Boost your TEFL CV and income during the holidays: 5 top tips!

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The Easter holidays are upon us here in Barcelona, and many teachers are looking forward to a well-deserved break. However, time off normal teaching duties also provides a chance to boost your income. It may also present an opportunity to gain work experience in a new area of TEFL, as well as broadening your professional network and offering an enjoyable way to spend – at least part of – the break. 

Depending on when you’re based, your academic calendar will vary. Most TEFL teachers, though, can expect the following:

  • Two or three shorter holidays during the academic year. Here in Europe, for example, these fall around Christmas and Easter. Their duration is usually 1 – 2 weeks each.
  • One longer holiday. These divide academic years and typically last 8 – 12 weeks. Often, these align with the warmest months of summer. This means approximately June – September in the northern hemisphere, and November – January further south.

In many parts of the world, students attend school for around 200 days per year. Teachers, then, often have substantially more time off than average, and many look for other opportunities outside of their main job. Regardless of the holidays you have, there’s bound to be a way for you to boost your income and learn something new. So, what’s the best way to go about all this? Read on for our Top Tips!

Many TEFL teachers look for additional work during the holidays.

Tip 1: Teach TEFL for your term time employer

Perhaps we aren’t reinventing the wheel with this one, but don’t forget that continuing to work at the institution may well be a viable option. Many schools continue to offer classes, particularly during longer holidays. Teaching these may provide you with an opportunity to build your experience in a particular area. If you’re relatively inexperienced, your Director of Studies may be reluctant to give you, for instance, an extensive Cambridge C1 Advanced class. A summer course is a good way for you to teach this level for the first time, and probably during a period when Academic Managers have more time to support you. 

Even outside of teaching, your school may have hours available for level testers, resource organisation, and other teaching-related tasks. These tend to be flexible, and may help you to get to know the workings of your institution better while providing a bit of extra income. If you’re a relatively new employee, be sure to express your interest in these responsibilities well before the end of the academic year. Roles like this may be in-demand among colleagues and it’s important that managers are aware that you’re ready and willing to do some work during the break.

TEFL institutions often require level testers during the holidays.

But it’s not for everyone…

At the end of the day, however, we must accept that it’s not feasible for everyone to keep working at the school where they are usually employed. Visa issues may play a part, or perhaps you are working somewhere that doesn’t offer courses during the holidays. Another possibility is that you’re ready for a change of scene and feel like escaping from your usual routine. Luckily, we have plenty of tips if any of these apply to you! Read on…

Tip 2 : Work with private students

It’s not only teachers who work less during the holidays! Adult students and young learners alike often have a break from their normal responsibilities and more time to work on their English. This may well mean that they are prepared to undertake a short course of private lessons. 

For example, a student who is preparing for one of the English proficiency exams could use the start of the summer break for some intensive last-minute study. This is where you come in! Advertise your services for free on relevant social media channels such as Facebook groups for expats or your Instagram page. Try to inspire students by offering specialised services such as exam preparation, learn-through-play for kids, English for travel etc. Want to demonstrate your area of specialism to potential customers? A Teacher Development Course certificate will make all the difference.

You might also wish to connect with potential private students through paid services such as Preply or Italki, though many feel these are only worth the investment if you intend to take on private students throughout the year. However you connect with learners, online classes are very flexible. Intend to travel during the holiday? Even finding one or two private online students will let you boost your income while leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy beach, books, bars – whatever you enjoy!

Tip 3: Work as an invigilator

In most parts of the world, English proficiency examinations often take place during the holidays. This makes sense! Firstly, students are more likely to be available to attend. Secondly, those who would normally be teaching are free to work as invigilators and examiners. And herein lie our next two opportunities for boosting your income.

Invigilation is a great way for inexperienced teachers to get a foothold in the world of official exams. It lets you find out more about how these are conducted, while also earning some extra spending money and meeting new people. You will normally be required to attend a short, unpaid training session, but can then begin working straight away.

Responsibilities vary, but you will generally need to distribute and collect exam material, answer questions, prevent cheating etc. The work is flexible and you can typically sign up to invigilate just when you’re available. The best way to begin working as an official exam invigilator is to contact your nearest exam centre.

No official exam centres in your area? Never fear! Many language academies – like our very own Oxford House – run regular mock examinations. These also require invigilators and it’s well worth contacting large schools locally to see if they have any positions available.

Tip 4: Train as a TEFL examiner

Have at least two years’ teaching experience post-CELTA (or equivalent)? Perhaps you’ve already been working as an examiner and are ready for the next step? You might be a suitable candidate to train as an examiner. Most teachers start out by becoming a speaking examiner for Cambridge B1 Preliminary or B2 First. This involves completing a series of in-person and online training sessions which teach you all you need to know about what’s required. Being an examiner has various advantages:

  • Pay: the typical hourly rate  is better on average than for teaching
  • Scheduling: official exams often take place during the holidays
  • Flexibility: sign up only when you wish to work
  • Great networking opportunities: you can make new contacts and later become a writing and/ or IELTS examiner
  • Your teaching: you will gain new insights into the requirements of official speaking exams.

