How do I become an ESL teacher in the UK?

There is a very strong market for TESOL qualified teachers right across Europe and there is never a shortage of people looking to fill any vacant positions that come up. Many people from all over the world like the idea of heading to the UK to work as an ESL teacher, however, there are several things to consider before you book your plane ticket to London.

What are the difficulties of teaching English in the UK?

The UK is known to have relatively high levels of immigration and a significant refugee population, which in itself creates plenty of work for English language teachers. In many parts of the country teachers are employed to help newcomers get their language proficiency up to a level that is necessary to get by on a day to day basis. However, the vast majority of these positions are snapped up by local teachers, either newly graduated TESOL trainees or teachers with experience who have returned from working overseas. The other major stumbling block for foreign teachers looking to work in the UK is getting hold of the necessary work permits and visas. However, there are sometimes ways to get around this.

How can I get a work permit to teach English in the UK?

One way that some foreign nationals gain access to the job market in the UK is via marriage to a local citizen or if your partner is posted to the UK through their job. If this applies to you, you should find you are eligible to apply for ESL teaching jobs providing you have the qualifications and experience that the job is asking for. It is common for the employer to ask for a degree and a TESOL certification. Previous classroom experience is also likely to be required.

Can I get a working holiday visa and teach English in the UK?

A working holiday visa is a possible option if you want to head to the UK and teach ESL. Some English speaking countries have reciprocal arrangements that allow citizens to spend one or two years in each other's countries, although certain restrictions often apply. Applications for this type of visa usually need to be made from your home country before you leave. In many cases these schemes are restricted to people aged from 18 to 30/35, and you might well be limited to the amount of time you can spend with one employer. Proof of sufficient finances is also a common requirement. Citizens of Australia and New Zealand are likely to have the best chance of landing a working holiday visa to the UK, but it is worth checking with your nearest embassy to find out the current options no matter where you are from.

Can I earn a comfortable living teaching English in the UK?

As mentioned, the demand for TESOL qualified teachers is relatively high in the UK. However, the competition for each vacant position is equally high which is not great news for foreign nationals. Many of the available jobs are also part-time and the salaries can be relatively low, which can make it difficult to support a comfortable lifestyle without taking on some other work. The cost of living is also high in the UK, which also has an impact on the quality of life you can expect. Positions in private schools are often an exception to the rule, however, these are not easy to find and you would certainly require a high level of qualifications and experience to be considered.

What should I do if I can't find a job teaching English in the UK?

If you find that your options for teaching English in the UK are limited, do not despair as there are plenty of other great teaching locations worldwide where jobs are much easier to find. The bottom line is that the vast majority of ESL teachers work in countries where English is not the official language. If you find the idea of teaching in a country where you are not familiar with the language daunting, there really is no need as you will learn all the skills and techniques necessary to be a successful ESL teacher anywhere in the world during your TESOL course training.

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