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ESL Job Postings on Dave’s ESL Cafe: To Trust or Not To Trust?

daves esl cafe job listings

Dave’s ESL Cafe for ESL Jobs Listings

If you’ve been surfing the web for ESL jobs, you’ve probably stumbled on Dave’s ESL Cafe.

Because it’s been around for decades, it’s been a consistent resource for those wanting to teach and travel abroad.

But how much quality control does Dave put into each ESL job posting?

And should you expect each and every ESL job posting to be a legitimate offer?

What is Dave’s ESL Cafe?

Since 2000, Dave’s ESL Cafe has been THE stomping ground for ESL job seekers.

Over the years, it’s morphed into something bigger becoming the central hub for teachers and learners.

But really… why?

On closer inspection, you’ll see that every section of the website is filled with bizarre cookbook ideas, random deleted forum messages, and outdated links.

It’s like walking into your grandpa’s basement

You always expect to see something cool, but it never delivers.

Are Dave’s ESL Job Postings Legitimate?

Dave’s ESL Cafe does not quality control any of its ESL job postings.

If you want to compare, it’s kinda like having some sketchy sales guy constantly hovering over you trying to sell random stuff.

At least as a common courtesy, he should give the most common advice before accepting an ESL job offer.

For example:

  • Protect yourself by talking to foreign teachers already working there now.
  • Don’t accept an offer without doing research on the school.
  • Don’t pay recruiters for their services because they get paid for filling in positions at school.

Instead, with rose-colored glasses, Dave tells you that everything is OK.

To Trust or Not To Trust?

I was hoping to touch on Dave’s ESL Cafe’s strong points, but I honestly don’t know what they are. There were red flags for Dave’s ESL Cafe entering 2000. Now there are signal fires.

Look, I’ll bet you the majority of ESL jobs on Dave’s ESL Cafe are legitimate. But going into a job offer blind is never a good thing.

TEFL’s Craigslist is not looking out for you by giving you rules before you accept an ESL job offer. Instead, Dave’s ESL Cafe turns a blind eye to decency.

Who runs the website anyways? Have the prisoners taken over the prison? Or is it whoever pays Dave the most?

6 Comments

  1. The balance was that you used to be able to look at adverts and then check in the forums. The forums have been inactive for ages so the site is just a standard income stream for Dave now. He promised an update but nothing happened.

  2. The biggest problem with Dave’s job ads is that hundreds of people look at and apply to those jobs. At that point is isn’t even competition, it’s pure saturation from the employer’s standpoint. Probably in many cases it isn’t the employer, but just an employee, who was told by management to run an ad to hedge against quitting and lay-offs, so there’s no real need on their part.

    The comments here about agencies being invasive and discriminatory are absolutely correct: it is solidly a buyer’s market now, they will bring to bear the minutest prejudice against an applicant and move on to the next. For the most part that’s going to be prejudice against men, especially men over thirty, but you never know what they’re really after. I could say “don’t upload your passport”, but when they all require you to upload your passport, what then? You either do it or find another line of work.

    Anyway, let’s face it, this fake pandemic has probably destroyed ESL as a “career”, with the rolling lockdowns, barriers to entry and so on. I was about to have a virtual interview with TATI Oman and was just informed that as Oman went into lockdown today, for a mysterious two weeks, the interview is cancelled. Even if it hadn’t been, the lockdown charade won’t go away, so there’s no telling how many teachers would stranded in various countries.

  3. Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience I have worked in ESL for more than twenty years and have worked briefly for a recruiter a pragmatic piece of advice if you feel you will have a reason to feel you will be discriminated against stick to public sector employer and avoid those in the private sector. Private-sector employers aim to give paying students what they want, young, handsome people who look like the characters they see in the media. Public sector employers can be and usually are more objective about candidates. This isn’t the way it should be but it is the way it is.

