London is an iconic city. Known for its skyline, fashion, music, history and style, among other things, it has become one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
As such it is an obvious first choice as a destination to learn English. Consequently, there are loads of opportunities for EFL teachers here who have completed a TEFL course. The majority of these positions will be in private language schools but London is literally bursting at the seams with language schools so there is never a shortage of TEFL opportunities. Language schools range from the well-known big brands – like EF, IH, EC and Bell – to the smaller, boutique language schools with only a handful of teachers and students. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, so if you’ve just completed your London TEFL course you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of both.
The big-name schools have been tried and tested and you can be sure that they are well established and well equipped. Most of these schools are well-oiled machines where teachers are expected to fit in quickly and quietly and get on with the teaching. On the other hand, these schools can seem very businesslike and usually require lots of admin. However, once you are in a language chain it is generally easy to transfer to another branch – or even another country – and teacher development is generally good.
The smaller schools may be a bit more friendly but since they may not have as much capital behind them, they may not have as many resources. This means that they may be a bit more relaxed with regard to teaching qualifications and administration duties. On the downside, they may not focus as much on teacher development. In extreme cases, language schools can be a bit substandard, which may result in a school environment with unfavourable working conditions for teachers and unhappy students.
What needs to be realised is the nature of working for a language school is a very different concept from working in a school. First of all, your students are adults – which is very different from teaching children – and your classes are multilingual. Your students (usually 12–15 in a class) will speak a range of languages, they will come from different countries and they may be 17 or 57. All these factors will affect your lessons and your teaching, but they also make for interesting classes.
You will work on a shift basis, with lessons in the mornings and afternoons, meaning that you may be teaching General English to Beginners in the morning, Business English to Upper-Intermediates after tea, and an Exam Preparation class to Intermediate students in the afternoon. This also means that you are sharing classes with other teachers, which can be both a blessing and a curse (depending on the teacher!).
Whatever you’re teaching, though, you can be sure that you’ll never be short of classes.