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Seven Tricks For Landing A Great Job Teaching ESL/EFL (English as A Second Language)

7 tricks for landing a GREAT job teaching English as a second language and keeping it.

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 life.

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 life.

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 quickly!

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!

About the Author:

Written by: Jon Cemenuk
Jon maintains the website at

04.12.2006. 08:19


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