Teaching English as a foreign language
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) refers to teaching the English language to students with different first languages. TEFL can occur either within the state school system or more privately, at a language school or with a tutor. TEFL can also take place in an English-speaking country for people who have immigrated there (either temporarily for school or work, or permanently). TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English. Other acronyms for TEFL are TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language), and ESL (English as a second language, a term typically used in English-speaking countries, and more often referring to the learning than the teaching).
TEFL that uses literature aimed at children and teenagers is rising in popularity. Youth-oriented literature offers simpler material ("simplified readers" are produced by major publishers), and often provides a more conversational style than literature for adults. Children's literature in particular sometimes provides subtle cues to pronunciation, through rhyming and other word play. One method for using these books is the multiple-pass technique. The instructor reads the book, pausing often to explain certain words and concepts. On the second pass, the instructor reads the book completely through without stopping. Textbooks contain a variety of literature like poetry, stories, essays, plays etc. through which certain linguistic items are taught.
Reading aloud to students who are learning English as a foreign language is a highly effective strategy to assist them in learning the basic rules and understandings of the process of reading. When teachers read aloud to their students, they simply model fluency and comprehension, while also adding visual support, periodic paraphrasing, and extension. When choosing an appropriate text for the student, both the vocabulary and concepts of the text that may be new to the student need to be considered. To make sure they get definite understanding of the text, engaging the students during reading will assist them with making connections between what is being read and the new vocabulary.
Communicative language teaching
Communicative language teaching (CLT) emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. Despite a number of criticisms, it continues to be popular, particularly in Japan, Taiwan, and Europe. In India CBSE ( Central Board of Secondary Education) has adopted this approach in its affiliated schools.
The task-based language learning approach to CLT has gained ground in recent years. Proponents believe CLT is important for developing and improving speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills, and that it prevents students' merely listening passively to the teacher without interaction. Dogme is a similar communicative approach that encourages teaching without published textbooks, instead focusing on conversational communication among the learners and the teacher.
VLEs have been a major growth point in the English Language Teaching (ELT) industry over the last five years. There are two types:
- Externally hosted platforms that a school or institution exports content to (e.g., the proprietary Web Course Tools, or the open source Moodle)
- Content-supplied, course-managed learning platforms (e.g. the Macmillan English Campus)
The former provides pre-designed structures and tools, while the latter supports course-building by the language school—teachers can blend existing courses with games, activities, listening exercises, and grammar reference units contained online. This supports classroom, self-study or remote practice (for example in an internet café). Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan in India has launched a web portal ECTLT where learners can learn English and other subject online and interact with their own teachers of KVS across the country.
Advances in technology made it possible to get a TEFL qualification online. Students can enroll into online classes that are accredited by organizations such as the British Council or Cambridge ESOL. It should be noted that there is no single overarching accreditation body for TEFL however private for profit tefl companies have been known to invent accreditation affiliates and use them to cheat the customer. Study materials are divided into modules. Students take one or multiple tests per study module. Support is handled by tutors, who can be reached via email. After successfully finishing the last module the student is granted a certificate. It comes in digital form or can be shipped to the student's address. Getting such a certificate can be beneficial in many ways. The student can get a bigger paycheck or teach English in foreign countries.
Qualifications for TEFL teachers
Qualification requirements vary considerably from country to country and among employers within the same country. In many institutions it is possible to teach without a degree or teaching certificate. Some institutions will consider it necessary to be a native speaker with an MA TESOL. A university degree in English language and literature can also be of value, as indeed can any specialist degree. Other institutions consider a proof of English proficiency, a University degree and a basic teaching qualification to be more than sufficient. However, the level of academic qualification need not be the most important qualification, as many schools will be more interested in your interpersonal skills. For trainers wishing to enter the academic field, publications can be as important as qualifications, especially if they relate to English use in your field. Where there is a high demand for teachers and no statutory requirements, employers may accept otherwise unqualified candidates. Each country is different, and acceptance depends on demand for English teachers and the teacher's previous teaching and life experiences.
As a general rule, schools will tend to prefer qualifications that involve a significant amount of assessed teaching: it is often said that "Learning to teach without classroom practice is like learning to drive without ever encountering traffic". Shorter courses and online courses often lack assessed teaching practice. Course makers have recognized this and have begun introducing combined TEFL courses which have an element of assessed teaching.
Some educational facilities are now offering two or three well-defined certificates instead of one general certificate. For example, Introduction to Language Teaching - 40 hours, Practice of Language Training - 30 hours, and Literacy - 30 hours.
