While no teaching job is ever likely to be seen as easy, teaching English as a foreign language promises a rich life full of travel, excitement, and job satisfaction. However, if you want everything to go as smoothly as possible, there are a few things you need to think about before jumping on a plane to distant shores.
Where are TEFL qualified teachers in demand?
If you want to start your teaching career in a positive fashion it is important to understand the TEFL job market and to head to where the demand is especially high. As a newly-qualified teacher you are unlikely to have the luxury of picking and choosing exactly where you want to live and work as many of the most sought after jobs in the most popular teaching locations will often be taken by teachers with previous classroom experience.
Many first-time teachers look towards Asia as it is the region with the largest number of potential teaching positions. The demand in many Asian countries is so high that employers routinely employ new teachers without any experience. The destination that offers the widest choice of jobs is China, where there are always thousands of vacant positions waiting to be filled. Other countries in the region with a particularly high demand for TEFL qualified teachers include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. The huge number of potential jobs in this region means it is a great place to start your job search.
Latin America is another region where vacant positions are relatively easy to find as there are often more jobs than available teachers. The largest markets for TEFL qualified teachers can be found in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico. However, there are many other lesser known countries in the region where teaching jobs are available, as long as you are happy to head a little off the beaten path. The average salary for English teachers in Latin America is notably less than many parts of Asia, but that doesn’t stop teachers flocking to the region as it offers plenty in the way of culture, travel, and adventure.
The Middle East
The Middle East region is well known throughout the TEFL world as the home of large salaries and excellent benefit packages. However, as the rewards on offer are so enticing, teachers from all over the world do all they can to secure the available jobs. It is generally true that the majority of jobs that become available will receive a large number of applicants and the successful candidate will therefore require high-end teaching qualifications and at least a year or two of classroom experience. If you want to break into the lucrative job markets of countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, you should consider spending at least a year teaching in one of the other regions mentioned here first in order to gain the required experience.
Europe is often the number one choice of destination for newly-qualified TEFL teachers from all over the world. However, it is not always an easy place to get your teaching journey started. Due to the popularity of the region with international teachers, the most popular destinations such as France, Italy and Spain are often swamped with more teachers than there are jobs. Once again, the most sought after positions in the most popular locations will usually attract a great deal of interest, which often means that those without experience will find their applications are left at the bottom of the pile.
One popular way to get around this dilemma is to apply for government run recruitment schemes that are run in certain countries across Europe. France and Spain both have very popular recruitment programs that have been running successfully for many years. By applying for one or both of these it is often possible to break into the local job market without having any previous experience.
What skills and qualifications do you need?
As well as choosing the right destination, there are certain qualifications and skills that will make finding a job and executing it successfully that much easier. First and foremost, all teachers without classroom experience will typically require a TEFL qualification of at least 120-hours duration to be considered for jobs by most reputable employers. The 120-hour TEFL certificate course from ITTT has been specifically designed to give first-time teachers all the basic knowledge and skills they will need to get their teaching careers off the ground.
Although having a good quality TEFL certification under your belt is a big step forward when looking for a teaching job, there are other traits that you will need if you want to stand out from the rest of the crowd when applying for popular positions. If you can demonstrate to the employer that you have excellent communication skills, a passion for teaching, and a good level of patience and empathy, then you will be one step closer to landing your dream job and getting your new life as a TEFL qualified teacher up and running.