Working For A Chain: English First
If you have looked into working for a chain, English First, which is a language school and not to be confused with the organization campaigning to make English the sole official language of the US, may have come up.
This large network of English language schools has been around for forty years, and according to the EF website, employs over 26,000 teachers, volunteers and other employees. There are English First schools in China, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Poland, Lithuania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Ecuador and Chile.
You can apply online and though a TEFL certificate is required, if you are approved and commit to taking a job with EF, they subsidize your TEFL course and you have a guaranteed job (provided you pass the course). The catch is that you have to choose from a list of vacancies in three countries only: Russia, China and Indonesia, and while they attempt to match your preference, no guarantee can be made.
If you decide to take this option, you can choose between several different TEFL courses which EF subsidizes.
One you start teaching, you can count on a couple of things: you will teach children (at least some of the time) and you will have an average of 24 contact hours a week – no more than 29 in one week and the monthly average will not exceed 26 hours a week. This gem can also be found regarding housing: “It is worth noting that some appliances like ovens, for example, are not used as frequently and in some countries will not be available in EF housing.”
There is a two-page thread at Dave’s ESL Café where you can read about the experiences (and opinions) of various teachers. The most common criticisms seem to be that because the schools are franchises, your experience will very much depend on where you are. And while some say that there is not much freedom in the classroom, others say that at least you can be relatively sure you’ll get paid.
You can find the official answers to some Frequently Asked Questions on the EF website.
If you’re trying to decide between schools or chains, also check out the TEFL Logue posts on International House and Berlitz for international chains, and on AEON and NOVA for Japanese chains. Though they are not chains per se, the JET program, the Peace Corps and VSO also offer a wide range of organized opportunities.