Two Paths for Teaching English Abroad

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.

HowToTeachOverseasCover

SevenSecretsCover

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!

Teaching English LEGALLY

Being a Professional and Doing Things Correctly


I currently live in a country where a degree and a TEFL certificate are required to obtain legal working papers.

That should be “USUALLY required” as there are ways around things sometimes for schools in rural areas and certain people if they have good previous experience in a specific industry (hospitality for example) can sometimes be hired as trainers rather than teachers.

Regardless of the realities of what is required, people often contact me saying that they worked here a few years ago without a degree or they know someone working here now who doesn’t have a degree, so WHY do I say a degree is needed to teach English?!

Well . . . a degree isn’t needed to teach English but one is usually required to teach English LEGALLY. When asked the details of their previous (or friend’s) employment, we often determine that the person was working illegally.

While I will admit that teaching English, for many people, is just a passing fancy and way to see a bit of the world while financing the journey in a classroom, I am loath to recommend that people do anything illegal, especially in a country that is not your own. The same people who do such things are often the ones who end up on silly TV reality shows like “Locked up Abroad” or similar ilk – whining about how they were unfairly treated.

Breaking immigration law in any country is a serious offense. Why would they not think so? The two countries that provide the greatest number of EFL teachers are the UK and USA, and they have some of the most difficult immigration procedures around. It’s not like this is a new idea. Is it?

Some people even say, “Let them lock me up, what are they going to do, keep me forever?” “Ha ha ha.” Well, they might find that many countries don’t really care how long people sit in their jails. And they don’t mind making parents and relatives empty their wallets in efforts to get them out.

A couple things frustrate me about this. The first is that the occupation is debased by people working illegally. We all come under suspicion. The other is that it allows the shady schools (the ones that you hear about cheating teachers for example) to continue to operate by hiring people “off the record”.

TED’s Tips™ #1: All I want to suggest is that if you decide to go abroad to teach English, do it legally. There are countries where people without degrees can teach. Much of Latin America, Cambodia, Laos, some parts of China, Indonesia and more.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Do your research BEFORE you go to a country to be sure you can work there legally. The Internet is full of websites that will give you the information you need to find out. Or even just read the jobs postings. What qualifications are most employers asking for? One of the main reasons schools ask for certain qualifications is because they are required to obtain legal working papers for their teachers. A good website for jobs postings is ESL Jobs Now.

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.

HowToTeachOverseasCover

SevenSecretsCover

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!

Is Life Abroad Healthy?

Can you drink the water?

Generally speaking, yes – and no. Life is healthy, and no, don’t drink the water (sometimes and usually).

What?

I have found that my life overseas has been no more and no less healthy than life back home. Except, I live a much less stressful and less hectic life than do my family and friends “back home”. That’s healthier!

Better Medical Care

My personal experience is that most doctors overseas will spend much more time with you. They aren’t pressed by the numbers game of HMOs or clinics. You won’t find the doctor pushing you out of the exam room or running out the door to the next customer (whoops, I mean patient!).

When younger, I had some serious health issues that never really got resolved until I met a couple of great doctors overseas. They spent the time with me to talk about the problem, explained, reviewed some options, and left the course of action up to me!

I didn’t feel that they were eagerly “sharpening their knives” and wondering how much all this could be worth. Just my cynical outlook, I guess? Frankly, I trust my doctors here more than I did there. Really.

Staying Healthy

You will find that things aren’t always as clean as you would like them to be – and bathroom cleanliness is not common in many parts of the world, nor is regular hand washing. So, you will find yourself, wisely, washing your hands MUCH more than you used to – and it is a very good habit for keeping yourself healthy. Carry a handkerchief with you as most lavatories won’t have any towels at all or will often have a community towel for all to use.

The Water?

Generally, not good to drink, but it depends on the country of course. Ask! Most countries though have cheap and easily accessible bottled water. I get five-gallon (19 liter) bottles delivered to my door for about US$1. And I buy the EXPENSIVE water. The cheap water is about US30 cents. Most places you can gargle and brush your teeth with tap water – some places you can’t – it is important to ask your coworkers.

Boil it?

Sometimes. And you will see many people do this. But often the problem with the water may not be bacteria and other living things in the water, it is often pollutants or heavy metals, things which are not affected by boiling.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Good quality bottled water is cheap – buy it. Your health is too valuable. You’ll quickly get used to the routine. It is simple and easy. You won’t even notice after a few weeks when you have habit down.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Caveat: I’m not a doctor – but I am careful with my health. I am, after all, in my 50s. All the above is just my opinion. Of course, consult you personal physician on any personal health issues.

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.

HowToTeachOverseasCover

SevenSecretsCover

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!