Teaching English

Teaching English

The most popular type of overseas employment for Canadian graduates is teaching. There are two types of opportunities available: teaching in a public or private school and teaching English-as-a-Second Language, often in a private English language school. Gone are the days when university graduates without a teaching qualification could find employment. Even NGOs, like VSO want teachers who are qualified to teach. If you have a BEd and teaching experience, you could teach in an International school. These schools can be found worldwide and are designed to teach a common curriculum to children of expatriates (business executies, diplomats, aid workers). You can find more information from the European Council of International Schools and the International Schools Services. You could also find employment via some of the NGOs listed below or via country recruiters. In the past, for example, the UK and New Zealand have recruited in Canada.

The days are also long gone when anyone who could speak English would be hired as an ESL instructor. Foreign schools are becoming more careful about whom they hire. Some demand a minimum qualification, such as a certificate, while others require an undergraduate or graduate degree in TESL. Brock Unversity has an excellent post-graduate certificate in TESL and a MA in TESL.

The most common TESL qualification programs are from the UK and the US. The Cambridge/RSA Certificate (CELTA) & Trinity Certificate in TESOL are the most highly recognized worldwide. They are intensive one month courses in EFL methodology, grammar, and practice teaching. The expectation is that the student already has a university degree or relevant life experiences. It is also expensive. Canadian qualification centres are: Columbia College, Vancouver; International Language Institute, Halifax; Kwantlen University College, Surrey (BC); Language Studies Canada, Toronto; University of Winnipeg.
The TESL Certificate is the most highly recognized American certification worldwide. It is similar in structure to the UK qualification programs. Canadian qualification centres are: Atlantic Overseas Teaching Institute, Halifax; Canadian Global TESOL Training Institute, Edmonton; Languages International (Toronto) Inc.; and University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. TESL Canada is responsible for vetting ESL/EFL programs in Canada, while in Ontario, it is TESL Ontario.
An increasing number of universities and colleges are offering undergrad, grad, and year-long certificate courses. Here is a list of some of them: Algonquin College/St. Lawrence College; Benns International School Inc (Toronto); Brock University (also MA in Applied Linguistics); Canadian Co-operative for Language & Cultural Studies (Toronto); Carleton University (also MA in Applied Linguistics); Conestoga College; George Brown College; Humber College; Seneca College; University of Toronto; Western Centre for Continuing Studies (London); and York University.

There are many programs and providers to choose from, so do diligent research to find the one that is best for you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the program and certificate recognized abroad?
  2. What are the qualifications of the instructors?
  3. What is the class size?  
  4. Is there an opportunity for practice teaching?
There are many advantages to obtaining certification. You will learn more about your own language in the process and be a far more effective instructor. Many more teaching opportunities are open to you, from International schools to private language schools. Many more countries would be open to you (not just East Asia), as well as more reputable institutions. Also, you would have more opportunities for advancement and more control of own destiny. As well, you would most likely earn a higher salary and have better working conditions.
There are two strategies for finding an ESL position overseas: pre-arranged employment and no pre-arranged employment. There are advantages and disadvantages with both types. Wth pre-arranged employment, you have protection, a legal contract and it is easier to obtain a work visa with a contract; however, the contract might not be worth the paper it’s written on, yet could hold you to working in intolerable conditions. With pre-arranged employment, you can be better prepared because you know where you will be teaching; however, if you don’t, you might not find a job, and even if you find a job, often you must leave the country to obtain a work visa.
Here are some websites to help you get started:
There are also many recruitment agencies for teachers. Some are better than other, so you should do your homework. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
Teaching Assistant In Spain (from Embassy of Spain)