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Where are the jobs?

March 05, 2009

Hello again,

People have been asking whether ELT is a good choice of career during the recession. It’s not an easy question to answer. Undoubtedly some schools will be casualties as in earlier recessions. Thus the chances are that fewer ...

...permanent posts will be available for at least the period of economic downturn. Having said that, English continues to grow in importance as the language of international business and scholarship. The demand from learners is therefore unlikely to shrink. However, economic pressure is likely to mean that learners will be looking for the best value for money and may turn to less costly forms of learning than the physical classroom.
So where are the jobs and what should teachers do to keep afloat until the upturn? A quick glance at the recruitment sites shows that the regions with the greatest demand for teachers are China and South Korea. This is good news in that it shows the demand is there but, of course, not all teachers will wish to teach in these areas. Europe’s main vacancies are in Eastern European countries and some attractive positions are on offer. South America and the Middle East are other regions that tend to have steady demand for teachers.
How to get started if you are newly qualified? Now is the ideal time to find a summer post. Summer schools, especially in the UK, are recruiting now and you could find three months’ employment to gain your first experience. That should put you in a better position to land a longer contract when the new academic year begins in September. And if the employment pattern you envisage is a one-year contract abroad, returning in the summer, then that first summer post could mean you build a relationship with an organisation that will use you for years to come.
If you are looking for permanent work without going abroad then ESOL is your best bet. In the UK look for posts in adult and further education colleges. Another option for those with the right kind of accommodation is home tuition. If you are willing to have students live in your home as well to teach them, this could be a way of building up some experience. Another benefit if you work for one of the larger organisations is that they may have schools with permanent or contract positions that you could move into.
On balance I would say that ELT remains a good career choice even in the economic downturn in that it offers a wide and flexible range of teaching possibilities throughout the world.

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  1. Hunt Allen Says:

    I have been reading comments about esl teaching during any economic time. I have in the past been successful in easily finding ESL teaching positions in China and Korea, but now my credentials seem to have no significance in securing a new position. There seems to be more emphasis on my age than my expertise. I am now 64 years old, very healthy, energetic, etc., but my age is a deterant. I have actually been told that my recruiters. It is a shame that in the USA we have age discrimination even though we have laws against such practices, but now that same discrimination seems to have overflowed into Asia and the Middle East. It is a shame that the students are the ones who are deprived of experience and teaching expertise.

    Thank you for reading this post.

  1. K. Kenyon Says:

    DR. Brenda Townsend Hall,

    Where would be the best place for teachers 50+ yrs to teach?

    Thank you for your time and attention to this request for information.

    K. Kenyon
    a young 59!

  1. Yannoula Says:

    I need to know whether I am entitled to apply for any teaching post in Europe in countries like Greece despite the fact that I am not a native speaker of English. I have a substantial experience as I have worked for a decade at the British council teaching centre. I am Greek and I wish to work for a reputable institute. Can you help me?

  1. E R Gavalek Says:

    Ah, yes, the Spectre of Age Discrimination ... the way to combat that is to form your own group or company and be in competition. You may have a difficult time at first but, like all things, you persevere, do an excellent job, and the students will flow to you. It can be done!

  1. Terry B Says:

    Hi, I'm now 58 and have been teaching here in China since 2002 and I too am finding that my age seems to be a problem and rather than concentration on my experience recruiters appear to be looking for younger applicants. Although in my late 50's my character is of someone 20 years younger!I have been looking for a new post for several months now and either I am too old or the salary is demeaning!!Seems that I am not alone with this age thing!

  1. Laura Says:

    For more mature teachers, it would be a great idea to a) start your own school
    b) work as Director of Studies/Program Director
    c) go into more specialized (University)training: e.g. teach Marketing/Management, give workshops on creativity, negotiations, etc
    d) help private schools with open houses and recruitment workshops

    Hope this helps,


  1. Irene Bowman Says:

    Having just finished a three year degree course in English language I am now looking for a post abroad. However, it would seem that despite my many qualifications (I have taught English in the past) I will be considered well past my sell by date as I am 67 years young! I feel employers are being very short sighted as people of my age have life experience as well as work experience. What I find interesting is the fact that many high proifile figures - the Pope, Arch Bishop of Canterbury, to name but two are in positions of authority which could be deemed to hold much more responsibility than teaching English!

  1. groucho Says:

    well boys and girls. out of age welcome to asia.
    think when you were young as me 62, hahahah.
    if you can't teach in school do a private school.
    i did ask around, to get a permit for business it is about 5800 rmb. can be done in hongkong or shanghai. been around for couples of years. schools want a figure not a teacher,young and good looking, experience? put it in the trash.
    government do not care about foreigners. they look for the money. so pick another trade or go home. sorry that the way it is in asia.good luck.
    i wish good luck for me to.

