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Working For English In Action

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What is it like to work as a teacher for English in Action? How does working with EiA compare to working with other English Language Schools? What prospects does the company hold for TEFL and ESOL teachers? In this article, I will attempt to answer those questions with a few personal examples.

My Story

I originally trained as a middle school teacher and obtained my degree in the early 1990s. Goodness, that makes me feel old! Luckily, I’m constantly working with people of all ages and from many different backgrounds, while teaching students aged ten to adult. I like to think this keeps me young, in spirit at least!

I began my TEFL adventures soon after qualifying as a middle school teacher in Britain when I accepted a year-long TEFL position in Greece. This led to other English Teaching jobs in Spain, Italy and Austria. For about 15 years I taught in a variety of language schools and institutions. Eventually, I returned to England for family reasons. One day I saw an advertisement for a company called ‘English In Action’, which looked interesting so I applied…

A few weeks later I was attending an induction for new teachers in Canterbury. I found the induction weekend fun but a little overwhelming. There was a lot of information to take in and many new people to meet. The training weekend ended with a very early flight out to Austria for my first week of actual teaching with EiA… Fast forward more than 14 years and I still work for English In Action! My job has evolved. I now spend just over half the year teaching or supervising other teachers all over Europe. During the weeks I’m not travelling I contribute to this blog and have a number of other duties for the company including writing materials.

My First Week

English In Action conducts full immersion, week-long teaching programmes in state schools all over Europe (and sometimes beyond Europe). In order to paint a picture of what that actually involves I shall reminisce a little more about my first week with the company…

Over a hundred people attended my first induction weekend and virtually all of us flew out, (blurry eyed, clutching our coursebooks and notes) to various destinations on Sunday morning. Many were travelling to different towns in Austria because that is the country where EiA first established a foothold. I was with a large group heading to a town called Eisenstadt, south of Vienna. This was to be the first week of a seven-week contract which meant travelling to a new town every weekend…


Teaching Contracts with EiA can be as short as one week or can stretch to more than six weeks at a time, depending on the time of year, the number of schools asking for courses and the availability of teachers. Some courses only require two or three teachers whereas other courses might require ten or more teachers (in which case there is usually a non-teaching Director of Studies who takes care of the organisation and administration during the course).

Organisation and Teaching Materials

When we arrived in Eisenstadt we were met at the hotel by the Director Of Studies, David, an experienced EiA teacher. After a short break to settle into our rooms, David organised a meeting to give more information about the school, introduce us to our teaching partners and plan lessons for the week ahead. Teachers new to EiA are usually paired with teachers who have had a lot of previous experience teaching English In Action courses. Over an evening meal, I got to know my teaching partner a bit better and discuss how we would split the book lessons during the week.

Virtually all EiA courses are based around course books, designed and written by the company. There are lesson plans and materials for all the lessons in the book. We usually teach three or four book lessons a day. Lessons five and six (generally following the normal school timetable for the country we are working in) are often devoted to project and drama work, leading to a presentation at the end of the week. The academic team in the Canterbury office are in touch with the schools before, during and after the courses, and provide teachers with extra information and support.


Like the other new recruits, I was very tired by the end of a long day of travelling and taking in new information. I was happy to see my bed but knew that we had an early start the following day. Fortunately, we were in a very nice and comfortable hotel; and breakfast at 6 am the next morning was worth getting up early for. In the 14 years since then, I have come to realise accommodation can vary a lot depending on what is available in the wide variety of towns we serve. Some guest houses are quite basic, but every so often we stay in places that have spectacular views or which offer unexpected touches of luxury. All accommodation is paid by the company.

The First Day And The First Week

The first day of actual teaching went by in a breeze. It was hectic and no matter how much preparation you have done, getting used to a new way of doing things is always a bit stressful. As the name implies, the emphasis in this company is on action; learning by doing with lots of games and activities with an element of fun. The aim is to hit the ground running on the first day; engage the students and convince them that a week of intensive English is a fun thing to do! Once through the first day, all the information garnered during the induction and pre-course meetings begins to make concrete sense. From there on the week gets easier and goes very quickly.

