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Teaching English as a Foreign Language- Worth it? watch

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    I'm coming toward the end of my degree and I'm at a bit of a dead end. Due to being a lazy git I f**ked up my A-levels and kinda just going through the motions in my degree, which I don't find as engaging and challenging as I would like. This means I'm now stuck with a dead end degree- in Politics- with little experience and no real job prospects, as you can probably guess this is depressing me. I've looked into teaching English abroad and it seems there are a lot of positives to be gained from it- new cultures, different scenery, great students who are willing to learn and a chance to travel. However I've also read that it's ridiculously hard work, exploitative, low paid, under appreciated and unreasonable and unsteady hours that leave you stuck in limbo. I'm wanting to stay in Europe so I can at least be near to my girlfriend so answers more relevant to that would be much appreciated. How did you find your experience? Or anyone you know who's done it?
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    It depends really...If you're white and British and work at a language school, you probably don't need to work very hard (some even get drunk and not show up for work), and you'd be paid relatively well compared to having a non-graduate job. Underappreciated, I'm not sure. Are you underappreciated if you are as you say at a dead end and can't find any job anyway?
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    Hi I've taught in China and Central Europe. Look at my old posts to read where I've described those experiences at length:

    China China/Europe China (VERY DETAILED)

    Bear in mind that this is one person's subjective experience and there is no definitive 'TEFL experience'. It very much varies depending on the part of the world, the type of school (language centre, primary/secondary school or uni) and your own attitude.

    (Original post by wubalubadubdub)
    I'm coming toward the end of my degree and I'm at a bit of a dead end. Due to being a lazy git I f**ked up my A-levels and kinda just going through the motions in my degree, which I don't find as engaging and challenging as I would like. This means I'm now stuck with a dead end degree- in Politics- with little experience and no real job prospects, as you can probably guess this is depressing me.
    Okey-doke. Plenty of people go into TEFL for similar reasons (I'd worked a few dead-end admin style jobs post graduation and desperately needed a change...I REALLY didn't want to be a teacher at the time, just to travel).

    TEFL-ers really run the gamut from gap-year backpacker-style "teachers" who work in fast-food style language centres right through to those who take teaching seriously, make it their life's career and take on more prestigious schools/roles.

    As for laziness (no judgement from me, I'm naturally slothful) there are certain TEFL jobs where you can get by with a certain amount of laziness but many schools/training centres will want you to put a fair amount of work in. If you do the CELTA then that's 4 weeks of fairly hard work Again, it depends on the type of teacher you want to be and how seriously you take it. Whether TEFL is 'engaging and challenging'...well it depends. You get from it what you put into it to some extent. Do your research on individual schools to find out what the teacher experience is like. Speaking to current/ex teachers at the school is the BEST way to find out.

    (Original post by wubalubadubdub)
    I've looked into teaching English abroad and it seems there are a lot of positives to be gained from it- new cultures, different scenery, great students who are willing to learn and a chance to travel.

    However I've also read that it's ridiculously hard work, exploitative, low paid, under appreciated and unreasonable and unsteady hours that leave you stuck in limbo. I'm wanting to stay in Europe so I can at least be near to my girlfriend so answers more relevant to that would be much appreciated. How did you find your experience? Or anyone you know who's done it?
    Well yes...like any job it has pros/cons. It's a big world out there and you can't generalise about anything in TEFL, really. Ask on Dave's ESL about specific countries/schools to get some idea.
    Like students. To some degree when I was in China I had the students eating out of the palm of my hand simply because I was the only Western woman they had ever met and a source of fascination. In Central Europe my students were, naturally, less easy to impress (and a lot more demanding about being taught the finer points of grammar!). In China I taught a mix of high school/uni students and general adults, in Central Europe a mix of businesspeople and kids.As for being low paid...yeeah, your entry level language-centre newbie job is likely to be low paid. People who've been TEFLing for a few years and have a MA or DELTA, good connections, can (apparently) land plum roles that actually pay pretty well. As a newbie your no.1 concern is that you will be paid a) the right amount and b) on time. Talking to current teachers at the school will reassure you that this is the case (or raise a red flag).


