Short-Term vs. Long-Term TEFL Contracts

So, you’ve completed your journey to becoming a TEFL teacher. Now it is time to decide where to go? And for how long? Not an easy decision to make for a first time TEFLer.

To help you make your decision, this article will explain the differences between short-term and long-term TEFL contracts as well as where is best to find them.

Short-term Contracts

Short-term contracts are ideal for those who are looking for summer work, not yet ready to commit to a long-term placement or want to test out what teaching is like in a relaxed environment. Mainly situated in Europe, the majority of these positions will be in summer schools/camps – ranging anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months in length.

The major appeal of summer camps is that employers aren’t looking for TEFL teachers with vast amounts of experience. This is because, the camp will be looking to hire a teacher quickly and the day-to-day tasks won’t just focus on teaching – you will be participating in other activities with students (such as sports and arts & crafts).

It’s important to note that short-term placements do have a couple drawbacks. You may not have enough time to assimilate to the new culture, and find your contract is up before you’ve settled in. Also, any friends you make during your placement you will have to say goodbye to relatively soon.

Long-term Contracts

A TEFL placement is considered long-term if the length is 3-6 months or more. Long-term contracts cover all types of jobs; language schools, private schools, universities… the list goes on. The types of learners are just as varied, ranging from nursery level to business professionals. You can find long-term contracts across the globe. The most popular destinations include China, South Korea, Spain, France and Thailand.

Once you’re ready to embark on a long-term placement, the rewards are great. You’ll be able to truly life in a new culture, having an experience that goes far beyond the tourist beaten track. The relationships you build during your placement will likely last a lifetime as you share your time with like-minded TEFL teachers and locals.

Completing a long-term TEFL placement will also give you an invaluable asset to include on your CV. The number skills you will gain can translate to any future job. For example, TEFL is all about being able to adapt to different situations – an extremely attractive quality to employers.

The two main challenges of a long-term contract is dealing with homesickness and understanding the financial limits involved. No TEFL job is going to realistically make anybody super wealthy and problems with costs of living can occur. There are ways around this, such as researching the cost of living of the countries you plan on teaching in. Some countries offer super cheap rent rates but at the same time may pay lower wages than more expensive destinations. The goal is to find the right balance that suits your financial capabilities. Homesickness is a difficulty faced by many a TEFL teacher. It may seem unstoppable and all-consuming but there are, of course, ways to not get so caught up in it. Firstly, always try and keep yourself busy whether it's burying yourself in lesson plans, meeting up with your friends, or going out for some exercise. Just doing things will help ease your mind off home.

Whether you choose a short-term or long-term placement, one thing is clear, teaching English abroad is an opportunity to have a fun-filled and life-enhancing experience.

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