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How to Choose a TEFL Program

Posted on November 07, 2019

In this article, you will find different options and factors that will help you decide what type of program you would like to participate in while abroad. Everything is covered for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) that can help you make an informed decision.


Am I qualified to teach English abroad?

If you have a passion to teach, travel, and you are excited to learn new cultures, teaching English abroad may be the right job for you. The majority of teaching positions available are for native English speakers willing to teach English as a foreign language. However, there are teaching positions in many disciplines and languages around the world and, if you are flexible, you will surely find one that suits your interests and qualifications.

Does age matter?

Age might be an issue due to working permit and visa requirements. Many of these schools require photos and, often, more important than age is a well-groomed appearance. Alternatively, there are also 'volunteer' teaching positions open to any age; there are even some open to high school students.

Can my partner teach with me?

It would be best to touch base with your school and to find out directly. Most schools like to see stability from their internationally recruited staff members. Thus, schools believe that couples who have no children and share accommodation may be more stable. Not all destinations are gay friendly.

Prospective teachers concerned about destinations should check out Rainbow SIG.

Do I need to speak the local language?

In most cases, you do not need to speak the local language. Many international schools offer language classes and social activities to help their teachers familiarize themselves with the local language and culture. However, having a little background in the local language does give you an edge on how to teach diction, grammar, and pronunciation. A bit of knowledge of the local language and culture will also help you determine what topics of discussion will be of interest to your students for a good English conversation starter in the classroom.

Which English accent is in demand?

Surprisingly, this question comes up more often than not. In the end, it primarily depends upon the location of the school or program. Preferred accent is determined by who the host country does the most business with. In Europe, British English may be preferred and, within the European community, teachers from the United Kingdom may be the only teachers hired. In Mexico, the American teacher is preferred. In Indonesia, a school may prefer the Australian teacher. This is not to say that international schools will not hire English language teachers with different accents, but that it is something to research and determine where you would be in demand.

Research Your New Country’s Regulations

Laws and regulations vary from country to country. Call the relevant embassy or consulate to learn of any restrictions and regulations for foreigners moving into the destination country. In particular, ask if there are:

  • required visas and permits

  • required vaccines for family members

  • restrictions or taxes on shipped household items

  • taxes involved in shipping your car

  • required vaccines and quarantines for pets.

Who will I teach?

It will depend upon your employer and any previous teaching or education experience you may have. At times, you may be teaching children, but at other times housewives, college students, or corporate executives. Most language schools enroll students of all ages and backgrounds. Consider all the teaching positions that come your way because each type of teaching requires different skills and, thus, offer different rewards.

What costs are involved?

Costs vary, as you can imagine. These are only examples, but, in some teaching jobs, you might have to organize your own transportation costs, accommodations, and meals. Some of the larger schools provide benefits like medical insurance, subsidized housing, and there are some employers who reimburse your airfare, usually when you successfully finish your contract. If you have an education degree and you are teaching overseas at an international school, there is typically high benefits, which can be quite comfortable.

If it is a TEFL placement, more often than not, there may be a cost for the TEFL course. If it is a volunteer placement, there is usually a program cost and no compensation, although there are some schools which give their volunteers a stipend. Make sure to clarify all of these costs with your program provider or employer.

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