    Exploitative - well, language centres are businesses so the owner is out to make money. You are, quite literally, a human resource to help them make this money. This might mean you work unsociable hours, take part in silly 'promotional events' and generally pander to the students. Then again it might not. I'm guessing working at a high school/uni is a different kettle of fish but I can't comment on that.

    Europe - It seems that most jobs in EU require a CELTA or equivalent, and possibly a year or more experience on top of that (at least this was the case 2 years ago but please do ask around at Dave's Cafe etc to check if it's still so). You are also required to be present for interview in certain W Europe countries (although I interviewed for my Central Europe job via Skype). In so many ways it is easier to get a job in Asia as there is much more demand/less supply of native speakers. Asian countries often don't demand CELTA/experience as they need teachers - any native teachers - so badly. (again research individual countries as some are more stringent). Taking a CELTA is worthwhile if you want to be the best teacher you can be and make this a career for a few years...then again if you just want to travel and have fun you can do what so many have done before you and head to Asia with just your degree.

    I for one found my wage went further and life was more of an 'adventure' in China than EU, but the pollution and general culture shock was hard to cope with. I currently have friends TEFLing in Korea, Japan, Spain and Thailand and tbh ALL of their facebook posts get major envy off me.
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    Great bit of info there. I'm actually a qualified primary teacher and I'm sort of at a point where nothing excites me, the work is just too much. I was wondering if anyone who's been abroad taching english could tell me about the teaching itself e.g. planning the lessons etc. Appreciate any replies.
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    Hi Woody791

    You will find a lot of entry level newbie tefl jobs are very low-paid compared to what you are getting now. There are a few roles (Most people will say Middle East but also look at e.g. the NET scheme in Hong Kong) where you will be paid more in TEFL, but generally it is known to be low-paid for newbies. Other than that you could look into international schools (much more lucrative and they will value your UK experience).

    As for planning in TEFL, well, a lot of private language centres use textbooks. At International House we were expected to use textbooks as a basic guide to grammar/vocab we should be covering, but could supplement with our own material or adapt as we saw fit. Some people put a lot of time into planning activities and making materials, others less so.
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    Thanks for your reply, exactly what I was looking for! Where are you based/were you based if you don't mind me asking. Also if you don't mind my asking, did you do any TEFL course?

    Thanks again for the info!
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    I did the CELTA, which is a 4-week intensive course including observed, assessed teaching practice. Either the CELTA or the Trinity TESOL are the 2 most well-known (recognised by employers) newbie qualifications. At over £1000, these certs are no small investment, but are required by most employers in the EU (and more reputable schools elsewhere).

    You get plenty of less-well known weekend/online 'tefl certificates' which employers won't have heard of (and which to me seem like a massive con since they don't involve assessed, observed teaching practice).

    Then again to teach in many parts of Asia you just need a degree. I taught first in a private language school in China ('conversation classes'...as many will tell you 'edutainment' is rife in Asia...I had no teaching experience but neither did any of the other western teachers). China was fun and I could live a good lifestyle on my wage there, since your money goes a long way in a small city in China, but pollution was bad and I couldn't save up much for going back home.

    Then came back to the UK and took my CELTA, then went to Central Europe and worked for a fairly reputable language school there (they actually gave us CPD sessions and treated us fairly professionally...but the money was pretty rubbish). Most of the teachers were like me, in our 20s, having fun, just for a year or 2.

    After this I returned to the UK, decided to become a Secondary school teacher and am currently a NQT! I'm in my 30s now and couldn't go back to the rubbish wage I was on before, so if I head overseas I'm either going to pick a more lucrative TEFL scheme (like the HK NET I mentioned before) or work in an international school.
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    Once again, thank you for your detailed reply. I'm sorry to keep asking questions but you seem in a much better position than I do to have the answers ha!

    So like I said I'm a trained Primary Teacher, I looked at HK Net and native english speakers and trained teachers seem to hold a trump card. Would it be of any real benefit to do a tefl course? I googled telf and clicked the telf link and they have 150 hour courses for £399, I don;t really know a great deal so any more info I can get out of you would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by woody791)
    Once again, thank you for your detailed reply. I'm sorry to keep asking questions but you seem in a much better position than I do to have the answers ha!

