What To Look For In A TEFL Contract

If you’ve decided to teach English abroad then a) we like you already and b) you’re going to have to do a bit of research (and soul searching!).

Before accepting the first teaching contract that lands on your plate, think long and hard about what you want to get out of your TEFL adventure. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself before signing on the dotted line and tips on what to look for in a TEFL contract:

What age group do you want to teach?
What kind of hours do you want to work?
What kind of environment do you want to work in?
How much teaching experience do you have?

A common question that we get asked at i-to-i is ‘How long is a TEFL contract’. Put simply, it really differs depending on where (and who) you want to teach. There are always variations in contracts, this depends on the school, the country, the contract etc. So, for a general idea I’ve tried to give a continent guide to TEFL contracts.

Year-long contracts are the most common length of TEFL contracts and are a popular option for gap year students. A year gives you time to get over the culture shock, perfect your teaching skills, boost your CV, get to know your class and (the great part) see how you’ve impacted their lives.

Western Europe – These are usually one academic year contracts (September-June). There are short-term contracts out there but these are more difficult to find, blink and you’ll miss them.

Asia – Short-term TEFL contracts are available in Asia, but you have to be on the ball. They come and go really quickly, so make a note of your favourite job sources and keep your eye on them. You should have your CV and cover letter ready to send whenever one comes up. Chances are you’ll have to be in the country you’re looking for work in if you want to get a short term contract. This might suit you or it might not, you’ll have to decide before you travel.

Africa – Positions in Africa tend to be volunteer positions and are therefore short.

South America – Academic year positions, it is therefore possible to find summer work during the summer period in countries such as Chile and Brazil, but once again these are snapped up very quickly.

Noticed a pattern? To get a short-term contract you’ll normally have to a) be in country b) be quick off the mark.

So, now that you know what the average length of a TEFL contract is, it’s time to find out where to teach!

Teach at Private Language Schools

These are one of the most popular teaching choices for the TEFL newbie. There are endless jobs advertised all over the world for work in private language schools.

Take an Internships

Fancy teaching in Thailand, Vietnam, Poland or China? We offer a variety of paid TEFL Internships which last between four and five and a half months. If you’re looking for a short-term contract this is the deal for you. This is a great option for inexperienced TEFLers as a reputable job, accommodation, wages and friends (!) are all organised for you. Plus, you’ll receive constant support whilst in country to help guide you through any difficulties you might encounter.

Teach at Universities

University teaching positions offer some of the best wages for experienced teachers. You will need to have lots of experience though, opportunities for University positions are often in the UAE.

Tutor or teach Business English

Calling all language enthusiasts. Get involved in the fastest growing TEFL market. Jobs for teaching Business English are plentiful so make sure to snap up Business English vacancies to profit from the excellent paid wages and NO you don’t need to be a Business expert. Where do you find these jobs? Huge market in Europe and Asia.

Be a Volunteer Teacher

Volunteering positions are a great way to get teaching experience. Positions for these jobs are normally located in Africa and South America.

Private Tuition

Private tuition is a great option as it allows you to work on your own terms either to supplement your existing salary (or fund that last-minute weekend break) or as a way of establishing yourself as a TEFL teacher.

Local adverts can help start building your customer base, but a permanent teaching job is often the best place to look for private students, and is infinitely more secure.

Summer Camps

Teaching English in summer camps is a great option if you want to use your TEFL knowledge for a brief period of time. These are available all over the world and often involve more hands-on methods of teaching through ways such as song, dance and theatre etc.

Finally read the contract very carefully and don’t be afraid to ask if anything is not clear. There is no such thing as a standard TEFL contract but here are some things that should be included:

• Working days and working hours (including contact teaching hours)
• Probationary / trial period?
• Start and end dates of the contract
• Salary and overtime (including when it is paid)
• Medical insurance (if relevant)
• Perks? Is accommodation included/discounted? Are flights reimbursed?

Now that you are all clued up on your TEFL contracts, what are you waiting for? It’s time to choose where you want to go!

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