TEFL career advice

Are you thinking of becoming an English teacher and moving abroad? Have you been teaching for some time and now you’re ready to look for a better position? If you find it difficult to get accurate information on making progress in a TEFL career, I’d like to offer you an opportunity to receive personalised advice.

TEFL career advice

What is this all about?
TEFL isn’t a regulated industry, which leads to a lot of confusion among teachers. What is accepted in one country may not be possible somewhere else, so there isn’t a simple recipe for being successful. There is a lot of misleading information on the internet, including false claims made by course providers offering ‘accredited’ qualifications. It’s fair to say that many people don’t see TEFL as a serious profession and quite a lot of teachers leave the field after a year or two.

However, I believe that it is possible to have a long-term career in ELT. It requires a lot of effort, but you can definitely achieve something meaningful in the profession. If this idea sounds interesting to you, I’d like to offer you a Zoom consultation to talk about your teaching career.

What can I help you with?
If you plan to get started as an English teacher, I can assist you with:

● choosing the right TEFL course for you
● polishing your CV and cover letter
● applying for a teaching job and avoiding scams
● useful resources for new teachers

Those with some experience in teaching may benefit from my guidance on:

● professional development
● ELT literature relevant to your teaching context
● moving to a more senior position
● non-teaching roles

Why should you choose me?
Since moving into TEFL at the age of thirty, I have taught English as a volunteer, employee, and freelancer. In addition to having a Delta, I am a certified teacher trainer and offer lesson observation services. I know what it takes to start completely from scratch, move to the other side of the world and stay in the ELT profession, and I will be happy to share my experience with you.

If you ask for advice on social media, you run the risk of being offered online courses that may not even be relevant for you. I have no need to sell anything and I will provide you with personalised recommendations instead. I stay in touch with experienced ELT professionals from all over the world, so I have a pretty good idea about job markets in other countries too. As a result, I will be able to evaluate your particular situation and offer you practical advice.

How does it all work?
The process is pretty straightforward. You need to send me your CV and state what your goals are so I can prepare a consultation tailored to your needs. I’ll then schedule a one-to-one Zoom meeting with you in order to talk about your options and provide you with career tips. The consultations are confidential and I’m ready to give honest answers to your questions.

How much does it cost?
The fee depends on the amount of research I’ll have to do, but it definitely won’t be exorbitant. I plan to do this in my free time, so what I’m looking for is basically a donation towards the running costs of this blog.

How can you arrange a consultation with me?
You can get in touch through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or this contact form. Please remember to attach your CV and tell me what you’d like to achieve. I will then get back to you with further instructions.

Do references matter?

One of the very first articles published on this blog deals with applying for a teaching position and provides a few tips for increasing your chances of landing a job. Today I’d like to expand on that post and focus on another important component of the hiring process.

Do references matter?

I have worked for four different educational institutions and talked to many other potential employers here in Colombia. When it comes to references, there seems to be a variety of approaches. Some schools ask you to fill out an application form and attach reference letters, others don’t require them. I know for a fact that one language institute called my previous place of employment before inviting me for an interview; some schools offered me a job without checking my references at all.

In general, I think that reference letters are pretty useful and it doesn’t matter if you plan to teach English in Colombia, Vietnam, or Italy. When a school receives a number of applications, having positive references may tip the scales in your favour. You are a complete stranger to the person tasked with hiring a new teacher, so showing them that there is another human being willing to say a few nice words about you certainly won’t hurt your chances of getting the job.

Asking for a favour isn’t always a comfortable situation, but I’d like to emphasise that there is nothing wrong with asking for a reference. Obviously, you should talk to someone who actually has something positive to say! Most people are happy to give references and some schools even have templates for them, so I recommend that you ask for a reference letter when you know that you’re going to look for another job. Waiting a couple of years before requesting a recommendation letter from your previous boss definitely isn’t a great idea.

What should you do if are about to start your teaching career and have no experience at all? When I was applying for my first teaching role, I attached a reference letter from a non-teaching job that I had held when I decided to get into TEFL. Yes, the letter wasn’t exactly relevant, but at least it gave the schools an idea about my personality and attitude.

Another option that is worth exploring is getting an academic reference. After successfully completing my CELTA and Delta courses, I asked my tutors for recommendation letters. The tutors provided me with references related to my course performance and I feel very happy about having those documents in my professional portfolio. Teacher trainers who work on reputable courses are usually well-known in the ELT industry, so supporting your job application with such a letter should help you make a good impression.

I’d also like to stress the importance of being honest. There is absolutely no need to make up stuff and lie on your job application. I can’t believe that I’m writing this but I’ve actually been asked by a random stranger from the internet to provide him with a fake reference. You see, having an ELT blog has some downsides too.

I know that this post is just stating the obvious, but I think it’s important to remind teachers about the usefulness of references. If you feel that you have a good professional relationship with your academic manager or tutor, ask them for a reference letter. The worst thing that can happen is that they decline to give it to you, which wouldn’t be the end the world. More importantly, if all goes well, you’ll get a document that may contribute to your career progress, and I believe that it makes sense to pay attention to every little thing that could help you achieve your goals.