Take a look at any online TEFL forum and there is a good chance you will come across stories of unscrupulous employers taking advantage of their teachers. Due to the huge number of English language training providers operating in countries all over the world, it is inevitable that there are some that are badly run. The good news is that by asking a few simple questions you should be able to avoid the jobs you don't want and greatly increase your chances of landing the right position to suit you. So what questions should you ask the employer during an interview?
What tasks will I be expected to undertake outside of normal teaching hours?
Exactly what is expected of teachers varies considerably from one school to the next. You may be expected to complete reports on your students, attend regular staff meetings, consult with student's parents, provide lesson plans in advance or even undertake lunchtime duties etc. Some schools will pay for these extra responsibilities and some will not, so it is important that you are fully aware of your workload before taking the job.
What is teacher turnover like at the school?
The volume of turnover can be a good indication of how well teachers are treated by their employers. Although teachers in this field do often change jobs on a regular basis, you should be wary if no one stays for more than one contract. If you are unsure of the interviewer's answers, you can ask to speak to teachers who are currently working at the school.
What kind of classes will I be teaching?
This may require a few questions to get a full picture of what your classes will be like. What is the average class size? What age are the students? Is the curriculum set or will I have to prepare my own? There are generally pros and cons to each different classroom dynamic and most teachers have their own preferences.
What is the payment schedule?
Although this can sometimes feel like a tricky subject to bring up, it is essential to know what the starting salary is and whether there is any set policy for pay increases in the future. You will also need to know how and when the salary is paid so you can ensure you have the funds to cover your stay until the first paycheck arrives.
What teaching resources do you have?
It is important to know what resources and teaching aids are available to you as this may well affect how you plan and deliver your lessons. Is there access to internet connected computers, printers and photocopiers? If so, are they free to use? Do the classrooms have interactive whiteboards, overhead projectors or plain whiteboards? Is there a budget to cover any extra materials you want to include in your lessons?
Don't forget to adjust your questions to suit each specific job!
These are just some of the more important questions you should ask at any interview you attend, however, there are sure to be others that are important to you and specific to the individual job or location. Just remember that you have lost nothing if you walk away from a potential job because it just didn't feel right. Better that than to find yourself wondering ?why didn't I ask about that before I signed the contract?.