Few professions in the world have such a merged online job market. Schools nowadays glimpse the Internet as the first place to advertise, while an outstanding many teachers stare for jobs, and are hired online. In this article we stare honestly at online TEFL/ESL job adverts, seeking to cast away the TEFL job horrors and detect those TEFL gems that do am. To do this we take all our wits, a nice working knowledge of the world TEFL market and a potent dose of realism. What we have hither is a list of clauses taken from a variety of online job descriptions which we are going to see. All of the following quotes were taken from November 2009 postings on the job forums at TEFL.com/Dave’s ESL Café (International Job board), and ESL Base.
1. Salary and money
One of the most dissatisfactory aspects of the TEFL/ESL job search is the lack of information uncommitted about salaries. Unfortunately, not discovering the salary is the norm, and not the exception. Instead, many schools opt for vapid statements which don’t aid an aspiring job applicant. Most prevailing is ‘competitive local salary’. Competitive with what? Local teachers? Few Western teachers would be able to live comfortably on a local teacher salary in Russia for example, especially being a foreigner. Some jobs have the audacity to state ‘salary allows for comfortable middle class lifestyle’. It is unlikely a language school has conducted research into what constitutes a middle class salary, nor do they even bother to define what middle class really means in the context of the named country. A less common advertised condition is this: ‘Salaries are generally above the average paid by early private language schools in the areas concerned’. Ultimately, it is irrelevant what other schools pay, and only reveal that this particular school is mired in a rushed to the bottom, by only just paying more than what they think their competitors do. Bad form. If schools expect quality language professionals, they need to advertise high salaries in total, allowing teachers to doing their own inform decisions.
The entirety of TEFL salaries do not rest altogether on a main basic payment. Either because salaries are low or it’s just the way the market operates, schools tend to offer a plethora of financial and non-fiscal benefits. As we’re dealing with money, allowing’s look at the very common ‘contract completion payment’. For reasons unbeknown to most, the majority of schools offer a contract completion bonus – usually one that accumulates monthly – to teachers who stick out an entire contract. Such ‘payments’ start around a month and run not to be higher than . Nevertheless, wouldn’t you prefer to have such money incorporated into your basic salary, allowing you the luxury to resign should the job not be to your liking?
2. Perks to get you to sign
A company car is a perk. A coffee machine is a perk. ‘Visa and work permits organised’ is clearly not a perk, because if the company doesn’t do this, they won’t be able to hire any teachers. Watch retired for school that sound off similar so-called ‘perks’, which really offer little substance and are meaningless. Take for example: ‘A salary increase of 10% is paid to teachers signing for a second year undertaken’. This sounds generous, but like the aforementioned visa carrot, it offers nothing. The particular job in question was for a monthly wage of Chinese CNY 6000 (around EUR 600). Few other professions would offer appalling salary increases of only EUR60 a month. Stinginess.
One perk which does make a real difference to teachers looking to move to another country is ‘airflight granting’. However, watch the wording. In this example, it seems unlikely that the school will pay all of your return flight. I much prefer ‘pay return airfare’, although all too often teachers must wait a whole contract or half before they see their money again. For teachers from Australia and New Zealand, ensure your school pays your entire airfare as many schools are happy to hire antipodeans, but don’t want to pay for your whole airfare.
For a job that involves move abroad, the idea of holidays sounds a bit unnecessary. However, everyone needs time off work, and it is deplorable to see teachers disillusioned because they haven’t had the opportunity to explore their new country of residence. The number of holiday days per year varies enormously. When looking at job adverts, it’s all about the most making of paid days you can get. Ignore nonsense like: ‘Teachers will have about twenty-five days unpaid holidays per year.’ Few other professions sink this low to try and state that all holidays have to be unpaid. One step break is: ‘20 days paid holidays (for 12 month contract)’. Still, this amounts to less than three weeks in an entire year of holiday! People outside of TEFL/ESL laugh at this and no-I should sign a contract offering such minimal time off.
