There are English teaching opportunities in just about every country worldwide, although the demand for teachers and access to jobs for foreign teachers is much greater in some countries than in others. Here’s how to find a TEFL job.
Where can I teach?
Requirements of employers vary from country to country and from school to school too, so although there may be many jobs advertised for a particular country, you won’t always match the profile they are looking for. Most employers in the EU, for example, only recruit EU citizens. Many schools in some Middle Eastern countries require a high level qualification and several years of teaching experience, and so will not recruit newly qualified teachers.
How do I find a job?
There are several ways you can do this:
- Apply for jobs listed on TEFL recruitment websites
- Go through a TEFL recruitment agency
- Look on expat websites and in newspapers in the country where you want to work
- Send your CV on spec to schools
- Travel to the country and visit schools door to door with your CV
- Teach privately
What’s possible depends on the country. We’ll talk here about these options in general terms, but for more specific information for each country please see our country guides.
A lot of language schools advertise vacancies directly on TEFL employment websites. The recruitment process is similar to that for any other job – you will need to send your CV and have an interview with the school’s owner, Director of Studies or Recruitment Coordinator. If the job is abroad the interview will probably be by telephone or Skype.
It may sound obvious, but make sure that your CV has no grammatical or spelling mistakes (if you are applying for a job teaching English, there are few things more likely to see your CV thrown into the “No” pile than bad grammar or spelling). Also make sure that your qualifications and any relevant experience are clearly visible – don’t make the employer sift through pages of irrelevant information to find your TEFL qualification on one line near the end. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from some employers – a lot of language schools only respond to applications that fit their requirements.
In this post we go through some of the common questions you may be asked during a TEFL job interview, as well as some questions you may want to ask the interviewer or a teacher currently at the school.
Many language schools, especially in English speaking countries and Western Europe, use other means of recruitment, including TEFL recruitment agencies (who often still advertise on TEFL websites), newspapers and local expat websites or magazines. Some find all the teachers they need just by relying on people going door to door in search of work, and so don’t need to advertise at all. For this reason, contacting schools directly with your CV is a good option (have a look at these lists of schools and recruitment agencies in different countries).
Travelling to a country first and looking for work when you are there has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, some schools are more likely to hire you if they have met and interviewed you face to face and you are already established in a place (as we said above, some schools rely entirely on teachers going door to door in search of work). On the other hand, there is a risk in spending a lot of time and money with no guarantee of finding a job, particularly if it is your first job and you have chosen a country where most schools require several years of experience.
Teaching privately (working for yourself rather than for a school) is a common way to supplement income or even to work full-time. Private work is usually found by word of mouth or by advertising locally so is easier once you’re established in a country.
What to look out for
The majority of private language schools are reputable businesses and, except for inevitable mishaps and inconveniences (broken photocopiers, cultural misunderstandings) most contracts go without a hitch. But of course, as in any other profession or industry, there are some employers out there who are not reputable, and who seek to take advantage of unsuspecting teachers with more serious consequences than a lack of paper to make photocopies. If you are unlucky enough to encounter one of these employers it can be too late by the time you find out that something is amiss, and quitting may leave you severely out of pocket.
So, the most important thing is to do your research before accepting any offer of employment. Ask the employer if you can talk to teachers working there at the moment, join TEFL forums, do an internet search for the name of the employer or language school.
There are some things to watch out for though with every job that you apply for. Any of these should set off alarm bells unless the employer can provide a very good reason for it:
- Are they willing to offer you a job without speaking to you first?
- Are they unprepared to put you in contact with current teachers?
- Are they expecting you to accept a job offer without seeing a contract?
- Are they asking you to send them money up front?
Show me the jobs!
Ready to look for a job? Have a look at the TEFL jobs page to get started.