Published 11th December 2015

Applying for a TEFL job is the first step to starting you very own TEFL adventure. Jobs can be found on online jobs boards, websites or in newspapers. Because there are such a huge number of TEFL teachers looking for the perfect TEFL job, it may be necessary to apply for a number of jobs at the same time to see what response you will get.

Once you have applied and gone through the interview process, if you are successful the school will send you a contract, and you could be on your way to an exotic and exciting location! But wait just a minute before you pack your bags: there are a few things that need to be considered before you sign a contract. Think about these things and make sure you are comfortable with the situation before you sign. If you have any queries or concerns, now is the time to bring them up with the school.

So, here are five things you need to consider before signing a contract:

How many hours am I expected to work?

Make sure the contract stipulates how many contact hours you will be working each week. Anything between 20 and 30 hours is normal, though obviously the fewer hours, the better. Then look at how many hours you are expected to be at the school – sometimes you only teach, say 22 hours a week, but your working hours are still 9 to 5. Finding out these details is important so that you know before you arrive what is expected of you.

What is expected of me after-hours?

Clarify what constitutes overtime, if it may be required of you and the compensation for those hours. Also, find out if you are expected to attend school events, functions or meetings; often this can be expected though it is not explicitly stated.

How many students are in my classes?

While unfortunately you won’t have any control over the number of students in your classes, find out the maximum number of students for that particular school. Teaching a class of 40 students is not as attractive as a class of 25, so if you find out that is the case you may want to make sure the salary is appropriate. This information will also help you visualise your classes, so you can think about the kinds of lessons you may carry out.

What resources are available?

Again this is not something you can dictate, but it will help prepare you for your lessons. If it is a technologically-advanced school, you may need to brush up on your IT skills. On the other hand, if you realise there are not a lot of resources at hand, consider taking some of your own – coursebooks or realia – that you could use to supplement the school’s resources.

What is included in the contract?

Obviously it’s necessary to look over the finer details of the contract before you even think about signing it. Very important points relate to visa requirements (Will the school organise your visa?), flight issues (Who pays for the flights? If it is your responsibility, are you reimbursed?) and accommodation (Is it provided? If not, are you given a housing allowance?). All contracts are slightly different so make sure you know what you are getting for your salary, and what is excluded. This can sometimes mean that what initially seems like a low salary is actually a better option than a higher salary with no inclusions.

Being offered a TEFL job is the first step on your TEFL journey, but arguably one of the most important. Don’t rush into signing anything before reading it thoroughly and understanding it completely. You don’t want any nasty surprises when you are starting a new job!