Want to compete for the best TEFL jobs? Here’s how.

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Your first year of post-CELTA teaching is full of challenges and rewards. It’s exciting to be able to put into practice what you learnt on the course. You’re now planning and teaching without the help of a tutor. After a while you begin to feel like a ‘real’ TEFL teacher for the first time. As time goes on, it’s likely that your workload becomes more diverse. You probably start teaching Young Learners, exam classes, Business English or others.

As you gain confidence and experience, you might well ask yourself “what’s next?” There are any number of reasons that you may begin to think about working on your professional development. Perhaps your first teaching job or two have given you the experience you need, but the pay isn’t too hot. Maybe you’re happy with the school where you work, but you’re finding that the best-paid classes are reserved for ‘senior teachers’. You may also have become interested in non-teaching roles such as management, training or materials writing. It’s possible that the idea of moving abroad is beginning to appeal more and more. Some people simply miss the sense of accomplishment that CELTA brought, and are ready to take on a new challenge.

So what can you do if you’re serious about competing for the best TEFL jobs? How can you make your CV stand out in a sometimes crowded job market? This guide will tell you all you need to know. It gives you the knowledge and confidence to decide what your next step should be. Without further ado then, let’s get started!

Increase your changes of interviews for the best TEFL jobs with our top tips!

What are my options?

Teacher Development Course

What? 

Teacher Development Courses are designed for qualified and/ or experienced teachers who would like to increase their knowledge and classroom skills in a specific area. The course content is generally practical and will include ideas and material you can take and use in your classes straight away. You can normally expect to receive a digital certificate on completion of the course. You’ll find that this serves as a great boost to your CV.

Format

The length of a Development Course can vary, but a 30-hour duration is about average. Similarly, there will be differences in the structure of the Teacher Development Courses offered by various providers. To give you an idea, here’s how Oxford TEFL’s courses are structured:

– The course lasts 30 hours, over 3 or 6 weeks (you choose).

 – You can start any Friday of the year. Your start date is when your tutor will get in contact to introduce themselves and connect you to the online learning platform. This doesn’t mean you have to be available on Fridays specifically; the course is designed to be very flexible.

– You will arrange a convenient time for your online tutorials directly with your tutor. We are accustomed to training busy teachers from all over the world. This means we will take your time zone into consideration.

– There are three forty-minute live tutorials, one at the end of each module. During the tutorials, you will receive support with assignments, reflect on and discuss what you are learning, and ask any questions. Naturally, you can also contact your tutor by email if you need support during the self-study portion of the course.

You will notice that this format provides a lot of flexibility. Don’t be put off, therefore, if you have a busy work schedule or lots of family commitments. Only the live tutor sessions require your presence at a specific time. This means that the rest of the work can be completed at a time to suit you. The fact of having two possible course durations means that with as little as 5 hours per week, you could be well on your way to becoming a specialist in your area of choice.

Why? 

The reasons for choosing a Development Course are as diverse as teachers themselves, but some of the most common include:

  • It makes you stand out from newly-qualified teachers who have no specialisation. If torn between two recent CELTA graduates with little experience, it stands to reason that employers will choose the candidate with a Development Certificate.
  • You have become interested in a particular area of TEFL. It may be, for example, that your students have difficulty with their pronunciation but you’re not sure how to help them. Maybe you’d like to start working with Young Learners but need some guidance to get started.
  • It aligns with previous studies or professional experience. If, for instance, you had a previous career as a businessperson, a Teaching Business English course could well be a good fit for you. Qualified school teachers might benefit from a Teaching CLIL certificate, and so on.
  • You see that there is a demand in your country/ company for teachers with expertise in a certain area. In Barcelona, for example, students often want to pass official English proficiency exams. Teachers with suitable qualifications to prepare learners for these have an easier time finding a job.
  • Certain classes pay better in your context. Online companies may pay more for Business or IELTS classes. Similarly, especially at higher levels, some language schools offer a better wage for Cambridge Exam groups

If you’d like to read about how Teacher Development Courses have helped some of our graduates take their teaching to the next level, click here and here.