Private language schools are likely to require at least a certificate based on successful completion of a course consisting of a minimum of 100 hours. Major programs like EPIK will offer a higher salary to teachers who have completed any TEFL Course, online or otherwise, so long as the program meets the minimum 100-hour requirement. Internet-based TEFL courses are generally accepted worldwide, and particularly in Asia, where the largest jobs markets exist in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
In Asia there has also been a tendency to hire TEFL teachers on superficial criteria, such as race (with Caucasians preferred) on the assumption that an English teacher, or native English speaker should be 'white', this is proven especially true in a Thailand, a big employer of TEFL teachers, with adverts frequently calling explicitly for native-English speakers. Partly this is driven by commercial expectations in the private sector, where parents feel that paying extra fees for TEFL teacher should warrant an American or British TEFL teacher, the schools will not risk losing students over this.
Age/gender requirements might also be encountered. In some countries outside Europe and America, for example the Middle East, schools might hire men over women or vice versa. And they might hire only teachers in a certain age range; usually between 20 and 40 years of age. Anyone under 19 may be able to teach TEFL, but usually only in a volunteer situation, such as a refugee camp.
Pay and conditions worldwide
As in most fields, the pay depends greatly on education, training, experience, seniority, and expertise. As with much expatriate work, employment conditions vary among countries, depending on the level of economic development and how much people want to live there. In relatively poor countries, even a low wage may equate to a comfortable middle class lifestyle. EFL Teachers who wish to earn money often target countries in East Asia such as China, South Korea and Japan where demand is high. The Middle East is also often named as one of the best paying areas, although usually better qualifications are needed: at least a CELTA and one or two years' experience.
There is a danger of exploitation by employers. Spain in particular has encountered widespread criticism given the overwhelming number of small to medium businesses (including TEFL schools) which routinely dodge the teachers' social security contributions as a means of maximizing profits. The result is that most teachers are entitled to less unemployment or sick pay than they would be entitled to if their salaries and contributions were declared in accordance with the law. Similar situations increase in countries with labor laws that may not apply to foreign employees, or which may be unenforced. An employer might ignore contract provisions, especially regarding working hours, working days, and end-of-contract payments. Difficulties faced by foreign teachers regarding language, culture, or simply limited time can make it difficult to demand pay and conditions that their contracts stipulate. Some disputes arise from cross-cultural misunderstandings. Teachers who can't adapt to living and working in a foreign country often leave after a few months. It is especially difficult at this time for teachers to recognize which jobs are legitimate, as many of the leading jobs boards allow unfiltered paid posting.
TEFL region and country locations
Major European cities have established language schools on-site or operated as agencies sending teachers to various locations. September is the peak recruiting month, and many annual contracts last from October until June. Employers prefer graduates with experience in teaching Business English or in teaching young learners.
Instructors from the United Kingdom and Ireland, countries within the European Union, do not need any visas to work within the EU, which reduces demand for non-EU teachers. Immigration laws require that non-EU job applicants submit documents from their home countries in person after the European employer files an officially documented job offer. If the worker has travelled to Europe to find the job, this means they must return home and wait for some time. Following the process correctly does not guarantee getting a visa. Many private-sector employers do not subsidise them at all, because they are able to hire the staff easily from the EU countries.
International schools hire some experienced and well-qualified non-EU teachers. Education ministries, i.e. those of France and Spain, offer opportunities for assistant language instructors in public schools. Part-time employment is usually allowed under an education visa, but this visa also requires proper attendance at an accredited EU college or university, institute, or other educational program. Other teachers work illegally under tourist visas, since the "don't ask, don't tell" method is the only viable solution to avoiding impossible bureaucracy and eventual job rejection.
Despite claims from websites that sell courses, state schools often do not accept brief TEFL courses as a substitute for a university degree in English education. In Spain it is impossible to get a job with a state school unless you go through the process of getting your foreign teaching degree accepted in Spain and then pass the civil service examination ("oposiciones").
Demand for TEFL tends to be stronger in countries which joined the European Union recently. They also tend to have lower costs of living. Non-EU teachers usually find legal work there with less difficulty. The Balkan former Yugoslav countries have seen recent growth in TEFL—private schools have recruited Anglophone teachers there for several years.
Very few foreign instructors work in Scandinavia, where stricter immigration laws and a policy of relying on bilingual local teachers apply.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that in 2006 there were 4,747 female English as a Foreign Language teachers (80.1%) and 1,174 male teachers (19.8%) in Australia. Despite the worldwide financial crisis in 2008, the number of international students attending universities in Australia has remained high.
