EF Education First Review - Learn Or Teach A Language Today

(Money Under 30 Rating)

Ranking

8/10

For the globally minded, international education company EF Education First has a wealth of language learning and job opportunities. Here’s my experience with EF Education.

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Ease of website navigation

8/10

Variety of services

9/10

Cost

6/10

Hiring process

8/10



Best for:

 

  • Students going abroad
  • Foreign language learners
  • Anyone working or traveling overseas

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With English as a lingua franca around the world nowadays, more and more people want to speak, read, and understand it.

And I’m a huge fan of a global education company called  EF Education First. Whether you want to earn extra cash teaching English to international students, improve your job prospects by learning a new language, or score full-time work, EF Education has so many excellent options.

What is EF Education?

EF (which stands for Education First) is an international education company with offices in major cities around the world. Their flagship offerings are language-intensive cultural exchange programs for students and graduates. Anyone from high school students to young professionals can sign up.

Program participants spend anywhere from two weeks to a year in countries where the language you’re learning is spoken. Between classes and everyday interactions, you’ll learn quickly – total immersion is one of the fastest ways to get fluent in a foreign language. And you’ll get valuable info about culture and customs in another country. 

On the teaching side, EF Education has plenty of job opportunities. You can work remotely as a language instructor or on-site at one of EF’s global offices.

EF Education - Teach English

If you’d rather not relocate or be in the classroom full time (though EF Education has full-time teaching jobs, too!) you can apply to be an online instructor of English as a Second Language (ESL) for international students.

How EF Education works

EF Education - Learn A Language

EF Language Abroad courses focus on 11 of the world’s most common languages:

  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Portuguese
  • Korean
  • Russian
  • Arabic

Your destination depends on the language you choose. The courses take place in major international cities. Between studying, sightseeing, and figuring life out in a new place, you won’t get bored.

Course options depend on your goals:

  • The Intensive Course (32 lessons/week) teaches you a language as quickly as possible. This tends to be the most expensive option; according to EF it’s also the most popular.
  • The General Course (26 lessons/week) promises to give you a good understanding of the language without the fast pace of the Intensive Course.
  • The Basic Course (20 lessons/week) is designed for students who want to learn communication essentials but want lots of time to travel as well.
  • The Internship Experience (26 or 32 lessons/week, your choice) combines language learning with time in an international work environment. This is a good option for students in undergraduate or graduate programs, and it might be particularly helpful if you want to work abroad.

Exam Prep and English for Business Courses are also offered for English language learners.

How much EF courses cost

Pricing varies based on factors like:

  • Destination. The cost of living is higher in some countries and cities than in others.
  • Course. You’ll pay more for more instruction time.
  • Duration. For Language Abroad courses students can choose how long they want to study – anywhere from two weeks to nine months.
  • Accommodation. Choose from housing on campus, with a homestay family, or in a residence hall.

Here’s what some of the Language Abroad courses cost in different destinations. Tuition, room, and board are included, but not airfare. 

Berlin, Germany [German] 2 weeks4 weeks8 weeks
Intensive $1,490$2,980$5,960
General $1,390$2,780$5,560
Basic $1,330 $2,660 $5,320
Barcelona, Spain [Spanish] 2 weeks4 weeks8 weeks
Intensive $1,350 $2,700$5,400
General $1,190$2,380$4,760
Basic $1,150$2,300$4,600
Shanghai, China [Chinese]2 weeks4 weeks8 weeks
Intensive$1,450$2,900$5,800
General $1,350$2,700$5,400
Basic$1,250$2,500$5,000
Dubai, United Arab Emirates [Arabic]2 weeks4 weeks8 weeks
Intensive$1,450$2,900$5,800
General $1,350$2,700$5,400
Basic$1,250$2,500$5,000
Moscow, Russia [Russian]2 weeks4 weeks8 weeks
Intensive$1,490$2,980$5,960
General $1,390$2,780$5,560
Basic$1,330$2,660$5,320

EF programs and resources

Language Year Abroad

Available for students and adults over 18, the Language Year Abroad offers the same language courses and destinations, but a longer time commitment is required. You choose to study for six, nine, or 11 months (each time period has different pricing options). Since the calendar is based on the academic year you can start in April, June, September, or January.

