How To Know Your TEFL School Is Legitimate

Legitimate Tefl Job

If you've been looking into teaching English abroad, particularly in Asia, you may have come across the occasional horror story about teachers getting deported, arrested, or otherwise punished. 

In these cases, it appeared that the teacher was unknowingly working illegally, either in a school without a license, or without a valid work permit.

These are definitely rare cases, but you'll want to do your best to make sure you don't end up as one of them.

Today's post is going to cover 10 ways to know that your school, or any job advertised, is legitimate.

1.) The Job Is Advertised On A Reputable Source

Whether that means a big site like Dave's ESL, or through a trustworthy recruitment agency, seeing a job advertised at a reputable location is a good sign. 

Generally, the smaller schools that might try to bend rules will stay away from places like this. 

This isn't set in stone though, so you should still do more research on each position you find.

2.) The School Is A Big Chain

It's almost impossible for a large chain school to hire somebody incorrectly. First of all, they have a lot more to lose by getting involved with this sort of practice, and secondly, they are in the spotlight.

On top of that, there's no real reason for a large chain school to hire people illegally, because they can normally hire the best teachers anyway.

3) The School Has Western Management

This isn't to say that locally run schools are bad, or western managers are better, but generally speaking, schools with western management are more likely to go by the book, as they have more to lose (and are typically big chain schools as above).

4.) You Can Find The School Mentioned Online

If a school is very small and perhaps operating under the radar, you might not find any online presence. It's always great  to be able to research your school and see what others are saying about it, so this should be done as part of any due diligence process.

Bear in mind that you may often find complaints from disgruntled teachers, and that these aren't necessarily a sign of a school being good or bad. People tend to go online more to complain than to praise.

5.) The School Shows You The Contract And Is Transparent About Offering Work Permits Or Necessary Visas

Most schools will be able to provide you with sponsorship for a Visa or other documentation. In these cases, they'll be very upfront about that and have clear instructions on the process. 

If the school seems hesitant or isn't clear about this when questioned, it might be a red flag.

6.) They Don't Recruit Too Easily

Often a school which hires illegally will be very keen to hire you and won't care so much about your credentials or qualifications. If you're willing to work and that's enough for them, they're either desperate or shady. 

It's always worth double checking everything in this situation.

7.) You've Gone Through A Trusted Recruiter

This is similar to point number 1. One of the main advantages of working with an established recruitment agency (like us), is that the positions you're offered have all been vetted for you. Not only do recruitment agencies help you find jobs, they help you find the right ones.

8.) The Offer Matches The Rest Of The Country

As TEFL is fairly competitive in certain countries, all schools tend to (though not always) offer similar pay and incentives. If you find a school that is claiming to offer a much better deal than any others, and seems to be too good to be true, then it could be a sign of something else being amiss. 

This isn't always the case; you may have just found the best job ever, but it's well worth further investigation.

9.) The School Lets You Speak To Previous Or Current Teachers

You shouldn't have to, but if you ask to speak to a current or previous teacher and everything is OK, then that's a great sign. When a school is unwilling to let you do this, ask yourself why.

Again, it's not always black and white, but worth considering.

10.) The School Showcases Its Credentials And Documentation

Not all schools do this anyway, but if a school publicly shows its license or registration documentation, you can be pretty confident that they are legitimate.

Now don't go assuming that a lack of this means the school is operating under the radar, but rather use it for reassurance when it's present.

Conclusion: Do Your Due Diligence

You have two options really, research like crazy to make sure you've found something legit, or get in touch with us and let us find you something solid. We only work with trusted schools that we've known for a long time.

If we could give you one piece of advice, it would be to go with your instincts, and get a solid job offer before entering your country of choice.