So you’ve made the decision to begin a career teaching English abroad. Welcome aboard! Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of positions available worldwide but no one person can sift through all of that information alone. Fortunately for the aspiring teacher, there are a lot of tools that can make finding a teaching position abroad much simpler. For example, you can
- respond directly to jobs postings on the ESL job boards like Dave’s ESL Cafe;
- solicit information by directly contacting schools in a particular country or region using a school directory; or
- contact local recruiters who have relationships with schools in the area your interested.
Now, when considering which approach is best is a complicated question. Some markets, like Saudi Arabia, are so small (and lucrative) that a direct response to an online ad is the right way to go. In others, like Argentina or Chile, a common the language (Spanish) may allow you to contact a large number of schools directly.
In rapidly developing markets like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, however, the demand (and language barrier) is so great that direct contact with individual schools can be almost impossible. Accordingly, a recruiter is the way to go. That having been said, the decision to use an ESL recruiter is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Not only are recruiters and recruitment agencies are a major player in ESL staffing in general, they will be your eyes and ears on the ground in particular.
Moreover, because some recruitment agencies, like Korvia of South Korea, are country specific while others, like Footprints Recruiting, span the globe is it important to make sure you select the recruiter that is right for you. For example, if you have narrowed your search to a particular country, a regional player may be the right choice for you. In any case, as long as you are open about your needs and honest about your concerns, the right recruiter can help you get your new career off to a great start!
In its role as a leader in English immersion education, ELS Educational Services, Inc – better known as ELS – offers international students a variety of English courses at a wide range of proficiency levels at any of its more than 60 ELS Language Centers worldwide. Although all levels (which vary based on aptitude from 101 [Beginner] to 112 [Masters]) strive to emphasize the fundamental aspects of English proficiency, the distinctions between these levels are meant to ensure that students are enrolled in the program that best meets their needs.
Students are assessed by means of a specialized Pre-Arrival Test (PAT) administered by qualified ELS counselors before leaving their home country and are subsequently placed into one of the 12 proficiency levels. Regardless of the level, however, students at every level will take part in a curriculum comprised of roughly 20 to 30 hours of weekly, classroom-based instruction over the course of four weeks. Likewise, regardless of proficiency level, all levels focus on listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation skills (albeit at course-specific level).
At the completion of each four week unit, students who successfully demonstrate their improved proficiency through a combination of classroom participation, classwork, homework, quizzes, and – ultimately – a final examination in the form of a “Standardized Level Test” will automatically advance to the next ELS level of study.
In this way ELS strives to provide those study English at ELS with as a program of study that is simultaneously as well-structured as it is adaptable. This emphasis on consistency pays dividends in significant ways: because of its reputation for excellence students who study English at ELS Language Centers and complete its upper level courses can use their credentials as direct fulfillment of the English proficiency requirement at more than 600 colleges and universities around the world. Thus an ELS can be, in many ways, the first step in the journey of a lifetime.
Although it is still possible to find a position teaching English abroad without an English teaching certificate, most employers look favorably on such credentials (and most instructors find that they give them a leg up on the increasingly stiff competition). Still, knowing you need a certification does little to answer the question “which English teaching certificate is right for me?”
This is a question that is easier asked than answered. After all, while it is true that – to put it simply – the more training you have the more opportunities will be open to you, this is an issue that defies quick conclusions. Indeed, a MA in TESOL would put you at the top of the pack but may not be appropriate for someone who is just entering the field. Indeed, because longer courses require a greater investment of time, energy, and effort, they are a better fit for those who have decided teaching abroad is a long-term career.
More to the point, it is important to remember that many international employers look favorably on short TEFL courses – and many training programs offer employment services designed to match graduates with exactly those employers. Because they are quicker, simpler, and easier to obtain, TEFL certifications – and even four-week CELTA programs – are a good idea for those who are just starting out in international English education.
International, however, is an important word here. Because a DELTA or MA in TESOL are often viewed as prerequisites for positions at colleges and universities in North America, those who are interested in working domestic would be poorly served by standard 100 or 120 hour TEFL certifications.
In the end, the biggest factor you should consider is your potential employer. Depending on the location or position you have in mind, you should research the different options available in order to determine which one will provide you with the biggest advantage in your particular job search.