What I like about this is that if you’re studying full-time or you have a lot of flexibility, the Language Year Abroad can be an excellent option.

Hosting international students

Interested in hosting an international student? You can apply to be a host family for a high school exchange student or an older language learner in an EF education program. According to the US Department of State regulations, host families aren’t paid, but you can take a deduction for host-related expenses as charitable donations come tax time.

If you want to be involved but you’d prefer a more administrative role, EF also looks for International Exchange Coordinators to work with students and families. These positions are paid.

Applicants can live anywhere in the US but they should be at least 25 years old.

Test preparation

EF Education has prep courses for a whole battery of English proficiency exams, including exams testing academic and workplace communication skills. German language learners can also opt for the EF Pre-Master’s program, designed for scholars who want to enter a postgrad degree program in an English or German-speaking country.

Educator resources

The EF Teacher Zone is available to all teachers whether or not you work for EF Education. Though the focus is on teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), there are resources for all kinds of educators. Sign up for the free newsletter or take advantage of other professional development opportunities.

And if you’re seeking certification, you can become a certified Teacher of English as a Foreign Language through one of EF’s accredited programs. The classes are held on-site at Cambridge, England, and Quito, Ecuador so you’ll need to be able to travel.

And finally, if you’re looking for content inspiration, EF’s Resources for Learning English page has a lot of resources and I do not say that lightly. I would have found this site a lifesaver in my early ESL teaching days. The education resources that EF offers in the Teacher Zone is truly a lifesaver and I cannot more highly recommend it.

Who can become a teacher with EF?

EF looks for talented teachers above all else, and they’ll consider a broad range of candidates. You don’t even need teaching experience or certification to apply, which I really appreciate. Because I know from being in education, that there are lots of great educators out there without hands-on experience or a certificate.

Here’s what’s required:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in any field.
  • Native fluency in English.
  • Relevant experience. EF doesn’t require this experience to be in teaching. Work in customer service or communication-oriented fields, for instance, would be a bonus.
  • A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate or willingness to get one. You can apply without the certificate, but EF wants their instructors to have certification in hand by the start of their contract term. They’ll work with you to make it happen.
  • A personal computer, webcam, headset, and reliable Ethernet connection. WiFi doesn’t work with EF Education’s setup.
  • A flexible schedule is a huge asset. You’re teaching international students in different time zones, so you might pull early morning or late night shifts to link up with them.

Remote instructors work as independent contractors, not full-time employees. Though you can take on as many or as few hours as you like, you won’t be eligible for benefits. If you’re supplementing a full-time income, stringing together part-time jobs, or looking for something more stable, these positions might be a good fit.

Compensation – how much money can you make with EF?

Compensation for adult instruction – starts at $12/hour, which can increase as you spend more time on the job. Bilingual Portuguese or Russian speakers who are willing to instruct in those languages can earn an additional $2/hour.

Compensation for children’s instruction – starts at $13 an hour and can go up to $16 if you get repeat student bookings or have previous teaching qualifications.

For even younger children, EF works with what they call younger language learners such as Chinese students ages 5 to 10. The timing structure of lessons is a little more rigid than it is for adult learners. You’ll have 25-minute class-blocks on weekday mornings and weekend nights, working with the same students for four to eight weeks.

Careers around the world with EF

EF Education is a really large organization with international offices. And they’re perpetually hiring in multiple fields, from sales, marketing, and customer service to information technology and graphic design. Most jobs are on-site in cities in the US and abroad. Some jobs, particularly teaching jobs, are offered in multiple US locations.

You can also work a short-term stint as a teacher, activity leader, or coordinator in one of EF’s summer camps for younger students. Camps are held in the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and Malta.