  4. I’ve been teaching ESL/EFL for over 20 years. I have a MA TESOL from a reputable school, a PhD (in another discipline), and decades of very positive reviews from universities and state programs in the US. I’ve lived abroad (China, Japan, Southeast Asia, North Africa, India, throughout Europe and South America). I’ve volunteered widely and published in the US and internationally. I first thought I’d be a good candidate for a university teaching position in Asia. They take one look at my mandatory photos and reject me. Getting older (40s) and eager to work outside the US, I thought I’d try getting my foot in the door anywhere–Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia, Thailand…

    Whenever a job ad asks for a “recent scanned photo” upfront, I NEVER (not a single time) hear back from them. When I send my CV without any photo, invariably I’m eagerly contacted within a day. The laughing, sunny party on the other end of the voice communication details how much I’d enjoy working in their environment. They set up a videoconference with academic and administrative staff on their end. I do my research on the company, the school, the local culture. I dress professionally and check my home office (lighting, camera positioning, appropriate background…). I wish I were brave enough to begin recording what happens when the videoconference begins. Without fail, the people on the other end exhibit open shock and even revulsion. I’m not exaggerating; you have to see their facial expression–the snarled lips, the bulging eyes–to get it. To *feel* it. These videoconferences never last more than ten minutes during which speakers perfunctorily press me with generic questions. Once the session terminates, I never hear back from the team. Never.

    I’ve shelled out a pretty penny for professionals to help me rebrand myself, including hiring LinkedIn specialist photographers, TEFL resume experts… All to no avail. I keep seeing, on Dave’s and elsewhere, the same ads I’ve applied to but never heard back from. I’ve stopped sending out my resume to the many companies that demand private information (passport…) before even divulging their company name. Just too big a risk.

    When I was living in China for a year trying to secure a teaching position, the more open recruiters or administrators told me racism is NOT illegal in China. In South Korea and Thailand, I’d explicitly hear from directors/recruiters that they “needed” a white teacher. It didn’t matter where I applied. I’ve even heard, “If you were Latin, maybe we could use you…” That one left me speechless. Lately, I’ve been finding more and more ads using expressions like “recent college graduate” or “fresh, young…” Now, on top of racism, people like me face ageism–often explained away as merely a consequence of countries’ visa policies.

    I enjoy teaching language. Deeply. But between the abysmal compensation in the US and the rising costs of living even in Smalltown, Nowhere, I’d need a post outside the US that allows for a far less costly lifestyle. But since I’m the wrong race and, now, the wrong age, I have to retire my language instructor’s hat. I can’t express how humiliating it is to be passed over for a teaching position for some 20-something with the right skin tone, hair and eye color, and general aesthetics whose non-native English may suffer from a host of basic language errors. In TEFL, appearance very often trumps competence.

    My apologies for the long comment.

  5. I just wanted to comment about Dave’s ESL Café. It is pretty much a mixed bag. The South Korean comments section is (or rather was), frenetically active. Some of the Korean comments do try to give people the warnings about language schools that Dave himself DOES NOT provide. The comments section on jobs in the UK is somewhat active, but the European sections are practically dead. For example, it’s practically impossible to get any recent useful information from the Spain section, even though people do teach in Spain.
    With regards to jobs, my main experience is with his Korean section. I did once get a job in Korea through Dave’s ESL Café. I was able to change jobs twice in Korea without using Dave’s at all. I am applying once more to Dave’s ESL Café, and I am finding that I’m putting in a lot of effort, applying to all these faceless “recruiters” and “agencies” and getting nothing in return. Who are these agencies anyway? All I see is a name, an address, a list of jobs (which may or may not be taken already), and 20 invasive questions. The agencies need to know your age, nationality, gender, marital status, and sometimes religion. ALL jobs in Korea need to see “your smiling passport photo.” WHY? Well, Korea has absolutely NO laws against discrimination. Therefore, schools and agencies are free to discriminate ruthlessly. They will sometimes turn away even the best candidates, in favour of young, inexperienced, good-looking graduates with a Canadian or American accent. Sometimes they also require that the jobseeker be female and Christian. (Even though it’s just a dodgy private language school, it’s still a Christian school). That’s what the questions and the photos are for-it’s so that the language schools and the recruiters can discriminate. The bad ones are really only interested in superficial qualities.
    Dave’s ESL Café started out in Korea, and Korea is still one of its main foci. You are right in that Dave’s ESL exercises absolutely no control over any of this. If anything, the biggest problem is with those phony recruiters. These are the archetypal “sketchy sales guys,” and a big part of their job is to get gullible English teachers to sign up for poor quality jobs. Dave himself may not approve of any of this, but by saying nothing, he gives the whole dodgy charade his tacit blessing.

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