    So like I said I'm a trained Primary Teacher, I looked at HK Net and native english speakers and trained teachers seem to hold a trump card. Would it be of any real benefit to do a tefl course? I googled telf and clicked the telf link and they have 150 hour courses for £399, I don;t really know a great deal so any more info I can get out of you would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
    HK's NET scheme is very competition and you'd need to have a lot of experience to be hired there. But you can still be hired as a regular teacher directly by a school or through an agent.
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    (Original post by woody791)
    Great bit of info there. I'm actually a qualified primary teacher and I'm sort of at a point where nothing excites me, the work is just too much. I was wondering if anyone who's been abroad taching english could tell me about the teaching itself e.g. planning the lessons etc. Appreciate any replies.
    In this case we don't you try international schools? I'm teaching at one, it's very relaxed, I've hardly ever done work at home after school, and I'm earning here with a starting salary plus benefits around 7.5 times that of a GP and I believe two times of the GDP per capita. 7.45-3.15 days.
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    Thanks for all these replies, they're so helpful. Can I ask, have you done any TELF certificates/courses? And also where are you teaching?
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    (Original post by woody791)
    Once again, thank you for your detailed reply. I'm sorry to keep asking questions but you seem in a much better position than I do to have the answers ha!

    So like I said I'm a trained Primary Teacher, I looked at HK Net and native english speakers and trained teachers seem to hold a trump card. Would it be of any real benefit to do a tefl course? I googled telf and clicked the telf link and they have 150 hour courses for £399, I don;t really know a great deal so any more info I can get out of you would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
    Hi woody,

    In the last TEFL school I worked in, in Italy, my senior teacher was an ex-primary school teacher, who quit because of the workload and I don't think she had a TEFL qualification but I'm not sure.

    Your teaching experience should be enough to get you a post as a senior teacher.
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    I do think there is still a good chance you can get accepted as a HK Net with your Primary experience, although LittleToyGun is right, getting an actual position there is apparently less easy.

    As I said, CELTA and Trinity TESOL are the reputable names. Don't go for the random dodgy TEFL certificate.

    Do you actually WANT to teach TEFL or is it just a change you are looking for? If it's the latter I get the feeling international schools may be more for you. I'd definitely try asking around (like maybe the TES International Schools Forum) about teaching in international schools. They are apparently pretty different from the UK!
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    To be honest I wouldn't care whether I was teaching english, primary or juggling ha! A change is something I think I need. I do love what I do but it's only a year since I qualified and I've had it to my eyeballs with all the sh*t you've got to do and the hours I put in every night, don't get me wrong I don't mind putting the time in but when you get it in the ear because you didn't do a piece of paperwork that's irrelevant to the children's education and enjoyment it really gets on my goat.
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    (Original post by woody791)
    Thanks for all these replies, they're so helpful. Can I ask, have you done any TELF certificates/courses? And also where are you teaching?
    I hold a BEd, an MSc. and a random English language teaching certificate. My BEd is in EAL tho.

    North America.
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    (Original post by greenbeans123)
    I do think there is still a good chance you can get accepted as a HK Net with your Primary experience, although LittleToyGun is right, getting an actual position there is apparently less easy.

    As I said, CELTA and Trinity TESOL are the reputable names. Don't go for the random dodgy TEFL certificate.

    Do you actually WANT to teach TEFL or is it just a change you are looking for? If it's the latter I get the feeling international schools may be more for you. I'd definitely try asking around (like maybe the TES International Schools Forum) about teaching in international schools. They are apparently pretty different from the UK!
    You can still be hired as a regular teacher though as I've mentioned.
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    Well, this course is surely a thumbs up for many willing to make an international teaching career in Dubai, Qatar as well. Presently, there is a dearth of TEFL teachers, who would be familiar with the modern teaching practices, especially make the non-native speakers approach in an effective way. Actually, language acquisition becomes the key here instead of language learning.
 
 
 
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