In the age of Google, it’s easy to think all you have to do is search for “English Language Teaching Jobs” and – BAM! – there’s your perfect job. In truth, it’s significantly more complicated than this – a Google search reveals over 8.5 MILLION returns. How do you even start to sort through that pile? Here are a few tips:
1. Make personal connections. Talk with anyone you know – real or virtual – about their experiences teaching English abroad. In making these connections, you are more likely to find a placement that is reliable and positive. At the very least, it will help you determine what questions to ask agencies you’re considering.
2. Check out job forums. My favorite is the International Job Forum at Dave’s ESL Café. Here, you can search by country and see discussions of people I get many emails asking, “What do you know about teaching English in ___?” Truth be told, I don’t. The field is too big for even teacher educators to know everything! However, you can ask these questions in forums and get straight answers.
3. Request references from potential employers. If they won’t give you any, I wouldn’t go. Make sure you contact the references and ask specific, hard questions such as:
- What kind of internal politics affect the institution?
- Were the terms you were given when you were hired the same as what actually happened?
- Was there anything that frustrated you about working there?
It will be far better for you to go into a situation with open eyes than be blindsided in the midst of culture shock!