Careers Service

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) involves teaching English, either in the UK or overseas, to students whose first or main language is not English. It may also be referred to as TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, when the students are in the UK.

There are also jobs in TESL, teaching English as a Second Language, which refers specifically to language teaching for immigrants to English speaking countries. There is also growing demand for English for Specific Purposes (ESP) teachers, who specialise in teaching English in areas such as business, tourism, medicine, the law or engineering.

Demand for English language teachers is high, with opportunities in both the private and public sectors. Jobs are mainly found in commercial language schools, schools and institutions of further and higher education in the UK and overseas. A large number of tutors are also employed in a variety of adult education settings and in the voluntary sector.

There are many TEFL qualifications and courses so research is vital to ascertain which qualification is best for you.

Your future in...

Information and advice on teaching English as a foreign language specifically for University of Edinburgh students and graduates.


Follow the links below for profiles of common occupations in this sector:

Reference books

Our information centres stock a number of reference books on teaching English as a foreign language. Please visit one of our Information Centres at the Main Library Building or the Weir Building, King's Buildings to see the full range.


We may have Edinburgh Alumni contacts who can give you some useful advice about getting into this type of work. Access Connect.ed via the Careers tab in your MyEd portal to search for contacts by employer, job title, location and school (UG and PG).

Useful Resources

Twitter List: TEFL - Are you on Twitter? Look at our Twitter List for TEFL to receive updates on news, vacancies and advice from relevant professional bodies, employers and useful organisations. Please note the Careers Service cannot accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Professional bodies

British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes ( BALEAP) - professional association for teachers of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) within UK Universities and colleges of higher education.

British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes (BALEAP)

Association for the Promotion of Quality in TESOL Education ( QuiTE) - a cross-sectoral association for teacher educators and course providers and all those working in areas related to the training, education and development of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages regardless of context or level.

Association for the Promotion of Quality in TESOL Education (QuiTE)

International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language ( IATEFL) - international association based in the UK providing support for teachers, including scholarships. Visit the Jobs Market section of the website to find employers and vacancies.

International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL)

Scottish Association for the Teaching of English as an Additional Language ( SATEAL) - a website for teachers and student-teachers, providing resources, news, information and advice, with links to other sources of information and training.

Scottish Association for the Teaching of English as an Additional Language (SATEAL)

TESOL - professional association, based in the USA, for English language teachers worldwide.


General information

National Careers Service - profile of a Skills for Life teacher from the government's careers service, which includes teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

Skills for Life teacher

British Council - the UK‘s international organisation for educational and cultural relations. The council is a major provider of English language courses overseas, and recruits unqualified language assistants (undergraduates and recent graduates), as well as experienced teachers, for the many British Council schools.

British Council

Language Assistants

Cactus TEFL - this website provides comprehensive information and advice about ‘all things TEFL’, from how to fund your study, through choosing and booking courses worldwide to advertising vacancies.

Cactus TEFL

Education Guardian: TEFL - including news, country articles and a 'TEFL Directory' of teachers who can be contacted.

Education Guardian: TEFL

ELGazette - website of the leading UK TEFL newspaper, which includes information and advice, free resources, course search and vacancies. (The paper version is available at the Careers Service).


English Language Teaching Contacts (ELTeCS) - this organisation provides news from members about job opportunities in their region and globally, with additional alerts from the British Council. Site also includes information about online courses, scholarships for teachers, research projects, invitations to participate in events and vacancies.

English Language Teaching Contacts (ELTeCS)

ESL Base - provides a directory of TEFL training courses in the UK and worldwide, as well as information and advice for prospective teachers and constantly updated TEFL vacancies

ESL Base

ESOL (English for speakers of Other Languages) Scotland - part of Education Scotland, this website provides a lot of useful information for anyone considering this as a career, including who the providers are, government strategy and curriculum information, teaching resources, effective practice case studies, professional development guidance, and a list of other relevant organisations.

ESOL Scotland

Excellence Gateway - education resources portal for the learning and skills sector.  Search using free text search or by browsing according to the themes, resource types, subject area etc that you are interested in. 

Excellence Gateway

i to i - a leading TEFL provider offering flexible training, either in the classroom, distance learning online or a combination of the two. Courses include the recently launched EDI CertTEFL course, equivalent to a CELTA. Register to receive the free comprehensive TEFL brochure. The website also includes an internship section and a searchable jobs database.

i to i

Internet TESL Journal - resources include articles, research papers, lesson plans, classroom handouts, teaching ideas and thousands of links! (Japanese site)

Internet TESL Journal

National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults ( NATECLA) - aims to advance the education and training of adults and young people over sixteen, whose first language is not English.