In August 2013, there were four hundred and sixty-two thousand international students paying full-fees in Australia, with students from China and India being the two largest markets. Previously, international students applying to study at an Australian university were required to sit a test and were only accepted based on their academic performance and English language proficiency. However, Australian universities are now providing alternative entry pathways into higher education programs to allow international students to improve both their English language and academic preparedness at the same time. Some of these alternative pathways include Foundation Studies and English Language Intensive Courses.
Employment for teachers of English as a foreign language has risen by a rate of 45.3% over the past 5 years and is expected to grow very strongly through 2017. In November 2012, the number of EAFL (English as a foreign language) teachers in Australia had risen to 8,300, and the projected number for 2017 is 9,500 teachers. The top three regions in Australia for employment as an EAFL teacher is New South Wales: 49.5%, Victoria: 29.7%, and Queensland: 7.7%.
Demand for English teachers in Cambodia has grown over the past decade, though the country has a small population and is dependent on foreign aid for much of its economic development, limiting growth.
Cambodia was ruled by the French from 1863 to 1953, and therefore English was not the primary second language until recently. From the 1970s through to the 1990s, Cambodia experienced civil war and political turmoil which had a devastating effect on the national education system and the learning of a second language. By 1979 it was estimated that 90% of schools had been destroyed and 75% of teachers were no longer working and foreign languages were not being taught. However, in Cambodian schools today, English as a foreign language is taught from Grade 7 onwards and is the most popular foreign language studied. Adults are also able to learn English through other non-formal English language education programs.
Currently in Cambodia, there are professional, institutional, and governmental motivations for both teaching and learning English as a foreign language. Results from studies on Cambodia show that the ability to speak English is an important component required to transform the standard of life for the people of Cambodia. The reason for this is that the people who are able to communicate in English are ones that are more likely to have opportunities to find better occupations with higher pay, as it is used to communicate with international businesses and organizations.
Many opportunities exist within the People's Republic of China, including preschool, university, private schools and institutes, companies, and tutoring. NGOs, such as Teach For China, are an opportunity as well. The provinces and the Ministry of Education in Beijing tightly govern public schools, while private schools have more freedom to set work schedules, pay, and requirements.
English teaching salaries in China are dependent on multiple factors including; Teaching hours specified in contract, location, inclusions/bonuses, and public vs private sector. It is important to note that due to high demand, salaries have increased significantly over recent years. A standard contract within the public school system generally entails less than 20 hours of teaching time, weekends off, included accommodations, flight stipend/reimbursement for 1 year contracts, paid public holidays, medical insurance and Z visa (working permit) sponsorship. These positions offer an average base salary of 6,000 - 7,000 RMB per month in smaller cities and rural areas. In Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou these positions now offer 10,000 RMB plus per month due to higher living costs. The private sector is less uniform with salaries going as high as 20,000 RMB per month for DOS's in major cities. Private positions tend to demand higher hours, may include teaching in multiple locations, and often require weekend and evening working schedules. They also are more flexible with housing options, often offering teachers a choice between provided accommodations, or a stipend towards rental costs.
By law, all non-Chinese English teachers should hold a minimum bachelor's degree in any discipline, be at least 25 years old, have at least 2 years of working experience (unrelated is fine). Due to demand, these rules are often overlooked, and schools often are able to obtain work permits for teachers who do not meet the minimums, although this is tightening up in the major cities.
Public schools usually pay during vacations, but not for summer break unless the teacher renews the contract, while many private schools have shortened vacation schedules and may pay for whatever short number of days is allowed for vacation.
Company jobs vary, depending on the number of employees they want to train. They may employ a teacher for one or two classes, or a complete set of 14 to 16 hours a week. Tutoring also varies, as in some cases a whole family of students or just one family member.
Some teachers work successfully on an independent basis with several contracts for tutoring, individual college classes, and some company work. The majority of teachers accept contracts with schools. Public school contracts are fairly standard, while private schools set their own requirements. Schools try to hire teachers from Anglophone countries, but because of demand, others with good English language skills can find positions.
Be aware, there are many small business which recruit foreign teachers and find them either a formal job or tutoring positions. Many of these small businesses are known to rip off unsuspected foreigners. If offered positions or you feel this may be the case, a good search with Google may produce hopefully good reports. For bigger cities, there are large expat communities and many online groups which can be used for researching as well. There are also a few webpages/Facebook groups such as teachingjobsaroundchina which were created by Expats listing quality safe jobs that the Expats have experience with.
