Teacher of English as a Foreign Language

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Teaching English as a Foreign Language involves teaching in non-English speaking countries or teaching English to foreign students in an English speaking country. TEFL employment can be found in language schools, universities and colleges, private institutions and state schools. The key areas for teaching jobs are Asia (Korea, China and Japan), Europe, and the Middle East.

A typical TEFL job requires you to work Monday to Friday, 9 to 5pm. Teaching hours are generally around 25 hours per week, but lesson planning and marking is a necessary extra. Weekend and evening work is sometimes necessary depending on the type of school.

The duties of a TEFL teacher mainly involve planning and delivering English lessons. This includes adapting English course book materials, gauging the ability of your students and developing your own teaching materials. Administrative tasks are minimal. To work in TEFL you need a willingness to adapt to new cultures. Depending on your employer you could be teaching toddlers, teenagers, or businessmen, so being adaptable is a must.


  • Lesson preparation
  • English instruction
  • Developing teaching materials
  • One-to-one lessons
  • Group lessons
  • Exam marking
  • Teaching business English

Entry Criteria:

  • BA/BSc Degree
  • TEFL/CELTA Qualification
  • Native or fluent English ability
  • Willing to live abroad

Getting qualified:

The standard requirements for a job in TEFL are a university degree and a teaching qualification. Ideally you will be a graduate of a discipline connected to either the English language or education. As for teaching qualifications, the two most well known and respected certificates are Trinity College’s TESOL course and Cambridge’s CELTA. Both take one month to complete if they are studied full time, or up to six months part time.

Getting a visa for the country can be a problem. A degree and a guaranteed job can help you to secure a visa.

A teaching qualification is not always a pre-requisite in TEFL, but it is recommended. Employers will view you more favorably if you have a Trinity TESOL, or Cambridge CELTA qualification under your belt. There are also many online courses and short courses offering TEFL qualifications.

You need an excellent standard of English to teach. This does not necessarily mean that only native speakers can work in TEFL – many people who have mastered English as a second language go on to teach as well.

Career Path:

  • Teacher of English
  • Director of Studies
  • TEFL Teacher trainer
  • Private English school teacher

TEFL can lead to many jobs further on down the line. In order to progress as an English teacher, experience and training are vital. Experience can be gained by working in a variety of countries and roles, and by teaching various types of students (young learners, business learners etc).

Qualifications such as an MA in TESOL, Cambridge’s DELTA qualification, Trinity’s DipTESOL and specialist training in areas such as ESP will all add to your CV.

Having attained these requirements you could apply for a variety of posts, such as teacher trainer, EFL management or Director of Studies. These roles require curriculum development and improving the institution at which you work. A final option is to start your own language school, something many teachers do for the financial rewards and autonomy.

  • DipTESOL

Major Employers:

Finding a job in TEFL can be simple depending on your requirements. The job market can change quite rapidly, so keep an eye on the sites listed below. There are some employers who hire a huge number of staff every year, such as the JET scheme, and the British Council. There are also countless websites with job listings, so finding vacancies in your chosen country is a reasonably simple task. Beware of fraudulent companies, though, and research any potential employers.


  • £13,000 - £18,000 in the UK
  • Salaries for jobs abroad vary depending on the country
  • The Middle East normally has the highest paid jobs
  • Countries such as Korea, China and Japan have decent salaries, commensurate to the local cost of living

Similar Jobs:

  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Primary School Teacher
  • Secondary School Teacher
  • Lecturer

Case Studies:

Teacher’s Case Study

Links and Contacts: 

Careers in China

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