Already experienced English teacher curious about teaching abroad prospects
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Oct 21, 2012 10:11 PM Last Post By: waxybrushes
Oct 10, 2012 4:05 PM
Already experienced English teacher curious about teaching abroad prospectsThis is very hypothetical, but something I am curious about since most who seem to teach abroad do so with a BA and a TEFL/TESOL certificate.
I'm already an English Adjunct Professor working with multi-lingual students for some years here in the U.S. -- teaching mainly College Composition, although I've also taught other Literature classes -- and I also already have been an ELL tutor too, for a solid University program through a Federally-funded grant. I have other educational admin experience as well. I don't have a TESOL certificate, but of course I could get one. Still, a few years ago when I considered getting one, the company that I was talking to thought I was overqualified since I would hope to teach more written English and preferably with older teens/adults; they emphasized conversational English. Also, they really thought I was "too old." I was in my early 30's then, mind you.
I am additionally fluent in French.
Have there been other Higher Ed teachers who found any real strong luck teaching in good programs abroad for a few months at a time? Usually, I've heard this done on a Fulbright, but that requires a Ph.D. which I don't have, so it's not applicable in my case. Will my experience position me well? After my poor experience with the TESOL company, I felt overqualified and a bit low about it.
I'm neither young nor old, but in my mid-30's and very laid back. I am a dyed-in-the-wool-backpacker sort, but I also can switch to being extremely professional without any difficulty.
Just trying to figure out what my eventual options might be (I have a child who is almost grown). I'm just dying to travel more and trying to make solid plans to do that. Travel is what sustains me.
Anyone in a similar boat?
I don't have any particular regions that are most appealing, necessarily, although I prefer places that are less, rather than more, like the U.S.
No clue if I'll actually do this, but I hadn't seen it addressed on this forum, and if it would put me in a good position, I'd love to know about it! I feel like I'm really thinking a lot about what I what I want to do in the next few years, which is really travel, but still trying to make that merge with my years of previous teaching, which I love doing so much.
Hey, thanks for your insights!
Edited by: shekinah_75
Oct 11, 2012 4:19 AM
I'm in a similar position. Currently doing a course with TEFL England after very extensive research about CELTA's, DELTA's, TEFL etc. The course is great, and their Job Centre has absolutely loads of positions available all over the place. I can definitely recommend them, as you get a personal tutor to help you through your grammar course (which i've put to use far more than i thought i would). I'm personally thinking about South Korea at the turn of the year, but with experience and a TEFL course there are hundreds of options out there. Just go for it!
Oct 11, 2012 9:01 AM
2So you think a TEFL certificate would still be necessary? There's a great CELTA program near me, but it's still an extra 3K USD plus a month of intensive work; I suspect I won't actually learn anything new no matter how good a program might be, and wondered if there were workarounds for those truly experienced? I guess the next step, beyond soliciting opinions here (still open for these!) is to ask at some schools.
Again, I'm already an expert in teaching grammar, in teaching, and in working with multi-lingual and ELL students, not to mention with curricular design. That's what I've been doing for the past several years as my full-time employment.
Seems like they're asking for extra certification which I can prove equivalency -- or beyond -- and suspect the classes would wind up being extremely dull as well as a load of work plus extra money shelled out when I could be making money teaching. Is it just a necessary requirement that one can't get around with equivalent experience? Groan.
Any other advanced-level English teachers on Lonely Planet who have made their way teaching English abroad? I would truly love to hear your experiences. I think this is really what I'm looking to find out about. Thanks for sharing your stories. And I'm glad you have a good program, ammac; what is your teaching background, if you don't mind my asking?
Oct 11, 2012 1:17 PM
Oct 11, 2012 10:18 PM
Oct 12, 2012 7:10 PM
5One of the problems in Asia is that foreign teachers (often called "native English teachers") are expensive so they use local teachers for reading, writing, listening and only hire NETs for speaking. This means that the job is not very full-fulling. If you are a registered teacher in your state, look at Hong Kong's NET programme, where the NETs are used to mentor Chinese teachers and often work in curriculum design as well. However most jobs I hear of require a minimum 1-2 year contract.
Oct 12, 2012 7:57 PM
6A lot of large ESOL companies, recruiters, loo for college/university graduates for a year of conversation teaching.
But eslcafe and tefl.com (and others) have a lot better jobs on offer and you can, in places like Hong Kong, get much more fulfilling roles, where age and experience are good!
Oct 13, 2012 2:24 PM
7If you are looking for money, you should be able to find a job in the middle east with your qualifications without trouble. However, if enjoyment and fulfilment are more inportant you may want to avoid the middle east.
