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  1. #1
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    Default Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Hi there everybody!

    I am looking for information about teaching English abroad. I have done some research myself, but I am hoping that some of the lovely users here will be able to add to my knowledge.

    First, I suppose I should give a little bit of background on myself.
    I am currently in my third year of studies in university. I am due to graduate in the spring of 2010, and afterwards I would like to teach English abroad before returning to Canada to complete a Masters degree.

    I have spoken with some corporations offering recruitment services, as well as representatives of private language schools. These include:

    • Pegasus Recruiting
    • Teach English in Korea (recruitment services)
    • Nova
    • JET Program
    • Yes Youngdo

    As you can see from my list, I have been mostly exposed to representatives from South Korea and Japan. These are the two countries which I am currently considering.

    Now for the questions:


    1. Are there pros or cons for applying with a recruitment agency over the private institutions themselves? Which would you recommend?
    2. I have been told to apply at two different times, and I believe it was by the same school. I would like to confirm that I should be applying in late fall or winter of 2009/2010 for placements beginning in May 2010.
    3. I am interested in teaching English overseas because it has been a desire of mine since I was 14. I am also doing this in order to save up some money to help pay for my Masters degree. I have been lead to believe that I would be able to save a significant amount of money should I work in South Korea, but that I would not save any money if I work in Japan. Could somebody please confirm this?
    4. Before Nova went bankrupt, I was considering applying with them because they offered apartments for their teachers. This could be very important to me as I have never lived alone before. I can imagine that the culture shock mixed with a lack of experience living alone could cause problems if I had to deal with a landlord who does not speak English. Does anybody know of any language schools in Japan which have accomodations for teachers? Has anybody worked in Japan with a school that assists you in finding an apartment, but leaves you to fend for yourself when it comes to landlords, utilities, and such? If so, could you tell me about your experiences?
    5. The Nova bankruptcy scared me a little, especially due to the tales of teachers being stranded with no pay and no way to get home. Could anybody recommend schools in Japan which are very reputable and that they believe are in good financial standing?
    6. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently considering South Korea and Japan. If anybody has worked in both of these countries as an ESL teacher, could they give me reasons for choosing one over the other? I am asking for people who have experience in both because I would appreciate an unbiased opinion.
    7. I am interested in doing this for the experience. My Undergraduate major is Geography and my planned Masters degree is for GIS. As a result, I am debating if getting TESOL certification is worth the expenses if I only plan to stay overseas for one or two years. Does anybody have any words of advice and wisdom?
    8. I am very interested in culture and language, and I would love to have the option of learning Korean or Japanese while I am teaching abroad. Does anybody know of employers which give their teachers the option to participate in language and culture classes either arranged or recommended by the institution itself?

    I believe that covers the questions that I have right now. As I read responses, I may have other questions to ask.

    If anybody has any other opinions or recommendations, I would love to hear them!

    Thank you, Sese.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Hi

    1. I've taught in 3 Asian countries (Japan, South Korean, and China) for the past 10 years. From my knowledge, if you're the adventurous sort, go with a recruitment agency. If you're more conservative, go with the JET program in Japan.
    2. In Asia, the government schools; i.e., the board of education) begin in April/May, then they take a couple of months off in the summer and then resume in September. Non-government runs school are open during the summer, the hours can be all over the map, and they hire at any time through out the year.
    3. I taught in Japan (6 years) and South Korea (1 year), and while the salary in Japan is higher than in South Korea, the cost of living is fairly high. I was able to save money in South Korea; but I lived a very comfortable life ($$) in Japan!
    4. Sounds to me as if the JET program would be your best bet. They offer accommodation, and it's a good program, or at least was last time I was in Japan --3 years ago. As for other schools, you'd be smart to ask the school if you can contact a few of their teachers so that you can gain a better idea of what the working and living conditions are like.
    5. I worked for a company in Nagoya called Altia. They are like JET: they place teachers in government schools, and most of my colleagues at the time (3 years ago) were ex-JETS.
    6. I liked working in both Japan and South Korea; the cultures are markedly different. From my experience, Japan is quiet, slow, calm, and you can feel somewhat alone at times; whereas South Korea is loud, fast, wild, and you never feel alone. Personally, I found teaching in South Korea more fulfilling--at least for the schools I taught for, as their view of English education is taken seriously. In Japan, I felt like an entertainer, not a teacher.
    7. You'll need teacher training, so get your TESOL. You won't be teaching English. You'll be teaching "people" English, so you'll need to learn how to do it. Classroom management is a skill that you'll need and just one of many that you'll thank yourself later for having learned before stepping into a classroom.
    8. The JET program offers language courses. Do your research. Contact them. If you're planning to live abroad, you'll pick up the language sooner or later because it's a matter of necessity / survival.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Hi there Soup,

    Thanks for your answers! I'll be sure to consider all of the information that you have given me.

