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This is a guest post from Mark at ICAL TEFL, one of the largest providers of TEFL certification courses.

Break open the champagne; you’ve got your TEFL certificate! So now what? How to land that first TEFL job abroad?

Well here are some of ways you can go about landing that dream job.

Research the country

First off, where is it you want to go? If you’ve always wanted to visit country X now’s as good a chance as any to not only visit it, but get to know the people who live there – and earn money while doing so!

Even if you don’t have a particular country in mind, look up the countries that are well known for good TEFL opportunities – opinion can differ but it depends on what kind of criteria you are looking for:

  • How much can I earn?
  • What kind of weather do I enjoy?
  • How much of a culture shock do I want?

A good place to start for research, regardless of whether you’ve picked a country, is some expert knowledge. Travel guides such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are brilliant at giving the overview facts and extra tips; they also cover pretty much everywhere in the world you’re likely to find TEFL classes.

Remember the absolute need to know facts when choosing a TEFL country:

  • Language
  • Culture
  • Main religions
  • Currency

Research the place

If you’re finally sure of what country you want to go to, where in the country do you want to be? Cities and urban areas are often where more opportunities are for TEFL as the larger population means more students who want to learn English, including adults.

Cities and towns will also have better access to transport, whether for getting home or travelling further afield in that country.

However, the further into the countryside you get is just as authentic an experience of that country as its cities. Cultural attitudes and customs will change from place to place, and in some areas of poorer countries, the children in the less developed areas could need your teaching more.

Update and Improve Your CV

Boost your chances of making a great impression on paper by going over your CV. Everyone has a different opinion on the layout but generally formal and clearly spaced is suitable. Go back through and fill in any extra qualifications or training you have undertaken – including your new TEFL certificate!

Look Online

Google is the starting point to everything, whether you simply want to dive right in and search for TEFL jobs, or try a TEFL Recruitment Agency.

Agencies like Footprints Recruiting and Bridge TEFL Jobs can be better than relying on search engines, as they specialise in your area of work. Some like Dave’s ESL Cafe are also great for getting tips and resources as well as finding opportunities.

Covering Letter

The dreaded item that flaws even the most proficient of teachers! Like the CV, the jury seems decidedly out on what makes the perfect cover letter, but there are a few things that never fail:

  • Polite but amicable tone
  • Keep to the point
  • Experience, experience, experience! Keep bringing it back to why you’re the best one for the job

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You don’t necessarily need to know the language of the country you’ll teach in. However, in the job market every little thing can help you along the way. And why not? With apps like Duolingo at your fingertips. Learning a language can be done easily and at your own pace.

Not only will it boost your look-how-qualified-I-am profile when it comes to applying for TEFL jobs, but it can also be a way of bonding with your new students when you meet them. You’ll also know what they’re talking about when they should be working!

Lesson Plans

The holy grail of good teaching is having a kick ass lesson plan. There’s nothing better than a good plan to make you enter that classroom with your head held high. A good plan will have amongst other bits of wisdom:

  • Catering for a range of abilities
  • Starter activities, games and quick fire challenges
  • Visual aids
  • Preparation for the unexpected and chaotic!

Risk It For a Biscuit

You can of course, up stakes and go to the country of your choice and seek out a TEFL position when you get there. This can be a risky strategy as you will need sufficient funds beforehand to keep you going until you start earning money, and it may take a little time to find a position.

But for the happy go lucky TEFLers this can be a way of thriving under pressure and really throwing themselves into the TEFL pool at the deep end. If you decide to risk it for a biscuit – and a job – you’ll still need all of the skills listed above so don’t forget to plan!


Above all keep positive. The world will always need teachers, and TEFL teachers are becoming more in demand than ever. Even if you start off in your own country at the local community college, it’s experience, it goes on your CV and it will make you a better teacher. So don’t give up, you’ll get there!

For more information about ICAL TEFL use any of these links or contact information:

Disclaimer: Abroad With Alec is not sponsored or affiliated with ICAL TEFL. I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Mark for taking the time to share his expertise with my readers. As always, comments and feedback are encouraged.