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 and Where to Start
Teaching English Overseas?

What should I do first?


Once you have finished considering all the issues addressed on the Learn About TEFL page and made a decision to look for a job and head overseas, it's time to make a decision about where you would like to work and how much you would like to earn/save.  You'll have to balance the two according to your qualifications, area of the world in which you wish to work, and the general availability of jobs in that area.


You'll also have to decide if getting some training is a good first start for you - or not.  If you do decide to get some training (good for you!), I would encourage you to get that training overseas.  There are several reasons for this.  First, it'll give you a chance to live overseas and know better if you will like it (very different from vacationing or traveling overseas).  Also, it will usually give you a chance to meet people who are already doing what you want to do and a chance to network for good jobs.  Finally, TEFL training overseas is generally cheaper than taking it in developed Western countries and can be much cheaper by the time you add in the cost of food and board during training. 

I believe though that the biggest benefits are networking and just getting a feel for life in another country.

Recruiters, or not?

One major decision that you must also make is if you want to use a recruiter or not.  There are many people who are absolutely adamant that you should never use a recruiter. Some have had bad experiences with them, others believe you will find much better circumstances negotiating a deal on your own.  Both ways are fine to me - I've done both. 

I used a recruiter to find my first job.  There were some problems, but the recruiter took care of all of them for me.  It was very useful as I was not yet confident and really didn't know much about the business - I was a true newbie - and the recruiter took some of the pressure off me.  Know that there are some "bad" recruiters out there - who just want to place you as quickly as possible and get their fee from the school.  They won't care if you are a good "fit" or not.

Always talk to the teachers at a school before deciding to go there - whether you use a recruiter or not.  Are there problems there - what are they?  Are they happy or not?  Why?

Other Issues

Take a look at the other pages in this section about freelancing, the types/ages of students you might be interested in teaching, and whether to set up your job before you go or not.  They are all important - and all addressed here.

The directory for this section:

How/Where do I start?  What to do once the decision is made.

How do I find where I fit?

How do I find a financial situation that suits me?

How do I select a place that fits my lifestyle?

Should I get some training?  How?  Where?  What kind?

What about health insurance?

Should I freelance, take a part-time or full-time job?

What about corporate classes?

Should I teach kids or adults?

Where’s the best place for a “newbie” to start?

Can I set up a job before I go.  Or should I wait until I get there?


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