TEFL FAQ Type Questions and Answers

More GREAT questions from our readers!

If I may ask a few questions: what are the possibilities that teaching doesn’t work out?

That is always a possibility.
Culture shock can be an issue as well as just happening to land a lousy job perhaps with a lousy boss. It can happen in your home country. It can happen abroad too. See my previous post on “What’s the Downside of Teaching Abroad

What does it matter with financial obligations (like most Americans I’ve lost my car because I was release from my college job and had to move into my parents home)?

No one is going to check your credit record. So if you don’t tell anyone, no one will know. Americans seem to have a unique notion of telling everyone their personal business (I can criticize Americans, I am one). But no one really needs to know.

And how long is the average contract? Are they always temporary?

The average contract is usually one year. But the great majority of schools will be very happy to re-hire you if all went well. I’ve spent as much as five years at one school. My wife has spent as much as eight years in one teaching position. That’s not very temporary!

Can you get tenure, for example, at a university position? If you have the proper credentials, in some countries, yes.

My choice in countries were Western Europe but I feel Asia (Tokyo and Hong Kong would be nice)and Central Europe (specifically Turkey) is in my radar. Can you provide more your knowledge about those areas if you could

I am not familiar with Turkey, but am a huge fan of Asia. Both Japan and Hong Kong can be quite competitive. You might want to get a TEFL certification to help build your resume – perhaps volunteer a bit before you leave.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Really – there is nothing stopping you. Go for it!

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

Teaching English in Korea and Need TEFL Training

This post is based on an email from a reader and is somewhat common.  She is going to seek a teaching job in Korea and wants to get over there as soon as she can.  She wrote:

The only worry I have now, is that I have no teaching qualifications, I’m very tempted to complete a TEFL online course, but obviously won’t be able to do this before I apply.

To which I responded:  Most TEFL training courses designed for high school graduates  and that always was the case even for CELTA and the big expensive name brands. So, with a good college education and having practice taking examinations, you can probably finish an online course more quickly than the hours assigned to the course.

You can apply for jobs saying that you are in a course and will complete it by such and such a date. Most TEFL schools will give you a letter of some sort to say that, for example, you are taking the course and are expected to graduate by a specific date.

Korea does not generally require a TEFL certification [update: Korea is beginning to require TEFL certs for many jobs], so you can certainly apply anyway. BUT you are correct to consider getting a bit of training. The unemployment situation in the USA and UK means that applying for and getting such jobs is becoming MUCH more competitive and it will help you have have an edge that many applicants won’t have.

I place people in China and jobs last year that would have gone begging on into September are already booked solid. A lot more people are looking for work.

Best bet to get an online TEFL Certification done inexpensively and at your pace:   TEFL Boot Camp.

She also asked:

Also as a more general question, do many schools tend to employ more than one ESL teacher?

Most schools have several, some have many – and some have a lot lot! Very few schools will have only one teacher. Most will have something like three to ten depending on how big they are. I once taught at a school where there were 35.

TED’s Tips™ #1: The job market for teaching English abroad is still very strong, but high unemployment levels in the USA and UK mean there is more competition for the better jobs. People with no experience should get some training – just about any kind would help a lot – to help them land their first job overseas.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

Single Parent Teaching English Abroad

Single Parents Teaching English Abroad

This is not an uncommon situation these days – so we will make it a regular post here.
A reader wrote:

I’ve spent only 30 minutes browsing your site and it seems like a great resource – thanks!
I’ve just graduated from university and I am a single parent. I’d love to teach English overseas and I think it would be a fantastic experience for my young son as well. I am a little concerned about his education and childcare in a foreign country though. Do you have any information on how difficult it would be to enrol him in school and find reputable childcare? I don’t have a very strong preference as to which country to teach in – my priority is making this big change as easy as possible for the kiddo.

This is one of the few situations that I have not seen work out well. IF you have the qualifications to work for a real first-tier international school (certified teacher in your home country with several years experience) then this is a great option for you as the education for your child will be provided free by your employer – in the great majority of cases.

