Once you decide to go on your own, it’s best to get all the paperwork done and start looking for new opportunities. Many online academies will offer you a B2B contract, so you can invoice them at the end of each month for your hard work. However, once you start scrolling through job offers, you will notice one major thing – questionable working conditions.
Most of my working time is divided between Preply and private students who I found through either friends, ex-students or platforms such as Tusclasesparticulares. It’s not always easy to find students, and it’s also often time-consuming. It’s even more difficult once you start valuing yourself and charging above-average fees, you’ll see a lower influx of students. But fear not! There are other solutions, for example, becoming a part of an online language school which will provide you with students, materials and much-needed co-workers.
As much as I like being autonomous, I also enjoyed being a part of a team. Recently, I had a feeling that I started depending too much on Preply, and I think it’s time to share my ideas and develop alongside other professionals. I opened TEFL.com, a website recommended during my CELTA course and also a place where I was lucky to find a job before. That’s when I found this job offer which served as an inspiration for this blog post.
An unnamed language academy was looking for EFL teachers to work for them under a few small conditions. All you needed to have was a positive approach towards teaching, availability outside regular working hours and eagerness to work on weekends. All for 18 euros per hour (which is still one of the better rates you will find on those websites). Where do I sign up?
This practice is unfortunately quite common, and many teachers work at the weekends or at the most ridiculous times of the day. For instance, Preply’s Facebook group is full of teachers offering 168 hours per week, which I guess leaves them waiting in front of their computers 24/7 waiting for anyone to graciously book a class with them.
I was getting a bit discouraged and thought that maybe I can search for some opportunities in my home country. I found an online academy for adults that focuses on General and Business English. The website was very enticing, and I thought that I’d give it a go. Even though I was able to spot some rubbish statements right away, for example, the original teaching method (basically a conversation in English – innovative), or the requirements you do NOT need to fulfil to work there (look below), I still thought I had nothing to lose.
After a few days, I got a response explaining that the best teaching time is in the early morning hours (7.00 – 10.00) and late in the evening, which is normal for me. However, what stopped me from replying to their message was the prices. They offered 6.50 – 13 euros an hour. On top of that, there were birthday bonuses and frequent internal competitions in which you can win an electric scooter, or a smartwatch! Unfortunately, I’m not a huge scooter rider, so I’d much rather get paid more and get a scooter if I want one. They also require at least 20 hours of availability, which after a very quick calculation gives you between 520 – 1.040 euros a month (before tax).
It wasn’t the only company with less-than-desirable hourly rates. I stumbled upon many job offers that are aimed at certain nationalities, such as South Africans. I’m aware of the differences in living costs and understand that salaries change depending on countries, but $6 per 50 minutes is way too little. There is also one massive red flag 🚩in that ad – quick hiring process, with less than one week turnaround time. This screams – our tutors quit after a month or so.
It’s one thing to try and defend paying less to people living in certain countries, but how do you explain low salaries in countries such as Spain? An academy in Valencia offers 10 euros an hour (after taxes😅), 16 hours of availability, working with children and a lot of administrative tasks on top of that. I hope they offer teachers ready-made lesson plans so they don’t need to spend any of their unpaid time preparing classes. You can be shocked about these prices, but this is a reality in Spain, and not many schools will offer you anything more than that.
Another typical offer you may find on the Internet is teaching English to Chinese children. The problem is the time difference, so even if $20 sounds good to you (keep in mind that this price is before tax!), are you willing to give up your sleep or weekend for that? There is 6 hours difference between Spain and Beijing, so on weekdays, you would work between 10.00 – 16.00, which is nice. However, at weekends you are told that the best hours are between 2.00 – 18.00. Despite all that, the biggest red flag 🚩can be seen in the sentence about $100 for each referral. Sounds a little too much like a scheme to me.
To conclude this rant, it’s not easy to be a successful and satisfied EFL teacher. Many companies use their employees, and the moment you start asking about your rights, you can pack your things and look for a new place to work. I have talked before about the (ESL) job interview red flags and what to avoid when speaking to someone face to face, but the online world isn’t any friendlier. That being said, don’t get discouraged if you can’t find good job opportunities. The good ones are often taken, and their teachers don’t leave them that frequently. Be watchful, don’t ignore any red flags, and once you see conditions that you don’t agree with, keep looking! Getting a good EFL teaching position takes a bit longer than a week, so stay patient and good luck!
How did you find your EFL teaching job? Have you ever seen any suspicious job offers?
1 thought on “The Sorrows of an EFL Teacher”
A very rightful rant. I cracked up at electric scooter and the smartwatch 😄