Hello. This is more of a question regarding the actual activity of teaching abroad rather than specific certificates and methods and such.
About 10 years ago I started to self-learn Russian. I did that for about a year and stopped. Now about a year ago I spent a month in Eastern Europe bouncing around various cities in Poland and Ukraine. There only about 35% of people speak any English. Less in Ukraine. My slim 1 year of self study of Slavic languages greatly helped me navigate and operate in those countries.
I really want to go back for an indefinite period of time. While in Ukraine, I met an American guy who teaches English and he recommended this website. Although my main goal is to learn a Slavic language, I can't think of any better way to stay there and not drain my bank account than to have a job. A TEFL job seems suitable since I am a native American English speaker (with a very clear accent). While I was in Poland and Ukraine I had the opportunity to casually correct the speech of the people I met (they asked me to, I'm not that rude).
I have a university degree in mechanical engineering and am a few years out of school. I do not have a job at this time and currently live with my over-controlling parents. So of course I am desperate to eject from that situation.
I am confident in my ability to correct spoken and written sentences, along with pronunciation. But I am not very confident in the exacting rules and terminology of English. Of course in school I studied prepositions, adverbs, proper nouns, and other elementary grammar. I can correct people, and give a casual elementary explanation, but I can't point to a specific grammar rule.
I have researched various certificates and one that stands out the CELTA, which has a local teaching center in my city. There are also TEFL course at local colleges that are spread out over a semester instead of jam packed in 4 weeks. I don't know which one I should take. The local university courses are $1000 less and spread out. I hear the CELTA course is akin to the Navy SEALS 'Hell Week' in terms of intensiveness, which I think is extremely detrimental to retaining knowledge. But are local university courses widely accredited?
I have heard of other teaching English opportunities that are less grammar orientated and focus a lot more on speaking. I think it's called the "Callahan" method or something starting with a "C". I saw some banners advertising for those kinds of schools while I was there. But I have read online that it is totally looked down upon as an ineffective method, as you are just yelling phrases at students.
My ultimate goal is to learn a Slavic language and become familiar with the culture. In Poland, the kids I partied with considered me an honorary native Pole due to my heritage lol. Since that is my ultimate goal, I am not sure if teaching English is for me, especially plopping down $2500 on an intensive class with no refunds upon failure.
I know that there are less intense courses, but they may less accepted too. What should I do? The CELTA course in my city is 4 or 5 months away and the local university's TEFL courses are in less than a week! I do think I would enjoy teaching, but I am not super passionate about it. I don't know if a career in it is for me though. I overhear tons of people talking about how their brother or sister are teaching English abroad, not sure what qualifications they have, but they don't seem to have a problem.
One of the most important things I would like answered about the CELTA and teaching English abroad in general is:
How important is the grammar? Are we to expected to train the students to write at journalist levels or something? Are we expected ourselves to be at perfect, front page of New York Times grammatically correct levels? I'd prefer to not be so exacting and intense. While in Ukraine I hanged out with a Ukrainian I met, who was a part time English tutor to children... and needless to say she was very sloppy in her own English speaking ability, yet still was an English tutor. I'm just wondering how good is good? I'm extremely far from a professional writer and my knowledge of grammar rules is lacking. I guess an analogy of my expected English teaching ability would be compare it Jesse Pinkman's meth cooking ability on the show Breaking Bad. He knows how to cook good meth, but doesn't know the ins and outs like the professional chemist Walter White.
I don't really care about being a teacher in a prestigious tier one school abroad. I would be extremely happy just to be teaching children in a cheap suburban school in a small city/town. The only living standards I require are high speed internet, my own private room where my privacy and personal space will be respected (not possible while living with parents), and a motorcycle. :)
I know CELTA is considered a a high quality certification, but I know it is not necessary. Is the grammar part really that hard? 'I' before 'C' except after 'E' is about the only actual grammar rule I can remember, along with making contractions. But as as you can tell from this long winded post I am making, the I am quite adept as a native English speaker/writer. Much more so than a lot of the casual internet postings I read written by modern young urban Americans.
- For Teachers