Teaching English is a great way to live in Asia. All too often, however, we hear stories about jobs that turned into nightmares. To avoid going through one of these terrible experiences yourself, follow these five steps before accepting any TEFL position.
1. Speak to the Outgoing Teacher
When you accept a position, you are replacing the person who is currently doing your job. Nobody knows better than this person whether or not the position is worth taking. Ask them about the school, the students, and your future boss. Find out if they have ever been paid late, or whether or not the terms in their contract were properly followed. Ask why they are leaving. Never take a position in a school that won’t allow you to have a chat with the outgoing teacher.
2. Post Your Contract for Review
If this is your first time getting a job in a particular Asian country, you’ll be at a great disadvantage when negotiating the terms of your contract; you have no idea what is a good or a bad deal. Fortunately, there are lots of veteran teachers out there who are willing to read your contract and tell you if you are getting a raw deal. To get this help, simply find an ESL forum in the country you are going to, like this one http://eslcafe.com. Some forums have sticky threads made solely for contract reviews. Post yours and get expert advice from those in the know!
3. Check ESL Review Sites
These sites, often called “blacklist sites,” host school reviews written by teachers, usually unhappy ones. Check this one out, http://esllist.com. Before accepting a position, surf these sites and see if there is any information about your potential employer. If you find any red flags, it may be best to decline the position and move on. Be cautious when using these sites, and don’t make a decision based solely on what you find there. Sometimes it is actually an irresponsible or unruly teacher who causes a working relationship to go bad, and those are often the people who go online and trash their employers.
4. Get Pictures of Your Housing
It can be quite difficult to rent an apartment in a foreign country. Due to this, many TEFL jobs include housing as part of the compensation package. Some teachers live in luxury while others are put up in dirty, old, run-down shacks. Don’t leave your living arrangements to chance. Ask that pictures of your apartment be emailed to you before accepting a position. If your potential employer refuses this request, it may be best to move on.