Would you love to teach abroad, but you’re confused about the endless warnings of TEFL scams and trickery? You really don’t need to be: whilst there are some scams out there in the TEFL world, these are very rare, and when you know what to look out for, they’ll be easy to spot. The first thing to be aware of is that with the huge amount of TEFL courses out there, low prices can seem desirable, but when you put into consideration how many hours is required to take a TEFL course, the standard of the course and the tutors, and the overall experience, prices really shouldn’t be THAT low. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is…
To help you sort out the reputable TEFL jobs from the more dubious ones, we enlisted the help of our i-to-i TEFL experts.
What a good TEFL employer will do:
A good employer won’t ask you to pay money directly to them before arriving.
Many TEFL contracts specify ‘airfare reimbursement’ as a great perk. Don’t be put off by the ‘reimbursement’ part – understandably, it would be a risky business for employers to offer pre-paid flights – what if an employee quit after a couple of weeks?
There should always be someone at the school who has a strong grasp of the English language i.e. who runs you through the interview process. If they don’t have a fluent or near-fluent speaker of English at the school, question it.
In all formal contact, a good employer will always use letter-headed paper.
A reputable job should be able to supply you with websites, blogs, and links to speak with current/previous employees.
A good employer will not pressure you into accepting a job – if something doesn’t feel right, don’t feel you have to sign on the dotted line.
A good employer will provide their full address – be wary if they only offer you a PO box.
Be wary of an employer promising you a working visa after you arrive. For some countries, in South America, for example, getting a working visa in-country is extremely common but for others it is illegal and the repercussions can be steep.
5 things you should do for EVERY TEFL contract:
Research your employer – a quick Google search should bring up testimonials and reviews. You might also want to search teacher forums (e.g. http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/) for honest information about people and schools.
Be cautious with sending personal details
Think of how you found the job – was it through a respected jobs board? Did the site feel safe?
Get everything confirmed in writing!
Ask people you know and talk to fellow teachers on Chalkboard about opportunities they know about and where they’d recommend.
All is not lost if you end up at a school you’re not happy with. Breaking a contract is possible, although you might miss out on an end-of-semester bonus and it could potentially affect your visa. Contracts generally run for a year anyway, so at least the end is in sight if you find the job just isn’t for you.