Which?

The Provider

The first thing to consider is the course provider. It’s essential that your tutor or tutors are Trinity DipTESOL or Cambridge DELTA qualified, with real expertise in the relevant field. Also check that the course has some kind of ‘live’ component as it’s important to be able to speak to your tutor about any questions or areas of difficulty. Naturally, cost will form a part of your selection process, but don’t be swayed on this factor alone. You should also consider the number of students per course, the mode of delivery, and how well-known the provider is. It’s sensible too to read some testimonials and find out what former students have to say about their experiences.

The Specialism within TEFL

For some teachers, the choice of which area to focus on is a cinch. Others may feel that they need some guidance when deciding which way to go. Naturally, different providers will offer different specialisms. To give you some inspiration, though, these are the 9 Teacher Development Courses offered by Oxford TEFL:

Certificate in Teaching English Online

Recent statistics show that 32% of TEFL students are taking at least one online class each week. This is the highest recorded percentage and seems set to grow. On the one hand, those who took a face-to-face CELTA will find a course like this a great introduction to the virtual classroom. On the other, though, it’s also ideal for 100% Online CELTA graduates who want to expand their repertoire of online teaching strategies and make their CV stand out.

Certificate in Teaching Business English

Business English is in-demand worldwide. However, it’s especially needed in parts of Asia and the Middle East. These can be among the best-paid TEFL destinations, and a credible, qualified Business English teachers really can make a good living.

Certificate in Teaching Cambridge Exam Preparation

The KET, PET, FCE, CAE and CPE exams are near-compulsory for English learners in some parts of the world. Demonstrating that you understand the needs of these students will really maximise your chances of getting a stable, well-paid job. Click here to read more about the most popular English Proficiency exams.

Certificate in Teaching English for Academic Purposes

This type of course is for teachers who would like to work in universities and higher education institutions. Even a cursory job search shows that EAP jobs are among the best-paid. Well worth considering if you’re the academic type!

Certificate in Leadership in ELT

Courses like this are for current or aspiring Directors of Studies, Assistant Directors and Academic Managers.  With good providers, the tutor will be highly experienced in managing people and institutions. Oxford TEFL’s Leadership tutor is our Director, Duncan Foord.

Certificate in Teaching CLIL

This is for teachers who would like to teach content subjects (Maths, Geography, Science etc.) in English. Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a growing area of the ELT industry, and some lucrative jobs are available.

Certificate in Teaching IELTS

In some parts of the world, a good grade in the IELTS exam is very much in-demand. Taking a course in how to help students to acheive this can really boost your employability.

Certificate in Teaching Pronunciation

Even experienced teachers often feel that they neglect pronunciation work. A specialism in this area will improve your job prospects across the board. You will find, however, that Business English students especially tend to be very keen to improve their pronunciation.

Certificate in Teaching Young Learners

Teaching Young Learners is fast becoming the bread and butter of a lot of language schools. As kids begin learning English at younger and younger ages, there is demand for qualified TYL teachers. Show employers that you’re taking these classes seriously by obtaining a Development Course certificate.

When?

Some teachers choose to take a Development Course immediately after graduating from the CELTA course. This is advisable especially for those who are targeting a specific sort of job. For instance, if you love kids and teenagers, you might decide to take a Certificate in Teaching Young Learners. In this way, you give your CV a boost and can start looking for your preferred type of job from the beginning. 

In other situations, it can be better to wait before embarking on your Teacher Development Course. Teaching English for Academic Purposes, for instance, is one of the best-paid and most challenging aspects of TEFL, and in most cases we wouldn’t recommend taking this course without at least two years’ experience. Often even very experienced teachers can benefit from a Teacher Development Course. Have you ever felt that you’re stuck in a rut? Tired of teaching the same old groups? A Teacher Development Course could help you to get back your va va voom and open the doors to some exciting changes.

So, is a Teacher Development Course right for me?

