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Teaching English in Canada can be a career opportunity or a bridging job as you settle into your new surroundings. Our comprehensive guide has all the details you need to get started.

Career opportunities for newcomers to Canada are many and varied, but realistically it may take some time after arrival to find the perfect job. There are several casual employment options to consider in the interim – the restaurant and hospitality industries or Uber, for example – but these options may not contribute much to career development beyond a quick buck.

There is another option to consider: teaching English as a foreign language. Language learning is a major industry in Canada, as both recent newcomers and international students seek to improve their language level. Many small towns, as well as large cities, boast a wide array of language schools that are looking for enthusiastic English teachers.

English language students in Canada are often local residents, but it is also common for groups of students from overseas come to Canada specifically to pursue a short English course. As a study permit is not required for international students pursuing study programs of less than six months’ duration – which may include language courses – Canada has become a top destination worldwide for language learning.

Those who can do – teach

Teaching may not appeal to everybody as a career option. However, it is important to remember that teaching English in Canada can take many forms.

Some positions require a high level of preparation, organization, and knowledge – for example, creating lesson plans, managing large classes of students, and taking a serious approach to grammar and linguistics.

On the other hand, there may be many opportunities for language assistants and casual tutoring at all levels and all ages. From tutoring and homework help for children, to community integration initiatives, to helping someone practice English over a coffee, there are many creative and exciting opportunities in the language teaching industry.

Where to start

If you want to get serious about teaching English, it is best to get certified. A qualification such as a TEFL or CELTA certificate will lead to the widest array of options when it comes to looking for a job teaching English in Canada. Many language schools require their tutors to have such a qualification. Some may require English as a first language, but this is not always the case.

As these teaching certifications are usually internationally-recognized, you could even get qualified before you arrive in Canada, either through a local institution or an online course. Just make sure that whatever certificate you opt for is recognized by Canadian language schools.

It is also possible to train as a teacher in Canada. TESL Canada lists the institutions with TESL-recognized training programs. However, make sure your status in Canada allows you to pursue these programs: depending on how you obtained the right to come to Canada, you may not be able to combine work with study.

Making sense of the acronyms

Many acronyms are used basically interchangeably in the industry, but there are important differences between each when it comes to choosing a certification course. So, what’s the difference between TEFL, TESL, TESOL, and CELTA?

  • TEFL

This is probably the most generally-used term, and refers to ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’. A TEFL certification could help you in Canada, as it is recognized to be a high standard, but check with local schools before choosing this over another certificate. It is also important to note these days that despite the minimum required length of a course being 100 hours, most well-paid positions will ask for 120 hours of training.

  • TESL

The ‘Teaching English as a Second Language’ certificate is a popular choice in Canada, because it is intended for teaching English to non-native speakers in an English-speaking country.


A certificate in ‘Teaching English to Speakers of Another Language’ is a more recent qualification that combines the approaches of TEFL and TESL. While it can enable the certificate holder to teach English in English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries, it may not be as widely known or recognized by employers.


The ‘Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages’ is a widely-recognized certificate involving 120 hours of training. Other certificates may be offered by a range of different institutions or websites, but the CELTA is specific to the Cambridge English Language Assessment, part of the University of Cambridge.

How to get a job teaching English in Canada

There are several ways to find an English-teaching job in Canada. Organizations such as TESL Canada post job listings, as do general job sites such as Language schools may advertise positions on their own sites – check out schools in your target destination to find out more.

Casual online employment listings such as Craigslist and Kijiji could also lead to opportunities. While this may be a good option for those who do not have a recognized certification, be aware of scams or sub-standard work conditions through casual employment sites. In general, if a school requires a Canadian-certified qualification, it is probably a more reputable place to work – and it may well pay better too.

Options for remote language teaching may also be found online, as students around the world value the chance to learn English from a Canada-based tutor.

As with any job, the first step is preparing a strong resume and cover letter. While teaching English may just be a way to pass the time while looking for a ‘real’ job, it is still important to take the job search seriously.

  • Check out Moving2Canada’s resume and cover letter guides to perfect your job application. Need more guidance? Moving2Canada’s range of employment services can help get you on the right track.

Looking to the future

Not only can teaching English in Canada be a great way to meet people while earning money and getting to grips with a new life, it could be a great way to develop a resume and impress employers.

Gaining Canadian work experience in a field that requires strong social skills such as communication, teamwork, and organization can lead to opportunities in a host of other fields.

Finding a job teaching English in Canada can be as much about who you know as what you know, and networking in Canada’s large, vibrant English language teaching community could even lead to an unexpected career opportunity.

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