Teacher of English as a Foreign Language

    Industry: Education and Training

    Summary: Teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) teach English to adults or children, from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds, whose first language is not English.

    Average salary: The figures below are only a guide as actual pay rates may vary, depending on where you work and the company or organisation you work for. Many jobs are short term and part time, so salaries are often quoted as hourly or weekly rates. However, starting salaries for full time EFL teachers in private language schools in the UK tend to be between £14,000 and £20,000 a year, rising to £25,000 to £38,000 a year. Hourly rates for part time posts in the UK vary, depending on your employer, experience and qualifications, from about £10 to £30. Weekly rates for seasonal staff vary from about £275 to £600 (for specialist teachers and experienced course directors). Some posts paid at lower rates include accommodation. Overseas salaries vary depending on the country in which you work. Teaching English to professionals in Europe can be well paid. In some overseas countries, salaries are low – but the cost of living is also low. Some posts overseas are for volunteers who work in return for their keep and pocket money. If you teach overseas, check your contract carefully for conditions of work and salary arrangements as well as holiday and sick pay.

    The requirements

    • Disclosure Scotland
    • organisational
    • clear speaking voice
    • confidence
    • adaptability
    • communicate at all levels
    • patience
    • sense of humour
    • First Degree
    • General Education
    • National Course (Higher / Advanced Higher)

    Read further information about this career



    Teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL); TEFL; TESOL; TEAL; TESL

    The work

    You could be:

    • teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), to students who need to learn it for work or leisure, often through short courses in private colleges in the UK or abroad
    • teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), to students who live in the UK, but whose first language is not English, often in community or adult education centres
    • teaching English as a second or additional language (TESL or TEAL), to students in a country, such as Kenya, Nigeria or Singapore, where several different languages are spoken, but where English is used in education and administration.
    In all cases you could be:
    • teaching English to students whose first language is not English
    • preparing and giving lessons to small groups of students
    • using role play
    • using a range of materials including text books, work sheets, computers, audio-visual aids, whiteboards and materials you have prepared yourself
    • organising and directing the whole class and helping individual students as required
    • encouraging students to speak English as much as possible
    • setting and marking assignments and tests, and preparing students for exams in English
    • keeping records of students’ progress.


    • You would work in a classroom or language laboratory, either in a private school, a college, university or a community or adult education centre.
    • Your working hours might be variable. Classes would mostly be during the day but some may be in evenings or at weekends.
    • You would probably have to do preparation and assessment work at home.
    • Many posts are short-term or part time. In the UK it is easier to get a job in summer, when overseas visitors come to study.
    • There are many jobs abroad, throughout the world, but most contracts are short term, from 9 months to 2 years.
    • You should be aware that teaching can be mentally and physically demanding.

    Getting in

    • You could take an introductory TEFL course, lasting about a week, which may help you decide if you would like this work.
    • You might be able to get a job without a TEFL qualification if you have a good standard of education (at least Highers and usually a degree). For entry to a degree course you normally need 4-5 Highers.
    • However, most EFL teachers qualify by taking one of the courses below. You must normally be at least 18 (for Trinity College London) or 20 (for the Cambridge English Language Assessment) and have at least 3 Highers, although many entrants have a degree, often in a subject such as English, modern foreign languages or education.
    The following courses are run at centres throughout the UK and abroad:
    • Cambridge English Language Assessment Certificate or Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults (CELTA or DELTA).
    • The Trinity College London Certificate or Diploma in teaching English to speakers of other languages (Cert/DipTESOL).
    • If you already have the CELTA or CertTESOL but no experience of teaching young learners you might be able to take the Young Learner (YL) Extension to CELTA or the SKOLA Trinity Young Learners Extension Course (STYLE).
    • Cambridge English Language Assessment runs an online CELTA which combines distance learning with teaching practice in a classroom.
    The Certificate courses are run as short full time (4-5 weeks) or part time (over several months) courses. The Diploma courses can be taken full time over 2-3 months or part time over 6-12 months. Distance learning options are also available. You would require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details. In the UK, jobs are with private sector colleges and some local authorities, particularly where there are large ethnic communities. Overseas employers include the British Council, aid and volunteer agencies, embassies and cultural institutes. Jobs are advertised on the internet. You can also apply through the British Council.

    What does it take

    You need to have:

    • an interest in language
    • a clear speaking voice
    • patience and adaptability
    • enthusiasm and energy
    • confidence
    • good organisational skills
    • a sense of humour and positive outlook.
    You need to be able to:
    • get on with people from all backgrounds and of all ages
    • explain new ideas clearly.


    • Training is mainly on the job, through experience.
    • The Scottish Association for the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language runs regular talks on teaching EFL.
    • You could take a specialist postgraduate course in teaching EFL, such as those offered by the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
    • As an experienced teacher, preferably with a degree, wanting to move into a management job, you might take the International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM) through the University of Cambridge.
    • You could teach training courses such as CELTA or DELTA or Cert/DipTESOL

    More Information

    Most EFL teachers work overseas, but there is also a demand in the UK. There is a lot of competition for permanent posts in the UK. The British Council employs teachers in over 100 countries. However, they only employ graduates who have a recognised TESOL qualification (such as CELTA or Cert TESOL) and a minimum of 2 years full-time relevant work experience. See their website for more details. The ESOL Scotland website has useful information on national ESOL developments and personal development courses.


    Trinity College London
    89 Albert Embankment London SE1 7TP
    Tel: 020 7820 6100
    Email: info@trinitycollege.co.uk
    Website: http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk/
    Notes: For information on courses in teaching English as a foreign/second language.

    University of Cambridge (ESOL Examinations)
    1 Hills Road Cambridge CB1 2EU
    Website: http://www.cambridgeesol.org
    Notes: For information on courses in teaching English as a foreign/second language.

    British Council, Scotland
    Waverley Gate (fourth floor) 2-4 Waterloo Street Edinburgh EH1 3EG
    Tel: 0131 524 5700
    Email: general.enquiries@britishcouncil.org
    Website: http://www.britishcouncil.org/
    Notes: For information about teaching English abroad.

    Scottish Association for the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (SATEFL)
    Website: http://www.satefl.co.uk

    ESL Employment
    Website: http://www.eslemployment.com

    Disclosure Scotland
    P.O. Box 250 Glasgow G51 1YU
    Tel: 0870 609 6006
    Email: info@disclosurescotland.co.uk
    Website: http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/

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