Internships and programs for recent grads

College graduates ready to make a career leap can apply for some of EF’s intensive career training programs. Right now they offer 12-month programs in management, tech, and finance, as well as a multi-year Entrepreneurial Sales Development program for aspiring business owners. Despite their entry-level nature, these are competitive positions, so get your resume ready.

If you prefer to only make a summer commitment, EF offers summer internships in finance, tech, and program operations.

Who is EF Education good for?

  • Individuals looking to study languages. EF specializes in language-intensive cultural exchange programs.
  • Entry-level and experienced job seekers. Many of their job openings are targeted towards recent grads.
  • People who want to live abroad. If you’re thinking about moving to another country temporarily or permanently, an EF course might give you a better idea of what you’re in for – and dramatically improve your language skills.
  • Teachers who want to work part-time. Excited by teaching but not ready to commit to a demanding full-time position? Remote tutoring is the perfect way to supplement a day job without taking up too much time.

Who isn’t EF Education good for?

  • Super busy people. Working and learning with EF Education comes with a time commitment. Even if you’re only teaching a few hours a week you’ll need to prep lessons and review materials.
  • Aspiring language learners on a budget. The cost of EF language learning programs is pretty steep, and it doesn’t include travel expenses. Budget-conscious learners might start out with online programs like Duolingo that teach a language for free.
  • Location-bound job seekers (for full-time positions). Unless you live in a city with an EF office you’ll need to relocate for most of their full-time jobs.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Language teachers can work from anywhere — Teaching English online is one of the most convenient gigs you can get.
  • Global language learning — EF programs teach the world’s most common languages.
  • Huge job bank — EF hires for an incredible variety of careers.

Cons

  • Cost of language programs — Onsite programs are a great way to learn a language and culture quickly, but the prices run into the thousands of dollars.
  • Limited remote jobs outside of teaching — Most of EF’s jobs are on-site in specific global cities, so if you don’t already live there, you’ll have to relocate.
  • Requires Ethernet connection — If you’re using WiFi and can’t access an Ethernet connection you won’t be able to work as a remote tutor.

Other education companies to check out

 EF Education
VIPKid
Countries students come from
Multiple countries
China
Lesson structure
Group and one-on-one lessons
One-on-one lessons
Pay rate
Starts at $12/hour
Starts at $14/hour or $7-9 per class depending on experience
Student age
Primarily adults over 25
Children under 12
Certification required
Yes (can be earned on the job)
No

VIP Kid

EF Education Review - VIP Kid

VIP Kid works exclusively with students in China between the ages of four and 12, and their instructors all teach English as a Second Language remotely. Teachers start with a six-month minimum commitment. Although extensive teaching experience isn’t required, a bachelor’s degree is.

Their base rate is slightly higher than EF Education, starting at $14/hour with the potential to go up to $22/hour. You’re paid $7-9 per class, and each class is scheduled in a 30-minute slot.

VIPKid lets you work up to higher pay through “incentives” determined by your classroom performance. All courses are one-on-one between you and the student.

One advantage of VIP Kid is that you can select your own hours really easily.  But you’ll still be working with students in international time zones. And you can teach as many or as few lessons as you’d like.

My experience signing up for EF Education

I applied to be an online English instructor for adults. The sign-up process was easy, which is always a relief. EF uses an online form for remote instructor applicants; you enter your contact info and answer a few questions about your teaching experience, certifications (if any), and availability.

As a bonus, you don’t have to enter your resume information into different fields. You just attach the resume as a separate document. If you have a scan of your diploma or a valid TEFL certificate you can upload those too. The company got back to me within a few business days as promised.

Summary

If you want to explore opportunities in international education, EF Education is a great springboard – whether you want to learn a language intensely and live and work abroad, or teach students from your own home.

There’s a lot going on with EF, and I myself am definitely a huge fan.

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Amy Bergen Writer
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Amy Bergen is a writer and editor based in Portland, Maine. She's interested in technology, literature, and how the world will change in the future. You can reach Amy on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.