Six Steps to Finding Your First TEFL Teaching Job


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Dreaming of a life less ordinary teaching English overseas... but don’t know how to make it happen? Well stop dreaming and start doing!

The Six Steps to Finding Your First Teaching Job will give you the lowdown on how to go from reading this to stepping into your very first classroom.

You can get lots more information about teaching abroad here:

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Six Steps to Finding Your First TEFL Teaching Job

  1. 1. The Six Steps to finding your first TEFL job LR R L 1
  2. 2. www.onlinetefl.com2
  3. 3. So you’ve heard all the greatthings about teaching Englishoverseas – the incrediblenew experiences, challengesand friends that are out therewaiting for you. But how do yougo from reading this to steppinginto your first classroom?All it takes is six easy steps… 3
  4. 4. 2 3 Make the Decision 4 5 6 Do Be sure that this is the right thing for you. Teaching is amazingly rewarding, but not for the faint-hearted! Make the decision to go and set a date to make it happen! R This may seem obvious but half-hearted attempts are doomed to failure, so make the decision and go for it! Decide where you want to go – different countries offer different salaries and experiences. Check out the TEFL jobs section at or chat to other TEFLers on Chalkboard ( chalkboard) to get an idea of where would suit you. Don’t L Think that living and working abroad will be the same as living at home. It rarely is. Be prepared for some culture shock and some very different ways of doing things. L R4
  5. 5. L R2 Get Some Training 35 6Do L Get the confidence to step into your first classroom as a teacher by doing a comprehensive TEFL course. Boost your earning potential by completing the industry standard of 120 hours of TEFL training or more. Take your TEFL course with an internationally-recognized and accredited provider. Make sure you do a course that suits your plans. Request a consultation with a TEFL expert to get advice on the right course for you:’t R Make it up as you go along in the classroom. Your students deserve more than that. Just take any old course! Sadly there are a lot of cowboy course providers out there, so check your certificate will be worth the paper it’s printed on before signing up. 5
  6. 6. 2 3 Find Your Dream Job4 5 6 Do Consider a paid teaching internship ( teaching-overseas). They’re a great option if it’s your first time teaching overseas, as you’ll get full training, a reputable five- month placement and 24/7 in-country support. L Let your course provider do the leg-work for you. Many have free job-placement services or relationships with schools overseas. Make the most of these! Use your mouse. Job sites like and www. list vacancies from schools all over the L world. It’s also worth joining TEFL communities like TEFL Chalkboard ( and Dave’s ESL Cafe ( to network with other teachers. Try looking for a job when you get there. Pavement-pounding and using the local English-language newspaper are both good places to start, but you will need guts, and a bit of a financial buffer in case your job hunt isn’t initially successful! Check your school out thoroughly before you apply. There are lots of sharks out there who seem unable to pay on time and love to over-work their teachers! Keep your expectations realistic when applying from your home country. Many schools experience lots of no-shows from teachers, so they may offer the same position to many R applicants just to be sure that one turns up at the beginning of term. R6
  7. 7. L LDon’t R R Automatically accept (or apply for) the first job that comes your way. Research the school thoroughly first. There are loads of jobs out there, so make sure you choose the right one for you. Think finding a job will be instant. While there is massive demand for TEFL teachers in some countries, finding work in the more popular destinations can take time. Sign your contract without checking it or feel pressured into signing your contract. Things like working hours, standard of accommodation, holidays and the amount of preparation you’ll need to do can make or break your experience abroad. 7
  8. 8. R 2 3 L 4 Apply and Sell Yourself 5 6 Do Make your application relevant. While you may not have teaching experience, you’ve probably got great interpersonal L and communication skills. Make the most of these and mention specific examples. Make your CV/resume concise – employers aren’t interested in that spelling contest you won when you were six. Include a cheerful, professional photograph – one that gives the school confidence that you are not going to walk into school hungover every day. Include details of which TEFL course you’ve studied. R Don’t Use holiday snaps or old passport photographs. You only have one chance so make it look professional. Use complicated language in your application. Remember that the person who’s reading it may not have English as their first language.8
  9. 9. 2 3 64 5 Impress Your Interviewer Do Be cheerful and polite. First impressions are the most R important and being cheerful is one of the most important L attributes of a successful teacher. Speak sloooowly and clearly. Many interviews are done by phone or Skype now, so you risk not being understood if you mumble. Be honest with the interviewer – they know what they are talking about. If you don’t know, say so, but also say that you are eager and willing to learn. Make sure you are well-presented at the interview. This is vital in more traditional countries, so pack at least one set of smart clothes, which aren’t too revealing. Show an interest in and knowledge of their country. It’ll give the interviewer confidence that you’re not going to do a runner when you get homesick. Be prepared to give a short practice lesson – this is a part of many face-to-face interviews. Don’t Turn up to an interview looking like you just got in from a night out. Give monosyllabic responses – it shows a lack of enthusiasm. L Accept the job there and then. You might want to consider other offers first. It’s also a good idea to speak to other teachers in the school or teachers who have taught there previously before accepting. Flick to the end of this guide for some interview questions you might be asked and some you might want to ask your interviewer. 9
