Want to learn more about your TEFL career options in 2020 and beyond? Look no further! Online TEFL teacher, Clare hosted a live webinar on our Facebook page on 23rd June where she talked through the different types of TEFL jobs, how to apply for TEFL jobs, interviewing and resumes, demo lessons, getting qualified and much, much more…
Watch the recording here, or read on for for edited extracts.
Finding a TEFL job
When is the best time to apply for an online English teaching job?
A lot of online TEFL work is ongoing – there’s not an academic year in the same way as there is for face-to-face teaching so we are busy all year. I would start looking once you get close to completing your course.
Are there any periods in the year where there is no TEFL work available?
No! Schools in western countries often close for Christmas and over the summer but in other countries the schools are still open. In the UK, summer school English language teaching is huge. I have a lot of colleagues who teach in Europe between September and June and then come back to the UK for the summer to teach because there are so many summer schools here. That makes it a year-round job.
Should you make your CV / Resume readily available?
Yes, it needs to be up to date and readable and it needs to showcase all your skills. If you don’t have teaching experience, include transferable skills from previous roles, such as training staff, presenting, people skills, communication or time management. Don’t forget to add the assignments you completed for i-to-i and any materials that you have designed. You could also say what you enjoyed about the course. It all builds up a picture of how you work.
How easy is it to get a teaching job with a Level 5 TEFL but little or no experience?
Have a look at the job adverts that are out there as requirements can be different for different countries and educational providers. Our sister website Love TEFL has a good selection, especially now that some countries are starting to open up after Covid-19. Think about teaching online or volunteering if you want to practise your skills.
Is there enough online teaching work for everyone who’s training?
I think there are more jobs online now than there ever has been. Because of the changes this year, the desire and the need for online teaching has increased massively.
My friends and I want to find TEFL jobs together – is this possible?
Love TEFL has lots of adverts for both face-to-face and online positions and some of the jobs advertised have a lot more than one position available. September is the start of a new academic year so at the moment recruitment is pretty high and there is often another big intake in January. However, do bear in mind how different countries and different schools are handling the pandemic and re-opening.
Applying for TEFL jobs
How do you make yourself stand out when you’re going for a teaching position?
What about doing a video? You could present a piece of target language or vocabulary or teaching methodology. It only needs to be 5 or 6 minutes and they get to see how you would perform.
How can I be successful in TEFL interviews?
If you’re new to teaching, you could quote some of the assignments and lesson plans you have completed. Mention anything that you have really enjoyed or has been marked with a high grade. If you have made your own resources, showcase those. Mention how your transferable skills from previous work apply to teaching. If you have volunteered, mention that.
Be prepared for grammar questions – they may quiz you on how would you teach the second conditional, for example. Be ready as well for questions such as how you would deal with a student who does not do their homework or what you would do if a lesson does not go to plan. What plan B have you got?
What should I find out about a TEFL job?
Ask how long the contract is and how many teaching contact hours you will have per week. You don’t want to be teaching more than 20 to 25 contact hours because you have to prepare your lessons as well. Check if they help you with visas, accommodation, your airfare or medical. Have a look at what tax you might need to pay in that country, what holiday you might be entitled to. Think about class sizes – do they have 12 students or 30 students?
Very importantly, as a new teacher, find out what support they give you when you join their organisation. When I was teaching in Greece, the agency I got the job through put me in touch with other teachers. We had a little network, a community, which was really nice.
Is a degree necessary for TEFL?
You do not need a teaching degree as your TEFL qualification is good for teaching abroad. You may need a Bachelor’s degree to demonstrate your level of education but there are TEFL jobs that don’t require a degree. It depends on the institution and the country.
Are there any age restrictions on TEFL?
Of course not! English is for everyone. TEFL teachers can teach at any age although your age might affect whether you go abroad or whether you teach English online. The flexibility is there and that is the nice thing about it. You can teach adults, you can teach teenagers, you can even teach four and five year olds.
What do I need to get an online teaching job?
You need to do your 120 or 180 hour methodology course so you know how to plan lessons, what resources to use and how to manage your class. i-to-i also have online and one-to-one courses which can give you some background for this type of teaching.
If I have a degree and experience, do you still think a TEFL certificate is necessary?
Yes, as recruiters will want to see that you have studied some teaching. A long time ago, you could teach English anywhere to anyone with very little. Now recruiters recognise that having some basic grounding in teaching shows a healthy attitude. You know about the methodology. You know how to conduct a class and you can apply what you have learnt. There is no way I could have taught a class of kids in Greece without having studied it a little bit. I think it is very recommended and recruiters do prefer it.
