How do I become a TEFL teacher in the UK?

Most of Europe has a very strong demand for TEFL qualified teachers and there is usually a big queue of people hoping to take advantage of every vacant position. People from all parts of the world dream of living and working in the UK and many see teaching English as a way to achieve that dream. However, non-UK citizens need to consider a few things before booking a flight to London.

What are the difficulties of teaching English in the UK?

There is plenty of demand for English language instruction across the UK as the country has relatively high levels of immigration and a significant refugee population. Government, private, and charity run organizations operate in many areas where they help newcomers and their families to improve their English skills so they can get by on a day to day basis. However, most of these positions will go to local people, many of whom will have already taught overseas and have since returned home. Another big issue for foreign teachers in the UK is securing the work permits and visas required to work legally. However, there are sometimes ways around this problem.

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

Many foreign nationals are able to take advantage of the UK job market by way of marriage to a local person or having a partner posted to the UK through their job. Anyone in this position should be able to apply for teaching jobs provided they have the qualifications and experience that the employer is asking for in the job advert. Most employers are likely to expect their teachers to have a degree and a TEFL certification. Many will also insist on previous classroom experience.

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

Depending on your nationality, it might be possible to get a working holiday visa that allows you to teach in the UK. English speaking countries often have arrangements in place that allow each other’s citizens to spend a year or two in each other's countries, although there are usually a few restrictions that limit the number of visas issued. Applications for a working holiday visa usually need to be made before you leave home, via your nearest UK embassy. There are also usually age restrictions in place that are typically from 18 to 30/35. Other common restrictions are on the amount of time you can work for one employer and the need to demonstrate sufficient finances for the length of your stay. Australians and New Zealanders probably have the best chance of securing a working holiday visa for the UK, but it is worth checking with your nearest embassy to find out the current options wherever you are from.

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

Despite the relatively high demand for TEFL qualified teachers in the UK, there is plenty of competition for each vacant job which makes it harder for foreign nationals. Salaries are not always that high compared to the cost of living and many jobs are only part-time, which forces teachers to take on more than one role in order to make a comfortable living. The high cost of living, particularly in popular locations such as London, Oxford, and Cambridge, is another hurdle that is difficult to deal with. Teaching jobs in private schools are often the exception to these rules, but these positions are not widely spread and a high level of qualifications and experience would be necessary to be considered.

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

If your dreams of teaching English in the UK have taken a knock, do not despair as there are still many other great teaching destinations out there waiting to be discovered. It is worth noting that the vast majority of TEFL teachers work in non-English speaking countries where jobs are much easier to find and secure. Some people find the idea of teaching English in a country where they don’t know the language to be a scary one. However, there is no reason to be concerned as you will learn all the skills and techniques necessary to be a successful teacher in any environment via your TEFL course training.