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Teaching English Overseas: A Job Guide for Americans and Canadians

Reviewed by James Tipton

Jeff Mohamed believes that more than one billion people now use English (at least to some extent), and hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, want to learn English, preferably from a native speaker. Good news to all of you Americans and Canadians who, with a modest effort, will have no difficulty finding work as a teacher of English… particularly here in Mexico, the only non-English-speaking nation that shares a border with the United States, which is also its most important trading partner.

The author himself has been involved in TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language - for more than thirty years. Jeff Mohamed has taught students of over 80 nationalities in seven countries. He has also taught more than 120 TEFL Certificate and Diploma courses.

His book is a how-to-do-it book…how to get a job "Teaching English Overseas." He distinguishes between the confusing acronyms, TEFL, TESL, TESOL, and ELT. TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language - is what most of us might be interested in. TEFL "involves teaching people, usually in their own country, who want to use English for business, leisure, travel, etc."

Many people find the possibility intriguing, but, are there really jobs available? The author is emphatic:

"There are many more TEFL jobs worldwide than there are native-speaking teachers. If you are American or Canadian, you should be able to find jobs reasonably easily in Latin America…."

Do you need a degree? Not legally required in most countries. Do you need TEFL training or certification? Again, often not required, although the better jobs now usually prefer training and certification. Is certification hard to get? Mohamed gives you many options - four week courses like the highly recognized course monitored by Cambridge University, and even on-line courses. Do you need to speak the host-country language? Absolutely not!

Can you take your wife, your partner, your children with you? Can you arrange a job overseas before leaving home? Where can you find addresses of overseas schools? Appendix 5 lists more than 400 overseas schools, and Jeff Mohamed's company, English International, has a disk available with the addresses of over 1400 more. How do you get a work permit and residence visa? What about taxes? Is it possible to build a real career in TEFL? This book - Teaching English Overseas: A Job Guide for Americans & Canadians -answers these questions.

Regarding Mexico and Latin America - probably of most interest to readers of Mexico Connect - we discover that:

  • "Latin America is a really enormous TEFL market, with tens of thousands of jobs available every year in language schools, binational centers and universities…."
  • "Mexico is the easiest market in which to find a job, even for teachers who have no formal qualifications or training. It is probably also the easiest country for Americans and Canadians to adapt to."
  • "Most jobs require teachers to work 18-24 hours per week, Monday through Friday, and year contracts usually include 4-6 weeks of paid vacation.

You will also learn how to conduct your job search - how to get job offers, evaluate them, and either accept or reject them - how to handle legal requirements, what books and clothes to bring, health issues, the inevitable culture shock, and how to conduct yourself to fit into the culture without difficulties.

The last half of the book is a very extensive Appendix, which includes five sections:

Appendix 1: TEFL Certificate Courses

This is a list of programs in Canada, the USA, abroad, and on-line.

Appendix 2: Some Major Resources

Here you find useful TEFL books, suppliers, TEFL-related websites, and TEFL job websites.

Appendix 3: Test Your Knowledge of English

This is a set of fifteen questions followed by answers (and explanations). A typical test question, "Which is grammatically more correct: 'I have just seen her' or 'I just saw her'?" You score yourself, and "If you answered fewer than 10 questions correctly, you definitely need to improve your formal knowledge of English before starting to teach EFL."

Appendix 4: International Programs & Employers

This is a list of organizations that help you find jobs overseas.

Appendix 5: Employers and Agents

This long section lists actual employers, country-by-country, generally including their address, phone number, email, FAX, and who to contact. Mexico abounds in opportunities. For example, there are Berlitz schools in Mexico City, Cancun, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, and Veracruz. Or, close to me, the Instituto Cultural Mexican-Norteamericano de Jalisco, which I discover is on Av. Enrique Diaz de Leon Sur #300; 44100 Guadalajara; Jalisco, Mexico; Tel: (3) 825-5838; Fax: (3) 825-1671; E-mail.

Are you in Mexico now and need a more "foreign" experience? Check out pages and pages of the listings for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

I teach English weekly to some lovely Mexican ladies in Nuevo Chapala, a neighborhood in the town of Chapala, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, where I live with two other lovely Mexican ladies, my wife Martha and my daughter Gabriela.

Do I like teaching English in Mexico? ¡Sí, me gusta mucho!

Do you think that you would you like to teach English in Mexico or Latin America? (Or for that matter almost anywhere around the world.) If so take a good look at Teaching English Overseas: A Job Guide for Americans & Canadians.

And "¡Que tenga suerte! Good luck!

ITTO in Guadalajara offers TEFL, TESL and TESOL courses on location and online, and guaranteed TEFL paid job placement for graduates.

Teaching English Overseas:
A Job Guide for Americans and Canadians

By Jeff Mohamed
English International Publications, and Giroux 2001

Available from Amazon Books: Paperback

Published or Updated on: April 6, 2008 by James Tipton © 2009
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