Hopefully by now you have seen how valuable a Teacher Development Course can be. They make a great way to get started with formalised professional development, and really do show to potential employers that you are taking your job as a TEFL teacher seriously. If you haven’t studied for a while, a TDC can be a great way to get back in the saddle and many graduates tell us that working towards these certificates has reignited their passion for teaching. If you’re feeling extra motivated, there may even be more than one course you’d like to take. Many providers will offer a discount on subsequent courses. Oxford TEFL, for instance, offers €50 off. 

However beneficial a Teacher Development Course might be, it doesn’t usually open the doors to the very top jobs in TEFL. To be considered for these, you will normally need a level-7 teaching qualification. This brings us neatly onto our next point…

Trinity DipTESOL (or Cambridge DELTA)

What? 

The Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Trinity DipTESOL qualification) is equivalent to a Cambridge DELTA. Both are advanced level qualifications for experienced TEFL teachers, and are recognised and respected all around the world. These courses will transform your teaching and are intended to leave graduates as real experts in the field.

As with the Development Courses, there are many different reasons for taking a DipTESOL course or equivalent. Many teachers who do so are looking for find jobs in the following areas of TEFL:

  • Leadership positions such as Academic Coordinator or Director of Studies
  • Becoming a Teacher Trainer
  • Teaching well-paid, specialised classes such as C2 exam classes
  • Writing coursebooks and other materials.

In some countries, the Trinity DipTESOL (or Cambridge Delta) is required in order to obtain a working visa. This is especially true in areas of the Middle East and Asia, which can often be among the best-paid places to work in TEFL. On the subject of pay, some schools – Oxford House included – offer a pay rise to Diploma-qualified teachers, meaning it may well begin to pay for itself sooner than you might imagine.

Improving TEFL job prospects by studying for the DipTESOL.
Format 

Again, depending on which specific course you choose to do, and which provider you go with, there will be minor differences in the format. To give you an idea though, these are the options offered for Oxford TEFL’s Trinity DipTESOL course:

Option 1 (Blended)

7 months part-time online + 4 weeks intensive face-to-face training including teaching practice in Barcelona, Cádiz, Kerala or Hong Kong.

Assessment: Unit 1 (in a registered centre), Unit 2 (Online), Unit 3 and 4 (in Barcelona, Cádiz, Kerala or Hong Kong). In the case of restrictions due to COVID-19, you will be able to switch to Option 2 (below) to do units 3 and 4 online.

Option 2 (Fully Online)

7 months part-time online + 4 weeks intensive online training including your teaching practice.

Assessment: Unit 1 (in a registered centre), Units 2, 3 and 4 (Online).

The 7-month part-time phase is certainly a commitment, but teachers often continue working full-time while completing it. This means that the DipTESOL course can be very flexible, especially as you are able to complete the Units in an order and at a time to suit you. With up to three years to complete all the required assessments, you have ample time to consolidate new material.

Why? 

Job Opportunities

One common reason for wanting to undertake the DipTESOL or equivalent is that teachers want to work in one of the areas we discussed before:

Teacher Training

Everyone remembers that one CELTA tutor who went the extra mile to ensure that you all had a great experience. If you’d like to work as a CELTA or CertTESOL tutor, you will need to get diploma-qualified first. Having the Diploma might also give you the opportunity to give in-house training sessions at the company you work for. This is typically paid over and above your usual earnings, and is a great way to add some teacher training experience to your CV.

Materials Writing

Writing TEFL coursebooks is one of the most prestigious and best-paid jobs in the industry. If you’re interested in working with a large publisher and entering this specialisation, the DipTESOL or equivalent is a must. There are also other ways for the diploma-qualified teachers to monetise their materials. For example, there is now a growing industry of teachers who produce and sell worksheets and other resources through a range of online platforms. 

Leadership

Most medium-sized and large language schools will only offer management positions to diploma-qualified teachers. If you’re hoping to be offered a position as Director of Studies or Academic Manager, the skills you’ll learn on your DipTESOL or DELTA course are indispensable. As you would imagine, these positions tend to be rather well-paid, and often give you the opportunity to put your own mark on the institution.

