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Finding Work

Types of employment

TEFL employment falls into two broad categories, freelance or contracted, and many teachers opt for the best of both worlds and combine the two. Freelancing is a great way to supplement the income from your regular job.

Freelance: Working for yourself offers financial rewards as students are prepared to pay more to be taught individually or in small groups, but often the disadvantages of freelancing outweigh the advantages. Finding enough work to support your lifestyle can be difficult and you have to be prepared to put in the leg work.

Freelancing offers no minimum wage and although you can set your own rates, there will often be another teacher who will undercut you. Be prepared to work irregular and unsociable hours and remember that you may have to travel long distances between classes.

Although you might look at yourself as a teacher, you must also approach freelance work in a professional and business-like manner. Think carefully about how you price your services and how you will deal with difficult clients or cancelled lessons.

Teaching Online: Opportunities exist to teach online using VoiP (such as Skype) or Virtual classrooms such as WiZiQ. Languages Out There based in the UK have courses off the peg and advice on how to get up and running teaching these courses online.

Employed: If you are new to a country and have not yet developed a network of potential private students, then taking a contracted position with a local language school is your best way forward. Working for a local language school will guarantee you a regular income as well as access to teaching resources.


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Types of employment

Finding a job

The importance of a good CV

Your TEFL job interview


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It will also help you build a network of friends and support as you adjust to your new environment. Many schools will assist with visa applications and help arrange accommodation and better schools will offer in-house training opportunities and have social programmes for their staff and students.

Many teachers take contract work with different schools when they first arrive in a new location. Some schools are reluctant to offer a full contract to teachers until they are sure they are dependable. At the same time, working for different schools gives access to a variety of resources and lets you work out which are the better employers.

Finding a job

Some people choose to find work before travelling to their destination and remove the uncertainty and worries of travelling abroad without a job. Others prefer the excitement of turning up in a new city and just seeing what happens.

Finding a job from home lets you sort out visas and other paperwork before you leave whilst searching for work when you arrive gives you the chance to look around local schools, meet employers and talk to other teachers before you commit yourself.

Before you go -

  • Publications: The main publications advertising TEFL vacancies are The Educational Guardian on Tuesday and the Times Educational Supplement on a Thursday. EFL related publications include the EL Gazette which provides monthly information on industry related topics including work. All these publications have accompanying websites
  • Internet: Schools increasingly use the internet to advertise their vacancies and a quick search on major search engines will produce a list of job boards. A large number of EFL directories also include job boards as well as offer advice about individual schools and locations
  • Recruitment Agencies: There are a growing number of agencies who place teachers around the world and this potentially offers a valuable service. However, these often tend to be for more experienced teachers and there have been reports of agencies recruiting for low quality schools. If you choose to follow this path then caution is advised
  • Major Language Schools: Many of the larger language schools have branches all over the world and recruit year round. These schools offer the chance to change locations after a couple of years and provide good career development opportunities for teachers who remain with the company

When you arrive -

Schools in certain countries tend to hire from their local community. This is largely because advertising costs are prohibitive or just that there are many local teachers to choose from.

  • Visit Schools: Lists of local language schools can be found on the internet or from the local telephone directory. Dress professionally and visit schools with a copy of your CV, your TESOL certificate, a copy of your University degree and copies of your passport and visa
  • If possible, ring before hand and arrange an with the Director of Studies or School Manager. Leave a copy of your CV and contact details and say that you are available for work at short notice
  • Network with other teachers: A great way to find work is through the grape vine. Take the opportunity to socialise with fellow teachers and let it be known you are available for work. Teachers often socialise together and it is not hard to find the local ex-pat community. Bookshops, cafes and bars often have notice boards advertising jobs, accommodation and social meetings
  • Taking your TESOL course in the country you want to work in puts you in the perfect position find work after your course. Many of our trainees arrange interviews and find jobs before they graduate. Having the support of our centre staff and your course peers helps provide a ready made network of contacts as you launch your English teaching adventure.

The importance of a good CV

As with apply for any type of work, your CV allows you to sell yourself to potential employers. Your CV and accompanying cover letter should be professional and written with care. Make sure you highlight any relevant experience you have had and point out your strengths in relation to the position you are applying for.

Here are some guidelines for writing a CV for English teaching positions:

  • Your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages, and additional page for cover letters is acceptable
  • Research the typical CV format for the country you want to work in
  • Tailor your CV to each job you apply for - make it relevant to the position
  • Keep the language clear and concise as it may be read by non-native speakers
  • Highlight any relevant teaching experience you have had and include related skills
  • List the foreign languages you speak especially if you speak the local language
  • Your cover letter is an additional opportunity to sell yourself. Be enthusiastic
  • Proof-read both documents and check for grammatical and spelling errors
  • Make sure you include your local contact details

Your TEFL job interview

Even if you are a newly qualified teacher, your interview will be your chance to demonstrate your aptitude for teaching and the people skills you have. Highlight any relevant experience you have and discuss what you gained from your TESOL course if you are newly qualified.

As with all interviews, first impressions count; dress appropriately. Unless working in a professional business environment, English teachers are not normally required to wear a suit or tie, but a smart appearance will be expected.

What you should wear to your interview will depend on the local culture, for example, Asian countries put an emphasis on formality and prefer a conservative, respectable look. Your local climate might be hot but this is not an excuse to turn up in shorts and t-shirt.

Remember to take an extra copy of your CV to interviews and your original TESOL certificate and university degree. Many unqualified teachers use fake qualifications so employers will want to see your original copies.

Many schools will ask grammar related questions so it is a good idea to brush up on these as well as familiarise yourself with course books and other materials to discuss during the interview. It is not unusual to be asked to give an example lesson during an interview although you will normally be warned of this before you arrive. Make sure you are well prepared.

When discussing pay and conditions try to get as much information as possible. If asked how long you intend to stay for most employers will expect a minimum commitment of an academic year.

Here are some important questions to ask during your interview:

  1. How many hours per week will I be required to teach?
  2. What course books does the school use?
  3. Does the school have a resource centre I can use?
  4. What additional resources are available?
  5. Is there a staff-room for teachers to prepare in?
  6. Does the school have a photocopier I can use?
  7. How many different classes will I have to prepare for?
  8. How big are the classes and what age groups will I be teaching?
  9. Are there any additional duties that are not included in my salary?
  10. What benefits do you provide to teachers?
  11. Do you provide assistance with finding accommodation?
  12. What are the visa requirements for the job?
  13. Do you provide assistance in getting visas?


The terms of your contract will vary depending on the type and location of the school. Schools in some countries will provide transport and accommodation as a standard part of their employment packages whilst other will expect you to work cash-in-hand. Even if you are not offered a formal contract at least try to get written confirmation of you position and pay.

Here are some guidelines of what contracts should contain:

  • The name and address of your employer and location of classes
  • Details of your position and the duties this covers
  • The number of hours and times of days you will be expected to teach
  • The amount of your salary and when you will be paid
  • The length of your contract and entitlement to holidays/holiday pay
  • Tax and National Insurance contribution deducted from your salary
  • Provisions of health care and sick pay
  • Details of bonus/travel/accommodation payments made by the school
  • Length of notice

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