Finding an English Teaching Job

Finding an English Teaching Job

There are few jobs nowadays that you know you can do anywhere in the world, and teaching English as a foreign language is one of them. It’s one of the most flexible jobs around, and means that you can work for a language school or on a freelance basis delivering both face-to-face and online classes. Unfortunately, the ELT (English Language Teaching) industry has gained somewhat of a bad reputation over the years, in part due to its unregulated nature and lack of professionalism from some school owners, but you shouldn’t let this put you off!

There is so much about teaching English which makes it a great and extremely rewarding job, the big question is how to make sure you find the best job for you and one which will help develop your teaching career. After having worked in the industry for many years, we have a pretty good idea of what you need to look out for when searching and applying for English teaching jobs around the world.

What qualifications do I need to find a job?

By far, the most widely accepted English teaching qualification is the Cambridge English CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). This qualification will open doors to jobs in the most reputable language schools in the world. Another widely accepted qualification is the Trinity CertTESOL, which is mainly offered by centres in the UK. Other online courses which claim to be related to TEFL (but at a vastly reduced price) are not worth the paper they’re written on, and you’ll soon find it hard to get a good job without a CELTA or CertTESOL.

If you’re looking for management jobs in the industry, then you’ll need to hold a Cambridge DELTA or Trinity DipTESOL qualification, which can be taken after having completed around 2 years of full-time teaching post-CELTA/CertTESOL.

Some language schools may also ask you to have a degree level qualification (in any subject) on top of your English Language Teaching qualification, but this very much depends on the school and the country.

Where can I work?

ELT qualifications will enable you to work in private institutions, whether they be private language schools, international schools or some private primary and secondary schools. The great thing about this industry is that you’ll find language schools in most cities across the globe, with English being the most widely used international language for both business and travel.

In English-speaking countries, you can expect to work in year-round or seasonal (mainly summer) language schools which host international students from around the world. In year-round schools, these students are often adults, and they stay in the host country for longer periods of time. Year-round schools offer General English classes as well as more specific courses for academic or professional purposes (EAP/ESP). The seasonal schools mainly host teenage students for study holidays for around 2-3 weeks and General English classes are taught. Teachers may be asked to stay on campus with the students during these seasonal schools and may have to take on other non-academic (pastoral) duties alongside teaching.

In non-English speaking countries, you’ll be working in language schools for children, teenagers or adults. There is also a big market for business English classes in non-English speaking countries, which can be delivered online or in person at the company.

What can I expect?

Being an ELT teacher requires you to be incredibly flexible, as you will be expected to teach a variety of ages and levels as part of your weekly timetable. You might well have to teach exam classes (usually Cambridge or Trinity), so it goes without saying that you’ll have to do some extra research when it comes to understanding the exams you will have to teach.

In most cases, you should also expect to receive some CPD (Continuing Professional Development) or in-service training in your place of work. If there is no mention of any training in the application process, then this might be a workplace to avoid.

You can also expect to find workmates from around the globe who may have taught in various countries. It’s common for English teachers to move around quite a bit, especially at the beginning of their careers, so you’ll be able to learn from their wealth of professional and life experience.

What questions should I ask at interview?

We always consider the interview process to be about potential employers assessing our suitability for the job, but it’s equally important for us to assess them. Therefore, it’s essential that you think about what your expectations are before the interview so you can prepare some questions in advance. Here are some ideas for the areas you might want to consider:

  • Location: Ask about whether you’ll be based in one location or have to move around. If you have to move around, ask about whether you can claim travel expenses for this.
  • Salary: Ask about your gross/net salary and what contributions are made to the government for tax purposes. Also ask about whether there is some kind of pay scale and how you can expect your salary to increase if you stay there for a number of years.
  • Tax: If you’re moving to a new country, you may also want to ask how the tax system works and what you have to do at the end of the tax year to ensure you’re paying the right amount.
  • Levels: It’s important for you to ask which levels you are going to be teaching and whether you are going to be provided with coursebooks for these.
  • Timetable: It’s a good idea to get an idea of the type of timetable you can expect to be working. You might come across schools that will offer you a split timetable (morning and afternoon/evening classes) and you’ll need to think about whether this is suitable for your personal situation. You will also need to ask what happens if a teacher’s hours are reduced or students drop out, you don’t want to be in a situation where your salary decreases unnecessarily.
  • Facilities: You should also ask about the facilities in the classroom you’ll be using; whether you’ll have an interactive whiteboard/projector etc.
  • Staff turnover: It might sound like a strange question to ask, but it’s wise to ask about the staff turnover they have each academic year. If the turnover is very high (over 50%), then you might want to ask why this is.
  • Accommodation: If you are moving to a new country or city, ask potential employers where most teachers live and what price you might pay for a room/apartment.
  • Professional development: As we mentioned before, it’s important to ask about teacher training as well as development prospects within the company.

Where do I look for a job?

So, you have your qualification, you know what to expect and also what questions to ask at interview, now all you need is to find potential jobs! There are many websites which post TEFL jobs around the world, but the three we’d recommend are TEFL.com, teflwork and ESL base. They all have search tools which allow you to set location and job type filters and upload your CV so you can apply for multiple jobs on their database.

You may have heard or been told that it’s a good idea to go directly into the school with your CV, but in our experience, this is not a good (or professional) way of approaching schools as they are often very busy and need time to consider your application before making contact with you.

Importantly, you mustn’t feel disheartened if you don’t hear back from a school- this might just mean that they have already filled the vacancy, or they feel you’re not quite suitable for the job. However, there are so many language schools out there that you’ve got plenty to choose from and will surely find something that will fulfil all of your English teaching dreams!

If you have any questions about finding work in the ELT industry, obtaining a CELTA qualification or other teacher training courses, then please let us know by using the contact function on this website. Happy job hunting!

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