The fact that you have a free choice of topic for the Unit 2 project makes the DipTESOL especially attractive for those aiming to work in the fields outlined above. Determined to become a Manager? Interview those who are currently doing those roles to research their attitudes and opinions. Keen to be a Teacher Trainer? Observe some in action and write a project about that to kick-start your goals.

Leadership jobs are available to those who have the DipTESOL or equivalent.
Quality and Content

Regardless of your motivations, with Oxford TEFL’s Trinity DipTESOL course, you can be assured that you are working with highly trained experts who provide unrivalled support and are on-hand to guide you through the rewards and challenges of this kind of course. You will also learn about areas of TEFL which might not have previously registered on your radar. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

Second-Language Acquisition – this field takes in aspects of applied linguistics, psychology and education to explore how students learn a second language.

Teaching Listening – how can we actually help our students to improve their listening skills, rather than just testing them time and again?

Syllabus Design – you’re used to planning lessons, but what are the considerations to take into account when planning a longer unit of study?

English as a Global language – how does its status as a lingua franca affect the teaching and learning of English?

As well as these, you and your students will benefit from the strong focus on phonology the DipTESOL course has. You will learn to improve students’ pronunciation, and build your confidence in the use of the phonemic chart and ability to integrate a phonological focus into all of your lessons.

Networking

Quality Diploma courses will attract professionals from all over the world. This means that you will be working alongside fellow teachers from a range of backgrounds and contexts. A Trinity DipTESOL or Cambridge DELTA course is a great way to network, and many of our graduates say they have made contacts which last throughout their professional lives. Good providers will facilitate this through a range of communication channels. Oxford TEFL, for instance, has a lively Facebook group. Whether you take the face-to-face Teaching practice or complete it online, this is also a great chance to liaise with peers and build relationships.

After graduation, you will find that opportunities keep coming your way. There will be conference invitations, LinkedIn pages, Special Interest Groups and so much more. Taking a Diploma course is not the end of your professional development. In fact, it opens up a lot of doors to help you keep connecting and growing throughout your career.

Personal Motivations

Aside from more pragmatic considerations, the course is a highly fulfilling personal challenge. The sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing you are building your skills and increasing your chances of finding a great TEFL job is really hard to beat. To read some success stories from our Trinity DipTESOL graduates, see here, here and here. We think these stories demonstrate the wide variety of people who take the course, as well as the different aims and objectives it can help them to achieve.

Which?

There are relatively few differences between the Trinity DipTESOL and Cambridge DELTA courses – where one is accepted, the other will be too. However, the Trinity course has more of a focus on phonology, and also allows more flexibility regarding the topic of the projects. You can read more about the differences between Trinity DipTESOL and Cambridge DELTA here.

Again, a more important consideration for most potential Diploma trainees is likely to be the course provider. Consider the experience of the team, the attention you receive when enquiring about the course, and testimonials.

When?

Unlike some Teacher Development Courses, the DipTESOL isn’t suitable for inexperienced teachers. In fact, you need at least two years’ full time teaching experience. This is equivalent to around 960 hours. Having said that, not all of these hours need to be post-CELTA. If you had been teaching before you took your CELTA or equivalent, you may be a suitable DipTESOL candidate even when less than two years have elapsed. If you are very experienced and motivated, you may even be accepted onto a Diploma course without having taken a CELTA. The best advice is to apply, and liaise with the Course Director regarding your suitability.

Aside from the minimum required teaching experience, several other factors may impact your readiness for a Diploma course. For instance, how varied is your experience? If you have worked only in a limited context (just low-level General English, for instance), you might feel that you’d like to broaden your experience before applying for the course. Some people choose to take the Trinity DipTESOL when they are planning to apply for – or have already been offered – a Director of Studies position. Still others have recently decided that TEFL teaching is the right long-term career option for them, and decide to take the course in order to maximise opportunities and employability.

As with all aspects of the DipTESOL course, if in doubt, it’s best to contact the provider directly. They will be able to answer any questions you have about your suitability, and guide you through the application process. We don’t bite, and there really is no question too small – please do reach out if there’s anything we can help you with!

