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Top five tips for finding the perfect TEFL job

No other qualifications can open as many doors as the Trinity Cert TESOL or Cambridge CELTA. They allow you to find work in almost any country on earth, and teach a variety of types of classes in a huge range of environments. There are hundreds of schools in the UK, especially in London, and thousands more abroad.

With so much choice out there, it can be a little daunting for the newly qualified teacher, who just finished their TEFL course, when it comes to finding their first TEFL job. With that in mind, here are five top tips to get you started on your new TEFL career.

1. Know your options

There are several useful job websites for the Tefl industry. They allow you to search for jobs by a number of factors such as job title, country, keyword and salary. They are an excellent way to find a job abroad, or even just to get an idea of the current size of the industry in each part of the world.
The most useful websites are probably www.tefl.com, www.tefl.net, and www.eslcafe.com.

2. Look for positive signs

Some employers are better than others. You may have heard some off-putting horror stories, but these are easy to avoid if you know what to look for. When applying for jobs, pay attention to how gruelling the interview process is; how important is solid knowledge of methodology and language awareness? If they are concerned about the quality of the education their teachers can provide, it means they are likely to treat both their students and employees well. Ask about any forms of continued professional development training they may provide. A good school will offer lots of support in the form of teaching resources, observations, training workshops and seminars, a mentor-system, and a clear management structure.
In London and the UK, reputable schools will be accredited by organisations such as the British Council, English UK, and ISI.  Here is an  A-Z list of British Council-accredited UK schools.

3. Do your research before travelling

It can be very stressful relocating abroad, especially if you are not proficient in the local language. It's easy for even the most organised person to overlook something essential like setting up direct debits for taxes and health insurance, especially when the systems are very different from those at home. A good employer will be willing to help you get settled in, so ask about how they can help you during your application.

Salary is another consideration. Depending on where you're going salaries may look enticing or rather pitiful, but it's important to bear in mind the local cost of living. A good way to do this is to look up the average wage in the country you're moving to for comparison. Even better, try to get in touch with teachers working in the country to ask them how far the money will go - there are many forum sites on the internet for this.

4. Consider the work load

Many schools will expect you to be fully autonomous when it comes to lesson preparation and planning, while others may provide lesson plans for you. Bear in mind the amount of planning and preparation time you'll need when considering the contract. As a new teacher, you may need to plan for a couple of hours each day, and preparation time is usually unpaid.

30 one-hour lessons a week may not sound too much, but this is a lot if you have to plan for each of those hours separately! To cut down on the planning, you'll often be able to recycle lessons by teaching the same class several times with different students. Check this out during your application.

5. Be prepared for the interview.

There are certain things you can expect in a TEFL interview, and it’s important to be prepared. They’ll ask you about your experience on your TESOL or CELTA course, the range of class types and students you’ve taught, any particular methods you like to use, and may ask you to describe a successful lesson you’ve taught.

They may even give you a short grammar test. Don’t let this worry you if you’re still working on building your confidence with grammar. This is usually just for them to get an idea of the types of classes and levels you’d be best suited for, and will rarely mean that they will turn you down completely based on the results.

It’s important to be honest and positive in the interview – if they mention observations for example, this is a positive sign that they are concerned about their teachers’ quality and development, and should be welcomed as such.

More information:

By Chris Strawson

Chris Strawson has been a teacher and trainer for 10 years, working primarily in Japan and London. He has run dozens of teacher training courses for the Trinity Cert-TESOL, and is now working as a Course Tutor at the London School of English.

He has particular interests in second language acquisition and teaching pronunciation

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