TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is big business and a lot of people are making money working in some part of this field. Here I'll introduce the six major players.
I'm telling you about this to make you more aware of who's out there & who's making money and perhaps what their intentions may be.
No one is wrong just because they have something to sell, but there's a lot of information on the web and some people say things sometimes because they have their own self-interests in mind.
1. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA course providers
These companies provide teacher training to teach abroad via in-house or online programs. There are many programs as it is a largely unregulated field. All programs are not created equally and the quality of services that they provide can vary a great deal.
Online programs can be as cheap as $40 and they can go up to $3000 or more dollars.
2. TEFL course accreditors
This one is a little more behind the scenes...
If you are going to take a course then you want an accredited TEFL course right? Well accreditation involves an exchange of money. There is no one over arching body of accreditation in TEFL. Most of the accreditors are not government affiliated.
They are businesses. Accreditation can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. It's a paid review.
Learn more about TEFL course accreditation.
Recruiters act typically as a middle man. They find teachers for schools abroad and take care of the initial communication between the school and teacher.
In most cases they work on commission and they are paid when they find a teacher for the school. Usually the school involved will pay them, however, some recruiters may require a fee from you or a deduction from your first months pay. However, I wouldn't recommend this way if you use a recruiter as I think it is falling by the wayside.
In Korea recruiters make about 1,000,000 Won or more per teacher recruited. That's about $1000 or more per teacher.
Some of the largest companies (Hess, Pagoda, ECC) will have their own in-house recruiters. It's important to remember that they work on commission and that most recruiters haven't even been to the school and don't know much more other than the salary, work hours and other basic info.
Some recruiters can lie and stretch the truth about a position. They could make it sound better than it is or they could pull a bait and switch move. In that case they may tell you about a job that sounds good and then give you a different job that pales in comparison.
Recruiters can also market TEFL courses and get a commission from them. So keep that in mind if they have a "suggested" course.
4. ESL teachers
Some teachers work abroad as volunteers and others can make a pretty good salary (up to $3000 or more a month with benefits). Most work for private or public schools and some may take up private tutoring where they can make more per hour. Some may also teach online.
There are all kinds of ESL teachers out there. They came from different places and they have different backgrounds. You'll meet all types of teachers out there.
Most teachers understand what it is like to start anew abroad and will be helpful to you. But on the other hand some are bitter and unhappy and might not always be looking out for you.
Keep that in mind when you talk to other teachers about the school they work at that you are applying to. Some don't want to be bothered and some are helpful.
Teachers can also sell stuff too. See point 5 below.
5. ESL schools
Schools range from public to private. Public schools often operate in a similar manner to what they do in your country. Private schools range from small mom and pops schools all they way up to giant companies/corporations with thousands of employees and hundreds of locations.
Hess in Taiwan, for example, claims to have 500 native speaking teachers island wide. Aeon in Japan, claims to have 3,000 employees at 300 branch schools in Japan with over 100,000 students.
Some teachers have problems with schools like: communication difficulties, late pay, no pay, contract disputes, or getting fired before the end of the contract so that the school doesn't have to pay for bonuses or flight tickets.
These things can happen, but they can be avoided if you follow this advice.
6. Bloggers, website owners & affiliates
If you read on one person's blog that they recommend you take this TEFL course or that course, keep in mind that they are most likely affiliates. Affiliates like recruiters are middle men.
What that means is that they are earning a commission every time they refer someone from their site to the course site who buys a TEFL course.
Companies often contact bloggers who have a popular post and offer them a commission for referring someone to their site.
So I think it's wise to be aware of that as many times when teachers recommend a course they are getting paid to do so. In some cases they haven't even taken the course themselves.
I understand that they want to make money, but if they are lying or misleading people then they are wrong.
So I am just telling you all of this to make you more aware of who is maybe selling to you and what their intentions are.
TEFL course providers, accreditors, recruiters, teachers, schools and affiliates are just like people. There are different types. They are not all out to get you. Some of them are helpful, but some of them could care less about you and just have their own selfish needs in mind. They're just thinking business.
You know I make a bit of money myself from courses and ebooks, yet it just makes me mad when I see people lying or stretching the truth for a quick buck.