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.
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.
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.