Everything You Wanted To Know About TEFL Contracts But Were Afraid To Ask

…is not contained in this post. But it is coming in some form soon. Cairogal shared a few examples of TEFL situations gone bad – one friend found out literally as his visa expired and he flew out that he wouldn’t be paid for his last month of work. Another flew to her new job only to find out the school was still being build and her accommodation was in the director’s family home. On the bright side…the flight was already paid for.


A couple of themes I think are worth considering (and will post more detail on in the future):

  • It’s not always an advantage to sign a contract in advance of arrival, but sometimes it is the only option.
  • Signing a contract in a language you don’t understand is also risky, though again…sometimes that’s the only legal contract.
  • Consider visa regulations with an eye to the end of your contract. In countries where you pretty much have to leave and cannot easily return once your visa runs out, you may be at somewhat more of a risk for not getting your last month’s pay or bonus.

If anyone has thoughts or advice on these topics…please leave a comment and I’ll try to take it into account in future posts.

I’ve been cautious before now about posting on a topic like this, mostly because I think that –

as contracts and situations will vary from country to country – it does a disservice to give general advice that creates a false sense of security. I worry that describing the risks of contracts may benefit placement agencies that charge a hefty fee for “support”, when in fact I don’t agree that teaches are generally better off going that route.

Finally, I take a view that may seem defeatist: there are literally so many ways for a teacher to get the short end of the stick with a contract that if a school is out to get you…it probably will, to some extent at least. I think it can do harm to present things as if there is a formula you can follow to outwit a shifty employer. This doesn’t mean it’s a total crapshoot and there is no way of knowing whether a school is okay or not – it’s just about a lot more than the contract. See some past posts on signs of a good school, and come back soon for more on contracts.