What is the difference between i-to-i Level 5 and CELTA?
They are both a Level 5. The i-to-i is a shorter, online course whereas the CELTA is a four to five week face-to-face intensive course. It is more about the duration rather than the level. The i-to-i Level 5 has flexibility which you might find is more convenient.
Working hours and pay
Do you get paid more for online teaching?
You get paid the same or slightly less and you might be paid per lesson rather than per hour. Online lessons are often a lot shorter because of the fast pace of online communication. Talking for more than half an hour can be quite draining if it is a one-to-one.
Pay for online teaching ranges from about £8 to £20 an hour. If you work for a brand you’ll have everything ready-made for you but the pay rate might be lower. If you’re freelancing, look at what other people are charging to get a realistic idea of what prices you can charge.
Can you make enough money through online teaching to make a decent living?
It depends on what you class as a decent living! Experience can push up your hourly rate. You also could work for a couple of different platforms, which can build your skills. A lot of teachers specialise after about a year of teaching – most of my clients are exam students for English language exams such as IELTS and TOEFL as these bring in a good, consistent amount of teaching and money.
Do you earn more money per hour if you teach a group of students or an individual?
If you are freelancing, how you price your fees is at your discretion. I did have one school that paid more for one-to-one classes because they are quite intense and they do require you to do more planning. I have never had that since.
I want to teach English online rather than move abroad – is this a good move?
When you teach English online you can work with a brand that has a ready-made platform and materials and they find the students or you can do freelance work and have to promote yourself. I have been teaching online for just over three years. I used to have an hour’s commute to work on the train or the bus. It’s great to be able to just come downstairs to our office and start working.
Do the online platforms give you the materials to teach?
Yes, they usually have everything set up for you. You can have a good look at the materials before you teach and get to know them really well, which will give you more confidence.
How do you set up your online classroom?
You need a quiet room and you want to be comfortable because you can spend a few hours there each day. I’ve got a comfortable chair. I’ve got a regular desktop computer rather than a laptop, so my face and head are not angled down towards the screen. You want to look after your neck and spine and your posture. I don’t tend to wear earphones as I find them uncomfortable. I do have a microphone so I know my students can hear me.
What technology do you use to teach English online?
I have used Zoom for the last three or four years for online teaching. It is pretty simple. You can trial all the functions in Zoom on your own. I would recommend having a play at sharing your screen, using the whiteboard and the annotate button, using the breakout rooms and using the chat box because then you will understand a bit more about all the functions. It works really well for teaching English online.
What is your best tip to connect with online students?
Zoom has polls so you can ask questions like, ‘What is your favourite colour?’ The breakout rooms are really useful to split the groups to do speaking practice and share ideas. I can jump into the breakout rooms to see students’ level and connect with them. You can also use the chat box. Despite the geographical distance, there are ways to connect online.
I mostly teach one-to-one online so I have direct view of my students at home. In a face-to-face classroom, there could be 12 or 15 students. I get to know my students more personally than I might do in a group session. It is quite a unique experience and that is why I like it.
Finding online students
How do you find students to teach English online?
If you are you work for a school, they will do the recruitment and supply you with students. If you are freelancing you will need to recruit your own students. Social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, is one of the best ways to get your message out there – that is where I get a lot of work. You could get your own website and make some demo videos or demo podcasts to demonstrate your skills in teaching. You could do some free, taster lessons or offer 15 minutes of free consultation before you start teaching.
How do you feel about working for more than one agency?
I think it is good to work for a couple of different agencies or to have a split between working for brands and working some freelance, as it protects you. You might get paid at different times throughout the month or in different currencies.
Also think about your daily schedule. You need to think about who your audience is and where they are and their time zones. I am in the UK so in the mornings I can teach students in the Far East. I have got the UK and most of Europe all day and, towards the end of the day, the States and South America are live. When I was in Greece, I was teaching children who came to our face-to-face classes after their regular school. My classroom schedule started about four o’clock in the afternoon and finished about nine o’clock in the evening.
Is there more of a demand for teaching British English or American English?
It depends on the students. It really comes down to the different cultures or nationalities as well as the schools and syllabus that they plan to use. As I am from the UK, I tend to go with British English. A lot of our movies and boxsets are American so it is sometimes good to cover the differences.
What props do you use for TEFL?
If I am teaching face-to-face, I always have paper, pens, coloured pencils, dice and maybe a couple of realia things, such as coins. I always have a soft ball or cuddly toy that we can throw from person to person without harming anybody. When I went to Greece, I took music because you can use songs in English. I have lesson plans and materials stored in the cloud, for easy access.