    I just have one more question for you, if you wouldn't mind.

    You also mentioned that you have taught in China. How do you find that?
    Although I have been interested in China as well, I have never seen a representative in person, and I am afraid to look for placements online. I had a friend who was going to teach in China, but she ended up pulling out because "Things were starting to get really shady, and I wasn't comfortable going to a foreign country with people who are already giving me poor information while I'm back home in Canada.". I have also read in information packages from recruitment agencies and tesol packages that China is difficult because there are many more con-artists posing as reputable schools and corporations, who will basically leave you high and dry once you are in China.

    Do you have any recommendations on institutions there? And would you recommend it for someone who is a newbie at this? I've been given the impression that China would be much harder to deal with than South Korea or Japan.

    Thank you!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeseinAsia View Post
    Do you have any recommendations on institutions there? And would you recommend it for someone who is a newbie at this? I've been given the impression that China would be much harder to deal with than South Korea or Japan.

    Thank you!
    The less adventurous people who decide to teach in China tend to go with English First (EF). They have branch schools all over China, and you'll have to take your chances, like anything else in life, in getting a location that suits your wants and needs.

    Most people who decide to teach in Asia do so because they want to be able to save a lot of money fast, which is why a majority of them do not consider China.

    Of the three countries in which I've taught over the past 10 years, China is by far the best. But that's me, not you. If I were starting out again, and knew what I know now, I would go to China. Or maybe not. Perhaps, my having taught in Japan and S.Korea prepared me for China. Yeah, that's probably most likely the case.

    I wish you good luck in your adventure. A word to the wise, expect nothing and you will never be let down. In other words, enter the world of EFL with an open mind.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeseinAsia View Post
    The Nova bankruptcy scared me a little, especially due to the tales of teachers being stranded with no pay and no way to get home. Could anybody recommend schools in Japan which are very reputable and that they believe are in good financial standing?
    Given that the Nova bankruptcy was a long drawn-out affair that was in the news for months before it happened, it is surprising that so many were left washed up at the end without an air ticket, etc. EnglishTeacherX, a site that explores the grimier recesses of the industry said that you should always have enough money to get out, which has always struck me as an excellent piece of advice.If you know you can afford to leave, it makes things a lot better- those depending on air tickets being bought for them are in a much more vulnerable position.

    Check schools out, use blacklist sites to see if there are any grim stories about places where you might work. Some people do go through dreadful experiences and they highlight a very important point- if you're in a bad school abroad it's very difficult or impossible to enforce a contract no matter how right you are. Bad schools know it's virtually impossible for a recent asrrival to sue them. They are also not that representative but do check things carefully and if your friend was not getting clear information, I think she was right to walk away. Also, do whois searches on websites of schools to have a look at the dry facts of registration.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Given that the Nova bankruptcy was a long drawn-out affair that was in the news for months before it happened, it is surprising that so many were left washed up at the end without an air ticket, etc. EnglishTeacherX, a site that explores the grimier recesses of the industry said that you should always have enough money to get out, which has always struck me as an excellent piece of advice.If you know you can afford to leave, it makes things a lot better- those depending on air tickets being bought for them are in a much more vulnerable position.

    Check schools out, use blacklist sites to see if there are any grim stories about places where you might work. Some people do go through dreadful experiences and they highlight a very important point- if you're in a bad school abroad it's very difficult or impossible to enforce a contract no matter how right you are. Bad schools know it's virtually impossible for a recent asrrival to sue them. They are also not that representative but do check things carefully and if your friend was not getting clear information, I think she was right to walk away. Also, do whois searches on websites of schools to have a look at the dry facts of registration.
    I think the main issue with NOVA for me was that I had met with representatives on more than one occasion, not long before they actually went under. The gave an air of everything with their company being very great, and so there wasn't any reason for me to have suspicions based on the information I had recieved from them, and the conversations I had with them. I was actually alerted to the company's distress by a penpal of mine who was in Japan at the time, and when I did internet searches for articles, I hadn't found anything from the timeline that I now see on the blacklist website.

    Thank you very much for the blacklist site. I read over part of it last night, and found the information very, very useful, I will definitely be consulting it more before I make any decisions.