I think the TEFL company that refused you was not typical. People come to English teaching from a thousand different backgrounds and you'll have no trouble finding a job. Bear in mind that some places won't hire you because they'll perceive you as being possibly hard to handle. Some Directors of Studies will refuse to hire you because they'll perceive you as a threat to their own jobs.
The majority of places will offer you jobs either because you have an MA and they are trying to fill some kind of quota, or because they look seriously at your credentials and decide you are suitable. I would say, be careful to not get the former kind of job.
Oct 13, 2012 3:16 PM
8Shekinah, I see your situation from another perspective. I think the person you spoke to gave you good advice and was correct. You are overqualified and in a sense too old. The average poster here is in his/her 20s and sees TEFL simply as a way to fund further travel. The vast majority are not qualified to teach anything beyond conversational English and truth be told most probably aren't even qualified to teach that.
The age issue I suspect was more about pay. The vast majority of those TEFLing are paid peanuts and with your qualifications and age it is not likely you would be willing to work for peanuts. While some people do find themselves having to take a job that is poorly paid and below their qualifications, they rarely stay long or enjoy the work. So I think the person was looking at it from your perspective and giving good advice.
However, you do mention short term work and a desire to travel as being your motivation in looking at TEFLing. I suggest you look at an alternative that might suit you. International schools and how international school teachers tend to manage their careers.
Suppose you could secure a teaching position in a school in say Switzerland. Here is an example (I happen to know the location of this school) http://www.ecole.ch/english/framesecolee.html Further suppose that you taught there for a year or two. Then took a year off to travel. Then found another school in another country to teach in for a few years. Repeat this process until what you want to do changes.
I can't imagine that a year or two living and teaching at that school would not fulfill your desire to travel to new places. A career teaching in International Schools may be the way for you to go. Something most TEFL teachers will never be able to do.
Oct 13, 2012 4:35 PM
9This is really interesting to me, thanks. I wouldn't want to stay in one spot for a whole year, to be honest, although I can see staying in one spot for a few months definitely, although your idea is compelling. Still, I have a husband to consider, although he'd like to come along. So perhaps the TESOL/TEFL folks I spoke to were thinking I wouldn't want to work for so little. That's perceptive and not something I thought of. Actually, I don't much care about the pay (I do care about the atmosphere a bit more though, in terms of a "serious" teaching job and not something really lax). So they might have just miscalculated me a bit.
I'm super young-at-heart and just in my mid-30's, and a no-frills sort in general, and I can totally understand and respect those 20-year olds who want to find a way to travel the world! Still, it puts me in a funny predicament. I'm not raking in the dough where I live by any means. U.S. adjuncts often make very little money, sadly. At any rate, I'm not into the whole materialistic thing. Just want to find a smart way to move from point A to point B around the world since it isn't easy to save up much (although I have a little saved, but seem to spend this on yearly vacations, which instead wind up costing a ton with the plane tickets).
I thank you so much for your insight. I've not yet posted elsewhere online yet although I'd planned to. I hadn't known a difference in teaching at an International School, and I think I would be easily qualified for this, especially if it were in a French-speaking country, and now I'm also onto trying to learn Arabic as well.
Your post is really helpful anyways, and I appreciate the time you took thinking through all of this; it gives me a sense of direction that is really positive. I have a few more years of planning, and think I will start looking into these types of schools as a possibility. I feel a bit dumb for not knowing how this works, but again, everyone I'd asked said "I went on a Fulbright," and I'm just not eligible for one, so no one seemed to know. Now I can ask my colleagues a bit more with probably more direction.
I'd be happy to bartend or something too, heh. But I think I'm a better teacher than mojito-maker.
Oct 13, 2012 7:52 PM
10With a husband and a child in tow I'd say your options are limited shekinah. Home schooling is possible for your child (talk to full time lieveaboard boat people who travel the world with kids and home school them. The kids often score above average when they return home to a 'real' school.)
But to support 3 people you need a decent income. Jobs that just last 3 months or so usually won't cut it. I used to own a bar on the island of Rhodes. It is a seasonal (6 months) business and bar workers are a dime a dozen. Time wise it might suit you but pay wise never. A bar worker generally earns just about enough for 1 person to survive on and I mean just survive on. So your suggestion of bartending isn't going to work either. Most of it in tourist areas (that's where the jobs are) is illegal work and under the table pay.
