Teach English and Travel or Travel and Teach English?

What’s the difference you might ask?

Well, there are some very big differences.

People often write in saying they want to “travel and teach English”.

I usually end up suggesting that they “teach English and travel”.

The difference is that if you wish to teach English to finance your travels around the world for long periods of time – as I did/do and many other people do – you need to realize that you have to put teaching English FIRST.

Employers around the world are much more sophisticated these days – just as we travelers are much more sophisticated.  They have grown weary of the backpacker who shows up on their doorstep wanting to teach for a few weeks and then move on.

The problem is that some of these people show very little commitment to their students.  Their real commitment is to earning a few bucks and moving on.  This has often translated into a sudden disappearance after the first pay day and the school and students left in the lurch.

Schools/employers have figured this out and nowadays are looking for longer-term commitments.   In fact, most employers are looking for a one-year contract.

Yes, there is still some casual teaching out here, usually for kindergartens and preschools.   These often pay poorly though and don’t often come with legal working papers.

These type jobs are okay for a casual worker passing through, but not for someone who wants to actually make a living and finance a long-term visit to the bigger world out here.  They are there for those who are passing through, but earning a living sustaining wage requires more from you than that.

Just as there is a huge difference between traveling/visiting a country versus living there, there is a very big difference in what goes on between casual teaching when just passing through and the commitment of long-term teaching.

Casual teaching:  It’s out there, getting harder to find and will usually be with young kids.

Longer-term contract teaching: The best jobs, pay better, come with legal working papers and can finance a long-term lifestyle abroad.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Be aware of the differences between short and long term teaching and in your own head, before you head out overseas, decide if you are going to teach English and travel – or travel and teach English.  Different animals they are . . .

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 and RTW Trips

Another reader-inspired question this week . . . keep them coming!

I’m heading out on my rtw one year from now. I’m planning on a 1-2 trip. I would like to get a TEFL certificate under my belt just in case an opportunity arises.

I have a AA in Liberal Arts (yeah I know but it’s something) and I was wondering which certificate I should go for. Also, who would you recommend? Are online courses ok or should I attend a class?

My response was – but I will go into a little more detail here:

If your intent is to teach casually here and there for short periods of time and if your pockets are not overflowing with money (or you want to save that money for your RTW living expenses) then a good online TEFL certification is fine.

Of course, if you have the money and the time, a good four-to-six-week in-classroom TEFL course is pretty much the ideal way to do it – particularly if you intend to make a career of it.

Either way, you might look into picking up something like a young learners type certification as schools often don’t feel that you need a degree to teach a three- or four-year-old child how to dance and sing in English.  I don’t either!

TED’s Tips™ #1:  If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, do make sure you have some sort of specialized training to help employers overlook their desire for a degree.  A certification in teaching young learners is probably your best hedge to help your foot in the door.  Kindergartens and preschools are often more open to hiring short-term casual teachers, especially if you have some training to back you up.

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


Overweight TEFL Teachers and Other Baggage

This post will provide some perspective not just for people who are a bit overweight, but perhaps for anyone who might have an appearance that is prone to less-than-sophisticated comment . . .

A reader asked:

I was wondering if Americans who are somewhat overweight are looked down upon in China?  It’s a weird question but I thought I should ask.

Really, it is not such a weird question.

You can expect people in most of Asia to be very frank about things in general.  And – from our cultural perspective – we can FEEL that they are sometimes being rude, but that generally is not their intention.

I once, during a period of expanding waistline-ness, had the department secretary at the school where I was working – in a room with about 10-12 other teachers in it – say, “Mr. Teddy, you are getting fatter and fatter every day!”

Well, I felt insulted and wanted to return a similarly nasty comment, but I know from living in this part of the world for the last 18 years that it was not intended that way and NOR did my 10-12 Chinese colleagues in the room at the same time hear it in the same way that I did with my very sensitive Western ears.

There is just not the same cultural baggage with it.  If you are hugely overweight though – you might find that less sophisticated people in less developed areas might well point at you and possibly even laugh.  But to some degree they might well do that just because you are a foreigner who looks differently than them.

Asians pay a LOT of attention to appearance and grooming and it is likely that you can overcome any attention to your weight by making sure you are always dressed and groomed well.

Funny enough – in Thailand – people will have nicknames like “FAT” if they are overweight – but everyone takes it in good humor and it just doesn’t have the cultural/emotional baggage that it would in our culture.

When hunting for a job – don’t hide it, but do as suggested above, have a sharp professional resume photo (passport type) with you dressed and groomed very well and a nice friendly smile – THAT is 300% more important in this part of the world.

Got it?

TED’s Tips™ #1: I know the Western world likes the “Rebel Billionaire” look and dressing down, but most employers will give stronger consideration to those who present themselves professionally. And that includes grooming as well as dress. From fingernails to hair to a tie for the guys, if you want the job, do what is required to get 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

Decisions! Decisions! Considering your Career Path in EFL

Please keep your comments and questions coming!

They are often the inspiration for posts, as you can obviously see on this blog.

Recently someone I was helping place in a position in China was contemplating two different job offers. One at a language school and one at a good quality international school. She was only 24 and this was to be her first placement overseas, so she was excited about the offers and asked guidance on which one to take.

These can be difficult decisions if we ponder them too much and we can get a bad case of analysis paralysis if not careful. But here we go . . .

This soon to be newbie teacher asked:

I am definitely leaning toward the international school do you have any suggestions or anything I should take into account?

And my response was:
My PERSONAL opinion on where to go has a lot to do with my personal preferences for certain kinds of work. At an international school you are heading yourself more towards the possibility of teaching at a college or university and you will tend to work with higher quality people than at a language school (not that language school people are low class or anything!).

College/university track is a better place to be IN THE LONG RUN as you work less and get much more paid time off, though you tend to be paid less. BUT – with those jobs comes the opportunity for more private work, private teaching, writing, etc that can significantly improve your income. (Over the years I have easily doubled, sometimes tripled my base college/university wages)

Partly it is the prestige of such a job. Asian and Latin cultures value education and teachers FAR more than American/UK/Western cultures. And college professors in particular are granted much more status than a language school teacher, for example.

So – it just depends on what you think you might want to do in the long run. If you are unsure (as I was when I started out) – it is difficult to know what to do! If you just want to have fun and enjoy yourself a bit in a wonderfully different culture that will blow your socks off – then a language school is fine. But if long-term is in the back of your mind . . . then the international school is probably your best bet.

Right now your age and lack of experience make it difficult to land a good college job [in China], but probably next year it won’t.

Lots to consider and I might make too big a deal out of the small things! AND – it is way too easy to over-analyze it. One year is only one year and next year you can easily change track. Avoid analysis paralysis – it might be easier to just go and enjoy yourself for a year and see what parts of it you like and don’t like.

I have babbled enough here . . . I hope all that helps and doesn’t confuse things too much!

TED’s Tips™ #1: Think a bit about where you might like to be long term, but really your rookie year is your rookie year. Try not to overthink 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

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