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10 Days to an English Teaching Job Abroad – Page 3

Step 7:  Searching for a job using local facilities

Start looking for a job. There are three basic methods you can use (though these are not the only ones).

Internet Search
Find an internet cafe or shop and visit www.eslcafe.com. This is the main web site for teaching jobs around the world. Scan the job listings and copy or print out any that sound promising.  Email a cover letter and your resume (from your email account) to each employer. It may be better to paste the resume into the body of the email rather than attach it as a file (many schools will not open attachments).  Send one personalized email to every address, as employers do not respond to applicants who copy in every email address they could get their hands on.

In the cover letter, tell the school that you are currently in the country and are interested in a position immediately. This will greatly increase your chances of a quick response. Keep it short!

Ask the school to look at your resume and request an interview. End the letter with your phone number and email address.

Check your emails often and respond to inquiries right away.

Buy local newspapers
Go to a newsagent (or coffee shop) and look through any English language or local newspapers. Sit down and look through the classifieds. These always contain advertisements for English teachers. Circle them and immediately call those that list phone numbers. Mention that you meet their requirements and that you are interested in a position. Arrange an interview. Email any contacts that could not be contacted by phone.  

Beware of unscrupulous agency ads, which are usually easy to spot by their vague offers.

Walk in
This can often be the most effective way of finding a teaching job. Spend a day or two visiting local private language schools. Put on your best business clothes, gather a stack of resumes, TEFL certificate copies, and reference letters. Almost all schools will ask for a recent photo when you apply, so make sure you have a supply of 12 or more. These are very cheap and easy to obtain locally.

Compile a list of 4 to 6 schools and visit them. This is by far the most effective way of job searching and it helps you to get comfortable talking to employers.  When visiting schools, greet the receptionist, ask to talk to someone about a teaching position and hand them a resume.  

Always smile and show enthusiasm. You may get an interview, even a job offer, on the spot. This happens more often than you would ever believe! But do not be discouraged if nothing happens right away. Walking into a school will help you grow more comfortable talking to employers.

Step 8: Preparing for your first interview

If you have done all of the above properly, the interviews and offers should begin rolling in.

When being interviewed, always dress smartly, but conservatively – even if you are applying for a temporary or casual post.  In fact, dress like a Sales Executive.  After all you are selling yourself!  

Smart appearance is especially important in Asia, where many employers will often judge you by your appearance, smile, and enthusiasm above qualifications or work experience.

If you arrive at the interview wearing jeans, sandals and a low cut top, or you look like you just fallen out of bed, you simply will not get the job.  So make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before.

Step 9:  Considering your offers

Consider any job offer you've received, but do not automatically accept the first job you are offered. Examine any contract carefully. Ask questions like:

  • How many hours a week will you teach?  Over 25 is too much.

  • Will they sponsor a work visa? A reputable school should!

  • Will they help you find an apartment? They should.

  • How much do they pay, and when and how do they pay?

Insist that the school provides you with further training on their own teaching methods and some peer observations. If possible, talk to other teachers at the school and confirm that they are treated well and paid on time. Sign the contract when you are satisfied – but only when you are satisfied. Ask if you can sit in on a class or two (try to get friendly with the teacher first).

Step 10:  Signing the contract

After checking it thoroughly and asking any questions you may have, sign the contract. Congratulations. You will be teaching English to grateful pupils in a fascinating country – as well as embarking on a fulfilling and life changing experience. Good luck!

One last tip: If you do not hold a BA degree or have limited teaching experience, it is strongly recommended that you apply only for part time teaching positions. The interview process is less formal and the schools rarely ask to see qualifications. You are also more likely to be offered a job on the spot. Once you prove yourself as a competent or enthusiastic teacher, you will soon be working full time.

Reality check

You have gone through the 10 steps to teaching abroad in 10 days. These will enable you to find a teaching job anywhere in the world. With careful planning, a little organization and a neat appearance, it is easy to find a job within ten days of arriving in a new country.  Follow these steps and your success is assured.

Do’s and Dont’s
The 10 steps in 10 days cover what you should do. We remind you again of the the things you shouldn't.

DON'T leave before you have obtained a TEFL Certificate, or have a plan to get one, either where you are now or even online. This is of paramount importance. Few people can stroll into a classroom and begin teaching without any prior training.  Any assumption that you can speak a language – therefore you can teach it, is a false one.

Even if you have had experience of teaching individual students or small groups, are you sure you can stand in front of a classroom of 20 or 30 pupils?  Can you manage the classroom, keep discipline, plan enough material for 4 x one-hour lessons per day? 

And how is your grammar?  In all likelihood, it will not half as good as many of the students you will be teaching. Students can spot an incompetent teacher a mile away, and when they do, their life can be hell.  I have seen it happen too many times.

DON'T bother contacting schools before leaving home. Written applications to the majority of schools in Asia or South America (assuming you could compile a list) are a waste of time as most have been let down too many times to even bother replying.

The pool of travelling teachers on the spot is appropriate to the unpredictable needs of the schools. Also, sending your Resume/CV to every school in the local Internet directory will most likely be fruitless.  Why?  Because that’s what everyone else does, and most ESL schools do not have the time or patience to go through 200 to 300 emails per day, knowing from experience that the teacher they select will probably not turn up.

Many ESL/EFL schools have lost count of the number of teachers who have let them down at the last minute. “Due to some family/personal problems I will not be able to take up my position…etc”  is the common one used!

So, the best way to find a teaching job is to get on a plane, fly to the country of your choice, and search once you get there. This can seem intimidating as many worry that they will arrive with a tight budget and not find any work.

DON’T assume your students are beginners. One of the biggest mistakes you could make would be to think that all ESL students are beginners. In most cases your students will have been learning English for a year or more.  Not all students will ask on your first day in class to ask you to explain the difference between the ‘present continuous’ and ‘past perfect’ tenses, but make sure you can explain an informed question. Again, you will learn how to teach grammar and how to handle difficult questions as part of your TEFL training.

DON’T rip off your students. Most foreign students are desperate to learn English - and it may be costing them or their parents a small fortune. It is not only important to the students that you are willing to teach them in return for the appropriate payment, it is vital for your own integrity.  Without integrity, you will have nothing of value as an outsider in a foreign country – many of them suffer enough corruption locally without having to import more from abroad.  Your TEFL certificate is recognised worldwide.  It gives you an elevated status.  Do not abuse it.

And finally, nervousness is normal, but DON’T be timid. You will inevitably have some butterflies in your stomach as you set off – but if you are a good teacher, are enthusiastic and genuinely care for your students, the 'world truly is your oyster'.

There is no country where students can be fooled about your motivations.  If you are unenthusiastic and are just there to pick up your pay cheque, they will soon spot it.  But they will be equally quick to recognise a good teacher who can make a difference to their education – and their lives.  The gratitude they will have for you will far exceed anything you could experience as a teacher back home.

Good luck with your world travels and your new career!