Information for Toronto Job Seekers
When looking for work in Toronto, it’s important to remember the following:
1) Full-time TESL careers in Toronto are difficult to come by: there is a lot of competition, most of the work is contract or seasonal, and the pay is generally low.
2) Most jobs are not posted – you should just apply to places where you want to work.
3) The hourly rates listed below normally include only teaching hours (not prep or marking, which are usually unpaid).
4) ESL contracts are in the highest supply in July and August, when full-time teachers are on holiday and international students flock to the city; this means sending out your resume in late March or April.
5) You need to know a few important acronyms – like CLB, ELT, etc. – to read a job ad properly.
Find the information below on different kinds of ESL jobs:
Private language (or ‘visa’) schools are Toronto’s largest employer of ESL teachers.
- Qualifications: TESL Canada is usually sufficient.
- Contract rate: $15-$25/hour (full-time work is usually 20-30 teaching hours/week).
- Students: Students tend to be in their late teens and early 20s and may be Toronto only for short durations. Some may be planning to study in an English university, while others are looking for a fun learning experience. Some schools also attract business people, who appreciate teachers with work experience outside of teaching.
- Courses: ESL, academic skills, academic test preparation, Business English. Some schools offer electives like English Through Film, etc.
- Apply: Check the schools’ websites for job postings, or just send in a resume with a cover letter saying why you want to work at that school.
- Links: There are too many private ESL schools in Toronto to list here, but this link provides a good start, as these schools have been evaluated and approved by Languages Canada (a language school accreditation body): List of approved Languages Canada Programs. Another list, without regard to accreditation is the Guide to English Language Schools and ESL Programs in Toronto
Settlement programs are federally government-funded courses that provide language (and sometimes job) training to recent immigrants. The largest of these is called Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC).
- Qualifications: TESL Ontario accreditation is often required. For employment-related courses, candidates should have some qualification(s) in the specific occupation or employment counselling as well.
- Contract rate: around $35/hour (full-time work is usually 25 teaching hours/week). In some places the teachers are unionized, so wages are standardized.
- Students: Adult immigrants.
- Courses: Curriculum is based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks, and focus on practical skills for living in Canada (housing, employment, etc.) Settlement agencies also often offer English for specific occupations, such as English for Engineers, etc.
- Other: There are a large number of LINC schools in Toronto (use Google to find the ones nearest you). Many of them are run by the Toronto District and the Toronto Catholic District School Boards (see below). Others are offered by various community organizations, e.g., COSTI or Skills for Change.
- Apply: Contact individual agencies/organizations/school boards to find out their application procedures. Not-for-profit agencies may advertise on Charity Village.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) offer adult ESL courses through their departments of Continuing Education.
- Qualifications: TESL Ontario accreditation is often required. A teaching degree is not required to teach in Continuing Education.
- Contract rate: Around $40/hr.
- Students: Mainly adult immigrants.
- Courses: Include ESL, academic English, business English, TOEFL preparation, citizenship preparation, LINC.
- Apply: The TDSB does not accept unsolicited resumes; they occasionally post open supply positions in the Toronto Star or Globe and Mail classifieds. The TCDSB provides detailed TCDSB Employment Overview
ESL Literacy courses generally take place within the Settlement and School Board sectors. Literacy is sometimes called LBS (literacy and basic skills).
- Qualifications: Usually TESL Ontario accreditation.
- Contract rate: Around $30-40/hour
- Students: Immigrants who have had little or no formal schooling in their country of origin, and do not read in any language.
- Resources: Canadian Language Benchmarks for Literacy Learners
- Apply: Same as other LINC and ESL. If you want to work or volunteer in this area, contact Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy to find out which organizations offer ESL literacy courses.
- Qualifications: TESL Canada or TESL Ontario accreditation and an M.A. in a relevant field are preferred (though not always required).
- Contract rate: usually starts at $30/hour, and goes up with education and experience (full-time work ranges from 15 to 25 teaching hours/week).
- Students: International students and new Canadians.
- Courses: Usually focused on an academic curriculum preparing students to study at the post-secondary level. Continuing education departments may offer regular ESL, Business English, and courses in specific skills (like pronunciation). Many colleges also offer OSLT, which is federally funded through Colleges Ontario; those instructors usually have a different contract from ESL teachers.
- Other: In community colleges, ESL contract teachers can teach only for 10 consecutive months. After that, they must leave the school for 14 months.
- Apply: Permanent jobs are posted on the institutions’ websites, but contract positions (i.e. the majority of jobs) are usually not. Colleges offer courses through various departments, e.g., ESL, Continuing Education, and sometimes Communications. You should apply to each department separately (send your resume directly to the department head, or follow the instructions on the website).
- Centennial College: School of Advancement English/ESL Department
- College Boreal: Toronto – Languages (a francophone community college that offers some ESL)
- George Brown College: School of ESL
- Humber College: English Language Centre
- Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT)
- Ontario College Employment (all academic positions in Ontario colleges)
- Seneca College: Faculty of Continuing Education and Training ESL
- Ryerson University: ESL/EAL Certificate Program (note: they have strict deadlines for applications)
- University of Toronto: School of Continuing Studies English Language Program
- York University English Language Institute (YUELI)
It’s a big world out there, and conditions can vary wildly from one school to the next. Do your research before committing to a contract overseas.
- Qualifications: TESL Canada accreditation, or just some sort of training course (CELTA is a widely recognized one). Native English-speaking university grads may get by without qualifications in some places, but this is increasingly rare. Also, some schools (especially when children are involved) require a police check, and some (e.g. in Korea) demand an HIV test.
- Contract rate: Varies.
- Students: Varies. There are many more opportunities to work with children overseas than in Ontario, where a teaching degree is required.
- Courses: Usually ESL, academic preparation or test preparation.
- Other: When researching overseas jobs, look for associations of ESL teachers in your destination country – many have websites or Facebook pages – and find out what to expect in terms of salary and working conditions. Try contacting embassies or consulates in Canada for recommendations of reputable schools. Finally, ask your TESL training school if they can put you in touch with former grads who ventured overseas. Recruiters are also an option.
- Apply: Many overseas jobs are posted at Dave’s ESL Café, which also features a very active readers’ forum where people share first-hand accounts of their experiences abroad. Apply anywhere you want, but don’t buy a plane ticket (or sign anything) until you’ve done some research. For a partial list of schools around the world, see, for example, English Schools Worldwide.
Tutoring students privately can be a way to bridge the gap between contracts, or to get some experience under your belt.
- If you advertise on sites like Craigslist, take the regular common sense precautions when meeting clients, e.g., meet in a public place
- The Toronto Reference Library (at Yonge and Bloor) is a popular place for tutors and students to connect. You can use the public tables in the library or go to nearby coffee shops. If you spend enough time there, you might start to meet new clients.
- Tutors usually charge between $25 and $50/hour, depending on qualification, specialization (e.g., business English), and the number of students
- Corporate/Business tutoring for executives and their employees is another option. Offering corporate private lessons requires an entrepreneurial mind-set, including approaching companies, submitting professional-looking proposals, evaluating candidates’ needs, etc. Professional ESL coaches can charge upwards of $90 per hour and, as consultants, follow tax rules for the self-employed, so they may be asked for their Business Number.