Careers in the UK's English language teaching sector
If you're interested in working in a friendly people-facing sector where you'll meet students from all over the world, the UK's English language teaching (ELT) sector could be for you.
Language centres employ teachers, student support and administrative staff, accommodation and operations managers, marketing and sales specialists and activity leaders.
With the return of international travel after the pandemic, the UK ELT sector is rebuilding its capacity and there are opportunities across the UK.
An overview of the UK's English language teaching (ELT) sector
English language centres in the UK teach English to people of all ages from all over the world.
Students range from groups of teenagers on a summer or Easter holiday course, to young adults improving their English for university or careers or adults improving their English for business.
Pre-Covid, the UK attracted 550,000 students from all over the world to study English every year. Student numbers are now growing steadily and so there are job opportunities in English language centres across the country.
ELT schools can be found all over the UK, with large concentrations in the most popular tourist or study destinations including Bournemouth, Brighton, the West Country, Oxford and Cambridge, London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. There are ELT centres in city centres, suburbs, universities and colleges, and many summer schools use boarding school campuses all over the country.
The busiest time for ELT schools is the summer when lots of junior students come, so some roles are seasonal. Some centres only open for holiday courses, other centres are open all year round.
What roles are there in UK ELT schools?
There are five broad areas of work in most ELT schools:
Teaching: you will need a teaching qualification and for many UK schools you will also need to have a degree. Teachers can work in the UK and overseas and after a couple of years can get a higher-level qualification and potentially move into specialist teaching or academic management. Find out more about becoming a TEFL teacher.
Sale and marketing: marketing and sales staff working in ELT promote courses to international students and study travel agents. They develop international relationships and often make overseas trips to events and meetings. They also manage the school's digital platforms, and develop brochures and promotional materials. Some staff take on marketing alongside other roles, depending on the size of the school.
Welfare/accommodation/administration: these roles include working to find accommodation for students (often dealing with local families who act as hosts), focusing on student well-being and safeguarding, working on reception and processing enquiries and bookings.
Activity leaders: these are entry-level roles which can lead to long-term careers and promotion within the industry. Activity leaders typically work with student groups on summer programmes, organising and leading on sporting and cultural elements of programmes and modelling the use of English.
Management: there are a range of management roles across different functions including including academic management, operations, HR, business and sales.
About English UK
English UK is the trade association for schools, and all our members have to be accredited by Accreditation UK, which we run in partnership with the British Council. Looking for the English UK or British Council logos will help you find schools with high quality standards. These schools are regularly inspected for all aspects of management and teaching.