The Social Life

I think there were more than a dozen of us during that first week, plus the Director of Studies. The oldest person in the team was in his seventies, the youngest teachers were in their early twenties. So, there were a lot of different people from very diverse backgrounds with stories to tell, yet all linked by an aptitude for teaching and a love of travel. This is a job for people who are accepting and adaptable and who get on easily with others. A lot of socialising went on in the evenings in the hotel and around the town. Some also went sightseeing around the town and the local area in the afternoons. (Austrian schools often finish at about 1.30 pm). However, the Director of Studies was quick to remind everyone that being the only native English speakers in town, we are bound to stand out and attract attention. Everyone would know who we are, so there is an obligation to show ourselves and the company in a good light. Those who don’t like that kind of added responsibility in their free time generally don’t last long in the company.

The Show

Many English In Action weeks end with a show or presentation of some kind on the final day. It is a chance for the students to demonstrate some of the new things they have learned during the week. The show usually involves putting together drama sketches, a fact that sometimes worries teachers who haven’t had much previous experience of drama work. However, there is a lot of support available and more experienced members of the team are happy to give tips and advice. The show at Eisenstadt was quite a big event involving all the students, with their parents forming a large audience. There were a lot of pre-show nerves among the students and our teachers, but all went well, and the week finished on a high.

Moving On

A unique aspect of work with EiA is that after one contract finishes on Friday you move on to start again from scratch in a new town and new school on Monday. This means that a significant part of the weekend is taken up by travel. Sometimes the next location is relatively close; perhaps an hour away by bus or train, in which case there is plenty of time to relax, do some sightseeing or just catch up with emails and laundry. However, for logistical reasons, there will be some weekends where the journey between centres can last eight hours or more and might mean travelling to another country altogether. If you have to do several such journeys on a typical four-week teaching contract, it can become quite tiring.

Advantages and disadvantages for TEFL and ESOL teachers

  • All year-round – English In Action holds courses of different types throughout the year. Teaching contracts can, in theory, be as long or as short as you want them to be. However, some periods of the year are much busier than others and the number of teachers needed varies considerably from week to week.
  • Teaching Materials – EiA provides all the materials you will need together with lesson plans. This does not mean that you can’t use some of your own ideas, in fact, you are encouraged to do so, if your lesson ideas fit in with the course the school has chosen. However, the course books form the core of what is taught in each course. The schools we work with have chosen specific courses for a reason and expect the contents to be taught in the manner described in their brochures. Some teachers find this a bit restrictive. For teachers who are used to doing their own thing and who dislike having to work with a methodology and materials dictated by somebody else, EiA may not be the best fit.
  • Organisation And Logistics – English In Action have hard working academic and operations personnel based in Canterbury that provides all the information teachers need before they set out on their courses. This includes booking outward and return flights, directions from the airport to the course location and information about transfers between future courses. Teachers are also provided with academic notes detailing the number of students they will be teaching, their level of English, and any special requests the school has made. Most people find this reassuring but for people who are used to planning all aspects of their travel and teaching themselves, it can be difficult to adapt to.
  • Commitment – English In Action courses are short and intense. As mentioned previously, people can sign up for as few or as many weeks as are convenient. You don’t have to sign a contract for several months or a whole year at a time and risk finding the school and conditions are not what you were expecting.
  • Career Development – On short courses you only have a week to make a connection with your students, after which you may never see those people again. For those who would prefer to see their students develop over a longer span of time, EiA courses may not be the most suitable. However, since English In Action courses cover a wide range of ages and ability levels (including exam and vocational courses), a few contracts can provide rapid and extensive opportunities to acquire new teaching abilities and experiences. This makes it ideal for teachers new to the TEFL profession or those seeking new challenges.

This then is English in Action, a unique type of English Language School which depends on hardworking and adaptable teachers. It can be challenging, but it can also be fun. It is particularly appealing to teachers who like having a certain amount of structure and materials to rely on. Overall, it provides a unique learning experience for the students and an equally unique teaching environment for TEFL teachers. It is not for everyone, but for many, such as me, it can be quite addictive.

If this sounds like something you may be interested in, you can find further information and application details here:

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