English is, and will remain the language no. 1, when it comes to business, culture, and traveling. Sure enough, more people speak Chinese, and perhaps even Spanish (at least when talking about native speakers). And there’s no harm in learning any other languages. But when you want to study abroad, travel, or make an international career, be it as an artist, scientist, or athlete, you simply need to speak English.
That’s why there is such a demand for English teachers all over the world, especially for native speakers. So if you feel like trying something new in your life, or want to escape the gloomy England (or the polluted cities of the United States) and teach English somewhere in Europe or Asia, you can definitely make this dream come true. Before it happens, however, you will have to pass an interview.
Recruiters in the organization you will work for (it can be anything from public school to private language institute) will inquire about your motivation, education, goals, long term plans (for how long they can count with you), teaching methods, and of course, about your attitude to some challenges you may face while teaching English abroad. Let’s have a look at the questions.
Why do you want to teach English?
Because you are awfully good at it. You believe to be able to work with all sorts of students, discovering their educational goals, and helping them to meet them, with a sensible plan of lessons and motivational teaching. What’s more, you see a meaningful purpose in this job, because you know how knowing a language can chance someone’s life, and open them doors to all sorts of opportunities in both their private and professional life.
After you blow them away with such a heartfelt speech, you can add also a sentence or two about what teaching English abroad means to you. Perhaps it a much-needed escape, or an opportunity to learn something about new cultures and places, or your chance to travel & make money at the same time. One way or another, you are strongly motivated to get this job, and do not apply for it only because you do not know what else you’d do with your life.
Why do you want to teach English in XYZ country?
The most important thing is to be realistic with your answer. Because true paradise exists only in heaven (if it does exist at all), and living in each place of the world has both pluses and minuses. And that’s true about Europe, Middle East, Far East, tropical islands, Africa, Latin America, and any other place. What I try to convey here is that saying you want to work in Thailand because of the weather won’t take you far in this interview… Sure, Thailand has nice weather during certain months of the year, but what then? Will you leave and go back home for half a year, until the dry and cooler season returns?
Anyway, I do not want to complicate this much. You should simply do some research about the country, and pick a couple of things you like about it. Then you can elaborate on your answer, saying that you are aware of B and C (some negative things about the place), but it does not discourage you from applying, because in your view the positives outweigh the negatives.
Of course, if you have a specific reason, such as your partner living in the country, or you want to find one among the locals, or perhaps you have you roots down there (your family is originally from the place), it makes for an easy answer. Anything you say, try to speak with enthusiasm. They should get an impression that you are really looking forward to working in their country.
Can you tell us more about your education? Do you have any certificates when it comes to teaching English?
TEFL, TESL, CELTA, TESOL, you name it. If you are serious about your application, you have probably obtained one of these certificates. And if you have not yet, you should explain why (just do not say that you simply do not need it), and ensure them that you plan do get it in a near future.
You can also mention any books you’ve read on teaching English, any seminars and webinars you’ve attended, and basically anything else you’ve done up to this point while trying to improve on your English teaching skills. Because you do aim for mediocrity. You want to be an excellent English teacher, and continue working on your skills.
Having said that, we should face the truth. The certificate (any certificate) does not make a good English teacher, such as a Master’s degree in business & management does not make a good manager, not to say an entrepreneur… Hence if you do not have it and can justify your teaching skills–for example with references from your former students, or with a mock lesson you do as a part of an interview, you may still get the job, even without any certificate.
Teaching English abroad sounds very romantic. But how do you want to deal with living far away from home?
White sand, palm trees, and a glass of orange juice in your hand, or in a hand of a nice lady sitting next to you…. You teach English for a couple of hours a day, earning monthly more money than locals earn while working hard jobs 200+ hours a month, and then you simply enjoy the beach, the clubs, the mountains, or whatever you love. It sounds great, but the reality is often far different from our imagination (not only in this case).
One can feel lonely abroad, weather can be shitty for long periods of time, you may find it hard to make friends, and eventually feel homesick. In such a scenario the quality of your teaching drops and you may even quit. And that’s the last thing your employer wants to happen. That’s why it is important to convince them that you are mentally resilient, and have your remedies for living far away from home.
