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Finding Teaching Jobs Abroad: Tips, Myths, and Avoiding TEFL Scams

Looking for English teaching jobs abroad is stressful, especially when you are just starting out. This article will share some assistance with your job search and help you avoid some of the oldest tricks and scams in the TEFL industry.

Looking to teach English abroad? Access the OnTESOL TEFL job board to find English teaching positions abroad and online

Using a TEFL Recruiter or Going on Your Own

The question most entry-level English teachers ask themselves is if they should use a TEFL recruiter or apply for teaching jobs in person.

There are hundreds of recruiters waiting to help you find a job in South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Most recruiters are honest, have been in business for many years, and do not charge any fees because schools pay them to find qualified teachers for them.

The key to using a recruiter is making sure they don’t charge you a single dime for their service. Medium and large school programs, such as EPIK in South Korea, outsource most of their recruitment services and they pay recruitment agencies a hefty commission for every teacher they hire.

The TEFL recruiter won’t make an impact on the school’s decision to hire you. Their job is mainly to screen applications from eligible candidates and organize documentation between employer and teachers. The final interview, the job offer, and the documentation for the work visa are all issued by the employer. So don’t fall for a TEFL recruiter that makes false promises to get your dream job or fast-track your work visa.

Getting Ready to Apply for Teaching Jobs

Update Your Resume

Take the time to ensure your resume is clear and easy to read. Employers are busy and receive hundreds of job applications. Your resume should enable them to scan quickly to determine whether your skills, experience, and TESOL certification are what they are looking for.

Pay attention to formatting, and proofread carefully for errors. Focus your resume on the experience and skills you have that are relevant to teaching.

Read: Preparing Your TESOL Resume

Have References Ready

Ask for references before you need them. Scrambling at the last minute to find references can delay the hiring process. Ask for references from people who are able to provide some details about your ability or work habits. If you do not have teaching experience, you can ask professors or instructors if you can include them on your reference list. It is a good idea to have at least one written letter of reference available.

Know What Job You Want

If you don’t like working with children, just don’t apply for TEYL jobs! There are 10,000 TESOL jobs available every month worldwide. This means that there a lot of different schools and teaching situations out there. Not every situation is suited to every teacher. Of course, teachers have to be flexible, but it helps to have some idea of what type of institution or school you are interested in working with.


Do some research about the schools you are interested in working with. Find out what specific programs they offer, or what approaches they take to teaching and learning.  Doing some research on your prospective employer, learning what textbook they use, and what methods they use can help you prepare for the job interview.

If you are applying for TEFL jobs on your own, find out who is responsible for managing the school and send your resume and targeted cover letter directly to that person.

Be Persistent

Don’t send your resume and individualized cover letter once and think you’re done. Send updated resumes highlighting your new skills and experience. Some schools receive many applications, so regularly resending your resume can help make people remember your name. You can try adding samples of materials or lesson plans you have used, too. This helps people to get a fuller picture of you as a teacher.


If you don’t have any previous ESL teaching experience, volunteering provides valuable experience to your resume and references. You can volunteer at a community center that offers ESL classes to immigrants or a language school. Many OnTESOL graduates completed their Practicum while volunteering.

Avoiding TEFL Scams

Many TEFL institutes and recruiters engage in unethical practices that cost teachers hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Here are the most common scams in the TEFL industry:

Paid Internships Scam

A paid internship in China or Thailand will cost a naïve teacher up to $2,000. These expensive TEFL internships include a $200 TEFL course, which is not internationally recognized, and the internship pays less than half of the lowest teaching wage in these countries. For example, some online TEFL schools offer TEFL internships in China that pay $300 per month when the lowest wage goes for around $800 per month.  The best way to avoid this type of scam is to do your research and take an accredited TESOL course.

Guaranteed TEFL Jobs Scam

Many TEFL institutes guarantee jobs on completion their TEFL course. Have you ever seen CELTA, TESL Canada, or Trinity CertTESOL course providers advertise ‘guaranteed jobs’? No, that’s because it’s misleading advertising.

Always read the fine print because most guaranteed jobs are for entry-level, low-paying English teaching jobs that you can find on your own through a standard TEFL job board. Furthermore, the guaranteed TEFL jobs may not be in the country where you want to teach abroad. And, you would need to get a certain number of rejection letters to claim your money guarantee. The problem is that employers don’t tend to send rejection letters!

OnTESOL Reviews – Find more information about TESOL / TEFL certification courses, teach abroad programs, lesson planning, and teaching methods.

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