Think examining might be for you? Find out more here.

TEFL examining can be a lucrative holiday income source.

Tip 5: Teach TEFL at a holiday camp or summer school

When the summer comes around, many teachers feel ready to relax and unwind. This is completely natural – it’s vital to look after our wellbeing and enjoy some downtime. Nevertheless, after a week or three, too much R&R can start to feel like a drag. As we know, summer holidays are often rather long. It makes sense, then, that for professional and financial reasons, many teachers choose to work for part of the break. If this situation sounds familiar, it’s likely you have considered a summer school.

These take place all over the world. Their objective is usually to help children and teenagers improve their English via an enjoyable holiday experience. Many offer English lessons in the morning followed by sports and excursions during the afternoon. Others may lack explicit TEFL classes, and instead conduct various engaging activities through the medium of the English language. Regardless of the specific set-up, enthusiastic and qualified TEFL teachers are usually in high demand.

Teaching TEFL at a summer school is a great way to earn money and gain skills.

How should I go about it?

While local summertime is the most common period for this type of work to become available, some institutions offer winter and spring programmes. These are typically shorter in duration, but otherwise have similar characteristics. Whatever the time of year, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind when looking for this type of work:

  • Generally speaking, the best paid summer schools are in Northern Europe and parts of East Asia. You may wish to apply elsewhere, but will often receive only a minimal salary. Some summer schools attract staff by offering a fun and easy way to visit the country concerned. If boosting your income is secondary to broadening your horizons, it may be worth your while to consider these.
  • Make sure that accommodation is included. If your destination is far from where you live or inaccessible, travel expenses may also be covered.
  • Ask about the job description. It’s not uncommon for TEFL teachers in this context to be expected to chaperone expeditions, undertake boarding house duties, attend meetings etc.
  • Consider boosting your skills with a course in Teaching Young Learners or Teaching Teens. This is especially advisable if you are applying to the best paid and most prestigious schools.

A final thing to keep in mind when applying for this kind of job is not to overstretch yourself. Summer school work can be extremely enjoyable and is a great way to work with young people in a relatively relaxed, outdoor environment. All the same, hours are usually long and it can be very demanding. Make sure, then, that you keep some time for relaxation and take steps to avoid burnout.

Final thoughts

As we’ve seen, most TEFL teachers have quite a bit more than the average amount of holiday. This means that it’s possible to strike a balance. You can still enjoy a well-deserved rest, but also make time to take on some extra work. This has the advantage of boosting your income, while also adding variety to your calendar and helping you to gain some important new skills. Most English experienced English teachers will have embarked upon various holiday jobs over the years, and their experiences are often very positive. For example, Oxford House teacher Richard Parkin tells us:

“I’ve had two great experiences of taking on temporary holiday jobs outside of my usual teaching schedule. Firstly, I spent two weeks giving pre-course English classes at high schools in Northern Italy. This was a great way to explore the region and meet other teachers, while also building my repertoire of engaging and gamified tasks to use with teenagers. Later, I also worked in Switzerland as an English teacher and activity leader on a summer programme at a well-known boarding school. Although the days are long, the work is very rewarding and the pay is good – I have already arranged to return there later this year!”

What does the expert say?

Justin helps our graduates find work and grow their careers.
Justin McCarty, Careers Advisor, Oxford TEFL

It seems only fair that we give the final word to our Careers Advisor, Justin McCarty. With a great deal of experience in Human Resources, he is adept at guiding graduates as they begin and develop their TEFL careers. Indeed, all Oxford TEFL graduates gain access to lifelong support from our Careers Service. This means that he is used to working with professionals from all over the world. He says:

“Teachers often tell me that one of the things they appreciate most about TEFL is the flexibility. You can work in-person or online, at home or abroad, and with any number of age groups and levels. Holiday work is a great example of this. I’d recommend using a temporary job as an opportunity to try out something new. For example, you could apply to work in a place you’ve never been in order to see if it might be for you in the longer term. If you’ve no experience of teaching online, the holidays are a great chance to dip your toe in the water. Teachers with varied experience are always appreciated by employers, especially in the post-covid landscape where flexibility is valued more than ever.”

There you have it then – holiday work has a lot to offer the TEFL teacher! Best of luck on the job hunt!

What next?

If you’re thinking of starting an exciting career in TEFL, find out all you need to know about our CELTA course here, and apply here. Oxford TEFL jobs may well be of interest if you are already on the hunt for holiday work, and don’t forget about Oxford TEFL Connect if you are looking for ongoing, flexible support as you get started in your career. Finally, we’d recommend our Teacher Development Courses for anyone who wants to demonstrate to potential employers that they are beginning to specialise in their chosen field or fields. As always, Fran is on-hand for any questions you might have – just email [email protected]!

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