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How a TEFL Certificate Abroad Can Lead to a Teaching Job

A Step-by-Step Guide To Becoming an EFL Teacher Overseas

By Linda Dunsmore, Linda Goes East

 In-class TEFL training in Costa Rica with ITTT
In-class TEFL training in Costa Rica with ITTT.

Teaching English as a foreign language is one of the most exciting careers out there. You get to travel the world, work with incredible people, and explore a new culture. What’s not to love?

It comes as no surprise that such a dream job involves a lot of organizing and planning along the way. Consider that you will potentially be moving thousands of miles from your current home, so you should not take this lightly. Another factor to keep in mind is that the competition for the best jobs in the most popular regions has also increased. As a result, you must try to stand out from the crowd and show your future employer that you are the best possible candidate for the job.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to land a suitable teaching position at a renowned school overseas starting with a TEFL certificate.

Choose The Right TEFL Certificate Course

Because teaching English abroad has become such a popular career path for so many people of all ages, the quantity of TEFL and TESOL providers and even the variety of courses has swelled in recent years. With so many different TEFL certification courses out there, it can be a daunting task to figure out which is the best one for you.

However, it is important to understand that the best course for you might not necessarily be identical to the requirements of others or even your peers. So the first step in choosing the right TEFL certificate course is to understand what you need.

While in-class courses were preferred in the early days of ESL teaching, online courses have become a lot more common and are just as accepted as in-class courses today. However, there are still some employers who prefer to hire teachers who took an in-class TEFL training course.

Most schools abroad require at least 100 hours of TEFL training. That’s why you should choose a TEFL certification course meeting these standards, whether it is online or in-class.

Write Up Your TEFL Resume

The next step to getting a teaching job abroad is to create the appropriate resume. While a TEFL resume is not too different from a normal resume, you should be aware of a few requirements. For instance, a TEFL resume should always include a professional portrait photo. You might find the need for such a photo intimidating if resumes in your home country don't have such a prerequisite. However, particularly when hiring teachers from outside the country, TEFL employers want to see a photo of the job applicant as part of the resume.

Besides the photo, also be sure to include personal information such as your date of birth. This is also important for TEFL employers in case there are certain age limitations in your prospective host country regarding work visas.

Find Suitable Job Offers

Now that you’ve got your TEFL resume in hand, you are ready to apply for jobs. There are many different ways to you find a suitable job offer teaching English overseas, and you will quickly realize that the demand is extremely high. For you, this means that you are in a very fortunate position when seeking the best possible offers to secure that dream teaching job. It is absolutely recommended to look for jobs through different channels. There are countless online job boards where you can find promising jobs after a quick Google search. You simply pick a job that interests you and usually apply via email or their supplied online form.

Another great way to find a teaching job abroad is to work with recruiters. The great thing about recruitment agencies is that they know the local market and have cultivated tons of trusted connections over time. It is also worth noting that you, as the teacher, don’t have to pay for a recruiting service to find a job; rather the school pays the agency upon hiring you. You should understand very well how the process works, as there are some scam recruiters out there taking money from teachers under various guises. Don’t fall for such recruiters.

Another resource for your TEFL job search can be your TEFL provider. A lot of reliable TEFL certification providers offer job assistance. The best providers also tend to have a vast network of recruiters and schools worldwide, which means they have access to teaching positions that might not be posted on regular job boards online.

If you use a combination of these job-searching options, you will surely be successful and find your dream teaching job abroad.

Go on Plenty of Interviews

After applying for a couple of jobs, you will most likely quickly hear back from several schools who want to interview you. Most international interviews happen via phone or Skype. It is important to keep in mind that even though you are interviewing at home via video chat, it is still very important to look presentable and professional. Be sure to wear a suit or your best business attire to ensure the most positive visual impression.

Many schools will also ask you to present a mock lesson on camera, or record your performance and send it in before the interview. It is always a good idea to have a mock lesson of about 10 minutes prepared and ready. However, in most cases, the school will let you know before the interview if you should hold a mock lesson. You will also usually be provided with a lesson topic and the ages of the students.

Lastly, don’t forget to ask questions about the school. How many foreign teachers do they currently employ? Can you get in touch with them and ask them questions? Will there be curriculum provided for each class or do you need to create your own lessons? What about benefits?

You need to find out whether the school is a good match for you just as much as the school needs to see if you fit in their teaching environment.

Choose The Right School

Teach local students in Beijing with ITTT
Teach local students in Beijing and over 27 other locations worldwide with ITTT's in-class training.

Note your questions and the interviewer’s answers so you can review them after the interview. If you are offered the job, take another look at their responses and decide whether it is a good fit.

As mentioned above, you can get in touch with current foreign employees of the school and ask them about the working environment and conditions. If a school refuses to offer you any contact with its current teachers, that might suggest that the job is not a great choice.

Moving abroad to teach English isn’t an easy decision. Therefore, take your time and don’t rush into signing a teaching contract in a rush. It is also always a great idea to have others take a look at your teaching contract and even get legal assistance to make sure everything is in order before signing.

Start Your Adventure Abroad

Once you have decided on a job and signed your contract, you are ready to think about your new adventure abroad. What will the weather be like while you work there? Do you need any vaccinations or a health check for your visa? Will you need an international driver’s license?

Make a list of all the important things to do before heading abroad and don’t forget to hold a big Goodbye Party with all your friends before you leave!

Author Linda Dunsmoore
Photo credit Linda Dunsmore from Linda Goes East.
Linda Dunsmore has been living in Asia for over 6 years. She has taught English in Chian and South Korea, where she currently works as Marketing Manager for ITTT, a TEFL and TESOL organization.

She shares her experiences of living, teaching English and traveling around South Korea, China, and Asia on her website:

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