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  • How are TEFL courses structured? January 28, 2010
    What to expect from your four-week TEFL course by Bruce Haxton. So you’re interested in Teaching English as a Foreign Language [TEFL] but you don’t know which course might be for you? Or maybe you’d just like to know more about what to expect on day one on a course you’ve already booked? Well, there are [...] […]
  • How to Fact Check January 25, 2010
    How to write more accurately and improve your grade, by Celia Webb Fact checking is an important part of writing an accurate article. Meticulous authors do research prior to committing their thoughts to paper. Not all authors are so careful. Editors and readers serve society and themselves well when they read with a judicious eye. Just [...] […]
  • 5 Simple Tips for TEFL Job Success January 19, 2010
    Want to know how to succeed in the TEFL job market? Bruce Haxton tells you how. So, you’re thinking about doing a TEFL course, and it won’t be too long before you’ve got your crisp new TEFL certificate in hand – but what are you going to do with it?! Get a teaching job abroad and [...] […]
  • Why People TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) January 12, 2010
    Ever wondered why we do it? Find out now in this article by Bruce Haxton. TEFL, on paper, is perfect: an exciting career, a chance to see the world, a life full of fresh faces, opportunities and experiences. But, in reality, life at home holds people back: jobs, cars, family, friends, house, age, personal circumstances… so [...] […]
  • Classroom TEFL Courses – the Pros and the Cons January 7, 2010
    An online TEFL course or one done in the classroom? Honor Baldry offers advice on taking the latter option. Classroom learning – it’s what we’re all used to and the way we expect to study. Or is it? A classroom TEFL course is nothing like the lessons you took in school; expect it to be more [...] […]
  • How to Find a Good TEFL Employer January 7, 2010
    A new year and a new career? Check this advice by Bruce Haxton if you’re thinking about getting into TEFL. So you’re thinking about getting TEFL certified (or maybe you already are!), but once you’ve completed your TEFL course, what are you going to do with that crisp new certificate? Get a job and [...] […]
  • Tips about teaching English overseas December 22, 2009
    By Michiel Van Kets If you’re thinking about a career in teaching English you are choosing a great profession. Not only do you give your valuable expertise to others but it is also possible to teach English in other countries not just at home. You can do this as a long term option or just take [...] […]
  • Making money in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL/ESL/TESOL) December 14, 2009
    By Will Pearson First some context about the TEFL/ESL/TESOL labour market to think about. The market for English language learning in the world is booming. Compare the world now with that of twenty years ago. Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe is in its death throes, China is beginning the transition to capitalism, South America is [...] […]
  • Teaching English in Taiwan – Do I need a TEFL degree to teach? December 7, 2009
    By Creztor Tessel If you are thinking of moving to Taiwan to teach English, you might be surprised at just what kind of qualifications are required. Teaching English doesn’t actually require any special kind of degree or papers. Many people make the assumption that TEFL or similar degrees are required to teach English. While this may [...] […]
  • What is TEFL? December 3, 2009
    By John Harley TEFL is in all simplicity, Teaching English as a First Language. What this means is that if you are a native English speaker, your first language is of course English and as such, your teachers were in fact TEFL. On the other hand in the event that you are learning English as a [...] […]

Getting Your Dream Job

November at the Times has been dedicated to a series of articles from Sharon K Couzens de Hinojosa, the creator and writer of TEFL Tips, The LA Job List, and The Ultimate Peru List.

There’s always someone with a great job. Maybe they only work 12 hours a week, 3 days a week. Or have 3 months paid vacation. A free furnished flat, flights, pension, and medical insurance. Maybe they live 5 minutes from the beach. Or they work at the best institution in the country. Whatever they have, one thing’s for sure, they’ve got a dream job. Chances are they worked for it. Look at the 12 tips below and hopefully the next job you get will be your dream job.

1. Portfolio

You’ve got the experience, now you just have to show it. A portfolio is a great way to display your work to a prospective employer. Here’s some items which are commonly found in a portfolio. There’s no need to include all of these. Pick and choose the ones that best represent you as a teacher. The following has a bit of information about portfolios, you can find out more in the article Creating a Teaching Portfolio.

● CV
● Cover letters
● Teaching philosophy (discuss language learning and teaching)
● Certificates from conferences or short courses
● List of conferences and workshops given/attended
● List of publications and summary of each publication
● Lesson plans and materials you created, if worksheets. Photos can be taken of games.
● Students’ work
● Photos of you teaching
● DVD of you teaching
● Syllabi
● List of textbooks you’ve taught with
● Letters of recommendation
● Observations/Evaluations
● Photocopies of your degree and TEFL certificate
● Transcripts
● Academic papers and projects (for those who just finished university or a TEFL course)
● Photocopy of your passport
● Police background check (Usually valid for six months)

2. Do time

Bouncing around job to job simply doesn’t look good. It shows that you lack commitment, responsibility, or maybe you don’t get along with your coordinators. You should finish your contract. And most contracts are 10 or 12 months. But what’s better than just finishing your contract is re-signing for another year. If you sign for a second or third year, you show that you’re committed to the institution and serious about your teaching career. Need another reason? Companies would rather promote one of their own than hire someone new. So if you stay on, you’re more likely to be promoted.

