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How to Be the Top Candidate for Any ESL Teacher Position

ESL is a profession that is rewarding but demanding at the same time. Also, if you are really interested to pursue this career, you need to have a number of unique and important skills that will enhance your chances of getting hired. Read on to find those qualities and skills.

ESL is a growing industry with an increasing demand for English teachers around the globe. Even in Madrid, there are more than 300 TEFL academies that provide language skills and training to the English learners. Additionally, there are schools for different age groups and also for those who want to learn various language levels. This makes ESL a rich industry that is open to new applicants throughout the year.

Although, there is a greater demand for English teachers in Madrid still the employers are seemed to be striving hard to find and retain the best talent for their teaching positions. This implies that the skill and competence level of the applicants is somehow mismatched to those required by the hiring managers.

There is no doubt that becoming an ESL teacher is very easy because of the demand in the TEFL industry. Because all it takes is some formal training and a TEFL certificated to make you eligible for the job. But have you ever wondered what other skills and competencies that employers look for before hiring a teacher? Based on our years of experience in this field, we did the hard work to curate a list of most in-demand skills and qualities of highly effective teachers. Some of which are those which you already have while you can develop the others with consistency and hard work.

Read on to find those simple rules which are definitely going to make you the best candidate for an ESL teacher position job.

A Strong Commitment

If you want to adopt this profession, simply to travel while making some extra cash. Then our honest suggestion in this regard is that you should rethink your decision. Not a single profession in this world is easy unless you are genuinely interested in it. If we apply this rule to teaching, it would be even more difficult for you to get along with it without having a passion for teaching. Additionally, teaching English is specifically a more demanding job because it is a bit different as compared to the other type of teaching environments. In a TEFL class, you sometimes have to go off the track to engage students in the learning process.

There will be times when you’ll be giving unpaid overtime to follow the deadlines. Or spending weekends to help students rehearsing the play. So, if you think such minor sacrifices will not affect your motivation levels, the ESL industry is the place for you. In fact, your potential employers will also be looking for qualities like how much you care about student development and creating friendly relations with them.

Preparation and Organization

In a TEFL a class, you’ll never experience that two consecutive days are alike. Rather, you’ll get to see and learn something new every day. This is a plus point if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life sitting behind an office table struggling with files where fun is nowhere to be found.

As an ESL teacher, you can expect a little surprise each day. For example, there can be some new students the next day. Or you can see only a few kids on your way to class. These little changes, on the one hand, make your job interesting. But on the other hand, you need to be well prepared for upcoming challenges. Therefore, develop a habit to prepare some extra activities which can be performed with the kids in the spare time. It will not only help them to develop an interest in the subject but also, you can grab their attention span by engaging them in fun games and activities.

The second most important skill you need here is organization. because teaching English is not just about coming to the class and explain some grammar rules. Rather you will be maintaining attendance sheets, preparing exams and homework and keeping a record of your student’s progress. Therefore, if you are a better organizer, your chances of landing a TEFL job abroad increase many times.

Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness

Cultural sensitivity is a skill that is a must-have for an ESL teaching job position. Because as an English teacher abroad, you’ll have to deal with students coming from different cultures and backgrounds. There is also a possibility that the culture of your host country differs drastically as compared to your hometown. Under such a situation, you need to act as a culturally aware person. Also, try to develop a habit to respect the backgrounds and cultural perspectives of others even if you don’t agree with them completely. By doing so, they will surely admire and respect you.

Also, when you start to openly accept students coming from different backgrounds, they will start to feel more valued and important. This why your work as a teacher will become easy. Because of your openness and positivity towards them will automatically encourage them to learn better.

If you are new to the field, then you can also take some classroom management course to learn some effective strategies and techniques. Later on, you can easily decide how to fit that into the cultural setting of your own classroom.


Some might say that this is the type of quality every career requires. But the ESL recruiters demand it to the extent which is higher as compared to other types of jobs. For being a successful ESL teacher, you need to put your personal life out of the business. That doesn’t mean that you should not adopt a friendly attitude towards the students. In fact, you need to be friendly as it’s part of the job requirements. By professionalism, we mean that an ESL teacher must develop an understanding that their positive attitude is crucial for student’s success. For instance, no matter what you are going through in your personal life, try to keep smiling in front of the students so that they may not get distracted. This sounds a little tough, but if you are really into this profession, you’ll automatically develop such kind of positivity within yourself.


If a person can’t handle diversity, TEFL is definitely not for them. A TEFL teacher needs to be adaptable to a number of situations. As discussed earlier, you’ll be experiencing unexpected twists and turns during each day. Therefore, you need to learn how to accept such diversities.

For example, your teaching assistant might step in the middle of your well-planned class to perform another project with the kids. Or there will be times when preparing a lesson which would take hours to explain according to your estimation. But in reality, the students cover it in just 10-15 minutes. Under such situations, you need to come up with another topic of discussion in order to utilize that spare time.

The above-mentioned situations are just a minor glimpse of what you might face during your everyday experiences. Therefore, try to make yourself more adaptable to unexpected situations and train yourself on how to go with the flow without creating any major distractions. And in the end, this amazing quality will lead you to your dream TEFL job down the road.

Building Relationships

If you think that teaching is just about daily walking to the class and delivering English lessons to the students then let us tell you, that is not the case. Being an English teacher is much more than that. In a TEFL class, you’ll be having students with different cultures, perspectives, interests, and passions. So, being an instructor to them, you’ll be required to go down to their level and find what interests and motivates them to learn the language. Once you become successful at this, the rest of the job will become pretty easy. Because your strong relationship with the student will help them to develop and achieve their goals with dedication.

Additionally, you also need to develop a good relationship with the local community of your host country. This will provide you dual benefits. On one hand, you’ll start to enjoy all the perks of living and working abroad, will make new friends and, will immerse into the beauty those people have to offer. And on the other hand, you’ll also get the chance to understand those backgrounds your students are coming from.


This is another important quality that your potential employers will be looking for in the ESL industry. Because being creative is a must when you are in the language classroom.

Can you think of those boring and excruciating class hours when the only thing you could think of is escaping out of the situation as fast as possible? But your TEFL classroom should not be like those classes, not in any shape or form!

If you really want to keep your student coming back to the class every day, try making your classroom environment fun and creative. We agree that there are some parts of the subject which are not as fun. But you can still grab student’s attention by constructing the classes around creative activities and interesting questions. There is also no need to worry if you get short of ideas. Make the internet your friend where you can get plenty of ideas and activities that you can apply to your specific settings.

Exam Madrid Team
Exam Madrid Team
Articles: 134

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