If you are not a qualified teacher for a first tier international school . . . then I can’t recommend teaching English abroad as an option. I’ve just not seen it work well for anyone. International schools often charge at least what an English teacher earns per month for tuition for EACH child and sometimes much more. Such schools are used to major corporations paying handsomely for the children of their executives to be educated in a first-class environment.

Another option many people suggest is home schooling their children. After all, their child/ren will get a great education from their exposure to a foreign culture. No? Well . . . yes, but . . . But what happens is that after a long day at school the single parent is often a bit fried and still needs to take care of things like meals, laundry, house cleaning and other parental duties. What happens usually is that “home schooling” falls by the wayside while their child/ren hang out on the internet and play video games all day. Not the best of educations for anyone.

YOU might be the one exception who makes it work, but I’ve not seen it work yet – in 20+ years of living and working overseas.

I am not one to say that your dream can’t work – maybe it can. But be aware of your responsibility to your children, please.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Single parents usually have a really difficult time making “home schooling” work. Be aware of the limitations of your energy and ability to provide everything to everybody – employer and family alike.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

Can you Survive Abroad?

Are you made of the right stuff to thrive teaching English abroad?

I run into people from time to time that are slowly – and sometimes not so slowly – unraveling.
People who will soon be on their way home, whether they know it or not.

I often also meet people who are having truly the time of their lives, have never been happier, some even feel they are going to live ten years longer due to the lower stress levels of living abroad.

What about you?

Will you Thrive Overseas?

This is an important question.  Research indicates that about 80% of people who are fired from their jobs are fired for social and other reasons not related to their ability to do their job.  In other words, they couldn’t get along with others and/or they had bad working habits.  My opinion would be that overseas 80% turns into about 90-95%.

It is not very often that someone just doesn’t know how to teach English, it’s not really rocket science.

What is it that will Help you Survive?

The most important skills I have seen for adapting, surviving and thriving while living overseas are the following:

1.  The ability to laugh at yourself. You are going to make mistakes.  You are even going to make a fool of yourself from time to time and nothing eases the tension like a good laugh or a big smile.   People are a little wary of foreigners pretty much in every country and if you can show that you are a foreigner they need not worry about, you will soon have allies helping you succeed in your new world.

2. The ability to say, “I’m sorry” – even if the situation you are apologizing for is not your fault.  Fault doesn’t matter, getting along does.   Making sure fault is pointed at someone, in many cultures, wins you permanent enemies.  Leave your Western-style over-assertiveness home.  Arrive with a gentle spirit.  I am not suggesting that you be a patsy for every scam in the world – only that your first reaction not be anger or assertiveness, but instead to ask why a situation is the way it is.  You may often be surprised by the answer.

3. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t take your job too seriously.  Items #1 and #2 require that you not get overstressed by problems that pop up on a day to day basis, and when they do, that you relax and go with the flow a bit to see where that flow goes.

4. Avoid contact with “Negative Ninnys”. You will meet a few very negative people overseas who would like you to be as unhappy as they are.  Avoid them like the plague.  Look for the happiest and mellowest people where you work or in your social circle and make them your friends.  You will soon find your world too – to be mellow and happy.

5. Find a way out of the box. If you find  yourself in trouble at work, ask how to fix it.  Be aware that other cultures may have very different ways of dealing with problems.  You can always ask for help in the context of a question about culture.  You can say, “I am not sure what to do here.  In my culture someone might do this or that”.   “What do you suggest that I do to solve this problem?”  By approaching the issue in a cultural context you can easily seek help and people are quite willing to provide it.   You can turn a problem into a team problem-solving exercise.

Life really can be that easy.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Before you head overseas, make a personal decision to succeed and be very determined to do so.  Define for yourself what that success means then do everything to make that work.  Sometimes that means backing off a bit of Western habit and over-assertiveness.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Don’t forget to smile.  Put on a good attitude.  Help people enjoy being around you.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China