Be Careful When You Apply for ESL Teaching Jobs

Applying for an ESL teaching job is hard work, but you should be careful about where you apply or accept. There are often many schools and offers to choose from.  But, not all schools have your best interest in mind. Here are some things to consider before you accept that new ESL teaching job.

Questionable schools may do the following…

They hold on to your passport so you won’t leave the school or country on a whim.

Dodgy establishments may provide incorrect visas which could lead to you being deported.

Schools may make you work unpaid overtime or extra hours. You need to know the labor laws of the country you are working in.

Some schools may withhold your salary until you complete your contract. Is this legal in the country you are working in?

In order to save a little expenses, schools may not report your taxes to the government but still deduct taxes from your paycheck.

Some warning signs about a new school ESL teaching job.

There are some warning signs that will send up a red flag straight away. If any of the following points apply to a job you’re interested in, be aware if you take the position.

No Social Media presence:  If a TEFL school in the year 2020 doesn’t have a social media presence, you may want to consider another school.  Some ESL schools are small establishments and may not have a website, but you would think they would have a social media presence like Facebook or Instagram. A social media presence may allow you to learn about the school’s reputation from a local group.

No reputation. So maybe the school has a website with information about it, but you can’t find anything about the teaching experience of working there. Again, this isn’t something you should buy into. People talk – previous teachers will have posted online (be it on forums, social media, review websites or personal blogs) about their experience. Some websites even feature reviews and comments from past teachers. Again, the school may just be an upstart or small business, just be aware.

Bad reviews. It’s true that negative reports are always shouted louder than positive ones. Sometimes one disgruntled teacher’s experience should be taken with a pinch of salt. (Not everyone deserves a teaching job and some people are deservedly dismissed from their teaching positions). However, if you are constantly finding negative reviews, you may want to reconsider.

Money. No school has any reason to ask you for money. They might say you need to pay for the visa or plane flights, but this will either be paid for by yourself directly or organized once you’re in country. If an interview ends asking for money by Western Union or similar, terminate the conversation.

No interview required. Instantly hired? It sounds like a bonus, but it’s not. No school will hire you without an interview, so if you’re offered a job without so much as a phone call, it may mean the school is desperate, often has turn over, and doesn’t care about the quality or well being of its teachers. Move on.

Contract differencesLet’s say you had a successful interview and have been sent a contract for a job you want to take. However, the terms you agreed to are different to the terms in the contract. They might have sneakily included extra work you have to do as part of the role or a salary less than you were expecting. Make note of this and ask them to clarify. If you are not satisfied with the answers, walk away and wait for the next opportunity.

Contacting previous staffIf a school won’t let you contact a teacher who is currently or previously was working for them, it will set the alarm bells ringing. Schools should be happy for new staff to learn what their experience will be like from current teaching staff. If they won’t give you an email address to contact a teacher, ask them why and decide how you feel about their reason.

What you want. Be clear on the job specifications and expectations. If you only want to teach adults, then make sure that is all you are teaching. What will your hours be? Weekends? Vacation time? Ask these questions of a school before you accept an offer. It will be difficult to make changes once you have begun working.

Be smart when you apply for an ESL teaching job – What else should you think about?

While some factors will be an instant no-no, there are also things you should bear in mind when interviewing for a potential job. It mightn’t mean that the job is a scam, but you should be cautious all the same.

  • If a job seems too good to be true (paying more than industry standards for that country), it probably is too good to be true!
  • When you have a pushy interviewer who makes you feel weird or uncomfortable, it’s not a good sign.
  • If the job standards don’t meet country standards, something’s wrong. For example, if the country requires all teachers to have a degree but is school is happy to hire you when you don’t have one, this isn’t a positive factor.
  • Maybe visa regulations don’t add up, so be wary. For example, if you know visas for that country are issued prior to departure but your school says you get it on arrival.
  • When they make unusual requests in an interview that make you feel uncomfortable, don’t go along with it.
  • If there is terrible English on their advert or website, or the interviewer can barely communicate with you, this isn’t a good sign.
  • If a job has been recommended to you by a dodgy scout (an agent who you can’t find any info or reviews for) it might be that the school is dodgy, too.

What can you do to be sure about a new ESL teaching job offer?

  • Don’t just click the link provided in the job advert; do your own internet search to find information about them.
  • Compare the job to other jobs in that country. Make sure that they’re offering a similar salary and that working conditions appear to be the same too.
  • Have a second interview, or ask follow up questions if you are hesitant.
  • Ask to speak to a current or recently left teacher at the school and ask their honest opinion about what working for the school is like.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t sound right, don’t go for it. There will always be another job – hundreds of jobs are posted online around the world every week.
  • Don’t let yourself be bullied into accepting a job quickly – give yourself time to decide and have a look around the market.
  • Ask friends for recommendations. Jobs acquired by word of mouth, especially friends who have actually taught there, are the best way to ensure you’re safe from scams.

Staying safe when applying – Conclusion

We want you to make sure you’re safe from scams as you go abroad to teach. Follow our guidelines to stay safe from dodgy deals and make sure you choose a great school to work at.

If you want to find out more about teaching abroad,  check out some more of our articles on the EITESLjob website. You’ll find out about what the life of a ESLteacher is like, and why you should consider teaching English abroad. You’ll learn what you need to become a ESL teacher and where in the world has the best opportunities.

Good luck on your teaching adventure, and remember to trust your instincts when interviewing for teaching jobs.

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