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Thread: Career Advice

  1. #1
    I'm With Stupid's Avatar
    I'm With Stupid is offline Senior Member
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    Career Advice

    Hi, I'm wanting to get into TEFL as a career and I'm just looking for advice about how my career might progress. It seems that there's a lot of advice on starting out, but not much on how to turn it into a long-term thing. I think currently, the best option for me is to take advantage of the weak dollar and do a CELTA course in Bangkok, hopefully being able to arrange employment while I'm out there to gain to real experience. But from there, there seem to be a variety of options. I'd like to know what options each qualification offers. For example, in order to work in a university abroad, I think an MA in TESOL is required. Equally, jobs in ESL in Britain seem to not strictly require it, but everyone seems to have it (the last thing I want is to be qualified to work anywhere in the world except my home). And when reading up on them, a lot seem to say that they are not strictly teaching degrees in the same way as a PGCE. Is this a standard thing, or does it vary from course to course? A PGCE (plus a year in a school) obviously gives you qualified teacher status in the UK, but it's presumably quite a different set of teaching skills to teaching ESL students? So how respected is a PGCE in secondary English (the only thing I'm qualified to teach) the field of EFL? Finally, the other option seems to be a DELTA qualification, which seems to be more of a practical qualification, but I can't help thinking that 3 months compared to a year for a masters doesn't really compare. I know a masters is a minimum requirement to get university work in Japan at least (the country I've researched the most - though apparently now, a PhD is becoming more common too).

    I was actually considering doing a PGCE in secondary English for a while, because you can get grants to do that, whereas you have to pay for TESOL qualifications. But I can't help but think that it's not really going to be teaching me what I want to do, even if it does teach many of the same skills.

    And how easy is it to switch between countries? I mean presumably once you get to a more academic level (colleges, universities, state-run high schools etc) then a certain command of the native language is required, and experience teaching people from that particular country? Just for the record, the main countries that interest me are in South-East Asia (particularly Thailand and Japan) and Eastern Europe. Though I'm not the best at learning languages, so I can't see me moving around too much.

    So if anyone could give me an outline of what sort of opportunities each qualification offers, both in English and non-English speaking countres, I'd really appreciate it. And perhaps some of the more experienced teachers might be willing to share their own career progression?

    I know I've asked a lot of questions, but I hope some of you could take the time to answer as many as you can, because you'd be helping me out a lot.

  2. #2
    Horsa is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Career Advice

    Teaching English as a foreign language is very different from teaching secondary English. The skills are only partially the same. I have known a number of teachers of secondary English fail when attempting to teach EFL.

    I am not certain you are qualified to take DELTA as, if I remember correctly, it requires you to have 1,200 hours of teaching English to adults in order to be eligible. Also I'm not sure whether or not that experience needs to be in an EFL context. If you want to work in universities I would advise you to do the MA TEFL which in any case includes much of the DELTA. If not, then CELTA or Trinity TESOL. There is a general shortage of EFL teachers so finding work is not usually a problem.

  3. #3
    I'm With Stupid's Avatar
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    Re: Career Advice

    I know I need to do a CELTA first. I was just asking what the usual career plan is after that, since CELTA seems to be as much for people who want to travel as for people genuinely interested in starting a career (our university offered it included in the cost of a degree course). I have checked it out a bit more since posting, and it seems that MA is technically above a DELTA, although from a practical teaching POV, the DELTA seems to be the highest. Ah well, this won't be for a while yet, I'm just looking into my options.

    The only thing that worries me is the pay. I'm not going into this sort of work for the pay, but when you're working in a country that's paying less than you could get as a waiter back home, it's quite hard to save up to do any extra qualifications. And even if you get the qualifications, the difference in pay would presumably not exactly be enough to make it worthwhile in all but the richest countries? It just seems really difficult to get to a stage where you'd be earning anything equivalent to a passable salary in the UK, which is fine until you have to pay for anything at home (like flights or courses).

    ETA: Just been researching it further, and it seems that Thailand, which was my initial choice, offers unusually low wages for the region, so I'm currently looking to Vietnam, where you're guaranteed at least $10 an hour, and they still offer the CELTA course for the same price as Thailand.
    Last edited by I'm With Stupid; 25-Nov-2007 at 14:35.

  4. #4
    Horsa is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Career Advice

    Check out the local rates and opportunities for private teaching. You'll have ask a teacher working in the area though.

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    Re: Career Advice

    Payment and conditions of work for ELT / EFL /ESL teachers is pretty bad around the globe, and has been for at least twenty years, from what I gather from colleagues. My best advice if salary is an issue is to get a permanent job in the UK working with government agencies (asylum seekers, immigrant children etc). Or another option for British teachers is the British Council, when you're a bit further down the line. Their pay and conditions are reasonable and fair. Good luck, anyway, whatever you decide.

  6. #6
    eflclassroom is offline Newbie
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    Re: Career Advice

    Yes, many variables. Depends on which part of the world you want to eventually settle down in (if at all :)).

    It seems you have put a lot of research and thought into things which is good. Let it settle. Although one "way" doesn't suit all, my personal recommendation based on experience is to get out there teaching for a year or two and then do qualifications. Take a simple TEFL course and then after a year teaching decide on something more substantial. You will also get so much more out of a celta/masters/certificate if you actually have experience in the classroom teaching.

    Also don't forget - these are just "paper" and the real learning is how you reflect on your own teaching and undertake of your own, prof. development. There are a lot of great materials out there for prof. development ranging from social networking sites to videos to journals.

    Last edited by Tdol; 03-Dec-2007 at 12:35.

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