Language centres are the most common place of work for newly qualified English teachers, especially in Asia. Hours of work are typically from early afternoon to around 9pm with approximately 4 different classes per day plus lesson planning time in-between. You may be expected to work during weekends although depending on the number of teachers you may do this on a rota basis. Annual leave is usually quite limited – perhaps 14 days plus national holidays – but the late start makes up for this for many new ESL teachers.
Popular English language centres include English First (EF) and Wall Street, with many privately-owned franchises operated around the world. There are also much smaller local outfits consisting of a single centre and just one or two classrooms.
Students at language centres can include kindergarten-age children, those of primary and secondary school age, and adults – often seeking to improve their English skills in the context of their professional environment (Business English or English for Specific Purposes – ESP). There may also be one-to-one tuition at private language institutes for corporate executives or those studying towards a university entrance exam. Some English language institutes are solely for pre-school children.
Some English language tuition centres offer classes specifically for those taking the IELTS or TOEFL examinations.
Public schools in many countries also hire qualified native English speaker teachers. The hours of work can differ between schools but are typically from around 8am until 3 or 3.30pm Monday to Friday. In some countries such as Indonesia you will probably start at around 7am! The pay is usually better than at language institutes but you may need to be in the country in order to be hired.
For public school positions in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, the recruitment process starts several months before you arrive in the country. The procedure may seem rather drawn out, but these are some of the best paying English language teaching jobs in the world.
If you teach at a public school you will be able to take advantage of school holidays which are typically quite extensive with several mid-term breaks. In many cases you will have between 6 and 12 weeks of paid annual leave per year. The only downside compared to holiday time given by typical language centres is that you cannot request particular days off, such as your birthday, because you generally have to be in work every single day of term. The number of classes you take each day will differ from school to school, as will your administrative duties and lesson planning time.
There are some EFL positions available in universities around the world but competition for these well-paid jobs tends to be rather fierce. You will generally need at least two years of teaching experience and preferably a DELTA or MA TESOL certificate.
It is also possible to teach English at residential summer schools which are especially common in rural parts of Western Europe and last just several weeks. If you are looking for short-term TEFL employment and the timing is right then this is a brilliant option. Note that you do need to apply for these several weeks, if not several months, in advance.
There are also short-term volunteering opportunities in poorer Asian nations such as Nepal and Cambodia and in numerous countries in Latin America and Africa. Needless to say you won’t be paid for volunteering, but you will gain valuable teaching experience and may well make some great local contacts who will help you find long-term paid teaching work.