When it comes to TEFL, it is often assumed that you can teach anywhere in the world that you want, and to a certain extent this is true…
You could, visa permitting, arrive anywhere your heart desires and offer your services as a TEFL teacher. It pays to do a little research beforehand, however, to maximise your chances of finding work.
When it comes to finding paid work in private language schools there do seem to be certain countries where there is much more work on offer than others. Long-standing hotspots in Europe include Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. The Eastern European countries of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary all offer ample opportunities for work too, as, more recently, do Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Russia is also a plentiful source of work for today’s TEFL teacher.
Competing with Europe for the title of most popular teaching destination is Asia. There are thousands of jobs here, especially in China, where it was estimated last year that around 80,000 more English teachers are needed! Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all offer teaching opportunities aplenty too, and it is often in these countries where you can stand to earn some of the highest wages in the industry.
The Middle East is another area of the world where English teachers are in high demand, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE it seems. It’s worth bearing in mind that requirements can sometimes be quite strict though, not only in terms of qualifications and experience but also in terms of gender.
Interestingly, Australia is a country that is always in need of teachers as well. The English-learning industry here is big business, and there is a wealth of private language schools English which need qualified teachers. They seem especially keen, apparently, to employ people working on working holiday visas.
South America is another area of the world where it is relatively easy to find TEFL work, with Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile seemingly top of the list for jobs. This part of the world can be a good option for teachers who want to teach fairly short-term, or in a variety of countries, especially as a lot of the work is ‘casual’.
Africa as a continent offers fewer opportunities for paid work in language schools, as is probably to be expected. Exceptions to this are the Northern countries of Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Libya where you sometimes see jobs advertised. South Africa also has options for anyone able to get a visa.
Notably missing from the run-down thus far are Canada and the US, where unless you are able to get a green card it is unfortunately almost impossible to get work.
A good number of Brits who train in TEFL actually want to stay and teach in the UK, and there are certainly opportunities to be had. Britain has thousands of language schools that need English teachers, although competition for these jobs can sometimes be high. As with anything though, a lot of how successful your job hunt is depends on how well you market yourself, and to a certain extent, being in the right place at the right time. Doing your TEFL training course in a school you’d be interested in working for, or securing work at one of the thousands of summer programmes held at schools across the country can both be good ways of getting your foot in the door.
Aside from working in a private language school, there is also the option for anyone hoping to make money from teaching English to register as a freelance trainer with language training agencies such as Cactus, to advertise locally and offer private English tuition, or to work within the lifelong learning sector.
Volunteering opportunities for teaching EFL are always abundant too, whether in the UK or abroad. To do this abroad you would need to search out a specific programme with a volunteering organisation (of which there are hundreds), but possibilities in the UK are easier to source and arrange. The majority of this will be teaching immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers as part of council or charity-led schemes.