When trying to find a job teaching English as a foreign language teacher, there are several important factors that will help you in your quest to find a job. In my experience – and this is based largely upon my time job hunting in South Korea and Turkey – important factors for finding a job are:
- English speaking ability: It goes without saying, but your ability to speak English will largely affect your employability. If you don’t speak excellent English, you are unlikely to get past the interview stage and for good reason – employers want staff who have a strong knowledge of the language that they will be teaching. You don’t have to be a native speaker, but I found that the less ‘non-native’ your accent sounds, the better your chances of finding a job.
- Passport: Although unreflective of your language abilities, many employers look favourably upon native English speakers in their schools. When I taught in Korea, it was impossible to be granted a visa if you didn’t have a passport from one of the seven countries classified as English speaking. I disagree with this rule for multiple reasons (there are more than seven countries that speak English / English ability is not guaranteed simply because someone grew up in an English speaking country / many non-natives have a very strong grasp of the language and a better grasp of the grammar due to learning the rules of the language), but don’t fret, because not all countries require their teachers to be native English speakers. Many of the English teachers I met in Turkey were from non-English speaking countries. However, you can’t (easily) change your passport, so try to work with what you have.
- Degree status: Irregardless of the discipline (I studied mathematics, entirely unrelated to English), many employers value when an applicant holds a degree – specifically a Bachelor’s degree / diploma from an accredited college or university. Holding a degree was necessary to obtain a visa to teach in Korea when I was there, but the regulations vary from country to country (and from year to year). As a degree typically takes three to four years to obtain, it is best to work with what you have when searching for a job.
- TEFL / TESOL Certification: TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification is becoming increasingly valuable when looking for a job as an English teacher and can also lead to higher salaries. Available online to anyone, obtaining TEFL / TESOL certification is probably the single easiest and most effective course of action that you can take in order to help you find a teaching job. A this is such a crucial and achievable issue for so many people, that I am devoting the majority of this article to an explanation of how TEFL / TESOL certification can help you find a job and help you as a teacher.
Getting TEFL / TESOL Certified
If you’ve read through this and decided that you want to get certified, great. I highly recommend that you take a course that is at least 100 hours as this is the minimum requested by most jobs that care about teaching certification. There are plenty of 20 hour TEFLs popping up all over the internet, but I wouldn’t recommend them as they aren’t going to cover a lot of material and they aren’t going to be a big boost to your job prospects (due to not reaching the 100 hour minimum threshold). Some people undertake teaching qualifications purely for the financial boost and increased job prospects that they offer, but if you truly want to be the best teacher that you can be, I recommend researching and committing to a course that is respectable and suitable to you.
OnTESOL offer a range of in-depth TEFL / TESOL courses, featuring extensive course content, professional tutor support, video tutorials, recorded classes, and free job placement assistance (for when you’ve completed your certification). They offer courses of varying lengths, as well as add-on modules that cover teaching young learners, business classes, and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). I recommend having a look through their courses and seeing which seems right for you.
Other than that, good luck on your quest to be an English teacher. Whether you are looking for a career break, a change in life direction, or a way to travel the world, I hope you find something that puts a smile on your face and helps you go to sleep at night.
I have a lot of content on my site related to teaching English overseas, most of which can be found either by using the search bar at the top of the page or by clicking hyperlinks within articles, but here are two pages that you might find particularly useful: