How to find a TEFL position overseas

How to find a TEFL position overseas

No matter where you are in your studies, whether you are looking for your 1st or next job, here are some helpful suggestions to help you stand out from the crowd when you apply for a TEFL/TESOL position.

Finding a job overseas
There are many ways to find work. Jobs are advertised most often through the Internet, so a good place to start is with This is a great site for picking up work and probably the place where most work searches start out.

Now applying for jobs from overseas can yield fast results, or it can take ages. When we advertised for teachers for our school in Portugal in the mid 90’s, we received over 200 applications. That is a lot of CV and photos to go through. We only wanted two teachers, so we had a lot of ‘sorry, not on this occasion’ letters to write. Some employers won’t acknowledge your letter, they are simply too busy.

Therefore, as an employer the best advice I could give would be the following:

1. Include a photograph
The best ones are the passport sized and they are easily obtainable, or a jpeg to include on your CV if applying electronically. Remember that this is the first impression you are giving a prospective employer so smile in your photograph and dress smartly. Possibly your employer will look at over a hundred photos and applications for a few positions. Your smile might help you to stand out from the crowd.

2. A CV - one or two A4 pages only. Make prominent the relevant experience you have and your qualification. Some people like to head their CV with a few key points. Look at the following:

John Smith
24 Apple Drive,
London SW1 2DR
0207 555 4444

* a qualified EFL Teacher
* an effective and enthusiastic communicator
* experience in leading groups of young people
* fluent Spanish speaker, interested in travel and culture

3. The covering letter/email
This should be kept simple, be neatly hand-written or typed and no more than one page in length. Keep the letter to the point, fairly formal and upbeat. Needless to say, (but I’ll say it anyway) no spelling mistakes! There is more advice on this in our accredited TESOL courses. 

The job offer
If offered a position before you travel to the country, make sure to do the following:

  • Get a written contract of employment before travelling. If promises are made about travel reimbursement, get this in writing too.
  • Make sure that you satisfy the legal requirements for entry into another country (e.g. visas, length of stay, inoculations etc.).
  • Make sure you take enough money to last the first couple of months – job offers have been known to disappear occasionally so you may need a little to tie you over.
  • When travelling overseas, please refer to your government’s own advice on conditions in each country. The British Foreign Office website is a good resource for travel advice. Please follow the link here to the FCO website.

Do I need to speak the language?
Although it is not necessary to speak the language of your chosen country when you go to teach overseas, it will be helpful if you can learn a little before you go. This will help you to adjust both socially and culturally to the country where you are teaching. It will also broaden your appeal to potential employers, who will be more confident in offering you a greater range of classes (including lower level learner groups), where you might have to give basic instructions in their language. This is also the case where a school or institute has a lot of very young learners.

Once you are there, I would suggest that you do try to learn as much of the language as you can. Sometimes it is possible to arrange exchange lessons with a student who is learning English. You provide them with free English lessons - they provide you with basic lessons in their language. Some of the better schools will help to arrange this for you as it is in their interest that you stay and work for them.

I am already here – how can I find work?
Several jobs never get posted or advertised. Many EFL teachers therefore decide to travel overseas and then look for work.

Depending a little on where you go, there is a good case for simply going to the country of your choice and applying face to face. Apart from the obvious advantages of applying in this way, (it is quicker and less costly on stamps), good schools (and bad) will often have a reputation locally, allowing you the opportunity of doing the research before making a commitment. The British Council, Embassy Offices and International House schools in your country of choice should be able to point you in the right direction. Again there is more advice on this in our accredited TESOL courses in the section Getting your First Job.

Door to door can be the quickest way to find work. You’ll probably find that much of TEFL is based on word of mouth, as you speak to someone who knows of a school where they are looking for a teacher, or an individual who needs English lessons. This is exactly how I found my first job. I had gone to Mexico City for 6 months and I was looking to do some EFL teaching with my degree and distance learning TEFL certificate. My friend knew someone who was an English teacher and she gave me the name of a Language school which needed native speaker EFL teachers. Off I went and next day I was teaching – business English in Banamex, the National Bank of Mexico! By the end of the 1st month I had 20 hours a week, teaching all over the city in corporate offices. This grew to 30 hours by the end of the following month and I had more work than I could cope with. 

In addition to contacting private language schools when abroad, once you are there, Global English TESOL graduates have used a variety of methods to build up teaching work:

  • Using English language newspapers or bookshops to either place advertisements or respond to them.
  • Contacting local state and primary schools to act as a teaching assistant.
  • Handing out leaflets in the local area, advertising the teaching services they offer.
  • Contacting the Chamber of Commerce in the local area. This has worked on several occasions for our graduates in France, who have been successful in finding in-house company teaching.
  • Contacting the network of ‘Folk’ universities in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia for conversation classes.
  • Combining babysitting/child minding duties with English language teaching to children.
  • Starting their own businesses teaching English. Global English TESOL students have started training organisations in Mexico, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia, to name just a few places.

A final note
In some countries it is sensible to inform the consulate of your country that you are present and your intentions. They may also be able to help you with suggestions as to where to work or stay. Pay and conditions vary greatly overseas, depending on which country and institute you choose. Unless you prefer freelancing, always look for some kind of contract. It will give both you and the institution you are working for some kind of security.

If you are one of our Global English students, employers are looking to recruit you now. Why not visit our jobs pages today? You will also get the latest daily jobs piped into your student area courtesy of major TEFL Job website

Global English Certificate course students who want 1st hand information on how our past graduates have found work can now email our graduates directly. Our online community is growing all the time. To be part of it, why not enrol on a TESOL course today?  

If you haven’t joined our community on Facebook, you’re missing out on half the fun!  Our Facebook page is the perfect place to ask your TEFL questions and get answers directly from William. Join here now.

You can also try some of the links below as well, which all have positions for EFL teachers applying from abroad:

Best of luck, wherever you are travelling!

  • Author: William Bradridge
  • Date: 29/07/2011

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