20 August 2013

A TEFL (or Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course and subsequent teaching job is a great way to spend a few months or a year.

Not only can it provide the opportunity for travel, adventure and lifelong memories, but it’s also helpful in gaining teaching experience if you’re hoping to move on to complete a PGCE (or Postgraduate Certificate in Education).

Image: See TEFL


Once you’ve completed the TEFL course, either online, in the UK or out in your country of choice, the next step is finding a TEFL teaching job. Many people who have been through it say that finding a job is much easier than getting through the training itself, so don’t worry! Here are some tips to help you find a teaching job in Asia alongside ways of making yourself more appealing to potential employers.

1. Train with a company who will find a job for you

Some TEFL training companies have links with companies out in Asia who can place you in a school (not of your choosing) as soon as you’ve finished the course, so it’s plain sailing straight from training to a job. This might appeal to you if job hunting seems like too much of a daunting task.

2. Choose a TEFL course which will train you in your country of choice

When deciding which TEFL course to go for, bear in mind that employers prefer on-site certification courses, rather than those taken online. Although on-site training can be more expensive and has a stricter timetable than those online, it’s worth it if it means that any school in Asia will consider hiring you. Being out in Asia for training also helps you to adjust to the culture and meet new people before you start work.

3. Going out to Asia to look for jobs

Finding a job when you’re out in Asia is likely to be easier than conducting the search from home via the Internet. Once you’re in Asia:

  • You’ll be able to find schools which don’t advertise internationally or in the foreign press
  • You’ll hear of schools looking to hire teachers via local adverts, word of mouth and the contacts you make
  • Potential employers will be able to meet you in person for interviews.

This is another reason why an on-site TEFL course is a good option.

4. Look for a TEFL job online

If you do choose to search from home, the internet is an invaluable resource. There are many websites to choose from.

5. Make sure your CV is top notch

Take the time to write a cover letter specifically aimed at TEFL jobs and make sure that your enthusiasm and personality come across. Employers are looking out for these qualities just as much as academic qualifications, especially as teaching requires you to be upbeat, motivated and a brilliant communicator. If you’ve travelled in the past, however much or little, be sure to highlight this as it shows you’re independent and less likely to quit after a few weeks due to homesickness or culture shock!

6. You must have an undergraduate degree

Most countries in Asia won’t grant you a work visa unless you have a degree. If you’re serious about finding a TEFL job, you’ll probably have to get through Uni first...

If you don’t have a degree, don’t despair, there may still be options, but your choices may be more limited, so start your search by considering which countries you can legally work in as a TEFL teacher (hint: some areas in China may be a possibility, but the competition will be high)

7. Get the right amount of training

Make sure your TEFL training consists of over 100 hours, as any less makes it difficult to secure a job. If you want to be able to work in any school in Asia, it’s best to undertake around 120 hours of training.

8. Think about what constitutes a ‘fantastic’ job for YOU

Your definition of a ‘fantastic’ TEFL job might involve several different things, such as:

  • Having an authentic experience of the lifestyle and culture in your chosen country
  • Being in a remote area off the beaten track
  • Having a greater impact on the lives of the children you teach by going to a smaller school
  • Simply earning a lot of money so you can save up, either for more travelling or life back home

Think about what you’d like your job to bring and apply accordingly. Bear in mind, for example that salaries vary across Asia. Whilst Thailand doesn’t pay as much as South Korea, you can make your money stretch further there in more rural areas, where the cost of living can be lower. It all depends on the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for.

Make a checklist of what you want to get out of your job to help you find one that suits YOU.


This post was contributed by Robert Oakden who writes for ICAL TEFL. Robert is a traveller and a teacher who loves to see the world by helping children to learn English.