TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language


Worldwide there are probably more than a 100.000 TEFL teachers and plenty of opportunities, also for your first scary teaching steps.

Where do you start and how does it work?

You can do a TEFL Course in your own country, online, or through some organization who are promissing a placement abroad, even some have offers for intern course and practise. There are plenty of such organizations and the prices for it vary a lot. Depending on the country, the organization and the length of the course. Usually it is a 120 hr TEFL course. Out of own experience I can say that it can be helpful to take the course with practical hours too. If you don’t have any experience with teaching yet, the extra hours in a class to practice, during the course will be of great help later on when you start as a teacher. Click here for a good TEFL course

I did the online 120 hrs course. Of course you learn a lot in the course, but the exams are made in a way that you basically can’t fail. The questions aren’t hard and you get 3 or more times the opportunity to pass it. So you can fail a couple of times. In the mean time you can write down which answers were wrong, so the next round you only need to change those wrong answers from the first round. All in all, online courses are made not to fail. You learn something, sure, but the real deal is far away from it.

There are plenty of websites where all the vacancies are posted.

eslcafe.com is one of the biggest and another one is ajarnrecruit.com. From Asia to the middle east to South America. Jobs are all over the world available when you have a TEFL certificate or another degree for teaching. Still it can be tricky to find one. First of all, you usually need a bachelor degree at least to teach. None of the online courses offered mentions that. So you can get an online certificate, but once you search for a  job, you quickly realize how hard it will be to find one. The reason why this is a demand is that in all countries you need to have a bachelor the least in order to be able to apply for a work permit and work visa.

Now, there are enough organizations that offer jobs without visa and permit. You are responsible for the taxes, you get paid in black, you have nothing really to fall back on when the authorities catch u for working illegally. Still it can be a risk worth taking. It gives experience and it makes usually enough money for a living, even for saving. So you can see and travel the world while teaching here and there. Many organizations and schools offer accommodation and school food with the contract, but usually the official teaching jobs, means with permit and visa.

Teaching in a legal way

You need to know that for teaching in a legal way, you need the following: your degrees legalized/stamped by your government. Cheating won’t be possible. Keep now in mind that many countries’ embassies don’t do the stamping. You might need to get it done in your home country. Beside the stamped degrees, you will be asked for a completed medical check. See pic how such a form looks and what is on it that needs to be checked. The form shown here is for Chinese authorities. So, be prepared.

A third thing that you need when start teaching, is a code of good conduct from your government. Usually from the justice department in your home country. It proves that you don’t have a criminal record. Those are the three things you need to handover in some countries in order to be able to teach legally and to get the visa and permit. This might give you an idea about why there are many illegal jobs too.

Where to teach? Depending on above i would say.

The options are plenty when you can handover all documents and when you are a native speaker. In all other cases, the options are fewer. There are many non native speakers with TEFL certificates working as teachers. In countries like Japan and Korea you will have no chance as a non native speaker. The same goes for the middle east, whom are paying all a lot, which means easily between $2500 and $4500 a month. China and Thailand can be very strict with following rules, so it might be hard meet the requirements and it’s difficult to find the illegal teaching jobs there. In China you can teach through Buckland organisation or Rockies, to name a few.

In Vietnam it’s easy to find a teaching job. Only in HCM city there are hundreds of English schools. ILA, AMA, VUS, etc. have schools all over the city. Thousands and thousands of foreign teachers and it’s easy with tourist visa’s for a full year, when you do some border runs every three months. In the Philippines they speak good English and they have teachers themselves. Actually, you’ll find a lot of them in Vietnam, Thailand, etc too, as they’re relatively cheaper than westerners. In India they speak English well themselves. Nepal has teaching jobs, but only as a volunteer. Nepali people want to get, not give. Related to this statement you can see why in Nepal you actually need to pay a lot of money to be a volunteer teacher. Cambodia is easy with visas and to find teaching jobs.

First steps in teaching are not always easy

Teaching can be a horrifying experience in some countries and organizations. Read the related post on this blog about teaching in HCM city, Vietnam. I know first hand stories from TEFL teachers about organizations not paying on time or not paying at all. The lack of materials can be hard, although your TEFL course covered this issue. The local teacher or class manager can be a real pain in the arse. The provided food or accommodation can be horrific. The students can be your headache. An example contract can be seen in the teaching in HCM post too.

Don’t underestimate a teaching job, but when you are able to adapt and adjust, know enough games to get your students active and involved and you are able to handle different cultures, the teaching world is widely open for you.

Teach English Abroad


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