Short-term TEFL Jobs

This is another post inspired by a comment on the website.  A reader wrote:

I thought about doing short term contracts over the space of about 1 year i.e. 4 months in say 3 countries. Would I be best to apply in country?

Devil’s advocate here . . . my response follows below and it will likely be unpopular with a certain segments of the TEFL crowd, but I will try to give you a good understanding of the issues at hand.

Here we go . . .

I am not a big fan of short-term contracts as they usually meet the needs of the teacher and do very little for the schools/students involved.

My personal opinion is that it takes even a skilled and experienced teacher a couple months to really get to know a school/culture/country/group of students and to become really effective. So . . . about the time you will become useful to a school, your thoughts will have already moved on to your next assignment and you will soon be gone.

I realize that is a rather harsh view of short-term teaching, but it is what I have observed during my 20+ years abroad.

Students, particularly younger students, need some consistency in their lives and classrooms and in their teachers.

Just as an analogy, have you ever worked a job where you got a new boss every three or four months?  I have and I well remember a different focus with each one.  Each one thought different things were more important.  What was stressed by one, was ignored by another or we were even told that the old way was the wrong way.   Where does something like take a student?

Also, in the past, when you knew you were going to leave a job in the next month or two, did you always give 100%?  Or was your mind wandering on to the next job?

I’m not totally against short-term teaching jobs – really.  Summer and winter camps where everyone – including the student – knows this is going to be a short-term intensive program, that’s a different story.

But  do, please, put the student foremost in your mind if you wish to be a teacher.  They need to come first.  If that is an unpopular view then so be it.

TED’s Tips™ #1: It is only fair that we think about how our behavior affects our students.  Teachers coming and going can have a pretty negative effect on students.  I am sure there are teachers who can handle this to the betterment of their students, but I have not met many of them.

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The Most Common TEFL Scam

You might as well see it and know it, so here it is.  This email arrived in my inbox yesterday.  Not the first one like it, they seem very common these days.  So . . . let’s take a look at it:

Hello English Teacher,

I am Mr. ******* from Russia live here in Newcastle England. I
have my son and my wife with me here. I need them to learn ESL to
enable them speak English well in while here in England. Their names
are Robert my son and Irina my wife respectively.
I can be able to pay you £4,000GBP monthly and then will also pay you monthly for health allowance. Also, I will be responsible for some the fees for your visa documents.
I need you to send me your CV and other credentials so that I can evaluate you for this job.


This one is easy, right?

The writer appeals to your greed, to your interest in earning a wage far above what most EFL/ESL teachers would earn for what seems a very cushy job.

But the most important thing is that this scam approached me.  Not me applying for a job – the email came to me and asked me to apply.   Yet this person doesn’t know my name, he just harvested my email from God knows where.

Interestingly, he writes: I will be responsible for some the fees for your visa documents.

Bad English and all – this is where the scam plays out. I will apply for this job to earn big money, but right before I can take it, there will be a last minute need for me to send – oh . . . probably US$500 or so – to pay for my “Visa Paperwork”.  Do I want this job that is going to pay big money?  Perhaps I already paid for a plane ticket?  Told my family about the great job I got?  Quit my job? Living in my parent’s basement? I’d better send the money right away.

Well . . . that will be that last you will hear from your potential “employer” and your money will be long gone.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Key factors to look for in a scam:  #1  —  They approached you directly, yet probably don’t even know your name and want to pay you more than the going rate for what seems to be an easy job.

TED’s Tips™ #2:  The scamster sets the stage for asking you for money by mentioning “visa fees” – though this won’t come up again until the very last minute.  Now – there is nothing wrong with paying visa fees.  But you pay them directly to the embassy of the country from which you are obtaining the visa, not to an individual you have never met.

TED’s Tips™ #3: The request for money will be at the very last moment.  It was never made completely clear in the beginning as to an exact amount.  The idea was only briefly mentioned, but it set the stage to ask you for money and for you to feel like you were fairly warned – and you were.

TED’s Tips™ #4:  Use your head.  This particular scam is no different than if someone walked up to you on the street and offered you US$1000 if you would wash their car.  Might you think there was something not right about such an offer?  Yeah.  So would I.

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