calendar1.jpgSome questions to ask a potential school about scheduling:

How many contact hours will I teach?
If the position is considered full-time or salaried, there will (or should be) a maximum number of contact hours in the contract. Hours may be measured in real hours, or in 45-minute hours (meaning an 8-9:30 class is considered two hours). Twenty-five “real” contact hours for most new teachers is a realistic maximum in many places. Of course there are exceptions: if you will have two or more classes at the same level that follow the same book, this will cut down preparation time a lot and you may be able to teach more.

What hours are classes held at and how common are split shifts?
If classes can run from 8am til 8pm, you may well be teaching some at each time. Or finishing at 8pm and starting at 8am the next morning. Not necessarily every day, but at some point. It seems to be more and more common for teachers to teach classes not in blocks, but at random times. If you are good at time management and preparing efficiently, split shifts might not be that bad, or even preferable to the other option of something like 5-9:30 five days a week.

Do any hours need to be made up, and how does this affect the maximum number of hours?
If a school doesn’t have a full-time load of classes to give you, but you are paid as a full-time teacher, they may expect you to exceed your maximum load when things get busier later. I’ve come across a school that offered “three weeks paid holiday” at Christmas, but the hours had to be made up, which seems substantial counting those hours as three full-time weeks.

Schools usually do want to keep their teachers happy and many work very hard to give reasonable schedules. The ability to live and work abroad teaching your language with a BA and a four-week training course is a nice one, and sometimes the pay off is having a less-than-ideal schedule. Give your own priorities some thought, and compare schools on their scheduling policies. Private language schools are businesses, and do need to cater to what students demand…but it still makes sense for you to go into it informed and to ask questions.