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Teaching English Abroad

Discussion in 'Real Life Discussion' started by Peace, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. Peace

    Peace High Inquisitor

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    I've almost finished my teaching degree but I have some concern about the availability of jobs in my home state. When I started thinking about moving interstate to find a job I thought, why not go further? Hence, teaching English abroad.

    I've done some online research in this (qualifications, companies to work through, etc.) but, it's the internet, you know? All I'm certain of from the internet is that there are certifications that I need and a lot of companies offering to help me get a job.

    So, I'm looking for information on: how to get certified, companies to apply for work with and basically anything else that I might need to know.

    Frankly, what I'm most concerned about is getting ripped off since a lot of the application/certification process seems to be done online.

    Cheers

    Peace
     
  2. Evil Shnitzel

    Evil Shnitzel High Inquisitor

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    There are many countries where you don't need a teaching certificate and can still earn money - Korea, China.
     
  3. DemonicInfluence

    DemonicInfluence Fourth Year

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    If you have an advanced degree in America, you can probably get a pretty good job teaching at a private school in somewhere like China. I don't know the specifics, but I know people who have made decent salaries by American standards (but are living in China where the cost of living is quite a bit lower). You don't even have to know the native language besides for your own edification.
     
  4. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Be careful. In recent years, as the supply of people wanting to teach English abroad has increased, the big/official employers (such as the Korean government) have got a lot more picky, and now only employ people with the official qualifications (i.e. a 120-hour postgrad certificate in English teaching like the CELTA).

    Such a qualification will cost you something around $2000-$3000 dollars (plus living costs) but if you do a respectable one it will quickly repay itself. The two most respected qualifications globally are Cambridge's CELTA and Trinity College London's CertTESOL. Either one of those will really open doors when it comes to getting good jobs where the employer pays a good wage, plus pays for your flights, organises your visa, etc. I did the CELTA and secured such a job 3 days after finishing.

    I have no idea how employers will consider an undergraduate degree in education. Logically it should be accepted, but often these processes are very legalistic and they'll use any excuse to discount your application. The popular locations/lucrative employers are inundated with applications.

    While it is possible to get a job without one of these qualifications, these jobs are often significantly less formal, and you may be working illegally without the correct visa, which opens you up to all sorts of exploitation.

    China is probably the only country where you can still get a respectable, all bells and whistles teaching job without a TEFL qualification.

    An alternative is getting placed by an agency (e.g. the US equivalent of the British Council, if such a thing exists), which doesn't usually require any qualifications beyond being a native speaker. These placed workers are generally considered teaching assistants rather than teachers in their own right (though they'll often be used as the latter anyway) and will work on a student visa. That means your pay will be rather limited, but you'll get the experience.

    Do you have any preferences regarding where you want to end up? Europe probably isn't a very good idea: the pay is low and the living costs high. And not being an EU citizen doesn't help.

    Hong Kong, like South Korea, has a pretty lucrative programme for recruiting English teachers, and thus is rather competitive and the entry requirements are high. NET programme requirements. This might actually be a good option for you, as they highly value a bachelor's degree in education. But there's a load of additional qualifications you'd have to go about getting! Starting salary is $32k, going up to almost double that for people with masters degrees and 2 years teaching experience.

    In Japan there are lots of opportunities for placed teaching assistants but not really that many for full time teachers. You'll be the pronunciation and conversation dude while the teacher covers all the grammar and vocab. You will not need a specific TEFL qualification, just a Bachelor's degree. The most famous is the JET programme, but there are others like Interac. Pay will be enough to cover living costs but you won't be saving.

    South Korea is currently the place to go when it comes to English teaching, mostly thanks to the government's EPIK programme, which typically pays for your airfare, VISA, accommodation, and pays you a very respectable wage, from which (as a foreigner) you only have about 7% deducted in tax and health insurance. It's a pretty sweet deal, and you can save very easily. You have to work for it though: all reports are that EPIK teachers work very long hours. Plus it's pretty hard to get into -- qualifications aside, there's a lot of time consuming paperwork as part of the application. Officially, all you need is a bachelor's degree, but "Offices of Education are not currently hiring level 3 applicants. As such, all applicants MUST qualify for at least a level 2 on the pay scale BEFORE signing the final contract." Which means in practice a CELTA-style qualification is a must.

    Those are the places I know about best, apart from Chile obviously. If you want information about Chile just ask. When it comes to China you can pretty much just look for jobs and apply straight away. TEFL.com probably has the best jobs database.

    There are lots of profitable opportunities in the Middle East, if you can put up with the lifestyle.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  5. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    We really do have a lot of teachers here on DLP. :) Two more years till I'm done, barring any fuckery. Might do some teaching abroad as well.
     