  10. 10. 2 34 5 6 Get Out There R L Do Invest in a cheap netbook or take your laptop with you – you’ll find it invaluable for planning lessons and keeping in touch with friends and family back home. Take some smart clothes for teaching; we’re not talking suits and ties, but certainly smart casual and not too revealing. Teachers are very well-respected in most TEFL destinations, so it’s important to look presentable. Take out original certificates, including your TEFL certificate and degree certificate if you have one. Arrange the correct visas and work permits. Your school should help you with this, but be wary if they’re asking you to work on a tourist visa – doing so is often illegal and you could risk falling foul of the authorities. Take some teaching resources with you. Don’t worry about stuffing your suitcase with heavy books though – i-to-i has loads of resources which can be added to your online learning account. Visit teacher-kit for all the details. Learn as much of the local language as you can before stepping off the plane – it’s just simple courtesy to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ to your new boss in their language (even if you don’t understand the reply!) Don’t Step off the plane dressed in ripped jeans and a grubby R L t-shirt if you’re being picked up from the airport by your new employer. Expect everything to run like it does back home – sometimes you just have to be patient and go with the flow!10
  11. 11. A Few Interview QuestionsYou Might Be Asked1. Which levels do you prefer to teach?Schools generally want to hire flexible teachers who can covera range of language levels – this makes it much easier for them Rto timetable and cover classes. You need to ensure the schoolknows that you are aware of the fact that all language levels havetheir own unique and interesting challenges and, ideally, you arehappy to cover all.2. Do you prefer teaching adults or children?In most cases schools are looking for teachers who can coverall age groups. However, some specific roles are for a particularage group so you do need to bear this in mind.In general, teaching both adults and children is very enjoyableand both have different needs. Younger learners tend to needmore variety and a faster paced lesson whereas adults canremain focused for longer periods. However, it is important toremember that all learners do benefit from a variety of activities Rduring a lesson to maintain interest and to cater for all learningstyles. L3. Do you prefer to use text books or your own materials?Which text books have you used before? RSchools around the world vary on their approach to text books.Some like teachers to follow a set course through a text book,others prefer you to teach specific language points and use avariety of materials. There are some key text books in commonuse around the world. The Headway series is probably the mostpopular of these. Effective teaching will almost always meancombining your own materials and plans with those providedby text books. An interviewer will be looking for someone who’sable to do this. Your i-to-i TEFL course will give you guidance inhow to get the most from your text book. 11
  12. 12. 4. Have you ever taught, and do you know anything about, examination classes? There are a variety of core exams that students around the world study for. With young learners, the Starters, Movers and Flyers exams are becoming increasingly popular; with older learners TOEFL, TOEIC and IELTS are all major internationally recognized tests. Your course will cover different examinations and we would suggest that you do a little research on the different exams being used by the school that you are applying to. You should make it clear that even if you haven’t taught a particular exam course before that you would welcome the challenge and opportunity to add this to your range of skills. 5. How would you interest a group of teenagers in the R classroom? You need to combine different interests with a clear task focus, otherwise discipline and attention can become a problem. Topic based lessons about subjects that interest teenagers often work well as the content can be directly related to their own lives. However, if you are thinking of using music as an activity try to make sure it is music that appeals to the group rather than just to yourself! 6. How would you settle a group of lively (rowdy!) students at the beginning of the class? All teachers face a rowdy class from time to time and it’s usually little to do with you personally. However, be firm and continue with the lesson - shouting is not a good idea and tends to just make things worse. You should remember that most language R schools are businesses and they depend on student fees for their existence. In many cases, excluding a student may not be L an option. Keeping the pace of activities high and having some optional ‘warmer’ activities always prepared means that you can quickly do something different to break up the rowdiness and R then return to what you were teaching. Always ask the school what discipline procedures are in place and above all, when faced with a rowdy class, KEEP YOUR COOL.12
  13. 13. 7. Is this your first visit to____? How will you adjust to life inanother country?Many recruiters will be concerned that you may suffer fromculture shock/home-sickness and end up leaving the school/country. Be as honest as possible and don’t just say, “Oh I’msure it won’t be a problem”. If you have prepared properly foryour interview, the fact that you have researched the countryand can even identify some aspects of life there that people Lcommonly feel challenging will help to re-assure the school,even if this is your first time working overseas. Wherever possible Rcite examples from other travel experiences and how you have Lcoped in the past.L 13
  14. 14. Questions You May Want to Ask ★ Ask about levels, books used, ages, discipline structure etc. ★ How structured is the course/curriculum? How flexible is it? Is there much autonomy for the teacher in the classroom? ★ Ask about the length of the contract. This could be from five months to a full year. ★ How many contact hours does the contract ask for? There are a range of contact hours (face-to-face teaching time) expected, from around 15-20 in some establishments to over 35 in others. Remember that you will have to plan for lessons as well as teach the classes. ★ Ask about what sort of on-going training (INSET) and teacher development is provided. Good schools will often host weekly or fortnightly training and development sessions which is a great way to develop your skills and learn from others. ★ Ask about dress code, working hours, climate, the local life and what activities you could be involved in after-school hours. ★ Ask how large the school is, how many teachers there are and if there are any other English teachers. Have any English teachers been there longer than one year? ★ You should ask about payment in the interview (especially in a phone interview), including how much and how often you’ll get paid. ★ Ask to see the contract before you fully commit. This should be in English. You could always take it to the local consulate of that country if you need to. ★ You should also ask about the benefits, including time off, holidays and any bonuses to cover the cost of your flights. Accommodation is very important; ask whether it’s included in the deal, if not ask how best to find it (get contacts, web addresses etc) and how much it might cost. If it’s included check that it is furnished and ensure that details are spelt out in your contract.14
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