Chain Schools

Ask two experienced teachers whether or not they recommend working for an ESL chain school, and you may get two very different answers. While some teachers love the experience of working for a large company, others finish (or even break) their contracts and vow to never go that route again. Chain schools tend to be in urban centres while independent schools are often more remote. Choosing between these options is a matter of personal preference. Some chain schools have branches throughout one country, as is common in Japan or Korea, while others have schools all over the world. In most cases a chain school has one head office, one recruiting centre, and twenty or more learning centres.

If you are thinking about working for a large ESL chain school, take some time to browse through the following pros and cons, which have been compiled based on feedback from real teachers who have taught abroad. You will also find a short list of some of the major chain schools around the world.


Chain schools, because they generate steady income, will usually pay you the correct amount on time each payday, while smaller independent schools may be less secure. This is not always the case. In 2007, NOVA, one of the largest chain schools in the world, went bankrupt and thousands of teachers complained of lost wages. Visit teacher message boards often to get feedback from those who have worked at the chain schools you are considering.


Chain schools often have set rules of conduct for their teachers that can be quite strict. Some prevent teachers from socializing with their students outside of school. This may be considered a pro to some job seekers, while others will be attracted to schools with a more casual atmosphere.

Ten Major Chain Schools

For more information on the following chain schools, visit their websites via your favourite search engine.

  1. AEON and Amity (Japan)
  2. Bell International (UK and Malta)
  3. Berlitz (International)
  4. ECC (Korea)
  5. English First (International)
  6. GEOS (International)
  7. Inlingua (International)
  8. International House (International)
  9. Peppy Kids Club (Japan)
  10. Wall Street Institute (International)