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TEFL Primer for North Americans

Where the ESL Jobs Are

Online But Off the Beaten Path

Searching for an overseas English teaching position can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. True, job opportunities abound in countries like China and Korea but the key to a successful ESL job search is not just finding a job but finding the best possible job for you. In order to do that you need to do know what your options are — all of them.

The beaten path to overseas teaching job search success includes well-known ESL employment websites like Dave’s ESL Cafe,,,, and These sites and dozens more like them list thousands of job vacancies from schools and recruiters around the world. They are updated daily and for the most part provide excellent access to job opportunities. That said, not every employer seeking foreign English teachers uses the big-name ESL websites to advertise their job vacancies. In fact, many of the larger, more recognizable names in the language school industry advertise elsewhere. So do schools looking for quick access to local candidates. Knowing where to look for these off-the-beaten-path job postings is the key to accessing a whole new world of ESL employment possibilities.

Mainstream Employment Sites

Try searching for overseas teaching positions on mainstream employment resources like,, Yahoo! hotjobs, Workopolis and countless others. It doesn’t matter if you are an American and the site is Australian; generally speaking, employers are looking for native speakers from any of the well-known English-speaking countries, not one particular nationality. Many of the larger, better-known chain schools place job ads on these sites. Examples include English First, International House and the British Council. Some of the bigger placement agencies like Footprints Recruiting and Saxoncourt also use this medium to advertise to the larger audiences they require to meet their recruitment needs.

The key to navigating most mainstream employment websites is usually keyword searching. Most of the larger, general-in-nature job sites do not have dedicated ESL employment categories so you are going to need to find overseas teaching jobs by searching for terms like "tefl," “teach english,” "tesol," "esl," and “english teacher.” Those same terms can be combined with the name of the country you want to teach in to narrow your results. These same search strategies are of value when using a job search portal like which crawls the postings of multiple job sites and makes their job ads searchable by keyword.

Primary Websites

Local Newspapers and Web portals

Schools and recruiters looking for teachers at a local or regional level often turn to newspapers and Web portals based in and/or aimed at their market area. These sites can be fertile new ground for ESL job seekers but they have their drawbacks. Some of the advertisers will be looking to conduct face-to-face interviews, a difficult requirement for a new teacher job searching from their home country. Others may be seeking teachers who already have visas for part-time work. That said, motivated job seekers still in their home countries who are willing to relocate on potentially short notice have lots to gain by seeking work via local newspapers and Web portals.

You can find these local resources via Google but “square one” for this type of job search should always be craigslist, the granddaddy of all local employment resources. craigslist is an enormous if largely untapped job search resource for English teachers because of its global presence at the local level. For example, you can find jobs posted by recruiters and larger chain schools on the Seattle and Vancouver versions of craigslist while smaller schools might post locally, on the Mexico City or Bangkok editions of the site. Click on the “education” category of any edition of craigslist to access ESL-related employment opportunities.

A final local resource that is definitely worth investigating is the Yellow Pages of your target market. You won’t find actual job ads but you will find the contact details for almost all of the language schools in a given area. This is a great way to undertake a proactive job search (see DOs and DON’Ts: A TEFL Primer for North Americans) at the local level. Hint: you may need to learn how to translate “language school” into the language of your target market in order to search the Yellow Pages for contacts.

School and Recruiter Websites

Some English language schools and recruiters are big enough that they do not always have to place off-site; their sites generate enough traffic on their own to maintain in-house lists of job vacancies. Such is the case with global powerhouses like International House, Wall Street, inlingua, Berlitz and English First. The same is true of some of the bigger recruiters and placement programs like Footprints Recruiting, Westgate, the CEC Network and Interac. In the case of some of these organizations, you need to go to them because they do not need to go to you. The following are samples, which can easily be found in any search due to their size.

Online but off the beaten path: most teachers never realize how many jobs are actually available to them when they execute their ESL job search. The first step towards finding your dream job is to find the job ad. Expand your search beyond traditional ESL employment sites and open up a whole new world of employment possibilities.

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