TEFL Basics

Updated 31 December 2014  

Ready to Go?
Teaching abroad is a wonderful experience, but it’s not for everyone.  Find out if it’s something you’d enjoy by reading, ready to teach abroad? and the young person's guide to moving abroad. Learn about the top 10 myths about TEFL teachers. English is the global language and that's why TEFL is becoming a growing market. Being a native speaker, having a degree, and a TEFL cert will help you get a job. If you're going to go abroad you should keep in touch with your embassy.

If you’re not a native speaker, but speak English well, there are still jobs out there for you. Read non-native speaker teachers to find out more.

If you want to teach abroad you usually need a degree, however, even if you don’t have a degree it’s still possible to teach abroad.  Take a look at the article no degree.

Having a TEFL certificate will help, though it’s not necessary in order to get a visa. There are lots of TEFL courses, such as brand name, generic, and online ones out there, try reading choosing a TEFL course and how to choose the right course for you. You should also take a look at online vs on-site courses. Be sure that you don't fall victim to a TEFL scam and find out exactly what guaranteed job placement means. Demystifying the TEFL will give you more info about TEFL courses. You should also consider whether to do a TEFL course at home vs. abroad. If you don’t have a TEFL cert, there are other ways to learn about teaching; take a look at no TEFL cert.

If you don't have teaching experience it will be harder to get a job. Here are some tips for getting a TEFL job without teaching experience. You might also be interested in hot topics about teaching, cool links to neat websites, and quick tips to help you become a better teacher.

Getting a Job
When you start apply for jobs you’ll need to have a CV / resume as well as a cover letter.  Some places might also require a portfolio, with basic items such as your CV as well as other items, such as lesson plans. Here are some tips on getting your first TEFL job. When applying for jobs go for quality, not quantity of job applications. Here are 5 tips for snail mailing a job app and tips for emailing an application. Reference letters are important though you may be asked to write your own. Don't forget about criminal background checks and apostillisations as well as authenticating your degree. Make sure you have all that paperwork taken care of. If you're having trouble getting a job see if you can eliminate some of the hindrances to getting hired and find out what employers are looking for.

You have a couple options available when looking for jobs: you can networking (here are some tips to writing a networking email that gets results), using your personal learning network (PLN), try cold calling or apply directly to jobs that you can find at the job search links. You'll have to decide whether you want people to recommend you for jobs. Once you’ve got those taken care of you’ll have to start thinking about preparing for the interview and possibly a demo lesson. Be sure you find out the answers to these FAQs at the interview. Some schools are starting to interview via Skype. If you need to do a demo lesson, lesson planning links will help you wow your potential employers.

Here's some info on when you should hear back from an interview. Whether you decide to accept the job or turn it down, job offers accept or reject? has some useful tips on etiquette and negotiation. Once you find a good job take a look at before you sign a contract to learn some important questions you should ask your potential employer. Sometimes you may want to apply for a job that you previously turned down. That's fine. Teachers need to look out for #1. If you decide not to work at a school you can usually get out of a contract even if you've signed

When you get a job offer you'll have to decide whether to accept or not. Here are 6 items that make a job ideal. Remember to read the fine print if your school wants you to sign a confidentiality agreement. Once you’ve accepted a job offer it’s time to get packing, read packing and getting rid of stuff to find out what you should take with you and what you should leave behind. What to do first has some tips on what you should do once you arrive in country and how to meet other expats.

Stereotyping and Discrimination
Unfortunately discrimination and stereotyping is rampant in TEFL. Find out if your age works against you by reading the age issue: too old? and the age issue: too young? If you’re not travelling alone, you might want to check out teaching as a couple and bringing your partner. If you’ve got kids, check out bringing your children, single parents, and kids at international schools. You might have to deal with getting blamed for everything simply because you're the foreigner. LGBTQIA teachers may have a difficult time depending on what country they go to.

Renewing a Contract or Moving On
Renewal is often an issue. Some places have caps on how long you can work there. Your school may ask you to sign a letter of intent if you're going to renew. There are things you can do if your boss won't renew you. Other places have a no-compete policy for teachers moving on to a different school. Even if your contract is up you still may want to hand in a letter of resignation. Some people have to quit. Here's how to go about quitting a TEFL job.

During vacation you might want to travel. Find out if you need to tell your boss about an upcoming vacation. There are places out there where you can stay for free either by teaching or doing a home exchange. Here are more tips on how to travel cheaply.

Some people experience job burnout after a while.  Even if that doesn’t happen to you, all good things must come to an end and the time will come when you have to leave your job and ask for a reference letter. Some people move back home and have to figure out what to do with all the stuff they've accumulated. Getting your first job might be tough, but after a while you’ll learn more tips and tricks and it’ll be time to move on to your next one.  Best of luck!

Learning about TEFLing
If you’re new to teaching then you should check out learning about TEFL  and TEFL dos and don'ts for  some great ideas. You should also know some of the common TEFL acronyms. Don’t forget to also read job search info which has a good summary of the things you should keep in mind when looking for a job. While many places are good, there are also some bad schools out there.

Here are some pros and cons to having your own classrooma teachers' office, a shared office, and a private office.

Where Should You Go?
With so many countries out there it’s hard to decide where to go.  The where to go page has info about teaching in over 60 countries around the world. Each country has something different to offer.  Take a look at the article best countries to find out where some of the most popular teaching destinations are. The best TEFL jobs in the world has over 400 jobs in 50 countries. Europe for non-EU citizens is a great place to start if you want to head to Europe.  If you’re looking to move up, try reading the article about international schools.

Short on Time?
While most teaching positions are for 10 to 12 months, there are shorter jobs out there.  Take a look at short-term jobs to find out about the different options, such as working holiday visas, au pairing, and more.  If you’re looking to work at a camp, then camp jobs is the perfect article for you. Another option to check out would be free housing and language classes to see how you can stay somewhere for free and learn another language without paying a cent.


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