Page 1

The Six Steps to finding your first teaching job

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Copyrighted Material i-to-i Š All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. i-to-i and the hand device are protected through trade mark registration in the United Kingdom and in all countries where i-to-i have offices.

Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job Before you do anything, PRINT this out! This is intended as a simple, quick guide to finding your first teaching job abroad. There are only a few steps of Do’s’ and Don’ts. It’s a brief summary of everything that our years of experience have taught us. Once you’ve read this, you’ll have no excuse for not getting on that plane and living your dream!

Step One: Make the Decision Do 

Be sure that this is the right thing for you.

Make the decision to go, this may seem obvious. But half-hearted attempts are doomed to failure, so make the decision to just do it.

Decide where you want to go – different countries offer different salaries and packages. With i-to-i TEFL courses you can get a life-time of careers advice from experienced TEFL experts.


Think that living and working abroad will be the same as living at home, it rarely is. Be prepared for some culture shock and some very different ways of doing things

Step Two: Get Some Training Do 

Get the confidence to step into your first classroom as a teacher

Take a well recognised course.

Make sure you get the right course that suits your needs, visit for advice on finding the right TEFL course for you.


Make it up as you go along in the classroom, your students deserve more than that.

Just take any old course! See what extra help, support and resources the course provider offers you. 1

Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Step Three: Finding a Job Do 

Consider different options, recruitment companies should give you the assurance and confidence in the school, which you won’t have in applying direct to the school.

Research on sites like and and learn what you can expect in your chosen country.

Try looking for a job when you get there – pavement-pounding, using the local newspaper and directories is a great way, though you will need extra resources and guts to do this.

Get a recommendation about a school before you apply, there are lots of sharks out there who seem unable to pay on time and love to over-work their teachers!

Keep your expectations realistic when applying direct from your home country, many schools experience lots of no-shows from teachers, so they may offer the same position to many applicants, just to be sure that one turns up at the beginning of term.

Consider getting some short-term teaching experience by volunteering abroad or in your own country. Visit for more information.


Automatically accept (or apply for) the first job that comes your way, do the research on the school first. There are loads of jobs out there, make sure you choose the right one for you.

Step Four: Apply and Sell Yourself Do 

Whether you are dropping off your CV/resume in person, emailing or posting it. Make it relevant. Mention experience in dealing with people and standing up in front of people.

Make your CV/resume presentable: print it on nice paper, keep it in a plastic wallet if you are travelling with it.

Include a cheerful professional photograph – one that gives the school confidence that you are not going to walk into school hung-over every day.

Include all relevant certificates and references; make sure you take a course that offers a reference from your course tutor.

Include relevant experience and knowledge, like the lessons and books you used on your course. 2

Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Step Four: Apply and Sell Yourself continued ... Don’t 

Use holiday snaps or passport photographs, get a professional one – you have one chance!

Use jargon in your application. People from foreign countries may not be familiar with it.

Step Five: Giving a Good Interview Do 

Be cheerful and polite, first impressions are the most important. Being cheerful is one of the most important attributes of a successful teacher.

Be honest with the interviewer – they know what they are talking about. If you don’t know, say so, but also say that you are eager and willing to learn.

Make sure you are well-presented at the interview, this is vital in more traditional countries. So, pack at least one set of smart, wrinkle-proof clothes!

Show an interest and knowledge of their country, it gives the interviewer confidence that you know a little about the country and are eager to live and work there.


Turn up to an interview looking like you just got in from a night out.

Give mono-syllabic responses, it shows a lack of enthusiasm.

Don’t accept the job there and then, you might want to consider other offers first, you may also want to get to speak to other teachers in the school or teachers that have taught there previously.

Check out the interview questions later in this document, some you might be asked and some you might want to ask


Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Step Six: Getting Out There Do 

Take some materials with you, whether it’s just a practical grammar book. There are loads of great books for first time teachers as well as starter kits.

Take some smart clothes for teaching; we are not talking suits and ties, but certainly smart casual and not too revealing, keep local culture and values in mind.

You may need to take out original certificates; TEFL certificate and degree certificate if you have one.

Choose your flight carefully. Buy a flexible return flight to come back for the first holiday, this is the time when you are more likely to feel the pangs of home-sickness and the realisation that you didn’t pack the right sort of clothes! If you buy the right ticket you can always the change the return date – see STA Travel for details.

You may need to arrange visas etc. The schools should arrange the work permits for you when you arrive. There are, however, many other ways to arrange work permits if you are willing to ‘work around’ the system.

Learn as much local language as you can before stepping off the plane – it’s just simple courtesy to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ to your new boss in their language (even if you don’t understand the reply!)


Step off the plane dressed in cut-off jeans and ripped t-shirt if you’re being picked up from the airport by your new employer.

Forget to give it your best shot every day.


Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Some Extra Pointers Interview questions you could be asked 1. Which levels do you prefer to teach? Schools generally want to hire flexible teachers who can cover a range of language levels this makes it much easier for them to timetable and cover classes. You need to ensure that the school know that you are aware of the fact that all language levels have their own unique and interesting challenges and, ideally, that you are happy to cover all. 2. Do you prefer teaching adults or children? In most cases schools are looking for teachers who can cover all age groups. However, some specific roles are for a particular age group so you do need to ensure that you bear this in mind. In general teaching both adults and children is very enjoyable and both have different needs. Younger learners tend to need more variety and a higher paced lesson whereas adults can remain focussed for longer periods. However, it is important to remember that all learners do benefit from a variety of activities during a lesson to maintain interest and to cater for all learning styles. 3. Do you prefer to use text books or your own materials? Which text books have you used before? Schools around the world vary on their approach to text books. Some like teachers to follow a set course through a set text book, others prefer you to teach specific language points and use a variety of materials. There are some key text books in common use around the world and the Headway series is probably the most popular of these. Effective teaching will almost always mean combining your own materials and plans with those provided by text books and an interviewer will be looking for the ability to combine these with the focus being on ensuring that students are able to learn the main language points in the course. (Your i-to-i course will have introduced a variety of text books to you so you can use this knowledge in the interview)


Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Some Extra Pointers continued ... 4. Have you ever taught, and do you know anything about, examination classes? There are a variety of core exams that students around the world study for. With Young Learners the Starters, Movers and Flyers exams are becoming increasingly popular, with older learners TOEFL, TOEIC and IELTS are all major internationally recognised tests. Your course will cover different examinations and we would suggest that you do a little research on the different exams being used by the school that you are applying to. As with most areas of teaching, schools are looking for teachers with flexibility and willingness to cover a range of classes and you should always make it clear that even if you haven’t taught a particular exam course before that you would welcome the challenge and opportunity to add this to your range of skills. 5. How would you interest a group of teenagers in the classroom? You need to combine different interests with a clear task focus, otherwise discipline and attention can become a problem. Topic based lessons about subjects that interest teenagers often work well as the content can be directly related to their lives and interest. However, if you are thinking of using music as an activity try to make sure it is music that appeals to the group rather than just to yourself! 6. How would you settle a group of lively (rowdy!) students at the beginning of the class? All teachers face a rowdy class from time to time and often the reasons are little to do with you personally. However, be firm and continue with the lesson - shouting is not a good idea and tends just to make things worse. You should remember that most language schools are businesses and they depend on student fees for their existence. In many cases excluding a student may not be an option. Keeping the pace of activities high and having some optional ‘warmer’ activities always prepared means that you can quickly do something different to break up the rowdiness and then return to what you were teaching. Always ask the school what discipline procedures are in place and above all when faced with a rowdy class KEEP YOUR COOL.


Finding Work

The Six Steps to Finding your First Teaching Job

Some Extra Pointers continued ... 7. Is this your first visit to Thailand? How will you adjust to life in another country? Many recruiters will be concerned that you may suffer from culture shock / home-sickness and end up leaving the school / country. Be as honest as possible and don’t just say “Oh I’m sure it won’t be a problem”. If you have prepared properly for your interview the fact that you have researched the country and can even identify some areas that people commonly feel challenging will help to re-assure the school even if this is your first time working overseas. Wherever possible cite examples from other travel experiences and how you have coped in the past. Questions you may want to ask 

Ask about levels, books used, ages, discipline structure etc if they don’t.

How structured is the course/curriculum? How flexible is it? Is there much autonomy for the teacher in the classroom?

Ask about the length of the contract. This could be from 9 months to a full year

How many contact hours does the contract ask for? There are a range of contact hours expected from around 15-20 in some establishments to over 35 in others. Remember that you will have to plan for lessons as well as teach the classes.

Ask about what sort of on-going training (INSET) and teacher development is provided for? Good schools will often host weekly or fortnightly training and development sessions which is a great way to develop your skills and learn from others.

Ask about attire, working hours, climate, the local life and what activities you could be involved in after schools hours.

Ask how large the school is, how many teachers there are and are there any other English teachers. Have any English teacher been there longer than one year.

You should ask about payment in the interview (especially in a phone interview)

Ask to see the contract before you fully commit, this should be in English. You could always take it the local consulate of that country if you needed to.

You should also ask about the package, time off, holidays, any bonuses to cover holiday periods. Accommodation is very important; ask whether it’s included in the deal, if not ask how best to find it (get contacts, web addresses etc.) and how much it might cost. If it’s included check that it is furnished. 8

UK: 0870 787 2375 USA: 1-800-352-1793 Ireland: 058 40050 Australia: 1300 556 997

Six Steps to Finding Your First Teaching Job  

This is intended as a simple, quick guide to finding your first teaching job abroad. There are only a few steps of Do’s’ and Don’ts. It’s a...