How to start ESOL teaching

How To Start Teaching ESOL

A year ago, I didn’t think I’d have been teaching ESOL (Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages). I was writing for a content marketing agency. But here I am, 7,000 miles away from home, teaching cute, rambunctious cubs about food, saying ‘Please’ and everything in between. It’s been a challenge. And it’s been a blast!

So you’re thinking about ESOL teaching and becoming a teacher, huh? Here are some steps you can take to get from Point A to A+ Teacher.



Step 1: Get ESOL Teaching Experience

Consider checking out your local library, community college or literacy programs to test out the teaching waters. These institutions often seek tutors and evening instructors, and many employers require at least one year of ESOL teaching experience and base salaries on experience.

Before commanding the whiteboard, I wanted to shadow a pro. An adult ESOL teacher at my local community college let me volunteer in her class. With minimum commitment, I determined I would be a good fit in the classroom and could serve students well. After a month, I applied for an adjunct position at that community college.


Step 2: Get TEFL-Certified

Commit to learning as much theory as possible and getting hands-on instruction. They go hand-in-hand. My local library, a literacy program and the community college that hired me offered free training. Oh, yeah. I also paid for an online course that included 120 hours of coursework and a 20-hour practicum. I took 30 extra hours to learn more about teaching business English and English to kids, in particular. Most employers think 120 hours is the magic number.

Courses can be as cheap as $39 on daily deal sites like Groupon or thousands of dollars. You get what you pay for, so ensure your course is accredited, accepted by potential employers and well-liked by previous students. Luckily for you, if you apply to teach with EF English First and pass your interview, then EF will sponsor your online TEFL course.


Step 3: Research. Research. And research

Wanna head to the beach right after class? Wanna live near a Starbucks? Wanna save to pay off college loans? Be clear about your goals and desired lifestyle when researching teaching locations. Set your intentions and focus on those. China, South Korea and the Middle East tend to be most lucrative for English teachers.

I applied to two countries with decent salary ranges and low costs of living to pay for obligations back in the States. Then I connected with teachers in those areas online to get the real deal about their locations, legit companies and the benefits they provide.


Step 4: Prep your CV/resume and Skype account

Spit-shine that ESOL teaching resume or international CV for applications and interviews. Include as many bullets about teaching as possible, including that volunteering gig at an elementary school in undergrad. Get a professional Skype handle and email address, too. Recruiters and hiring managers in other countries will most likely interview you on Skype. 


Step 5: Sign up on job placement sites

Submit your resume or ESOL teaching CV to sites like Dave’s ESL Cafe or Teach Away and get jobs alerts from your desired areas. Also, check out reputable recruiting services like Adventure Teaching. SCAM ALERT: You shouldn’t pay anyone for recruiting services. Companies or school pay the recruiters to find you. Or take a look around the EF English First Website and find a job you like on there.


Step 6: Say ‘Yes!” to your job

Take your time when taking interviews and fielding job interviews. You really want to ensure you’ll be a good fit with the company and vice versa, and that staff will help you get a visa, health insurance, flight assistance, onboarding training and other support you’ll need in a new country. When you accept an offer, pat yourself on the back. You’re about to embark on an incredible journey!






Post by Dioni L. Wise, EF English First Guangzhou


North Carolina native Dioni L. Wise now calls Guangzhou her home. She’s a former journalist who loves singing parodies, eating dessert before dinner and travelling. Five continents down! Two to go! Connect with Dioni on WeChat: @DioniLWise.