ELT Jobs: How to Get 'Em, How to Rock 'Em

by Published

Picture this: You, a few years from now, getting an unexpected email from an old student from your days working ELT jobs (English language teacher jobs) in China.

“Hi Miss Lee! 

How are you? I’m writing to tell you I am going to Clemson University in the fall. I will be studying for a B.A. in Elementary Education. Let me know if you are ever in South Carolina. Zaijian & Xiexie! 


That scenario? Not unlikely. How to make it YOUR story? Start here. Check out our guide on ELT jobs abroad!

row of lockers in China

Ready to hit the hallways again?

How to get ELT jobs

The steps to finding—and securing—an ELT job of your own are pretty straightforward. The secret here is that even though this job might feel like a big departure from your current work situation, you should still treat your job search and application process with the same seriousness and effort. These ELT teaching jobs don’t just grow on trees, ya know?! Although they are growing.

Step 1: Make the decision.

No more wishy-washy new year’s resolutions or neverending scrolls through Instagram feeds of current travelers teaching ESL abroad. You must absolutely start the process by deciding that you’re 100% in. Remember: There’s no better time than the present.

Step 2: Get your monies in order.

Even though you will be securing paid ELT jobs abroad, you still need some cash to cover your startup costs. These can range from flight tickets to your TEFL certificate to notarizing your documents. And that new backpack, of course! 

In short, figuring out how to pay for teaching abroad will put you on the right path towards a profitable life abroad instead of one that starts in the red.

young boy looking at a map

Teaching in Prague is a popular option thanks to its strong ELT jobs market

Step 3: Sign up for a TEFL certificate course.

It is essential that you are trained in the basics of teaching English to second language learners rather than just showing up and winging it. Speaking English natively is not enough to justify your qualifications as an ELT. 

There are a variety of ways you can take a TEFL certificate course. Though each has different pros, cons, and levels of convenience, all take the task seriously of preparing you to teach abroad.

  • Do it abroad. Why wait to start the adventure until after you get hired somewhere? You can go all over the world—Beijing, Medellín, Prague.
  • Take an online TEFL course. This can be ultra-convenient if you want to juggle it on top of current work or school obligations.
  • Do it in your home country. Some TEFL courses are offered in major cities around the world. If you’ve been itching for an excuse to live short-term in Chicago or San Francisco for instance, now might be your chance!
  • Do a combo online/in-person course. Instead of choosing between online versus classes, do both! 

[KEEP READING: 8 Steps to Getting TEFL Certified]

kids coloring christmas coloring books

Pro tip: teaching your students about your home country’s holidays can make for a fun lesson plan.

Step 4: Now that you’re certified, commence the job hunt!

The internet might bring about #fakenews and too many cat memes for any average person, but it’s not all that bad. Thanks to job boards like GoAbroad’s, you can find schools, institutions, or language academies hiring English language teachers in mere seconds. 

But it’s not enough to simply find open ELT teaching jobs or schools that are hiring. You need to put on your investigation pants, too. How can you tell if an online ESL job listing is a scam? Here are a few things to look out for:

  • It’s verification status. GoAbroad tries really, really hard to ensure the majority of our listings are legit. Review the verification status, and past participant reviews, before making any judgment calls.
  • Does the school/organization have a website? Visit their website—if one doesn’t exist, you might consider it a red flag.
  • Google “company name + scam.” If previous people have had issues with this agency or organization, you’ll likely find out about it here.
  • Don’t send your bank information unless it is absolutely necessary. Just… don’t.
  • Find their contact info and reach out. Now remember, you are likely dealing with ESL speakers, so you can’t expect their emails to be 100% perfect. But do keep an eye out for intentionally vague or informal writings. Also—take a second look if their email account is personal, like Gmail or Yahoo, rather than company or school-affiliated.
  • Ask the amazing people who got you certified. Most TEFL certification programs include TEFL job guidance, so take advantage of it!
woman smiling

Jumpstart an exciting chapter of your life as an English language teacher abroad

Step 5: Kill it in the interview.

You’ll need more than just confidence for your ESL teacher interview. Be sure to research, prepare some of your answers, put a smile on, and show them that you’re the right candidate for the gig.

[KEEP READING: ESL Job Interview Questions & Answers to Get Hired]

Step 6: Get hired!

Ta-da! You are one step closer to living one of the most exciting chapters of your life. Start preparing for teaching abroad, you’ll be boarding that plane before you know it.

How to excel at ELT jobs

Now that you’ve landed the job, you must feel a burst of self-assurance. They think you—yes YOU—have what it takes to treat their students’ English language learning with the effort it deserves. This is no light (or easy) task, and we know you want to rock it, so here’s our best advice to be their English language teacher of the year—even as a rookie.

1. Lesson plan, lesson plan, lesson plan!

We admire international English language teachers for their ability to improvise activities and lessons on the spot, but know the best ESL teachers out there are working within a broad plan that they’ve pre-formulated. Sure, there might be weeks where you’re spread thin (AKA parent teacher conferences!) and badly wish you could roll in a television at any given moment, but the reality is, most of teaching English abroad is being prepared for your classes.

[KEEP READING: 11 Awesome ESL Resources for Teachers]

woman listening to podcast

Not into kids? Don’t worry—there are plenty of ELT jobs to work with adult learners, too.

2. Master patience, you must.

You’re going to need to tap into your inner zen, your secret Yoda, and/or your personal pool of calm on the reg. There’s just no getting around it. The one quality all successful ESL teachers have in common is patience. 

Whether you’re managing a classroom of unruly students or developing lesson plans that push the limits of those you are teaching, patience allows teachers abroad to excel at their job while also enjoying their milieu.”

3. Follow through.

The going is gonna get rough, y’all. Not every day in ELT jobs is a walk in the park. Sometimes, they’re really, really hard. (See point #2). And on those days, you might think to yourself— “Huh, that cubicle life that I left for this is looking pretty attractive right now” or “What I wouldn’t give for a Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte this instant.” You might even get reeeaaally close to marching down to your principal’s office to pop the Q word: “I quit.” But don’t.***

Stick it out. There is so much to learn, and if you cut yourself short and give up, then you’re robbing yourself of so many experiences. You’re letting down your students, your coworkers, your new crew of expat friends. Finish up your contract and then move on from there.

***This is assuming your safety is not in question or that you’re not deeply unhappy. Please take care of yourself!

people working at coffee shop

Lesson planning & coffee drinking are a winning combination. ;-)

ELT jobs are hiring—go out there & find YOURS

Now that you have a step by step guide on how to snag ELT jobs, not to mention some expert advice on ways to be your best, professional self while on the job, there’s only one more move that needs to be made. And it’s yours. Start the process of living abroad and working as an English language teacher. We’ll be there every step of the way!

Find English language teacher jobs now

This article was sponsored by TEFL Worldwide Prague, one of the leading TEFL certification programs based in the Czech Republic. With intensive courses that will set you up for success for ELT jobs around the world, TEFL Worldwide Prague is your first step to teaching English abroad.

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