A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

How to contact TEFL employers:

Should I use e-mail or letters to contact TEFL employers?

Or should I call?  What works best?

What works is what works.  The same approach doesn't work everywhere.

What really works best?  Personal contact and networking.  Just like back home.  But, if you are not in country, you'll have to try some other approaches of course, particularly if you don't have networking contacts.

E-Mail - Telephone?

I am a giant e-mail fan and I use it for everything.  But, for some reason, not everyone responds well to it.  For me it is great!  I don't understand why others don't use it as I do.  But they don't.

All that said, some employers will use it efficiently - others won't.  Use it if that is what they ask for.  But don't expect it to do the job.  A follow up phone call might help you get to the top of the list - even if you must make it at 2am your time.  That little bit of effort might make a huge quality of life difference if you land exactly the job you want.

Advertised Jobs

When jobs are advertised on popular boards, the advertiser may get as many as 100+ responses.  You need to think about how to get your application to the top.  Follow up.  Follow up. Follow up.

Tip: It is worth your effort to get a list of schools (online is often easy) and send your letter of interest to them before they advertise.  I almost always do this.  Try not to compete with the hoards on the Internet.

Some Countries

Want a personal contact, to meet you face to face, hard to do if you are in your home country.  Phone calls are cheap nowadays - try them too.  Be aware of time zones of course.


Some jobs/schools will want hard copies of your resume and a letter of interest.   Still, it is best to follow up with either an e-mail or a phone call.

How Many?

Plan on a hundred contacts to find the job you want.  Some places (Korea for example) will require much less (maybe only one or two!), others may require more.  I've never made that many contacts myself, but I want you to be realistic and mentally prepared.  There is enough demand that you can look over a few offers before you decide.  Don't hold out too much - but don't feel either that you must take the first job offered.

Be Patient

Hold out for the right job.  Know that as a Newbie, you may not find the perfect situation, but don't give up what you want too quickly.


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