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EFL teacher

EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers help students learn or improve their English in the UK and abroad.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but employers may expect you to have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. To be accepted onto a TEFL course, you'll usually need to:

  • be at least 18
  • have an excellent standard of English
  • have at least 2 A levels

Some employers might also expect you to have a degree. This doesn't need to be in any particular subject, but English, linguistics, modern foreign languages and education studies may be useful.

You can study full time or part time at centres or colleges all over the world. You'll need to check cost and course length as both can vary widely. You can do an accredited TEFL course over 4 weeks, but some may take up to a year.

Distance learning courses are also available, but you'd need to arrange your own teaching practice.

The most commonly accepted minimum TEFL qualifications are:

  • Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Trinity CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

You could also gain EFL experience as a paid language assistant.

Trinity College London and Cambridge English have more information on TEFL courses.

The British Council has more information on language assistant jobs.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • strong spoken and written communication skills
  • good listening skills
  • confidence and a lively personality
  • patience and a good sense of humour
  • the ability to get on well with people of all ages, and from different backgrounds and cultures
  • the ability to adapt your teaching style to suit your students
  • creativity, to plan lessons that are both practical and enjoyable

3. What you'll do

You'll teach English to people whose first or main language isn't English.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • preparing and teaching language lessons and activities
  • producing learning resources
  • encouraging talking, to develop language and understanding
  • setting and marking tests and exercises
  • organising social and cultural activities, like sports, social events and trips

You could also specialise in teaching English for particular purposes, like business or entry to higher education.

You might find that terms like EFL, TESL, TESOL, ESOL and TEFL are used. These are all different names for teaching English to people who don't have it as a first language.

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £27,000 to £33,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000 and over

EFL teachers in language schools in the UK are often on short-term or sessional contracts, and may be paid by the hour or week.

You can get higher pay in further and higher education, but sometimes you'll need a teaching qualification as well as a TEFL qualification.

Salaries in overseas language schools vary widely from country to country. Some companies offer incentives like accommodation and the cost of return flights, while others take off living expenses and health insurance costs. You should check what's included and the cost of living in a country before judging the value of a salary.

You'd also need to know if you have to pay for anything in advance, like visa fees, even if it will be refunded later on.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your hours will vary depending on your employer or the type of teaching you do.

Some jobs involve evening and weekend work or intensive courses over the summer holidays.

You'll spend time preparing lessons and materials, and record keeping, as well as classroom teaching.

You'll be based in a classroom for most of the time. In some jobs, particularly in summer schools, you may also be involved in outings and sporting or social activities.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you may be able to progress to a management position in a commercial language school or a college.

You could also move into private tuition or teacher training. You could open your own language school or write EFL learning materials, online resources and apps.

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Last updated: 12 April 2017