  1. Bob Toomey Says:

    Here are my two cents; I have been living and running my own language school in Beijing, China for the past 15 years. I taught at a Chinese "university" for two, learning that the Chinese know nothing about learning, and at a Korean Hogwan, where they don't know anything about teaching either. My guess is that most places in Asia don't understand true education, and they are all making lots of mistakes--like hiring uncredentialled teachers under the guise of TESL certification, and a lot of other unlicensed teachers.

    In my opinion, age should not be a determining factor, but rather credentials and experience. Clearly these don't matter to Asian language schools, which fits the general description of them. For those of you above who wrote bemoaning the fact of your age, contact me if you have a two-year earned teaching credential from an accredited university, and tell me about your experiences/successes teaching. In the 15 years I have been here running my own language institute, I haven't seen any real teachers. I have seen a lot of pseudo-teachers (basically people who talk and think they can teach but have no credentials except TESL sometimes). I don't have any work for anyone currently, but things change in my business almost overnight.

    By the way, I am 65. Age really isn't an issue for me. Experience is!!

  1. Michael W. Says:

    Further to the problem of age discrimination, at my age of 69, (despite looking, sounding and acting rather more like the middle 50's), I have all but given up on getting a position with a salary even vaguely commensurate with my qualifications- (Master's level subject qualification & Education degree at Bachelor level with close to 40 years of experience in a wide variety of educational situations).

    I was told by one Korean recruiter that they are looking for teachers at Master's or even Doctorate level aged from 22 to 30 years. How ridiculous!! - to seriously research a credible thesis takes most normal mortals between 2 and 4 years.

    The result is that they employ backpackers with dubious qualifications, who stay a few months and then become bored and move on, leaving them constantly seeking new teachers.

    Can they not learn from this? Can someone not point out to these people how stupid it is to eschew wide experience and high qualifications in favour of youth? (Yes I use English spelling!)

    Even at my age, I am not yet "in God's Waiting Room"!!!!!

  1. Renate Says:

    The Recession
    --re- work down turn. I come from Scunthorpe, a town Mrs T. destroyed in a day with just a word. Scunthorpe people thought there would be work for ever and a day! There are two options, get on your bike and find the work and be a bit of an adventurer, or lay on your belly and learn to enjoy it!

  1. Ingrid A. Says:

    Age discrimination in Asia goes along with looks discrimination...seen adverts in S Korea saying " Young, good-looking teachers wanted"..for information- impossible to get a work permit if 59 in Morocco, 58 in Tunisia, Egypt is OK if you start contracts before 60. But reputable organisations employ teachers over 60 as long as the regulations in a particular country passport holder...

  1. Sandy Says:

    I believe the answer to the age dilemma is the same as in other industries. Although we may not feel our age if our exterior states the truth than we must deal with that issue. Perhaps considering botox/ eyelifts/ facelifts etc. These are options.

  1. James Says:

    Many thanks for the previous comments concerning age. I am a retired 67 year old businessman with a degree and a TELF Certificate and 1 1/2 years ESL teaching experience, but jobs are scarce. I'm considered too old for Japan and Indonesia by law and have been advised by other schools that my age would disrupt the class balance. Whatever that means. I sometimes wonder if the schools really prefer younger teachers that will be easier to control and will accept a lower salary for the privilege of living in their country.

    Thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone.

  1. Jim Darnell Says:

    As a Human Resources Director of an TESP/ESL school with enrollment of nearly 3600-students our recruiting profile is indeed between 25-40.

    It is not because older teachers are a negative, on the contrary, they bring diversity and perpective, however, the economic downturn has brought in a flood of candidates, and we are working in an "employers marketplace". Also, younger employees ensure better succession and career development and given the times, we feel it is an appropriate strategy.

  1. babs Says:

    I also have an age problem. I am 60 but do not look it. Employers are keen to hire me, but when I have to give my passport, things change!

    I would love to form a group of over 50s who are still teaching around the world to have a support group and information about where people are still hiring older and experienced teachers.

    write to me at australianeducation@hotmail.com

  1. Tracey Says:

    I have just passed my state's ESL required test, with no experience or education in the field. I am fluent in French, and learning Spanish by myself. I have a natural gift for languages, and love to teach, but do not yet have my teaching license in the US. I am raising a son, dso I cannot teach abroad at this time. Is there any hope for me???

