Published 10th September 2020
When it comes to teaching English as a Foreign Language it should come as no surprise that the job involves, well, teaching. That’s kinda in the job title. And indeed, many people do a TEFL course and get a TEFL certificate in order to teach English abroad. But even that is a very general statement because there are loads of different TEFL teaching situations. You might realise this when you are scrolling through job adverts and notice there are some job postings for jobs that aren’t “teacher”. There’s no need to get confused, because we’re right here to help you understand exactly the different jobs of a TEFL teacher and what they mean.
The Different Jobs of a TEFL Teacher
This is the one you’re probably most familiar with. The EFL teacher is a teacher who teaches English as a Foreign Language. There are many different teaching situations an EFL teacher could find themselves in, be it teaching Young Learners or adults, in a school or university, in a classroom or 1-to-1.
Read more: How To Teach 1-to-1
EFL Teacher in a non-English-speaking country
Again, this is usually the popular choice for TEFL teachers. Teaching in a country like Thailand, Brazil or Turkey, for example, could mean teaching in a kindergarten, private or state school, university, or a private language school.
Read more: 10 EFL Language Schools You Should Know
EFL Teacher in an English-speaking country
Not many people realise that it’s also possible to teach English as a Foreign Language in countries like the UK, South Africa, Canada and Australia, to name a few. In these countries you are likely to be working in a private language school, though this could include being a private tutor, teaching on a summer camp, or teaching at a university.
Summer Camp Teacher
Let’s start with the most temporary of the EFL positions. Summer camps can be between 1 and 12 weeks long. Some students only come for a week or two while others can stay for the whole summer. Similarly, some teachers only teach for a few weeks while others can stay for the duration. Teachers can be resident teachers who stay on the camp premises or they can live off-campus and come in for their teaching hours. Residential teachers receive a higher wage because they often work more non-teaching hours, but their accommodation is included. Some residential teachers have pastoral positions which means they eat with the campers and share accommodation with them to look after them at night. Summer camp teachers are expected not only to teach their lessons but also to lead or take part in arts and crafts, music or sports activities in the afternoons, as well as supervise excursions.
Read more: 5 Characteristics of Summer Camp Teachers
EFL Teacher in a school
This could be teaching in a kindergarten, primary school or high school – private or government. Class sizes will vary but can be anything from 20 to 75 (or even worse!). These EFL teachers can teach up to about 30 hours a week. They generally see loads of students once a week. They might have a teaching assistant (see below) to help them out.
In a school there are a number of different EFL teaching positions besides the general EFL teacher:
A class teacher will have their own classroom. They will look after a specific class and deal with any administration tasks. They will see this class every morning and at the end of the day. The class teacher will teach English as a Foreign Language to their class (and maybe others) but they will also teach other subjects.
Sometimes an EFL teacher works in collaboration with a co-teacher. This is usually a qualified native teacher from whichever country you are in. While this teacher is most certainly there to help with any language barriers, they are your equal as a teacher so you share an equal teaching load and may even team-teach lessons.
A teaching assistant is in the classroom with the EFL teacher. They may help the teacher with planning lessons and even the execution of the lessons. In other schools the assistant may be there more to help with classroom management, discipline and any language problems which may arise between the teacher and the students.
A Head teacher is a teacher who is the head of a subject (English) or a grade. The Head teacher will have more responsibilities than a general teacher but will still teach. They will likely attend meetings and have a say in the running of the school, or at least the EFL department.
EFL Teacher in a university
University positions are highly sought after. They generally offer better pay, fewer hours, and your students are usually highly motivated and dedicated. EFL teachers in a university could be teaching English to prepare students to enter an English-medium university or to support students who are already learning in English. For many reasons, university positions usually require some form of teaching license or degree on top of a TEFL certificate.
EFL Teacher in a language school
Language schools usually cater for adult students but in some non-English-speaking countries they offer classes to Young Learners too. Language schools offer lessons during the day but also in the evenings and sometimes on weekends for people who work. Adult students are often highly motivated because they are learning English for their own purposes.
Then there are a few different positions in a language school:
Director of Studies
The Director of Studies is more of an administrative position than a teaching position. This is the equivalent to a principal of a school. The DoS makes all decisions regarding curriculum, schedule, and teacher recruitment. They will also be the ones who observe your lessons as a new teacher and organize or carry out any Continuous Professional Development. In some schools the Directors of Studies will also teach a few lessons but this is not always the case.
Assistant Director of Studies
The ADoS does exactly what the title suggests: they assist the DoS in all of their duties. The only difference is that the ADoS will usually have regular part-time teaching hours as well.
In a language school there is often a General Manager as well as a Director of Studies. The GM is not involved in the academic side of things but rather in the business side of running the school. They will deal with the Sales and Marketing side of running a language school (which is essentially a business). As a teacher you may have very little interaction with the GM.
So there you have it, the different jobs of a TEFL teacher. Not only are there many different teaching situations you can find yourself in but there are many different positions you can occupy as a teacher in your career. Look out for different teaching opportunities and try to gain as much different experience as you can and maybe one day you will find yourself as a Director of your own school!