You also have to consider the whole issue of work permits and visas. One reason so many people look at TEFL is because it is one of the few jobs for which it is relatively easy to get a work permit in most countries. Where would that leave your husband though? Unless he also teaches how will he get a work permit? Does he have a skill/trade/profession that is in demand?
Going back to International Schools, it is not uncommon for a spouse to accompany the teacher and to get a work permit on the back of the teacher being wanted. Kids are often given free tuition at the school as well.
It isn't about how material you are or aren't, it's about being realistic and practical in what makes sense for 3 people. One dreamer earning peanuts just isn't enough. Take another look at that school and tell me you couldn't live there for a year. By the way, the hiking trails and ski lifts are a 10 minute walk from the front door.
Watch me sell you this. If you take the gondola down the valley to the town of Meiringen, you can visit the Sherlock Holmes museum. It's there because Reichenbach Falls where Sherlock and his arch enemy Moriarty fell to their deaths (but really Sherlock didn't die) is a 20minute walk from the main street. On the main street you will find bakery shops selling Meringue. That's because this is the birthplace of meringue. A short train ride away are the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. Picture yourself on a nice Saturday in June sitting on the terrace of the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes looking up at the Eiger. The same terrace in the movie Eiger Sanction, starring Clint Eastwood. Rent the movie if you haven't seen it.
Or how about a night at the nearby Berghotel Faulhorn. The only way to get there is at least a 2 hour uphill hike. Click on the picture gallery on this website. http://www.berghotel-faulhorn.ch/index_eng.html The picture second from the top on the far left is the room I stayed in once. I swear the mattresses on the 2 little beds were the original horsehair stuffed mattresses they brough up by donkey back in 1830 when the hotel opened. If you want rustic and non-materialistic this is the place for you.
On the other hand if you hike down the back of the Faulhorn (behind the hotel in their home page picture) you can head for Giessbach Falls and the Grand Hotel Giessbach. Even if you can't afford a room in the hotel you can stop for a drink and then take their private funicular down to Lake Brienz which is a blue you would expect to see in the Caribbean and catch a ferry across the lake and a bus back a few miles to Meiringen.
As a teacher at the school I linked all this would be on your doorstep. Go ahead, tell me you would get bored staying there for a year.
You have an education and skills that can get you places like this. It's not about being materialistic at all, it's about taking advantage of what you have access to.
Oct 14, 2012 7:37 AM
Oct 14, 2012 11:40 AM
12My husband also teaches :) He might stay behind for part of the time though. We've talked about this at length. But yes, he's in the same boat as I am, very much so.
My child will be in college when we are planning this. We were not planning on taking him. His father pays his expenses though; we've not been married for a very, very long time.
Beyond that, we don't own a house, our car is paid off, and we have no debts to speak of. These are definitely all issues which I've thought through! At length.
As for specifics about a school, that will vary greatly and will require more research. Yes, Switzerland looks truly gorgeous, and you speak very highly about the school, and that sort of passion is really important for any school; thus said, Western Europe is not at the top of my bucket list (with the exception of France). Not because I don't literally adore Europe. Of course I do. But I'm wanting something a bit more... hard to put my finger on the right word. Places which interest me are varied, but run along the lines of France, Turkey, Africa, Japan, Croatia, Jordan, China (and much of S.East Asia), India, Indonesia, Iceland, Colombia, Bolivia, and so many other places which immediately appeal to me, although it's one of those "feel it" sorts of things that you get in your gut which just tell you "Yes! This here! This place!"
I'm not a hard-sell traveler though. I like most places for what they are, although I admit to being bored of most of the U.S. -- thus many of my current travel plans are for the quirkier parts of the Country which might be considered more off-the-beaten path (although not much of the U.S. can really be said to be so, at least not to a U.S. resident with a car, since we tend to love a good road trip -- I've been across country many, many times, but haven't hit a few of the biggies yet, like Alaska, or the Everglades, or the Mississippi Delta, or even Detroit, all of which appeal to me for different reasons).
Thanks for your advice again. I feel I have a good sense of direction now! :)
Oct 14, 2012 11:42 AM
Oct 14, 2012 3:21 PM
14I don't teach there shekinah, I"m not a teacher. I know the area from hiking trips. I know about the school through an English woman who used to teach there before marrying a local hotel owner. We have stayed at the hotel several times.
I don't know what you consider quirky in the US but one of our favourite places is Borrego Springs in the Borrego Desert State Park. It's Palm Springs before it became Palm Springs if you know what I mean. Only a couple of thousands residents, not one traffic light. Some of the best desert hiking to be found anywhere.
Good luck with your plans.
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(4 star Hotel)
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