3. Qualifications

Sorry, your BA just isn’t going to cut it. Nowadays, having a higher qualification is necessary. there are usually three higher qualifications that teachers go for: a masters, a diploma, or a license. A masters degree is usually 1 or 2 years, some are 3 if you don’t take a lot of courses. And they concentrate on the theory of teaching. Some require a thesis , others don’t. Many can be done by distance. You can focus on teaching children, adults, TEFL, etc.

A diploma (Trinity and DELTA are the most popular) concentrates on the practical issue of teaching. Diplomas are usually for those teaching adults.

A license is necessary to teach an international school. This is only for those who want to teach children.

None of them come cheap. And if you find a super cheap one, I’d pass on it. Remember: you get what you pay for. But if you’re serious about moving up in teaching, you’ll have to get a higher qualification. Start saving and consider talking to your employer. Some of them will help you out.

4. Experience

Similar to #2, however, this isn’t limited to staying at one institute. Getting teaching experience is necessary for higher jobs. The minimum would be 2 years, but it’s not uncommon for places to ask for 5 years.

You might also consider getting a part-time position. For example, if you teach during the day, you might be able to teach night classes a couple times a week. While this might not count towards your years of experience, it will get you experience in a different language learning setting.

5. Networking

You’ve heard it before so it shouldn’t be new, but connections help get jobs. This has never been more true than in the TEFL World. It’s usually a tight-knit group with a couple of important people or institutes. So if you haven’t started networking, now’s the time. There’s no need to overdo it and shmooze. However, you should have the basics: a business card, a professional demeanour and appropriate clothing will help.

6. Luck

Something has to be said for pure dumb luck. There’s nothing quite like being in the right place at the right time. While you can’t work at luck like you can a masters, it still deserves to be listed here.

7. Cold Calling

If you’re just answering adverts, you’re missing out on half the good jobs out there. It’s common knowledge that companies recruit from within, then ask employees if they know of anyone, then finally they place an advert. There are good and bad ways to go about cold calling. First the good: personalising your cover letter, addressing it to a real person, and knowing about the company are just a few good things you can do. Now the bad: CCing tons of companies, not bothering to address your cover letter to a specific person, and obsessively bothering someone about a job. There are many other things to consider when cold calling. Read more in the article about Cold Calling.

8. Be persistent

So your CV got passed over and you weren’t asked in for an interview. Doesn’t matter. If you find a place you want to work for, you should try contacting them again. It’s possible that the position wasn’t filled. This could happen for a couple of reasons: the teacher they hired suddenly quit, another vacancy arose, or the teachers they shortlisted accepted other positions.

Another case is that you sent in your CV a couple of months ago, but have recently moved up the career ladder. Possibly you’ve gotten a masters, diploma, license, or promoted. In that case, you should contact them again and send your updated CV.

9. Get published

There are many opportunities to get published: magazines, journals, lesson plans, materials, books. Whether you publish things in print or online, the important thing is that you have been published. Some places are very picky about what they’ll publish while others are more flexible. Here’s a List of Online Journals and below you can find places that will publish articles, lesson plans and materials.

Developing Teachers
EL Gazette
English Club
English Language Teaching Journal
English Teaching Professional
ESL Galaxy
ESL Lounge
HLT Magazine
IH Journal of Education
Karen’s Linguisitic Issues
Modern English Teacher
One Stop English
Using English

10. Go to conferences

There are many reasons to go to conferences. You can network, learn something new, get discounts on books, and put it on your CV.

11. Give workshops

There are usually two ways to give a workshop: freelance or represent another institution, such as a publishing company or your institute or school. Either way, if you give a workshop at a conference, you’re likely to be allowed to attend the following workshops for free. So you can learn something new. If not, you can still network and get access to the book discounts.

One thing has to be said about representing a publishing company. If you haven’t sent your CV to publishing companies, you should. People who give workshops for publishing companies usually get paid. Payments can run from low to high depending on the publishing company. But still, something is better than nothing. If they don’t get paid, they will get something, such as free books. In addition, representing a publishing company looks great on your CV and you’re guaranteed to meet some important people.

12. Get affiliated

If you aren’t a member of a teacher training organisation, now’s the time to join. IATEFL and TESOL are two worldwide associations. You might also check out this list of TEFL organisations by country.

Members of organisations may get magazines, discounts to conferences, discounts to teacher training events, or discounts to other professional organisations. Costs are relatively low and sometimes you can get discounts. For example, I’ve been to conferences where participants were given discounts to IATEFL if they signed up by a certain date.


If you’re serious about TEFL and would like to move up the career ladder, try following the tips above. With a bit of time, effort and luck you’ll find other teachers envying you.}

About the author

Sharon K Couzens de Hinojosa is the creator and writer for TEFL Tips, The LA Job List, and The Ultimate Peru List. She enjoys answering people’s questions about TEFLing and Peru.

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