Before deciding whether to work with the recruitment agency or school, ask their SAIC business license number for Chinese schools; local business license for foreign agencies; check recruiter's website and make sure it has a clearly stated address. Remember, legitimate employer will offer you Z visa. Never accept working on tourist or business visa.
Hong Kong was once a British Crown colony, and English-language education is taken seriously there, as demonstrated by government-funded research. Hong Kong was handed back to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 and became known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
Teaching English in Hong Kong has become quite a business. Many English teaching institutions have since opened. Big private names include Headstart Group Limited and English for Asia. Native English speakers may quickly find a job teaching English, although foreigners should be aware of shady companies who often pull tricks on their employees. A qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) has become a pre-requisite to enter the Native English-speaking Teacher Scheme (NET scheme), which is funded by the HKSAR government and provides the ultimate career destination for an English teacher. On top of attractive salary, housing is provided with all the other fringe benefits including full holiday pay, provident fund and health insurance. Housing or rental support is the biggest incentive to foreign teachers as housing cost in HK is ranked one of the highest in the world.
Once a teacher is on the NET scheme, they can move from school to school after completion of, normally, a two-year contract. Therefore, a teacher has a lot of opportunities to land themselves an ideal position at an ideal school, provided they have strong track record. While many foreigners think coming to HK with a short online TEFL qualification is sufficient, both public and private schools are looking for TEFL qualifications listed with the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Vocational and Academic Qualifications and Hong Kong Education Bureau There are less than a handful of them. Acquiring one of those qualifications gives a foreigner a definite advantage to securing a preferred teaching position at a formal school, whether private or public, kindergarten, primary or secondary. When selecting NET, schools will not normally consider learning centre experience due to the differences in class size, continuity of student group, level of classroom management skills and sophistication in teaching pedagogy required between schools and centres.
In Japan, the JET Programme employs assistant language teachers and teaching assistants to work in Japanese high schools and elementary schools. Other teachers work in eikaiwa (private language schools), universities, and as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) in government and boards of education.
The largest of these chains are Aeon and ECC. The sector is not well regulated. Nova, one of the largest chains with over 900 branches, collapsed in October 2007, leaving thousands of foreign teachers without income or, for some, a place to live. Agencies are increasingly used to send English speakers into kindergartens, primary schools, and private companies whose employees need to improve their Business English. Agencies, known in Japan as haken, or dispatch companies, have recently been competing among themselves to get contracts from various Boards of Education for Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools, and wages have decreased steadily. JALT (the Japan Association for Language Teaching) is the largest NPO (not-for-profit organization) for language teachers (mainly native English speakers), with nearly 3,000 members.
English language has been increasingly important in education, international trade and cooperation in Laos since the 1990s. The government started to promote foreign direct investment, and the introduction of Laos as an observer at ASEAN in 1992 also increased the necessity of English. Laos was considered as a full member of ASEAN in 1997. From 1992-97, the government had to improve its fluency in English.
More recently, high-ranking officials, business people, and shareholders have started to work at their English. This trend looks set to increase as English is due to be included and taught in the field of education too.
Middle East and North Africa
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other wealthy Persian Gulf states are the main locations for instructors to work in this region. Many positions provide a higher salary with more benefits but tend to require more qualifications and experience. Private academies and university programs are the main venues of instruction. Some public primary and secondary schools, such as those in Abu Dhabi, have begun to recruit foreign English instructors.
Other Middle Eastern and North African countries offer more modestly-paid positions. Amideast and the British Council operate in a number of countries providing teaching opportunities in their English language courses.
English language is also taught in Iran as the second language since 6th grade.
The Peace Corps has 136 volunteers in Mongolia, many of whom are English teachers mostly teaching in the vast rural areas, where the population density is low. In Ulaanbaatar, a modest number of professional NETs teach at private institutes, universities, and some schools. In addition to foreign instructors from the major English-speaking countries, there are Filipinos teaching in Mongolian schools, institutes and large industrial or mining companies.
There is great demand for native English speakers willing to teach in South Korea, though it is dropping. In 2013, the number of native English speakers teaching in public schools dropped 7.7% in one year to 7,011. Most of the nation's provinces are removing foreign English teachers from their middle and high schools. As with Japan, Korea is also nurturing a government-run program for teacher placement called English Program in Korea (EPIK). EPIK reported that it recruited 6,831 foreign teachers to work in Korean public schools. There are a number of associations for English teachers in Korea, the largest one with a significant number of native speakers is KOTESOL.