    The less adventurous people who decide to teach in China tend to go with English First (EF). They have branch schools all over China, and you'll have to take your chances, like anything else in life, in getting a location that suits your wants and needs.

    Most people who decide to teach in Asia do so because they want to be able to save a lot of money fast, which is why a majority of them do not consider China.

    Of the three countries in which I've taught over the past 10 years, China is by far the best. But that's me, not you. If I were starting out again, and knew what I know now, I would go to China. Or maybe not. Perhaps, my having taught in Japan and S.Korea prepared me for China. Yeah, that's probably most likely the case.

    I wish you good luck in your adventure. A word to the wise, expect nothing and you will never be let down. In other words, enter the world of EFL with an open mind.
    Thank you for the information, I am now also considering China.

    So far, my companies of choice for each country seem to be...
    Japan: Jet Program, AEON
    Korea: Yes Youngdo
    China: ?? (I will try and get more information on EF)

    My Japanese penpal said that either NOVA or AEON (I can't remember whic one) wasn't a very pleasant company to work for. I didn't see anything about them in the blacklist other than the NOVA bankruptcy. Does anybody have any further comments about AEON? My penpal told me that one of the companies didn't treat their teachers all that great.

  7. #7
    I'm With Stupid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeseinAsia View Post
    My Japanese penpal said that either NOVA or AEON (I can't remember whic one) wasn't a very pleasant company to work for. I didn't see anything about them in the blacklist other than the NOVA bankruptcy. Does anybody have any further comments about AEON? My penpal told me that one of the companies didn't treat their teachers all that great.
    My friend worked for NOVA when they went bust. He now runs his own school with 2 other ex-NOVA teachers. They weren't great, although what you'd expect from those big corporate schools, where most of the teachers have no qualifications. They're very big on making sure you follow their methods of teaching, and so aren't usually keen on teachers with a lot of experience. They seem to be more about entertaining a class than actually teaching them anything. But that's what you want if you're not after a career in it. The students know it's not a world class language teaching school, and that most of the teachers aren't career teachers. It's a class for practicing English conversation, rather than learning grammar or anything. They have a bit of fun, and they learn and bit of English for their holidays too. Which is better than getting a job in a country where the students do think they're getting a proper teacher. And they make everything very easy for you when actually moving.

    Other than AEON, you should check out GEOS and ECC, which are the other two big companies with schools all over Japan. The other two I don't really know much about are Gaba and Berlitz. Might be worth checking out. I don't know how much all of these schools match the description of conversation schools above. I know GEOS are very similar.

    I think NOVA are the ones you are thinking of that had a terrible reputation. They tried to impliment policies like manditory drugs testing for all staff, and the banning of foreign (and only foreign) staff socialising with adult students. There were also lots of stories about them exploiting new staff's ignorance of employment law by trying to tie them into accomodation agreements, pressuring them into overtime, trying to ban them from joining unions, and not informing staff members that the length of their contracts were unenforceable under Japanese law. All accusations, but they no longer exist, so I can spread as many unfounded rumours as I want. But in seriousness, they must've been sued more than Michael Jackson. All of these sorts of schools have a bit of a reputation among the "serious" teachers, but NOVA really was on another level.

    I've heard good things about the JET programme, but also that they tend to prefer teachers with experience and qualifications, so you can almost guarantee you won't be accepted (that's what I've heard - you might want to check that). From what I've read, you tend to be more of a community figure as well as an English teacher, and get put in some of the areas of Japan that aren't well serviced with English teachers (i.e. obscure rural areas). It's a cultural exchange as well as a job, so you'd be expected to take part in community events and so on.
    Last edited by I'm With Stupid; 07-Jan-2009 at 06:18.

  8. #8
    marybonds is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    I was thinking of working for a company called ECC Thailand . Is that the same ECC company you mentioned in Japan? would be interested to know if they have a good reputation in Thailand.

  9. #9
    Jo145 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Just a few questions about teaching English abroad.

    Sese, Firstly I am new to this forum and if I'm honest forums in general. I am starting from scratch and looking for any helpful information / tips on the subject of teaching english as a foreign language aborad.

    I will soon be taking a full time CETL course with Oxford House College in London, England and my plan is take this qualification to Shenzen, China where i plan to live for approx 2 years.

    I have made some enquiries on job opportunities there and have some really good leads. Until I complete the course I am not in a position to apply for anything but am still keen to talk with others that have completed CETL or similar and taken to asia.

    I would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to help me get started in my information gathering.

    Thanks in advance

    Jo

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