Recruiting and Training ESL Teachers

Published in the ESL / EFL JobFinder -


It is increasingly difficult to find qualified ESL teachers now more then ever before. As little as 8 years ago, many schools overseas were willing to take North American English born persons 'not' holding a degree or an ESL-type certification. If you had some post secondary education and experience in public relations or instruction, in practically any field, you were able to find employment teaching English in a foreign country.

Presently, as competition grows, the governments of various foreign countries are making it increasingly difficult for foreigners to get work visas. Some countries have even passed laws requiring a minimum of a Bachelors degree before considering a candidate for a visa. However, if a young native English-speaking person decides to travel to Asia, he or she would be approached frequently for teaching or tutoring work. Accepting these jobs is illegal, for both the foreigner and the schools hiring. You could risk being deported and/or fined, if caught.

When I first started researching the teach/travel business, Japan was the hot place to go. The pay was amazing. Some schools were offering $8,000.00 US per month. Costs were high, but you were still able to save about $5,000.00 a month and live comfortably. That has changed. These high wages are rarely available, and the prerequisites at all levels have become stricter.

As a recruiter, I am continually asked questions regarding the ESL/TESOL training certifications. Many schools overseas are not honestly concerned if a person has this training. Firstly, they are interested in a university degree. Any other certifications or education is a plus and can make a teacher more competitive. I have taken the TESOL certification course, and found it to be very beneficial. It helped me a great deal when working with different levels of English instruction, and age groups. It gave me knowledge and the resources in order to make my classes more interesting. I highly recommend all potential teachers to take this training for basic information.

Recently, I have researched various ESL training schools in my area and found that they are not only charging the students for their courses, but once they complete, are taking the top qualified graduates and recruiting them as well. The facility collects a recruiting fee from the foreign schools. When training facilities advertisements say, "Jobs Guaranteed", it is not realistic, as foreign schools have the final right of acceptance or refusal for all hiring. There are always exceptions to all rules. Sponsorship from a multinational chain can bypass most regulations.

If you enjoy people, cultures, learning and traveling, teaching ESL is a great way to immerse yourself into a new adventure. The pay varies and so does the lifestyle, but you will have an interesting time. The benefits definitely out-weigh the negatives, no matter what you may have heard. We get what we put into an experience. We are all different and so are the results. For those with only a little formal education, there are opportunities as well. The start pay may be less, but the learning experience great. A little extra research is needed to find schools with different requirements. Volunteering as an ESL teacher in a developing nation is also possible. If you are up for a challenge, it's all education. "Good Luck"


Philip McAlary is the Managing Director of ( a recruiting agency based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

By Philip McAlary