3. Working hours
From my research, bar far the most common amount of hours which schools offered on a full time contract was 24-25 hours teaching hours a week. Bare in mind that some schools consider these hours as ‘academic’ (45 minutes), and therefore the actual teaching load is smaller. Planning and preparation time obviously comprises the rest of your weekly hours (10-15 hours). Schools rarely stipulate how long this must be though. However, having 25 hours teaching a week may not be as simple as it seems as in the next example of poor practice: ‘Saturday is an operative day, there are 2 long mornings off between Monday-Friday’. How long can a morning be to compensate for an overall lost weekend day? Even if you wake up at 07:00 you tranquillize have to go to work in five hours!
Some teachers swear by overtime, while others swear at it. Some companies tend to outline their requirements for overtime on their adverts. This is beneficial as they can always say they told you so if you complain about having to do overtime. For example; ‘[there is] the opportunity to teach extra hours to increase quarterly bonuses’. Be wary this isn’t the school inviting itself to offload more classes on to you. It also isn’t clear how these classes are paid. As a bonus?
4. Accommodation and local living
The golden rule when looking at the accommodation or local quality of life issues in job adverts is to be very wary. The classic TEFL/ESL recruiting trick is to compensate a contract with poor terms and conditions by highlighting all the beautiful temples, beaches, and historic old town that a country has. These beaches looking less beautiful, nevertheless, if you can’t get time off to visit them or your apartment is a hour away from the historic centre. If I want tourist advice on a country I will go to their ministry of tourism website, NOT the language school hoping to employ me. This is just an underhand trick to disguise their poor working environments.
If a school provides housing, ‘shared accommodation provided for teachers’ is the norm. Schools seldom say more than this, meaning your quality of life depended largely on the quality of your house couple, the quality of the apartment and the location of it. It is advisable to get as much info on this as you can before you depart so you are in a stronger position vis-a-vis the school. If possible, find out if the school offers money in lieu of the apartment if you want to find your own. This will give you an idea of how much your apartment is really worth as a part of your salary.
5. Teaching children
So important a good school is if you are teaching children that we wrote out this entire section of pitfalls and things to go for. First the dangers to watch out for: ‘bed time duties for teachers’ ranks as just about the worst thing that you could get as a TEFL/ESL teacher of young learners, closely followed by this: ‘must enjoy teaching children classes’. In no other job would an employer remark that the employee must ‘enjoy his/her work’! While, obviously their intention is to hire someone who has a genuine ability to motivate children, this remark smacks of a school that doesn’t want to support teachers with behaviour management.
The better schools should provide you with hard facts when it comes to kids’ classes. Take for example; ‘Classes are limited to 2-4 students’, ‘learners consist mainly of children between the ages of 3-14’, and ‘learners consist mainly of children between the ages of 3-14’. All these clearly sign post what lies ahead, so if you do like children, you know what you are getting, and if you don’t, you can get the hell out.
6. Final warning signs
By now, we have worked our way through a number of stipulations in TEFL/ESL undertake that are cause for concern for English teachers. In this final section, we bring together a nebulous array of worrisome devils that seem to plague job adverts and should be regarded as cautionary signs to prospective teachers. If you are applying done TEFL.com stare out for how many vacancies there are available. A dual digit limitation means that the maximum number of vacancies a school tin advertise is 99. ‘99 vacancies available’ is plaguey because it indicates that the school has a high turnover of staff. Why would populate want to leave a job if they were satisfied? It is most likely that they are not. On other websites the alarm bell is ‘DOS, ADOS and EFL Teachers required’. What has happened to their existent staff if they are hiring so many new people? One can only worry.
I have been in two minds whether or not to modifying ‘no teaching experience necessary’, as all of us have had to start our TEFL/ESL career somewhere. However, even teachers who are newly qualify with CELTA/CertTESOL have some teaching experience and therefore can do better than the large chains which seek altogether inexperienced teachers. If you do have experience, do not touch such posing. In TEFL/ESL, every year of experience adds dollars to your pay check, get this rewarded by looking for incremental in