How to Find a Great TEFL Job

So you’re all done and dusted with the course and feeling very pleased with yourself, but it doesn’t stop there; it’s now time to find a TEFL job.  With English in demand all over the world, finding a great TEFL job can be tricky, simply because there’s so much choice.  Confused by your options?  There’s no need to worry any more – just follow our simple guide on how to find a great TEFL job!

Planning ahead

Whether you’re planning to TEFL for a few months or a few years, it’s hard to know whether you’ll be happy in a country until you’ve been there, so you may also want to do a little travelling before you decide where you want to settle down.

Going with a company

You’ll often find that your TEFL course provider will offer a free placement, or help with finding a TEFL job on completion.  This is a generally hassle-free option, but researching the school you will be teaching at, is still a good idea.  You can use the wonders of the internet to research the local area and culture; and travel aides such as Lonely Planet and Eye Witness guides can also give you some handy tips.  The organisation you’re going with should be able to give you information about the school and may also be able to give you contact details such as phone numbers and email addresses.  If you can, get hold of a phone number ask to speak to any western teachers currently in the school to get a better idea of what it’s like to work there.

You Could Try Going it Alone

If you’re arranging your own placement, the most important thing is to network.  Most schools depend on local advertising, spreading the word in the local and TEFL community, pre-established contacts and the internet for their recruitment.  The TEFL community is vast, language schools can be found all over the world, so the sooner you start sending out your CV and making contact, the better.  Employers are looking for people who have a genuine enthusiasm for teaching so make sure your fantastic, bubbly personality and your love of working with children come across in your application and your CV!  Speaking of your CV, it should be packed full of TEFL-related information, up to date references are essential and lots of experience always looks good.

Be tenacious with your applications; get back to schools you hear from and try and perhaps arrange a phone interview if you’re not keen on travelling to the school in the first instance.  Large international volunteer and language companies will often have offices in several countries so you may be able to talk to someone in person without having to get on a plane.  Establishing contact with the school before you confirm the position will help you to gather as much information as possible to then make an informed decision.

Travel first

If forward planning isn’t really your thing, then it’s possible to find a teaching position in country.  It can be risky as jobs aren’t always guaranteed as soon as you step off the plane but if you have enough funds to tide you over in the meantime then go for it!  Countries such as Thailand, Spain and Japan are able to recruit locally due not only to their popularity as a travel destination, but to generally good standards for English teachers.  Internet forums and getting into vocal contact with other teachers in country are good ways of researching the school initially.  Being in country is a big advantage as you meet with the school director and actually visit your prospective work place and make a decision based on experience  You will need to have your TEFL certificate and CV with you – we’re hoping you’ll already have your passport!  If you’re travelling to Europe from the UK then flights and accommodation won’t be too much of an issue but if you’re going further, or you’re not from the UK you’ll need to carefully consider your budget.

If your love of teaching is more important than the pennies you’ll be earning, then teaching off the beaten track is a rewarding and culturally enriching experience, it’ll also mean a lot less competition for places – places like Honduras and Guatemala are always in desperate need of English teachers!

You could teach in Government schools and Universities

Most teachers’ contracts at mainstream schools and colleges, as you’d expect, tend to be organised in advance, and they coincide with semesters.  You might not be paid very much, but some schools offer paid holidays, free accommodation, and even airfares.  While many government schools advertise directly, some countries have centralised government-funded schemes such as Jet in Japan and EPIK in Korea which allocate teachers to schools.

Or you could teach in Private schools

You may have already come across organisations such as EF (Education First), IH (International House), Embassy CES, Bell and Berlitz, that have branches everywhere.  You’ll find plenty of individual operations as well, some with quaint names like ‘Pumpkin School’ or ‘Boomerang Institute’.  The students at a private school could be children sent by their parents for extra English in the evenings, or adults learning English to get ahead in their career.  Private schools often can’t predict student numbers, which often means they want teachers already on the ground who can start immediately (which of course raises tricky visa issues).  Typically, they offer a higher hourly rate, but less security.


A few things to consider before setting off on your travels:

What will it be like to live in my chosen country?
Do my qualifications meet the standards of the country I’m going to?
Do I have all the correct documentation; visas, passport, certification?
Where will I be living?
How much are teachers paid on average in my chosen country and if I’m going with a company; how much will they contribute?
What sort of hours can I expect to be working?
What sort of materials will be at my disposal once I begin work?
What support will there be before and during the role?
How big is the school I will be teaching in, in actual size and class size?
What level of English do the students I will be teaching have?
How old will my average pupils be?
What will my duties be?

Have we missed anything off this checklist?  Tell us below!


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