  1. Liz Says:

    I have been teaching in China since 2003 and am 61 years of age at present. For the last 4 years, I have been at the same school in a village in Guangdong province. It is a partially private and partially government middle school.
    I am a retired secondary school teacher still with the same enthusiasm and energy as I had 38 years ago. The last time that I was asked to return to the same school, they had a 28-year old with a B.A. who wanted to teach there. The "youngster" was not a qualified teacher, though he did attend a short T.E.F.L. course, presumably to obtain that particular certificate. When the headmaster was asked to choose, he said to of course take me. The reasons for his choice are two-fold: they know me and the kind of job that I can do (classroom management - so important in classes of 60+ students) and, secondly, they are so pleased to have a teacher who had been a classroom teacher for many years with maturity and experience.
    I am sure that, if you get a reference letter in Chinese from your current Director of Studies or Headmaster, it will help you to find another job in so far as it should dispel the myths about the quality and enthusiasm of the "senior" teachers.
    So, basically, if you are willing to go off the beaten path and can demonstrate your youthfulness, then there are jobs out there. Fortunately, for those of us receiving a pension from back home, money is not an issue. We still teach because we love it and enjoy the experience of teaching in China.

  1. Philip Says:


    I have been a trainer for the military 24 years and a Security Manager for political trainers in Iraq 4 years. I have a Dip Tchg and Cert TESOL with Trinity. I am looking to secure a contract in the Middle East training Military skills and English combined.
    Please respond to my personal email if you see the potential in my benefits.

    Bada kalabik

  1. Lisa Says:

    Hi Tracey and everyone else,

    I'm also raising a son and hope to live and work abroad. I'm currently living and working in NYC as an ESL teacher. Tracey, are you a single parent? I'm also approaching 50. Contact me.

  1. Alfonso Says:

    To all those aggrieved, mature teachers out there but especially to Jim Darnell and other recruiters of ESL teachers:

    I am an ex-HR Manager and currently ESL teacher in RSK and in my early fifties. My school is very impressed with me and they should be - I know that I'm a far bigger bargain to them now as an employee, than I would have been 20 years ago!

    According to Jim it's the employers that prefer younger teachers because they "ensure better succession and career development".

    My question is: Who better than experienced and mature teachers to coach younger ones and assist them with their personal development?

    Recruiters will do far better business if they sell their candidates better to clients. Many younger teachers do not extend their contracts after one year, because their priority is to travel the world and not to teach. Others just cannot adapt and give up after a couple of weeks/ months because of immaturity and the fact that they do not have anyone to mentor and coach them.

    Please don't allow the baby to be thrown out with the bath water!

  1. Franklin Orosco Says:

    I know that EF Institute (Education First)in Istanbul is recruiting. I worked there last year and out of 25 or so foreign teachers at my school, maybe 10 were older than 50. They value maturity, judgment and experience. The students of various ages appeared to be satisfied with the quality of education and the environment. Here in Turkey, they respect elders generally. At least that has been my experience. I am 49 now, and I have been offered several EFL jobs in Istanbul. I emphasize my business and government background as a plus in that I can relate to business students easily. I suspect that there may be two reasons why I haven't heard from too many of those schools elsewhere after sending in a CV: they doubt my energy because of my age or they prefer to hire people already in the country to minimize the risk of a no-show newhire.

    I, too, thought that my experience would count for something, and at least here at the Amerikan Kultur Dernigi schools and EF Institute, it does.

  1. Margarita Says:

    I would like to know if I can teach in Sao Paulo Brazil with a MA in Curriculum and Instructions K-12 mild to moderate disabilities, HQT in all core subjects K-6 and in reading K-12. I speak Spanish and teach in Spanish too. I teach ESL students in the state of Ohio. Do I need to have an ESL endorsement added to my license to teach abroad?

    Thank you,


  1. Priam Says:

    Hi All,

    It's not just the age. There seem to be a concern with the nationality as well. I am a native speaker, so are both my parents. My speech doesn't have any regional influence. (I sound more English than most people in England) I have a degree in English Language, CELTA and presently teach at a University in India.

    However, I am often let down due to the color of my passport (by most employers). I have an Indian passport and they do not even want to interview me.

    Please suggest.


  1. Tanya Marfo Says:

    Can anyone out there shed some light on how to go about starting an ESL school? I'm in Chicago, fast approaching 50, and wanting to make some changes in my career as an adult educator. I've taught overseas - before marriage & kids - and I have a pretty good gig now with Chicago Public schools. It has lasted over 6 years now, but every year is a crapshoot as far as funding goes. I'm happy to hear any ideas.


    i am a english teaching teacher in ghana here and will like to go out to any foreign country to express my intelegence,hope to hear from you soon

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