You’ve got your TEFL certificate and now you’re planning your teach-abroad timeline for 2021! But before you start applying for TEFL jobs, have you considered what type of school you’d like to work for? Should you teach English abroad at a chain school or an independent school? We’ll review the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you!
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What types of schools can I teach English for?
Most people who plan to teach English abroad in a traditional classroom will find opportunities at language institutes rather than K-12 public schools. For these teachers, applying for jobs can include a choice between larger, well-known chain institutes or smaller, private institutes.
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A chain, or franchise, school refers to a language institute that has multiple centers around a country, or even all over the world. These chain schools usually have a main office in addition to their branch schools and will have a department focused on recruiting. Some examples of popular English language teaching franchises include:
An independent school is one that usually has just one location. Sometimes, an independent school might have a few locations, but it’s not a big operation. Independent schools include private schools and local language centers. They usually aren’t big into recruiting, and they have a smaller staff than chain schools. At an independent school, you’ll likely know everyone — from fellow teachers to the school or language center director — by name.
Though not the focus of this article, there’s a third option when it comes to where you can teach: public K-12 schools. A public school is any school that’s run by the country’s local, state, or federal government. This is perhaps the least common type of school that English teachers teach in because you typically have to have additional local, state, or national certifications from wherever you’re teaching in order to be eligible for a position in a public school. However, you can sometimes find placements in public schools through government programs.
Here are a few examples of government programs that place English teachers in public schools:
What are the pros and cons of teaching at a larger chain school abroad?
One option is not better than the other; rather, it’s a question of which environment is the best fit for you.
What are the pros and cons of teaching at a smaller, independent English institute abroad?
What about teaching English online?
When it comes to teaching English online, you’ll face a similar decision when choosing between working with a large, well-known company or a smaller start-up company. The pros and cons are also similar.
Large online tutoring companies
Large companies provide a bigger student base, which can mean higher income potential for teachers. Having access to more students can also mean more flexibility with regard to your teaching hours. Larger companies may offer more opportunities for career advancement, such as from tutor to tutor trainer, recruiter, interviewer, marketing specialist, and more. The cons include the more rigid structure, impersonal or corporate feeling, structure, and lack of freedom when it comes to lesson planning or teaching.
Smaller online tutoring companies
Smaller companies may specialize in teaching a certain niche, such as a particular age group or English proficiency test preparation. They also tend to give teachers more freedom when it comes to lesson planning or teaching, foster more personal interactions with other staff as well as students, and provide a less corporate environment.
In the end, whether you teach at a chain school vs. an independent school (or a large or small online tutoring company) depends on your personality and what kind of experience you’re looking for. Both are great options for teaching English!