ESL teachers looking to work abroad have a variety of employment settings to choose from, each offering unique opportunities. The most common types of institutions hiring English teachers include private language schools, public schools, international schools, universities, and private tutoring organizations. In regions like Europe and Latin America, private language schools represent the largest number of available positions. In contrast, government-run public schools are a significant employer in many Asian countries. Additionally, universities and colleges often seek qualified ESL teachers, especially those with advanced degrees and experience. Understanding the types of schools and their hiring preferences in your chosen location is vital for a successful job search in teaching English abroad.
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Teaching English in private language schools, which account for a significant proportion of ESL jobs globally, has its pros and cons. These schools vary greatly in size, ranging from small, single-teacher classrooms to large international chains with hundreds of staff. They cater to diverse age groups and proficiency levels, with some specializing in areas like young learners or business English.
- Variety: Teachers can experience a range of class sizes, from one-on-one sessions to larger groups of 15 or more students.
- Flexibility: Schools offer courses for students balancing other commitments, leading to varied working hours.
- Inconsistent Work Conditions: The quality of working conditions can differ significantly from one school to another.
- Variable Hours: The typical workload includes 25 to 30 teaching hours per week, plus 10 to 15 hours for lesson planning, which might be challenging for some.
- Schedule: Due to course timing aimed at working students or young learners, teachers often work outside of standard daytime hours.
In Europe and Latin America, these schools primarily focus on adult education, whereas in Asia, there's a stronger emphasis on teaching young learners. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for teachers considering this pathway.
Teaching English in public or state-run schools presents various pros and cons, with opportunities varying across regions. While there are some positions in Europe and the Middle East, the majority are in Asian countries, notably South Korea and Japan.
- Structured Environment: Teachers typically assist local teachers, following a regular schedule of about 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
- Benefits: Public schools often offer attractive salaries, health insurance, paid holidays, and sometimes include paid return airfares and accommodation assistance.
- Advance Hiring: These positions are usually filled in advance, providing job security before leaving your home country.
- Strict Requirements: Many public schools prefer hiring native English speakers with a four-year college degree, making the entry criteria stringent.
- Limited Flexibility: The fixed timetable might not suit everyone, especially those seeking more flexible working hours.
- Assistant Role: Teachers often work as assistants rather than leading the classroom, which might not align with everyone's career aspirations.
These factors make teaching in public schools a compelling option for those who meet the criteria and prefer a structured work environment, but it may not be ideal for everyone.
English language summer camps are a popular option for ESL teachers who are looking for a short-term contract. Summer camps typically run for around four to six weeks and involve school children of all ages. These camps are particularly common across much of Europe, although a smaller number can be found throughout Asia and Latin America. The most numerous opportunities in this sector are in Spain, France and Italy. Summer camp jobs are often aimed at teachers under 30. These jobs are mostly filled in person, however, some of the bigger employers do advertise vacancies online.
ESL teachers who have plenty of previous experience and a high-level of academic qualifications might be eligible to work in universities in some countries around the world. The number of opportunities in this sector are relatively small, but the salaries are often superior to those offered by public schools or language centers. Students in this environment are likely to be at an advanced level of English ability.
Volunteer teaching can be a great way to spend time in fascinating parts of the world that are often off of the beaten track. It also provides a chance for teachers to make a real difference to the lives of children and adults who have no other way of gaining English language instruction that can lead to jobs in the tourism industry and elsewhere. Many volunteer teaching jobs are based on short term stays of between one to four weeks, although longer term options are also possible in some areas. This type of teaching role is most likely to be found in less developed parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa.