The best way to get a job on arrival

In my teaching career I’ve found over ten jobs on arrival in five different countries so it’s definitely possible. All you need a positive attitude, some luck, and a good pair of walking shoes.

Here are some key pointers.
Get a list of potential employers
The best way to start is get a list of potential language schools or academies in the local area. You can do this on the internet, by the local yellow pages, or just walking round the area looking for the schools. Get a decent map and mark where the schools are, this will enable you to plan which schools you can visit at the same time. Then get walking.
Be prepared
Make sure you’ve printed off plenty of copies of your CV and have double checked your contact details. Maybe you’re new to a country and don’t have a mobile yet; ask your hotel or hostel if you can use their number. Make sure you’re dress smart. Even if you’re looking for a job in the depths of the Amazon jungle in Bolivia (not that there are many language schools there, I think), make some effort. First impressions are vital.
Go round to all the schools and ask the receptionist if you can speak to the director. If they say the director is busy, then ask when you can come back and speak with them. Book an appointment. Get the directors name if you don’t have it already, and ask when would be a good time to call back. If you have to leave your CV with the receptionist then make sure you follow up with a call to make sure the director has seen it. Then it might be a case of calling the director every other day until you get a chance to speak to them. This happened to me in Brazil. I arrived before carnival because I thought I could get a job easily, but none of the directors knew how many students they were going to have. I had to keep ringing them after the carnival until I found a job.
Word of mouth
Track down where other teachers are. If there’s an Irish or English bar then you’re bound to bump into some expat teachers. Look on web forums, put the word about and ask other teachers which are the best schools to work for and which are looking for teachers. In my first year in Seville I ended up working for a rubbish academy without a contract. I spent that year talking to other teachers and ended up getting a job with one of the best academies in the city.
Have patience
You might not find your perfect job straight away, but you need to be patient and keep a positive outlook. I spent two months in Mexico and didn’t find a job, but I remained upbeat. There are a lot of job opportunities out there for TEFL teachers; you just have to do your research and have some luck.

In some countries it’s better to find a job before you go. This might be because of the working visas or employers prefer to recruit from overseas. If this is the case then just make sure you read up about the language school. Try typing in the name of the school in google with ‘horror stories’, ‘problems working here’, or ‘reasons not to work at this cruddy school’.
I think I’ve been pretty lucky finding teaching jobs abroad, how about you? How have you found the TEFL job market? If this has helped then you might also be interested in if in doubt just go.     

11 thoughts on “The best way to get a job on arrival

  1. hey amazing info! ive just come back from a 4 month trip around south america and am itching to go bk to brazil, Ive just started ploughing through my tefl, but not sure about the brazilian need for inexperienced teachers??? nice to know you find it rewarding tho!

  2. Hi sksoul,

    Sounds like SA has got you hooked. Where are you doing your TEFL? Brazil is a massive country and you'll find work being inexperienced, just have some patience. Get there asap though because the term starts after the carnival (which is in two weeks I think, you have to see that). Good luck anyway.

  3. Hi Baz,

    I've been reading through all of your blog posts which have sparked amusement and interest. I am an Australian with a ticket to Buenos Aires booked for mid-march. I am to stay for 6 months before travelling the rest of South America. With a few weeks remaining, would you suggest looking for a job online? I have read the market is huge but don't want to be left in the lurch for too long. Also, if I were to travel but continue to teach (perhaps private tuition) have you found this to be do-able?



  4. Hi Ashleigh,

    Thanks for the post. Glad you like the blog and good to get some feedback. Argentina must be a cool place to live, gutted I never made it there. Anyway, I'd definitely search before you go, send your cv and get a list of schools in the cities you want to live in. That way when you arrived you can just walk round and present yourself to all the schools on your list. When you say travel but continue to teach I presume you mean trying to pick up private students along the way? I tried this and left my details in internet cafe's a notice boards, but didn't get manay students. The main problem was having a place to give the class. You can always meet and do conversation classes in cafes or bars. It's tricky but if you're in a place for a couple of weeks then you might find a few students. Where are you thinking of going? Hope that helps.

  5. Wow, quick reply!

    It is a shame you never made it there, I've heard nothing but good things! But you have also inspired me to spend some more time, than I intended, in Brazil.

    Thanks for the tips, I will definitely have a look around. I recently completed a 140hr TEFL course, but does this allow me to teach in a school? I would have thought an education degree was required, but I am not sure. Have you ever been limited to choice?

    That is a good idea regarding the internet cafe notice boards. I wonder if there is a similiar website to Gumtree. I will try my hardest to continue teaching once on the road, but think a hospitality job will be enough to keep the funds up.

    During my 6 months in Argentina, I am looking at going across to Uruguay. After that, I will be going to Chile, Peru (Inca Trail), Bolivia, Ecuador and finish off in Brazil. I'm on no time limit 🙂



  6. Hi Ashleigh,

    Sorry for the late reply, been manic with term exams and writing reports, sigh.

    Re your comment, glad I've inspired you to go to Brazil, it's a fantastic country…

    I'm not sure how much the 140hr TEFL course will help you to get a job. To be honest the jobs I got in SA never really checked how much experience I had. It was more about the fact that I was in the right place at the right time. I didn't need a degree in the places I worked in either, although the better schools will want more proof of qualifications and experience.

    Sounds like a great trip, I did Bolivia and the Inca trail, regret not seeing the Amazon on Bolivia so put that on your list.

    Keep in touch.

    Good Luck


  7. Good read! Has anyone here got any links to Andalusian schools looking for English native speakers? I speak B2 Spanish but have no teaching experience and looking to spend a few months next year till about September there.

    Many thanks.

  8. Hi Mark, sorry for the late reply; long Xmas.

    The best place to look is, also do a search on google for schools in Andalucia and just send your cv on spec. Where do you want to go? There's quite a bit of work in Seville…but you'd have to be here to find it really. Good luck.


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