An Important Decision for your First Job Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English abroad, to me, has two different career paths. And they are both important to consider before you seek that first job and even before you take your TEFL Training if getting a certification is on your agenda.
The two paths?
Teaching at a language school or teaching at a college or university. How are they different? Many many ways.
Teaching English at a Language School
Teaching English at a language school often involves a large dose of teaching children very elementary language skills. But it also can involve a fair amount of singing, dancing and what some people might call “being a dancing monkey” to keep the little ones occupied and happy.
Now some people can think of nothing more joyous than filling their days with enthusiastic and energetic young kids, dancing, singing and laughing. Others see it as a very loud classroom with hyperactive screaming kids that present constant discipline problems.
The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, but TEFL newbies are often placed in with the youngest kids, especially if you are a very young newbie. Class sizes can often be small, with six to twelve kids per class relatively common.
Is this setting for you?
Teaching English at Colleges and Universities
Teaching English at colleges and universities usually involves teaching intermediate to more advanced language skills to larger classes of young adults. Some of those students don’t want to be in the classroom, but the class is required by their major. Other students will be enthusiastic English majors with a real curiosity about the language and a desire to improve.
Some people find teaching these students, who already have some good language skills, to be a a lot easier. Others find it difficult to manage the larger numbers of students that are in a university class – sometimes only 15-25, but 35-45 are not unusual – and I once taught a reading class (with a co-teacher) of 100+ students.
How about that setting?
Other Important Differences
A common difference between the two jobs is that university teachers usually teach only about twelve to twenty 45-50 minute classroom hours per week. Language school teachers will find 25-35 hours to be more common. Those classes though might range from only 30 to 45 minutes each.
Paid vacation time is usually significantly different. A typical language school teacher – let’s say in Asia, for example – will get about one week per year of paid vacation time. University positions vary significantly but a month paid vacation is about the minimum and some schools, as you move up the food chain, offer anywhere from 12-20 weeks paid leave per year.
BIG differences, no?
Now, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like long paid vacation time, but there are probably a few out there. To me the university/college path was always the best bet.
One final difference is important though. Generally university positions will require more education and/or training than a language school job. With only a degree you can get a decent language school job in almost any non-English speaking country.
A degree and a TEFL certification can land you university positions in many countries. Just a TEFL certification with no degree will usually see you in a language school in few choices of countries. A relevant graduate degree and a TEFL Certification and the world is your oyster.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Before you head out decide which path might be best for you.
TED’s Tips™ #2: If a TEFL certification is in your plans, make sure the TEFL school where you get your training will give you experience with the younger or older students that you are targeting in your upcoming job search.
TED’s Tips™ #3: If you want to teach English abroad as a long-term career, consider the university path and if you don’t have a graduate degree – RUN, don’t walk – to get one. You can do a distance study course while teaching at a language school. There are numerous reputable distance MATESOL type programs out there. Your homework and research can be done right in your classroom as you teach.
What’s up in China? Learn about a great internship program on offer if would like to Teach English in China
How to Teach English Overseas and Secrets to Success Abroad
TEFL Boot Camp is offering a free download of their new publication Seven Secrets of Success Abroad - and along with it comes a bi-weekly installment and revision of their eBook called How to Teach English Overseas.
Great reviews for the Secrets of Success eBook – in spite of the hokey name – and the How to Teach English eBook is being updated and rewritten and sent out in installments as it is ready.
Here they are – click on the eBooks to get your FREE copies! Great information and the price is right, from our friends at TEFL Boot Camp – CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE EBOOKS.
Please let me know what you think of the ebooks – use the comments section below.
I confess both eBooks are written by yours truly – hoping to inspire others to head overseas and live life BIG out in the real world. I would value your feedback!