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Is the PGCE that bad? Should I just do a TEFL instead? watch

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    Hey all,

    I've heard some horror stories about the PGCE: the workload, ****ty schools, becoming disillusioned with teaching, etc... After reading all that, I just don't know if it's for me any more...

    My plan was eventually to travel and teach with it anyway. So is it worth just doing a TEFL instead and building up good teaching experience that way? People who teach English abroad seem to have an infinitely better experience than people who teach in this country!

    Well, I'm debating whether to do that or go back into academia...
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    Hi Jazz90

    The PGCE is indeed usually considered a very tough year (two tough years if you count the NQT year that you need to do to get full QTS).

    TEFL can be a way to 'dip your toes' in teaching if you're not sure about it.

    When I was in my 20s, I spent a few post-degree years drifting from job to job, not sure what I wanted to do. I had a CV full of temp admin roles and not a lot of direction. Eventually I decided to teach abroad just as a way to travel and do something different - I was absolutely sure that I DIDN'T want to become a school teacher back home. After a year teaching conversational English in China (with no TEFL qualifications by the way - for good or bad, most Chinese language schools just require a degree in anything and a UK/US passport) I realised I actually quite enjoyed the teaching aspect. I took the CELTA course (which along with Trinity TESOL is the most well-known and worthwhile TEFL newbie certificate) and went on to teach ESL in Central EU. The CELTA only takes 4 weeks but believe me, it's a tough 4 weeks at that!

    After a while I realised I actually missed the UK so I came home and got a support role in a Secondary school. This experience really helped me to realise that I did want to continue to work in UK education after all, and, you guessed it, I ended up taking my PGCE...which was as tough as the CELTA but of course lasts a school year.

    (That's my story but some of my TEFL buddies have ended up making life careers out of it and are managing language schools in far flung places as we speak...others treat TEFL as a gap year experience and do something totally non-education related afterwards)

    TLDR - teaching EFL for a couple of years really helped to build my confidence and be sure this is what I wanted to do (as did working in support) and taking the CELTA was almost like doing a mini-PGCE in terms of coping with pressure, being observed etc.
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    I think the PGCE would be a wise move especially if you are settled at home anyway. Once you have a PGCE you can do TEFL work in international schools overseas command more money. Especially for middles eastern countries and use your PGCE to emigrate to commonwealth countries in the future.
    TEFL you can still work and have a good career but earning potential I have noticed is higher with a PGCE
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    By TEFL do you mean a short certificate course? Recognition is much better for PGCEs. TEFL certificates even the much hyped CELTA or DELTA are not actual teaching qualifications.
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    (Original post by greenbeans123)
    Hi Jazz90

    The PGCE is indeed usually considered a very tough year (two tough years if you count the NQT year that you need to do to get full QTS).

    TEFL can be a way to 'dip your toes' in teaching if you're not sure about it.

    When I was in my 20s, I spent a few post-degree years drifting from job to job, not sure what I wanted to do. I had a CV full of temp admin roles and not a lot of direction. Eventually I decided to teach abroad just as a way to travel and do something different - I was absolutely sure that I DIDN'T want to become a school teacher back home. After a year teaching conversational English in China (with no TEFL qualifications by the way - for good or bad, most Chinese language schools just require a degree in anything and a UK/US passport) I realised I actually quite enjoyed the teaching aspect. I took the CELTA course (which along with Trinity TESOL is the most well-known and worthwhile TEFL newbie certificate) and went on to teach ESL in Central EU. The CELTA only takes 4 weeks but believe me, it's a tough 4 weeks at that!

    After a while I realised I actually missed the UK so I came home and got a support role in a Secondary school. This experience really helped me to realise that I did want to continue to work in UK education after all, and, you guessed it, I ended up taking my PGCE...which was as tough as the CELTA but of course lasts a school year.