  6. burkean

    burkean Muggle

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    A teaching degree may well obviate the need for this. Ask around or test the waters.

    This is the TEFL cert recruiters talk a lot about. There are two kinds: those that have genuine merit and are recognised by everyone and those you do just to get a foot in the door. A good TEFL course is on-site and runs for ~120 hours. Those online courses fall into the second category.

    CELTA is the big-name TEFL cert to look out for.

    It's standard internet advice to recommend saving money by doing the cert abroad. I disagree. I put in more hours in the day for a Trinity CertTESOL than I did during my finals. I'd recommend minimizing your total life complexity and other time commitments.

    Recruiters will lie to you. Shady schools will encourage you to come over illegally and work without the correct visa. If just one scumbag recruiter gets hold of your email, expect dozens of spam emails daily for months after.

    If you don't have some kind of inside scoop on the country--language, contacts etc--then just apply judicious amounts of common sense and caution. Respond to the most human job adverts you can find; ignore the semi-literate ones. Expect a face-to-face interview over Skype. Expect the guidance they give you about getting a visa to match what Google says. Expect your contact at the school to be able to provide you with a whole bunch of other foreigner co-worker email addresses as references.

    Being certified means you can be picky (in China, anyway). You probably don't want to work an employer that would hire white faces who can't be bothered to grab this industry's entry level cert.

    There will always be various unforeseen visa expenses that come out of left field. Guesstimate the size of your getting-to-my-first-payday war-chest and then add 70%.

    If you had a generic liberal arts degree, I'd take a moment to caution you about how little money you make in most places. It isn't like there aren't a lot of eager fresh-faced grads willing to go abroad and work for peanuts and, uh, 'cultural enrichment' or something. Unless you have a niche, a ton of experience, or some other edge, you're putting yourself on equal footing in a market with a glut of equally dubiously qualified people. But as it is, I have no clue how much of an edge a teaching degree affords you.

    Find out about the culture of the foreigner community and the school. I'm in a second tier city in China and the twenty-something YOLO 'bro' culture is pretty thick here. The people who've been here the longest have all been warped by the way of life.

    I can give general China advice, but I only really know lots about my own backwater hinterland.

    Oh, and if you don't have a white face, good luck finding a job in Asia.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  7. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    To counter some of the negativity in the thread, I guess I'll tell my "story" to show you how it can work out and it is worth doing.

    I finished my masters (in philosophy of science) in August 2011 and did a one-month CELTA in October 2011. I finished the CELTA on Friday 28th October and had a job interview (having heard about the job via one of the CELTA tutors) on Monday 31st, where I was offered the job and accepted immediately.

    My new employer offered to pay for my flights both to and from Chile, to sponsor me for a work visa and reimburse me the cost of buying it, and to give me a monthly rent allowance in addition to my salary (effectively increasing my salary by 15%). They would also put me up for 2 weeks upon arriving in the country, while I found a place to stay.

    The Visa process was rather disorganised (and disorganisation would become a running theme over the two years), and many fellow new teachers (we were given each others' email addresses) were rather nervous about the reality of the offers the institute made. Those were allayed when the contract turned up in the post, stamped and legalised by all the proper authorities.

    My salary (not including rent allowance) was 740,000 Chilean pesos a month before deductions, which came out as around $1400. At the time this felt rather low - I could probably earn the same or more working in a cafe in England - and I had to justify myself into taking it by saying it was for the experience not the money. Thank god I did.

    In the last two years I've learned Spanish, climbed an active volcano, seen Patagonian glaciers, hiked along the Andes, seen the tango in Buenos Aires, partied like never before on the Chilean national holiday and New Year's Eve and gone skiing. Tomorrow, for my final trip in Chile, I'm visiting the driest desert in the world, some areas of which haven't seen water for over 10,000 years. The friends I made here will be friends for life, and I'll almost certainly return.

    I've also bought a new laptop, a lot of new clothes, a new camera, and eaten in restaurants multiple times a week. Despite all of that and all the above trips, I'll still be returning to the UK with about $7000 saved over the last two years.

    My institute even paid for 50% of the costs of me visiting the UK for 2 weeks when I renewed my contract for a second year, just to sweeten the deal.

    So yeah. Do it. Don't let the worries and the paperwork stop you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  8. Peace

    Peace High Inquisitor

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    Thanks guys, this is exactly what I was looking for.
     
  9. Legacy

    Legacy Order Member DLP Supporter

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    Taure, have you seen how differently treated applicants can be if they are coming from schools other than CELTA and Trinity? While there is a school in the GTA, I would be unable to reach it regularly for the classes. My only real option is to take one of the online programs that are offered from other schools, how bad is the stigma against online in that case?
     
  10. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    If the course involves no actual time teaching in front of real students, it's likely to be considered significantly inferior.
     
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