Published 10th June 2019
When you think of teaching English as a Foreign Language, you probably see yourself teaching a class of thirty ten year-olds in a Beijing primary school. It’s true that the majority of EFL positions are teaching English to children in a non-English speaking country, but a lot of people don’t realise there is more to TEFL than that. Many EFL students choose to learn English when they are adults through EFL language schools.
EFL Language Schools
A language school is a private company that offers classes to English language learners. The classes range from General English to Business English to English for Academic Purposes. The classes run all day and sometimes in the evenings too. The students can be full-time language school students who are at the school for a week or six months or a year, or they work and attend language lessons in their free time.
Before we dive in let’s cover the difference between EFL classrooms and ESL classrooms. There are language schools in non-English speaking countries but also in English-speaking countries. In fact, there are probably more English language schools in the world than there are pubs in England! The main classifying factor is the location of the language school. Is English being learnt outside an English speaking country or is it English learnt within an English speaking country? An EFL classroom is one where English is not the primary language, for example a language school in Thailand. On the contrary, an ESL classroom is one based in a native English speaking country like the United States, where English is the predominant language.
A Level 5 TEFL qualification can be used in EFL language schools as well as ESL schools. Some language schools are boutique independent schools while others are massive international chains. It is highly likely that you will come into contact with a language school at some point in your EFL career so it’s best that you know who you are dealing with.
10 EFL Language Schools You Should Know
Wall Street English
Wall Street English has over 420 language centres in 29 territories, with a total student enrollment of 180,000. There are language schools in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Some of the centres are owned by the Wall Street English company while others are franchises, so they can be run differently. The biggest perk of teaching in a Wall Street school is that your lesson materials and lesson plans are provided to you. On the downside, you can find yourself teaching the same lesson over and over again. Wall Street English integrates a natural acquisition method with a blended learning approach. This method allows students to focus on learning English through listening and speaking through trial and error. They also provide a variety of class sizes to suit students’ needs, including online lessons, small group instruction, conversational lessons, and social activities.
Wall Street English offers competitive packages and benefits for their staff. If EFL teaching is your long term goal you may be interested in their career development opportunities both on a local and global level. With a promote-from-within policy there are opportunities to progress into management positions.
EF English First is one of the biggest EFL language schools in the world. There are 612 EF schools in 107 countries – they are everywhere! There are especially a lot of openings in EF schools in China, Indonesia and Russia. In China alone, there are now over 200 EF English First schools across 60 cities. The different EF centres can be run quite differently depending on the management team so your experiences at EF Shanghai could be totally different to teaching at EF Cape Town. Not only do teachers have the option to teach kids or adults in one of their centres, but they also operate online schools to teach from home. EF’s online platform offers one-to-one lessons for English language learners in China. Students are between the ages of 6 and 10. Teachers teach through an interactive learning platform and lesson plans are provided.
To teach with EF First you must be a native English speaker with a university degree. New teachers receive full support and training upon joining the EF team, as well as professional development throughout their contract. Most positions begin at entry-level, however, once teachers are part of the EF network they can begin to look at English First academic positions such as director of studies and center education manager roles, or teaching positions across the globe in other parts of their company.
International House was founded in 1953 and now boasts 160 EFL language schools in over 50 countries. IH is a language school where students can learn not only English but a range of other languages as well. They provide a variety of English language courses for all ages and levels, including IELTS preparation courses, junior summer programs and English courses for adults. Classes have a maximum of 16 students and teachers receive support from academic managers. IH puts a strong focus on teacher development.
Disney English is a language school for students ages 2 to 12 in China. It is a relatively new chain, having first opened in 2008. Disney English’s first EFL language school opened in Shanghai and has expanded throughout China; they now have centres in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Shenzhen. English language teachers are paired with a native speaking Chinese teacher to help communicate and engage with children and parents. The EFL teacher will be responsible for measuring the progress of each student. The school’s curriculum is known as the Disney Immersive Storytelling Approach (ISA), which uses real life experiences and observation. New teachers are given training in the Disney teaching techniques and are expected to use a variety of fun interactive teaching methods in the classroom. If you have high energy and enjoy using songs, role playing, movement and activities in your teaching then Disney English might just be the magical place for you.
Even though nobody knows what EC actually stands for (English Centre? English course?), EC is still a popular language school. There are EC schools in Malta, South Africa, Ireland, the UK, Canada and the US. EC offers academic, business or general English courses. With 30 years of English language experience their teaching methods focus on delivering engaging material inclusive to all students. You can teach young learners through EC’s summer language programmes or more mature students in their 30+ English schools. Teachers have access to National Geographic Learning materials to produce interactive lessons that help develop global competencies and English language skills.
Berlitz offers efl language training to children, teens, and adults, as well as business English for corporate clients and businesses. With over 500 locations in 70 countries and online lessons available, the teaching options are vast. Berlitz has been deverling language lessons for 140 years, so their method of total language immersion is proven through years of experience. They aim at teaching skills to empower and build students’ self confidence. Their extensive portfolio of programs includes language instructions for individuals and corporations, language assessment and testing services, business communication skills and children and teenage programs. Their Berlitz Virtual Classroom delivers the same lessons that would be conducted in the classroom, but are held online. Teachers can utilise online features such as a dynamic whiteboard, paint and text tool boxes, and creatives to enhance their lessons. Since each lesson is recovered students are able to go back and review their lessons, while teachers can playback their own lessons for personal appraisal. Berlitz is just one of the many esl language schools providing English language training online.
Inlingua is a language school which offers language training for kids, adults, business and groups worldwide. They cover two continents with more than 250 language centres in more than 30 countries around the world, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the United States of America. During their 50 years experience, Inlingua has created their own teaching style called ”The Inlingua Method” which is supplemented with language learning resources developed at their academy. Teachers receive training on the inlingua methodology and materials prior to teaching. Their learning management system includes the inlingua method, micro-skills of reading and listening, and activities to present in classes. Teachers are encouraged to think critically and be prepared to teach in different contexts such as one-to-one lessons and teaching business english learners.
Aeon is an EFL language school chain in Japan with over 250 branches nationwide. Founded in 1973, AEON is one of the largest private school chains in Japan. AEON offers conversational English classes, business english, and standardized test preparation to Japanese adults. Children’s classes are focused on teaching a strong conversational foundation. Teachers at AEON instruct both adults and children in a variety of group and private classes. AEON has a daughter company AEON AMITY which offers classes to children in over 85 branches.
English Centers for Children (ECC)
ECC is a large franchise of EFL language school within South Korea. ECC operations began in 1992 and now operate in over 75 centres. This private school chain focuses on teaching English to young learners and offers a variety of classes from phonics to test preparation. Since they are franchises teachers may find the quality of one school compared to another is vastly different.
The British Council
No list of EFL Language schools would be complete without the British Council. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. One aspect of the organisation is their language schools which can be found all over the world. They also have an astounding amount of English language learning resources for both students and teachers on their website.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of EFL language schools. Other notable names include Embassy English and Kaplan International. Though all of these schools are chains, this doesn’t mean that you can paint them all with the same brush. Each school is different, even within their chain.
If you are considering working for a language school, don’t forget to do your due diligence for that particular branch to make sure it is a school you really want to work in. If you can find a school that suits you, working in a language school can be a very rewarding experience, especially for teachers just starting out.