    (That's my story but some of my TEFL buddies have ended up making life careers out of it and are managing language schools in far flung places as we speak...others treat TEFL as a gap year experience and do something totally non-education related afterwards)

    TLDR - teaching EFL for a couple of years really helped to build my confidence and be sure this is what I wanted to do (as did working in support) and taking the CELTA was almost like doing a mini-PGCE in terms of coping with pressure, being observed etc.
    Thank you so much! This is exactly the kind of reply I hoped for. It's very encouraging I've decided that if I do go into teaching I'll definitely try to TEFL first as you say, to build up my confidence and prepare me. What was it like teaching in China? Do you have much freedom in your teaching? I imagine the kids there are much more well-behaved and eager to learn. I hope you don't mind if I ask just a couple more questions:

    1) I have tattoos on my arm, will this be a big problem? (I've had varying responses to that question... and it's actually made me doubt teaching a little if it is)

    2) Is there a lot of competition for jobs out there? I imagine TEFL is very popular and I'm afraid that I could get the qualification and even some teaching experience, and still struggle to find work (at least somewhere that's nice...)

    Many thanks!!
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    (Original post by Jazz90)
    Thank you so much! This is exactly the kind of reply I hoped for. It's very encouraging I've decided that if I do go into teaching I'll definitely try to TEFL first as you say, to build up my confidence and prepare me. What was it like teaching in China? Do you have much freedom in your teaching? I imagine the kids there are much more well-behaved and eager to learn.
    Well, glad I could help! Teaching in China is...not for the faint-hearted. It is a massive culture shock which can't be underestimated. Some teachers just couldn't hack it and headed back home after a few weeks. Less 'hardcore' options might be Korea or Thailand. Demand for native English speakers is great in Asia. You won't have any problem getting a job in Asia if you look the part (sad to say they do stereotype 'English speaker' as meaning 'person with white skin'...although I did know some who got around this initial prejudice).

    Disclaimer: China is a massive place with huge differences in conditions, pay and attitudes. You can find work in a university, primary/middle/high school (maybe look into being a British Council TA if you like the sound of this) or a private language school. I worked in the latter so that is what I will tell you about.

    Since I worked in a private language school this meant I was teaching small groups of 1-10 - mostly highschool/uni students/adults but a couple of little kids' classes as well. Having taught in the UK for a while now I can say, yes, the stereotype that Chinese kids are more studious and respectful of the teacher is indeed true!

    Private language schools are money-making enterprises so the focus is on entertainment and keeping the customers happy first and foremost. We were encouraged to plan lessons which included a lot of group discussion, music, games etc (some schools provide a textbook but not mine). As long as the students were happy you got freedom to plan as you wished.

    I felt conditions were good. The manager of the school was a fair person. I knew she would be as I had friends who'd worked there for a while before I flew out. This isn't always the case and some people have horror stories of managers who lied in job descriptions, didn't pay them and were generally unreasonable. This is where prior research comes in. Go to websites like Dave's ESL Cafe and look up the school name. Ask the school to let you speak to people who already work there. If 'no one is available' this is a massive red flag. In language schools you work shifts which can include some evenings and weekends. Pay is good by Chinese standards - I was living a very middle-class lifestyle with lots of trips to restaurants/the mall/ktv etc. In a 'small' city like where I was, your money goes further than the UK. When it comes to turning RMB back into £, you'll realise you can't save masses to bring back home, although I did manage to pay off a couple of credit cards.

    (Original post by Jazz90)
    I hope you don't mind if I ask just a couple more questions:1) I have tattoos on my arm, will this be a big problem? (I've had varying responses to that question... and it's actually made me doubt teaching a little if it is)2) Is there a lot of competition for jobs out there? I imagine TEFL is very popular and I'm afraid that I could get the qualification and even some teaching experience, and still struggle to find work (at least somewhere that's nice...)Many thanks!!
    Tattoos shouldn't be a problem...I mean, you can cover them up, right? In China the stereotype seems to be tattoos= criminal but...you'd wear a shirt to work anyway, wouldn't you? As for the UK, loads of teachers have tattoos, and yes you are expected to cover them but if one peeks out of a sleeve it isn't the end of the world.

    You won't struggle to find work in Asia. Other parts of the world might take a bit of work, but seriously, you could take a plane to China today and have a job by next week. Now the quality of that job is something I can't guarantee - and this is why I urge you to do as much research as possible beforehand.
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    (Original post by Little Toy Gun)
    By TEFL do you mean a short certificate course? Recognition is much better for PGCEs. TEFL certificates even the much hyped CELTA or DELTA are not actual teaching qualifications.
    Hi!

    When I read about CELTA I was immediately concerned that it was too short and a PGCE really ought to be the norm (though it clearly isn't, sadly!). But if I want to get into TEFL via a PGCE, what do I do a PGCE in? I'm not aware of a PGCE in TEFL but if it exists please let me know!
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    (Original post by GW1992UCL)
    Hi!