So, is the DipTESOL or equivalent right for me?

There’s no doubt that undertaking a Trinity DipTESOL or Cambridge DELTA course is a real commitment. You will have to dedicate time and energy to your professional development, and nobody would claim that the course is easy or simple. However, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties, and our graduates overwhelmingly tell us that the effort has been well worth it. Believe in yourself! This is certainly the best option for anyone who is really serious about gaining access to the best jobs within the TEFL industry.

Thinking about the Job Hunt

When you’re trying to compete for the best TEFL jobs, growing your qualifications and experience is naturally the top priority. Almost as important, however, is how you present these to potential employers. How disappointing to receive your shiny new qualification only to find that no-one is paying attention! To prevent this, make sure you give the application process some serious consideration. There’s so much to say on this topics, but here are a few of the aspects you will need to consider:

Your CV

  • Presentation: We’d recommend Canva for a really clean and professional look. Those Microsoft Word PDF downloads are soooo 2012.
  • Format: Make sure you highlight your latest Teacher Development Course or DipTESOL. It might now be time to remove your childhood swimming award from your list of qualifications! You may also wish to summarise your experience and ethos in a short paragraph, especially if you’ve had a large number of employers.
  • Spelling and grammar: Studies estimate that as many as 9 in 10 CVs contain at least one misspelling. We can all make a slip-up from time to time, but on a TEFL CV? A definite no-no! Ask someone to proofread your CV, as a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.

The Cover Letter

  • Presentation: Again, Canva is your friend here. It’s advisable to have a repeated colour or motif across your CV and cover letter. This is because it ties the two together and creates the sense that you have taken time and consideration in presenting your TEFL experience.
  • Content: A potential employer may have guidelines for your cover letter, or require you to complete an application form instead. If this isn’t the case, short and sweet is best. Focus on your biggest and most recent achievements, leaving the nitty-gritty for the interview.
  • Tone: Consider the working environment of the country you’re planning applying in. In some parts of the USA and Canada, a neutral, friendly tone will work best. Many Asian countries would expect a cover letter to be rather more formal – do your research!

The Interview

  • Presentation: As we said about the cover letter, consider how formal the work environment is before deciding what to wear. This will inform your judgement on how to address the interviewer, the register you choose etc.
  • Preparation: Here are some common questions in TEFL job interviews along with some great suggested responses. Naturally you’ll need to adapt these to your own circumstances, but they are a great starting point. If you’ve decided to apply for a position that requires a DipTESOL or equivalent, make sure you have hit the books before your interview. You’ll make the best impression if you come across like a real expert in your area of specialism.
  • Follow-up: Be prepared with a few questions for your interviewer, and remember to reach out to them again if you haven’t received a response.

Careers Advice

Don’t forget that with good Course Providers, you won’t be doing all this on your own. As an Oxford TEFL graduate, for instance, you gain lifelong access to our Careers Service. We can help you with all the aspects discussed above, as well as with finding jobs to apply for in the first place. Looking for Director of Studies positions in Japan? We will point you in the right direction. Keen to specialise in IELTS? We can guide you along the way.

Our current Careers Advisor is Justin McCarty. A TEFL teacher since 2017, he also has twelve years’ experience of working in Human Resources and Administration. He tells us:

One mistake that even highly qualified TEFL teachers make is to wait too long before considering their CV and cover letter. It can be really frustrating for all involved when a job becomes available that suits a graduate’s experience perfectly, then there’s a mad dash to create a suitable application. My advice would be to keep your CV up-to-date, adding qualifications and new job roles as you achieve them. It’s also a good idea to have a cover letter template. This should include all your most employable attributes, and can then be adapted to the specific roles you apply for. Doing this preparation can take a lot of the stress out of job hunting, and ensure that you feel cool, calm and confident when working to take your TEFL career to the next level.

What next?

For more information and to apply for our Teacher Development Courses, click here.

If you’d like to find out more about our DipTESOL course, click here.

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