A Survivor’s Guide To Being an EFL Teacher in London | TEFL Jobs London

A Survivor’s Guide To Being an EFL Teacher in London

By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.

River Thames

London is a city with scores of English language schools, some more established than others. With your Trinity TESOL/CELTA/DELTA accreditation, you have the passport to apply for jobs at any of these schools – one or two even take non-qualified teachers – one school in central London was recently advertising for teaching ‘interns’- no qualifications or experience required, 25 hours teaching a week for £450 a month! For the professional teacher of course, such schools are to be avoided. The kite mark of real quality is of course the British Council stamp of approval, and such schools have high standards and can offer more career development, but obviously in return, higher teaching standards and attendance at training workshops (sometimes unpaid) are expected, and observations and feedback are usually given on a regular basis.

No guarantees

However, having your certificate does not guarantee you any stability or a permanent job, a lesson learnt by any teacher who has worked in London as a TEFL teacher for more than a year. There is an over-abundance of TEFL teachers, and whilst you can always find work year-round abroad somewhere, London doesn’t easily offer up permanent jobs. Most schools will employ you on a rolling contract, with one week’s notice required either way, and only state sick pay is widely offered. If fewer students come, and classes have to be closed, teachers are laid off- this is just the way of the industry in London. Newly qualified teachers quickly become hardened to this reality, or at least they have to if they are to remain a TEFL teacher in the capital.

Take nothing for granted

The key is to take nothing for granted. You have to be punctual and applied, preparing your lessons and delivering them effectively if you have any chance of keeping work. But then of course, if there are not enough classes to teach, even the best teachers can find themselves disappearing from next week’s teaching timetable. The key to surviving as a TEFL teacher in London is to be very flexible and adaptable – you may have to change schools several times in a year. Most years, there is guaranteed teaching work from June-September, and in a good year February-November is sometimes possible. But usually October-March/April/May are fraught months, with teachers scrambling for work, taking a day’s/week’s work here and another there. Having a DELTA can improve your chances of gaining a permanent post, but there are still too many DELTA-qualified teachers to permanent TEFL jobs in London.

In conclusion, you have to learn to not take being let go by a school personally – it is the nature of a largely unregulated and revenue-driven industry with teachers in abundance. Be flexible and adaptable, and resourceful and quick-thinking in your job hunting approach. Being a TEFL teacher in London is not for the fainthearted, but then again it is never boring! Good luck.


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