    When I read about CELTA I was immediately concerned that it was too short and a PGCE really ought to be the norm (though it clearly isn't, sadly!). But if I want to get into TEFL via a PGCE, what do I do a PGCE in? I'm not aware of a PGCE in TEFL but if it exists please let me know!
    CELTA is the norm because the demand for English tutors is very high all over the world. There simply aren't enough qualified teachers for the whole world.

    No, I don't think there's a PGCE in TEFL in the UK, but you can do one outside of the UK or do an MA TESOL. But of course you're not a qualified teacher with an MA.
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    (Original post by Little Toy Gun)
    CELTA is the norm because the demand for English tutors is very high all over the world. There simply aren't enough qualified teachers for the whole world.

    No, I don't think there's a PGCE in TEFL in the UK, but you can do one outside of the UK or do an MA TESOL. But of course you're not a qualified teacher with an MA.
    Thank you!

    What would you advise then for someone who's really into languages and wanting to build a serious career in TEFL? CELTA then experience then MA? Or study PGCE TEFL abroad? The latter is a great idea that I'd not thought of!
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    (Original post by GW1992UCL)
    Thank you!

    What would you advise then for someone who's really into languages and wanting to build a serious career in TEFL? CELTA then experience then MA? Or study PGCE TEFL abroad? The latter is a great idea that I'd not thought of!
    Just want to clarify this: Abroad it's not called PGCE TEFL. Usually it's just English. But for example if you do one in a country where English is taught as an additional language, then obviously the focus will be to train you for that. I think it'd be a bit difficult for you to get a teacher-training place abroad as well.

    I'd say PGCE English in the UK then a master's in TESOL or applied linguistics.
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    You can do a PGCE in ESOL or do a PGCE in English then teach TEFL.
    It is not necessary for overseas teachers to do a PGCE. To be honest I think the UK just make it too hard to get on to a course and very expensive. That silly timed test prohibits good teachers from following their passion.
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    But where can I do a PGCE in ESOL? When I google I don't get anything.

    And what use is a PGCE in English? It's designed for teaching the English for native speakers that we all had in school - pretty irrelevant for TEFL I think, given the time and expensive required.

    Thank you very much for your help though!
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    In terms of choosing degrees I would advise you to make yourself familiar with the job sites that are suited to your particular teaching ambitions, look at job adverts for the kind of roles you are interested in and see what they require.

    E.g. this job currently advertised on TES is well-paid IMO, once you click through you see to get the higher payscale you need to have:
    (i) a bachelor’s degree in English Language or English Literature or English Studies or Linguistics or a Modern Language OR a Bachelor in Education degree (major in English or a Modern Language, but not primary education specialist) (ii) a Post-graduate Diploma in Education majoring in English or equivalent;(iii) (iii)a Teaching of English as a Foreign Language or a Second Language (TEFL/TESL) qualification at least at the diploma level, or equivalent; and(iv) (iv) at least 1 year’s post-graduate experience of teaching English (preferably as a second or foreign language) at secondary level or above.
    Whilst a lower-paid job such as this just requires a CELTA or equivalent. It's horses for courses. Uni-based jobs probably want a masters, international schools (potentially lucrative if you want to explore this option) will be looking for PGCEs in a shortage subject plus experience.

    eta: my degree is English Lit with one measly Linguistics module...it is still seen as an 'English' degree and quite respected in TEFL (as seen in the job ad I posted above). I have a good vocabulary but needed to teach myself lots of grammar (maybe I'd advise a joint language-literature degree to others).
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    (Original post by GW1992UCL)
    But where can I do a PGCE in ESOL? When I google I don't get anything.
    1.Go to:
    https://www.ucas.com/ucas/teacher-training

    2. Select 'Find training programs starting in 2016'

    3. In the 'subjects' drop-down box select 'English as a Second or Other Language'

    4. In the 'regions' box select your region

    5. Voila! A list of your local TESOL PGCE courses...I selected 'London' as an experiment and there are 4 courses currently available.

    Just be aware that bursaries may not be available for the TESOL option (I did get a bursary for English PGCE, they keep changing the rules for which subjects get them and how much so you will need to research closer to the time).
 
 
 
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