Tips When Applying To Teach English Abroad

April 18, 2017

Living and working overseas is enticing for many, and obtaining certification to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is one of the most exciting ways to attaining that opportunity.  However, the Better Business Bureau wants travelers to be aware of the red flags to a TEFL job scam.

English language instruction continues to be a thriving industry for teachers, with the global demand expected to rise to 2 billion people by 2020.  Individuals and organizations across the world are aware of the increase in ESL jobs and take the opportunity to commit fraud against candidates. 

“It is nearly impossible to retrieve the money you lose to a scam overseas so knowing how to identify the red flags will help you avoid that situation,” said Michael Sedio, Vice President of Operations at the Better Business Bureau.

The losses aren’t trivial amounts as deceptive TEFL job offers can cost applicants their entire savings or retirement funds.  If you run into a TEFL job scam, file a complaint at and notify your local TEFL institutions.  Some countries possess a forum where you can report the crime and alert others.  

The BBB offers the following tips to avoid a TEFL job scam: 

  • Use a credible TEFL academy. Obtaining your TEFL certification from a reliable organization can improve your job placement opportunities.  Searching can provide you with Accredited TEFL agencies.  
  • Research working conditions.  Knowing the average salary, working hours and visa requirements will allow you to spot an unrealistic offer.
  • Review the name of the school.  Searching for the institution online will bring up reviews and/or whether the school is blacklisted already.
  • Double check email address. Senders may sometimes use the name of a known organization at a Gmail address rather than the official domain.
  • Always interview.  Though an in-person interview may be challenging, video chats are workable.  Discontinue the application if they refuse.
  • Avoid upfront payments.  Refrain from sending money to a school before arriving to the country.  Some may ask you to purchase your own flight ticket and reimburse you.