National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults (NATECLA)

National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) - association aiming to improve the teaching of English teaching at all levels.

National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE)

Teaching English - collaboration between the BBC and British Council, designed to act as a discussion forum and practical resource for English teachers.

Teaching English

Time Out - Teaching English Abroad - useful information for University of Edinburgh students who want to teach English during time out or in a gap year. Includes links to organised recruitment and training programmes for students/graduates.

Time Out - Teaching English Abroad

UK TEFL qualifications

Cambridge English CELTA - offers the internationally recognised CELTA certificate for new entrants to the profession, as well as higher certificates and a diploma for experienced teachers.

Cambridge English CELTA

Trinity College London CertTESOL - offers the internationally recognised CertTESOL for new entrants to the profession and a diploma for experienced teachers.

Trinity College CertTESOL

UK TEFL courses

There are thousands of TEFL courses to choose from. Get some expert advice on how to find the right one for you.

Choosing a TEFL course (22.47 KB PDF)


Cactus TEFL - this section of the website provides comprehensive information and advice about the numerous TEFL courses available worldwide and has a searchable database.

Cactus TEFL

TEFLNet - a TEFL portal aimed specifically at teachers, it includes an overview of courses, a searchable course database, teaching resources/lesson plans and vacancies.


TEFL Org UK - (formerly TEFL Scotland, TEFL England and TEFL Wales) provides classroom-based and online training courses, accredited by the NCFE, SQA and ODLQC. The website also advertises TEFL vacancies in the UK and overseas.


Language schools in the UK

Accreditation UK - the quality assurance scheme for the UK English language teaching sector, run by the British Council and English UK. UK organisations offering EFL courses are inspected by Accreditation UK and, if they meet standards of quality, they are accredited by the British Council.

Accreditation UK

Association of British Language Schools (ABLS) - association of UK language schools, all accredited by a scheme recognised by the UK Home Office. Members include small, private, family-run type of schools. A full list is available on the site.

Association of British Language Schools (ABLS)

English UK - national association of English language centres. All members are accredited by the British Council, and include private schools, educational trusts and charities, further education colleges and universities. Site includes a searchable directory of member language schools and vacancies.

English UK

English UK Scotland - a body of member language schools, colleges and universities providing English language teaching courses accredited by the British Council.

English UK Scotland

English in Britain - search for accredited English language courses and institutions, as well as local contacts, in the United Kingdom.

English in Britain

Vacancy sources

Please note: vacancies are also listed in many of the sites above.

MyCareerHub is exclusively for current students and graduates of the University of Edinburgh. It can be used to:

  • search for jobs and events, such as recruitment fairs
  • find out about employers


ESL Jobs World - a website providing free listings of jobs from around the world. Register to receive job alerts.

ESL Jobs World

English First recruits and/or trains teachers of English for their network of 200 schools worldwide, and currently have strong recruitment needs in China, Indonesia and Russia.

English First

English Language Centre - a social enterprise company offering a range of TEFL courses with a substantial subsidy for all unemployed/under employed applicants, a job placement service and volunteering opportunities. Students and unemployed graduates may also apply for a Teach Abroad Scholarship, which pays the full cost of the TEFL Diploma course.

English Language Centre

Teach Abroad Scholarship

Guardian - TEFL Jobs


INTESOL - UK-based recruitment agency placing graduates into teaching jobs overseas. Website also has lots of useful careers advice and tips.


ILA Vietnam - the leading provider of ELT programmes in Vietnam, recruits and trains teachers and academic management professionals to work in their training centres in Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, Da Nang, and Vung Tau.

ILA Vietnam

Saxoncourt - set up to provide teachers for schools in Japan, Saxoncourt has since grown to provide recruitment services to schools in other countries and its teacher training department also offers various courses to prepare people for teaching EFL/ESL worldwide.

Saxoncourt - UK site listing hundreds of vacancies worldwide, and providing information on TEFL careers.

teflSearch - a TEFL/ESL job site, easily searchable. Also provides very useful information about teaching abroad, whether for short or long-term positions. Includes an employer directory. Register to receive receive job alerts by email.