7 tricks for landing a GREAT job teaching English as a second language and
Have you dreamed of living in a foreign country, traveling
around the world, or meeting new people and experiencing new cultures?
Maybe you have, and thought that it was inaccessible or out
of reach. Let me tell you, it’s not!
Like you, I had a keen interest in international travel,
and wanted to get out of the USA.
I was a somewhat seasoned IT professional. Life was great,
until the bottom fell out of the IT Market in the 90’s. . . I realized that I
was competing against people from all around the world, in a market I wasn’t
really that interested in, and that if I wanted to stay ahead, it was going to
require continual study, certification and re-certification for the rest of my
So I decided to take off. Initially, I worked for a
management consulting company in India that outsourced Contact and Call centers
from the West. I did really well, and ended up being a vice president of that
company. Later, I taught English in China, India, and finally, in Thailand,
where I’ve stayed ever since.
Teaching English or ESL can be a very rewarding experience
for the right person. In many cultures, teachers are held in very high esteem,
and you’ll make a great salary, that will allow you to live a very comfortable
If you want to land that dream ESL Teaching jobs, there are
a few tips that will help you out immensely.
Look for jobs in the country where you want to teach.
It’s relatively easy to find jobs in China, Korea, Japan, etc. online, but you
never know what you’re getting into until you’re there. It’s a great idea to
go ahead and get a “lay of the land”, take a look at the school in question,
and meet and talk with some other ESL teachers who you will work with.
They’ll be able to give you lots of great information on the potential job
that will help you make a better decision.
In some countries, like Thailand
and many others, it’s difficult to get hired from outside of the country. So
just plan on a short vacation, that may turn into a long term stay, and be sure
to take enough money to return home, or to another country you’re interested in
if things don’t work out.
Dress to impress! You don’t need to show up for an
interview wearing a three piece suit, but you need to look like a teacher. A
nice, ironed/pressed shirt, a pair of slacks, and ALWAYS a tie should serve you well.
Bring copies of all of your qualifications with you to
an interview. You’ll need copies of your original Bachelors degree, any TEFL
or ESL teaching certifications you have, and in some countries like Korea,
you’ll need originals of your transcripts from university.
Get a ESL/TEFL teaching certificate! There are lots out
there. The most recognized is probably the CELTA, offered through Cambridge
University at many locations throughout the world. The CELTA is a four week
course with an observed teaching practicum. If you’re looking for the better
jobs in the EFL/ESL world, CELTA is definitely the way to go. There are lots
of other certificate programs that you can choose from, and even many online.
Just remember – If you’re interviewing against similarly skilled and
experienced candidates, the better your credentials are, the better your
chance of landing the position!
Emphasize ANY teaching and/or training experience that
you may have had on your resume. If you taught a Sunday school class at your
Church, have trained people at work, or have any relevant experience with
children or education and training, this is much more important than being the
A1 bean-counter of the year at your previous position.
Talk with other teachers and learn about their classroom
management style. This is a key factor, especially in teaching young
learners. You may bet the worlds most gifted grammarian, but if you can’t
lead a classroom of energetic 10 year olds, you’ll be lost, or burn out very
Try to learn all of the subtleties of the culture that
you can, and especially the ones which will affect your job of teaching ESL!
For instance, in many Asian cultures, children are VERY reluctant to tell you
the names of their parents, because the other students will call them by their
parents name. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for the students,
its something of an insult to their family and specifically their parents.
So, if you have an exercise in your course material where the student tells
their name, their favorite food, the names of their family members, etc. you
may want to adjust this to fit the specific culture you’re teaching in.
Once you begin teaching ESL, you’ll learn to rely on your
colleagues who are more experienced, and who are successful as ESL/EFL
teachers. With young learners, make classroom management your main priority
from the start, and you’ll reap the rewards of a great class later on!
If you’re interest in more information and articles about
teaching English as a second language or English as a foreign language, please
visit the public website of The World ESL Society at