Institutions commonly provide round-trip airfare and a rent-free apartment for a one-year contract. Note that since March 15, 2008, visa rules have changed. Prospective teachers must now undergo a medical examination and a criminal background check, produce an original degree certificate, and provide sealed transcripts. On arriving in South Korea, teachers must undergo a further medical check before they receive an ARC (Alien Registration Card) card.
Korean labor law provides all workers with a severance pay equivalent to one month's salary is paid at the end of a contract. Most job contracts are for 1 year and include entrance and exit plane tickets. Citizens of the USA, Canada and Australia also receive back their pension contributions and their employers' part of the pension contributions on leaving the country. The average starting pay for those with no previous teaching experience and no degree in the English language is usually between USD $1,800 to USD $2,200.
There are four main places to work in South Korea: universities, private schools, public schools (EPIK), and private language academies (known in South Korea as hagwons). Private language academies (in 2005 there were over thirty thousand such academies teaching English), the most common teaching location in Korea, can be for classes of school children, housewives, university students (often at the university itself), or businesspeople. There are numerous, usually small independent hagwons but also numerous large chains.
In Taiwan, most teachers work in cram schools, known locally as bushibans or buxibans. Some are part of chains, like Hess and Kojen. Others operate independently. Such schools pay around US$2,000 per month. End-of-contract bonuses equivalent to an extra month's pay are not mandated by law as in South Korea, and are uncommon in Taiwan. Also, under current law it is illegal for foreigners to teach English in pre-schools or kindergartens, though it is almost always overlooked by both the schools and the government, thereby making the practice common and accepted. To teach English and live in Taiwan, you must be a holder of an Alien Resident Card (ARC) which is supplied to passport holders of native English speaking countries, by hiring schools ARC candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from a university.
Thailand has a great demand for native English speakers, and has a ready-made workforce in the form of travelers and expatriates attracted by the local lifestyle despite relatively low salaries. Teachers can expect to earn a minimum starting salary of around 25,000 Baht. Because Thailand prohibits foreigners from most non-skilled and skilled occupations, a high percentage of foreign residents teach English for a living, and are able to stay in the country. There is also a growing demand for Filipino English teachers, as they are often hired for about half the salary of a native speaker. Qualifications for EFL teachers in Thailand have become stricter in the last couple of years, with most schools now requiring a bachelor's degree plus a 120-hour TEFL course . It is possible to find work without a degree in Thailand. However, as a degree makes getting a work permit far easier, to work without a degree is often to work illegally, opening teachers up to exploitation by employers.
There has been significant growth in TEFL within the wealthier non-Anglophone countries of North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean. In particular, many teachers work in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Chile has even made it a national goal to become a bilingual nation within the coming years. As proof of its commitment to this goal the Chilean Ministry of Education sponsors English Opens Doors, a program that recruits English speakers to work in Chilean Public High Schools.
Costa Rica is a popular choice among TEFL teachers in light of the high market demand for English instructors, the stable economic and political atmosphere, and the vibrant culture. Teaching positions are available through public and private schools, language schools, universities and colleges, and through private tutoring. Language schools typically hire all year round, and teachers of Business English are also in high demand. There are quality Costa Rica TEFL training courses that offer certification as well as job placement assistance following completion of a course.
TEFL in Africa has historically been linked to aid programs such as the US Peace Corps or the multinational Voluntary Service Overseas organization, as well as other aid programs. Most African countries employ bilingual local teachers. Poverty and instability in some African countries has made it difficult to attract foreign teachers. There has been increasing government investment in education and a growing private sector.
Additional English instruction takes place at levels of public and private schools.
Beginning as early as 1759, English language teaching in India has been occurring for more than two hundred and fifty years. After Hindi, English is the most commonly spoken, written and read language of India, as it is used most commonly for inter-state and intrastate communication, acting as a ‘link’ language. It is very is a very important language in some systems such as the legal, financial, educational, and business in India.
However, having a foreign language become so popular in the country has also posed problems for the regional and traditional languages within the country. Indian languages, such as Hindi and Bengali, are known and associated with tradition and are regarded as un-modern. Today Hindi has been given the status of the official language of India, and English is accepted as the other official language.
- Applied linguistics
- English language learning and teaching
- Language education
- The Learning English Video Project
- List of countries by English-speaking population
- Second language acquisition
- Trinity College London ESOL
- Glossary of language teaching terms and ideas
- English Opens Doors
- Test of English as a Foreign Language known as TOEFL
- EF Standard English Test, open-access standardized English assessment tools
- Teaching English as a second language
- English as a second or foreign language
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