You can for example talk about a local community of expats, which you already contacted online, and want to join upon your arrival, so you can do activities together. Another thing to mention are modern technologies. Social networks may be evil, and certainly they collect much more data about us than they admit, yet they allow you to stay in touch with your friends and family back home.
A completely different approach is saying that you actually couldn’t stand your native country any longer, for any reason. It can be the weather, the politics, broken relationships, or simply a past you are trying to escape. In such a case you can hardly miss home, because you re actually still trying to find it somewhere…
What teaching methods do you prefer while teaching English and why?
You can refer to well-known English teaching methods such as direct method, communicative language teaching, task-/project-/inquiry-based learning, or any other concept you know and prefer. Just make sure to explain why you believe it is the best one. You can also say that you prefer to combine more teaching methods, in order to break the routine, and make sure the students stay engaged and motivated.
Another option is emphasizing individual approach to each student. You will interview them, do an initial test with each one, try to understand their educational goals, as well as their strengths and weaknesses (not only when it comes to English language), and choose the most fitting method(s) of teaching accordingly.
Of course, if you apply for a job with a specific institute, you should always check their website and social media accounts. Many such places promote a specific teaching method and want their teachers to follow it. In such a case you should definitely go with the flow and say it is also your favorite teaching method.
Where do you see yourself in three years from now? How long do you want to teach English here?
Three years ago seems almost like yesterday. Yet three years from now, with the “pandemic”, climate change, and everything else we face as humanity, seems like a distant and uncertain future. Maybe it is even naive to make any plans? Nevertheless, in an interview they always want to hear that you want to have the teaching job at least for a year.
Whether they inquire about one year from now, three years, or even ten years, you can always say that you prefer to live in a present moment and focus on the task at hand. Now you want to teach English in their country, and for sure that won’t change in next twelve months. What happens afterwards is uncertain, and you prefer not thinking about it much–perhaps to stay sane.
You can also reveal some interesting long-term plans you have, as long as they do not interfere with the idea you try to present in an interview–that you want to teach English with them for a year at least. Of course, anything can happen down the road. You may leave, you may quit, you may stay for a lifetime, you may die… And nobody can blame you for any of that. Once interviewing for a job, however, you should say them what they hope to hear from you.
What are your salary expectations? How much you’d like to earn for each hour teaching?
This is a tricky one, and you should always factor-in the living costs of the place. You would hardly survive in San Francisco teaching English for $16/hour. In some places, however, with monthly living costs of $1,000 (for a moderate middle-class lifestyle), $16/hour does not sound too bad. Once again, try to do some research.
If the institute or the school does not advertise the wage range publicly, go to forums and Facebook groups and talk to other English teachers working in the area. Find out more about the conditions and wages, and then show realistic expectations in your interview. One thing I want to underline here is that you shouldn’t sound like you want this job to get rich. First of all, it is not going to happen (people teach English abroad for many different reasons, but this isn’t one of them), and secondly, you won’t walk away with an employment agreement with such an attitude. Keep it on your mind while discussing money with your interviewers.
Other questions you may face in your English Teacher job interview
- Do you speak any local language? If not, do you want to learn it while teaching English here?
- Tell us about your biggest success, and biggest failure, in terms of teaching English.
- Imagine that a student lacks motivation and does not even do their homework. How will you motivate them?
- Is there any group of students you’d prefer not to work with?
- Do you prefer one on one, or group teaching?
- Imagine that you meet a new student for the first time. How will you proceed with them in the first lesson?
- Do you see any areas for improvement when it comes to your English teaching skills?
- What are you looking forward the most, and what are you afraid of the most, in relation to your new job abroad?
Getting a job of an English teacher may seem like a piece of cake, but it is often far from the truth. Teaching English is an easy ticket to many popular destinations for living (at least temporarily), and many people try to take this road. It means that you will often compete for the job with many other candidates, which makes your situation more difficult, regardless of the questions you will face in the interviews.
Try to prepare well. Read this post once again, think about each questions, and try to formulate briefs for your eventual answers. And do not forget to do a good research, both about the language school/institute you are applying with, and the country you want to teach in. Luck favors the prepared mind. Do more than the others do while preparing for the interviews, and you will have better chances of succeeding. I wish you good luck!
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