be available in some of the region's smaller countries.
Of the tens of thousands of ESL teachers working in countries all over the world, the vast majority do see out the length of their contract. However, there are always going to be some teachers who decide that the best course of action is to terminate their contract early. Whether it's due to an emergency at home, problems with work colleagues or poor working conditions, if you feel you have to leave you are perfectly at liberty to do so.
For teachers who are employed on an hourly contract there should be few consequences to worry about. This would apply to a large proportion of teachers across Latin America and Europe who are working without a work permit and are subsequently under no real obligation to their employer. However, for those who have signed a salaried contract that specifies pay and other benefits such as housing, airfares, and vacation pay, there are likely to be some consequences to think about before handing in your notice.
For many teachers working in countries across Asia and the Middle East, signing a written contract of one year or more that specifies salary and other benefits is standard practice. If you have to break your contract early you will not be eligible for return airfares or any other travel expenses that were specified, and if you leave within the first six months you might have to pay back the cost of your initial flight. Teachers on salaried contracts are also likely to be on a work visa that will be revoked once you quit your position. In this situation you generally only have a few days to leave the country so it is important to have your affairs in order before terminating your contract. In an ideal world it is best for both the teacher and the employer if work contracts are honored to the end, however, in reality, unforeseen circumstances can arise. If you feel you have no choice, being professional and providing your employer with as much notice as possible will generally lead to a smooth and trouble free exit.
As a result of government restrictions and official requirements for visa applications, there are a variety of countries where it is hard for teachers to find a job without having a 4-year university degree on their CV/resume. However, if you are able to be flexible and are willing to look for employment in areas where the demand is high and restrictions are less rigorous, TEFL qualified teachers without a degree can still have several great destinations to choose from.
To increase your chances of landing a position in the country of your choice, it is highly recommended that you first complete an internationally accredited TEFL certification course. Those who are TEFL qualified will find they have a big advantage over non-qualified teachers in most countries worldwide.
Cambodia is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia and there is no requirement for teachers to possess a degree. Salaries are modest when compared to some other countries in the region, but it is well worth considering if you are looking for an adventure that is slightly off the beaten track. Other countries with similar conditions include Vietnam and Indonesia.
Although the typical salary in this region can be small when compared to countries in Europe or Asia, the cost of living is generally very low and there are few restrictions on those without a university degree. The majority of positions are located in large cities, although some coastal resorts and other tourist areas might be an option. Countries that have a significant demand for teachers in this region include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. There are several other countries with a smaller yet growing demand such as Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay.
Although there are several countries such as France and Germany that do have requirements for teachers that include a 4-year university degree, there are still some good options for those who do not possess one. Spain and Italy are both very popular destinations that have no official requirements for degrees. Other good options include the Czech Republic, Turkey, and Russia.
Until quite recently the answer would have been yes, as schools in China generally don?t care whether their teachers have a degree or not, and this still hasn?t changed. What has changed is the government has tightened the rules on who is eligible for a Z (work) visa which is what every teacher needs to work legally in the country. The simple truth is that you now need a degree in order to get a Z visa, so the answer is NO, you can?t teach legally in China without a degree.
Teachers who don?t qualify for a Z (work) visa can enter the country on a different visa such as an L (tourist) visa or an M (business) visa. However, these do not allow you to work legally as a teacher and if you are caught you could face a hefty fine, deportation or even a stint in jail. Because of the huge demand for foreign English language teachers in China, recruiters and agencies go to great lengths to get teachers to come to the country whether they are legally allowed to work or not. If you do not have a degree and come across adverts online from agencies saying you can work on a tourist or business visa in China, ignore them because you will end up working illegally and taking a very big risk.
It is true that many schools across China will happily take on teachers without a degree because there are always so many vacant positions to fill and not enough teachers to go around. They do this on the assumption that getting caught is unlikely due to the huge number of schools the authorities have to cover. However, while some schools may get away with it, many do get caught in random raids by police looking for illegal workers. This scenario would be a very unpleasant way to end your Chinese adventure.
If you have your heart set on teaching English in China, there is an alternative way to do it if you don?t have a degree. By applying for an X (student) visa you are able to work part-time in an internship role. Although an internship doesn?t pay as well as a regular teaching job, you will still earn enough to live on and you will gain a huge amount of classroom experience that will set you up for higher paying jobs in the future. Unfortunately, the X (student) visa is only valid for six months, but you might be able to extend it once it runs out.
This is one of the most common questions asked by those who dream of living and working in Spain, and the answer is NO, you do not need a university degree to teach English in Spain. There is no legal requirement for English teachers to have a degree and demand is so high that most employers are also unconcerned about your degree status.
Most employers in Spain prefer to hire native English speakers as this is what local students are generally looking for. However, simply being a native speaker does not mean you make a good teacher, which is why employers also generally require their potential employees to possess a TEFL certificate. This applies to language schools and people looking to hire a private English tutor.
Native English speakers from within the EU (British and Irish) are free to live and work without restrictions in Spain. For other nationalities it is not quite so straightforward. Many Canadians and Australians are eligible for a working holiday visa which allows them to work for a set period of time. It is recommended that you check out the most up-to-date requirements of this option via the Spanish embassy in your home country.
Many people learning English in Spain are keen to learn from Americans as the accent is very popular with the younger generations in particular. Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult for Americans to get their hands on a work visa. Despite this, a large number of people still come to Spain on a US passport and work as English language teachers on nothing more than a tourist visa. While this is technically illegal, it is still commonplace and rarely causes any problems. One legitimate way for US passport holders to work in Spain is to obtain a student visa which allows you to work a certain number of hours a week while also studying Spanish.
Private language academies in the big cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Valencia are the main employers of teachers in Spain. However, there has been a growing shift towards private tutoring in recent years, which is particularly great news for Americans who are only able to get a tourist visa. As private tutoring is usually conducted in the student?s own home there is little chance of getting into trouble with the local authorities.