The following comments are from teachers who have taught, or are currently teaching English in Australia.
Australia is a kind of “frontier” place to visit, so if you want to come and teach English here, it makes sense from that point of view. But if you don’t have qualifications, forget it! It is, after all, an English-speaking country that is taking advantage of the many overseas students paying big money to come here and learn English, with hopes of continuing on to study and perhaps work here later. So many language schools have sprung up, along with even more TESOL courses on offer, producing quite a volume of teachers competing in the local market. You will need a first degree plus your TESOL or similar, as there are strictly regulated standards to teach here in Oz.
The pay is not so great either, so don’t come here for the money! You will make between $17AU per hour at level 1, to $30-40AU at the highest levels, which doesn’t compare favourably with countries in Europe, for example, or even places like South Korea.
The classes will be predominantly Asian, with a few Europeans and Brazilians to add to the cultural mix. This is not always an easy mix, either, since the Asians (mainly from South Korea currently) tend to be shy and reserved, not used to the communicative style of teaching, while the Europeans and South Americans are just the opposite. This means that the Asians may feel quite uncomfortable sometimes and blend into the background, and the more dominant cultures will sometimes become impatient with the class dynamics. It will require all the teacher’s skill to achieve a nice balance and classroom atmosphere.
The cost of living is fairly high here, with food quite expensive and accommodation also. You may find a single room in a shared house for $100AU per week if you’re lucky, but they are difficult to find and there is competition for them. A small flat or townhouse will cost anything from $200-300 per week, and a house even more.
For the adventurous, there is plenty on offer… camping, exploring the many islands, the wonderful beaches, scuba diving, surfing, tropical weather and blue skies nearly every day. There are also spiders, snakes, sharks and crocodiles, but they don’t bother most people, and are not as dangerous, generally, as the treacherous ocean currents, which claim plenty of tourist lives.
Hotels are reasonable, backpackers seem to have a lot of fun, and the locals are really friendly, relaxed and open, so if you do plan to come, line up some work before you get here, but be aware there are a few “shonky” schools that slip under the guidelines and could cause a nasty surprise… so check the school out carefully and make sure it adheres to the NEAS guidelines and standards. If you take that precaution, you will probably have the time of your life in good old Oz!
I have not worked in Australia as an ESL teacher recently but there are lots of language schools teaching to Asian, South American and European students. The schools are usually government approved and so are well set up and offer secure contracts. Some of the other schools are not so however, and so you have to take your chances. For most of the schools you will probably start as a relief teacher and then be given regular classes later. It’s a good way to start as you are not stuck in an unpleasant school, but you do need enough cash behind you to help you set yourself up and ride out the dry times. It’s easy to find shared housing, or even where you share a room if you want to save money. Tax will be deducted from your salary but you can make a tax claim later.
I worked in ESL primary, secondary and as an EFL teacher in a variety of universities in various Australian states over a 20 year period. I now work in the UAE in teacher education of English teachers. I left Australia because the profession is not highly valued and is extremely competitive. The money is poor in comparison to what I can earn in the UAE. Nevertheless, I have probably never worked as hard as I do now. On average I work an 11 hour day, but am compensated both financially and in terms of high job satisfaction levels. My advice would be to look for jobs in the Middle East and in particular the UAE.
I live and work as an EFL teacher in Australia. At the moment there is an oversupply of EFL teachers due to the strong Australian dollar and the growing popularity of the profession. I would be surprised if non-nationals would be given a visa to work as an EFL teacher at the moment.
I currently teach ESL in Australia. There is a shortage of teachers at the moment (March 2008) – we are in huge demand! Now’s a great time to take advantage of the booming industry! In regards to money – the going rate at the moment would be between $25 – $45 an hour. Most colleges don’t offer contracts, but the shortage of jobs means being a casual teacher is secure and the pay is much better! Like Andrew said previously, tax will be deducted from your salary but you can make a tax claim later. Schools are usually 4 or 5 days a week, 9am – 3pm. Most Colleges offer evening classes too, so it’s a great opportunity to teach and travel, or just teach and save!
After living and teaching in Asia for 15 years (mosly Tokyo), I returned to Australia to do research and am currently teaching at one of the best ‘language institutions’ in the southern hemisphere. If you are a ‘serious’ and well-respected teacher, there is serious money to be made here now. I’m currently earning $75 an hour in one job and $55 an hour in another job. That said, permanent positions are rare – or at least require a couple of years wait – but there is strong union represenation and very professional working conditions…and where else in the world can you make that kind of money after an early morning surf in a gorgeous ocean?
If you are looking for a relaxed lifestyle but you still want to live in a city, come to Perth in Western Australia. We have a great number of ESL schools which cater for international students from Korea, Japan, China, India, Europe and South America. We do have very strict laws for entry into Australia, so you will have to follow that up. However, once you have that sorted out, you will have no trouble finding work if you have a CELTA university degree. I am a local and I have been working for an international English school for the last 3 years and there is always work. As mentioned already, you will probably get relief work at first but it often converts into regular work.
I am in fact seeking advice. I came to Australia last year after being an English teacher in my home country for about six years. After I found out about the requirement of a TESOL qualification to teach English to International students in Australia, I signed up for an online certification. Can somebody please tell me if this is good enough to find a job in let’s say one of the private TAFEs?
I spent 2010 in Oz travelling round and found it very easy to find work in every city! The lowest wage was $35 p/h and highest $39. The cost of living is not as high as people seem to think (alcohol is expensive though) so I managed to save up a lot. Another bonus is that you can claim tax and superannuation back.
Problem is I am an Australian who has been teaching for over 20 years receiving some of the highest awards, accalades and student grades in Asia. Despite these tremendous results including runner ups and finalists in every CCTV English speaking Competition I am still unable to teach ESL in Australia because I lack a first degree. Nothing really accounts for experience and results so I will see my teaching days out supporting those who support me. Sure Australia is a nice place but some of the above remaks are not exactly accurate. Anonymous on 1 July 2011 is spot on as per the wages but Australian private colleges expect blood for dollars and how do you get a work visa without a contract?
Andy asked: How do you get a work visa without a contract?
Answer: get a working holiday visa. You can only work for 6 months a time though.