Where to Find the Best ESL Jobs Abroad? Online!
Often Off the Beaten Path
Updated by Transitions Abroad 8/23/2022
Teach in China. Photo courtesy of ITTT.
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 South 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 so successfully you need to know what your options are — all of them.
The beaten path to overseas teaching job search success includes well-known ESL employment websites like TEFL.com and the ESLCafe. These sites and many more like them list thousands of job vacancies from schools and recruiters around the world. Such ESL job sites are usually 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 ESL Employment Sites
Try searching for overseas teaching positions on mainstream employment resources. 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 such as Footprints Recruiting 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 such as Indeed.com or Monster.com, which crawls the postings of multiple job sites and makes their job ads searchable by keyword.
Local Newspapers and Online Classified Ads
Schools and recruiters looking for teachers at a local or regional level often turn to newspapers and websites 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 by using your favorite search engine, 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 sections of the site. Click on the “education” category of any country or city section 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 my piece 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 online Yellow Pages for contacts.
English Language Schools and ESL Recruiters
Some English language schools and recruiters are big enough that they do not always have to place off-site; their sites generate enough traffic from their search ranking and social media presence on their own to maintain in-house lists of job vacancies. In the case of some of these well-known and advertised organizations, it is often better to go to them because they do not need to go to you.
The following are samples easily found in any online search due to their size and brand.
Country and Regional ESL Websites
As the web continues to be more specialized and more and more niches spring up, there are many sites offering databases, often searchable, of English teaching jobs abroad along with general advice for specific countries and regions. Some of these websites are better than others, and the job search methods illustrated above often produce better leads, but you should still look at ALL possible options before applying for a job that you have seen online.
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. Do not hesitate to expand your search beyond traditional ESL employment sites and open up a whole new world of employment possibilities.