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Newbie w/unique qualifications seeks advice

 
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Roclafacasa



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:03 pm    Post subject: Newbie w/unique qualifications seeks advice Reply with quote

Hello All,

As a new member of the forum, I was wondering if anyone would be able to give me a bit of advice regarding my prospects for finding work teaching English in Prague. Here is my situation: I’m planning to move to Prague this summer with my wife, who will be beginning a master’s degree course at the University of Economics. I am a 29 year-old American male with a European Union (Italy) passport. My academic qualifications are: B.A., M.B.A., J.D. (including bar admission), with all degrees from regionally accredited, brick and mortar, U.S. colleges and universities. I am open to taking a CELTA course in Prague if it would help my job search. As for experience, I have spent one year (2006) working in Prague as a legal proofreader, and recently finished a Fulbright fellowship in Poznan, Poland where I gained some experience teaching English at a state university. I also possess a certain amount of professional experience in business and the practice of law. I would be mostly interested in part time work, and would especially like to teach business English and/or legal English.

I have investigated the forum going back until 2008 or so, and am pretty in tune with the average salaries and the benefits of completing a CELTA course in Prague. What I am most interested in, are opinions regarding my overall employability and the availability of part-time vs. full time work. I am also interested in everyone’s opinion regarding the possibilities for teaching business and/or legal English. Any observations or suggestions (both positive and negative) would be appreciated.


Thank you in advance,

Dan
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9500
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say that long term, your best bet in terms of pay scale is to market yourself directly to corporations that fit your skill sets, and to develop a network of private students who, again, have a need for your higher-level business and legal language skills.

If you need work in the short-term, you might consider getting started with a language school, but I would expect that in the longer term, with your quals, you could do better on your own. However, it takes some time to make the connections.

Regarding certification, I think you might actually want to make the rounds of schools without it at first and see what kinds of response you get - but I expect that a CELTA or equivalent will be helpful, not only in terms of employability, but in helping you get started using some of the approaches and methods research indicates are most effective in second language acquisition.

I expect that part-time work will be easy to find in your case ,whether it's through a school or schools or on your own.
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Roclafacasa



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the speedy reply.

In your message you mentioned that it may be a good idea to approach language schools, at first, without the CELTA certification. Would this be something that I could do prior to arriving in Prague or is this best put on hold until arrival?

Also, your post brought up another point: If I may be competItive for certain positions without the CELTA certification, is it still of vital importance that if/when I do take a CELTA course, I do so in Prague? While I am in complete agreement that the CELTA course would help me in terms of methodology and teaching technique, it seems that the largest benefit from training in Prague comes from the connections that the schools have with potential employers. Do you feel as if this is reason enough to do the course in Prague, or would I do just as well completing a course in the U.S. prior to my arrival?

Thank you again,

Dan
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9500
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is likely little practical use in approaching schools prior to your arrival (the schools became all-too-familiar with candidates who never actually showed up long ago and many directors don't bother to look at a CV unless the candidate it's advertising is in the country). However, it can't hurt to give it a shot - some school may have a group of students who could specifically benefit from your legal background, for example, but I wouldn't get discouraged if you get few/no responses.

A CELTA is a CELTA no matter where you get it, so if it's more convenient for you to do it in the US, it won't matter. The distinction comes if you are taking a generic cert rather than the name brand one. Arriving with a piece of paper from some online or weekend course won't impress anyone on this job market. There are generic courses that meet the standard: look for 120 hours on site, and (key) including supervised teaching practice with actual students (not peer trainees). If you go for a generic, be sure to highlight the hours on site and the practicum on your CV so that employers know right away that your cert meets the standard.
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 148
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Roclafaclasa,

I should point out at the beginning that I am in Slovakia and not CR, so you should confirm this with someone who is on the ground in Prague at the moment.

Where I am there is a dearth of people who can teach legal English and I suspect that this is also true in Prague (perhaps to a lesser extent).

My advice would be to do the CELTA first as it will give you the basics and make lesson planning much easier, point you in the right direction etc then I would get a zivnost (trade licence) and set yourself up as a teacher that way. Your EU passport will really help here. The market generally now is really heading into much more specified skill sets - of which legal English is one. I would focus on that rather than the business English. Your advantage is in your knowledge of legal terminology. With business English you would be competing against experienced teachers. This is also true of legal English, of course, but the pool of those with legal backgrounds will be much smaller. Use your contacts that you have from proofreading in 2006 and get your foot in the door that way. If this is not possible you could begin by working through a school and make your contacts that way. Look for schools that specialise in legal English. Also go for small law firms (I taught at one for a couple of years and all the lawyers had one-to-one lessons), they will be less likely to go to the big schools.

Hope it helps,

Kofola

P.S Do the CELTA (or equivalent) in Prague, you will get better contacts that way.
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Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie w/unique qualifications seeks advice Reply with quote

Hi Dan,

I'd back most of what Spiral says - you'll presumably want to make better money than most of the schools will offer for your expertise - but, from Directors of Studies I know, some recognised teaching certificate may be essential for getting started (and the CELTA remains the preferred option, I'm told, though others are respected).

I understand that these schools have government criteria to fit for certain accreditations, hence the reason the teaching certificate is a must for many. Also, many clients apparently now request the CVs of the teachers to be faxed to them before they will accept them.

If I had your qualifications, I'd probably contact Charles University as you might find specialist work there that pays considerably better than even Business English or English for Special Purposes. You can, of course, go directly to companies but for that you'll almost certainly need to register on the Zivnostensky list so you can invoice them properly.
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Arab Strap



Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 247
Location: under your bed

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And again, and again
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ecocks



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 886
Location: Gdansk, Poland

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hindsight perhaps but assuming you're still figuring out your plan as you finish your cert.....

Look into government programs where the US Embassy is facilitating placing teachers/advisers within the other country's government to do classes, proofing and "interpreting" specialized docs that a regular interpreter can only translate the words rather than the meaning.

Kazak just went through this. There are probably similar programs in Iraq and Afghanistan too. No, you don't have to live near a war zone to do this work. There is a group within the Dept of State that does this sort of thing from a central office in Texas but they are paid by the US Gov and are shorter term assignments. Last bits of over a cup of coffee advice would be to hit the contractors like Booz, All, Dyn Corp, Gen Dynamics, yda, yada, yada, looking for those companies running in-house ESL training programs AS WELL as searching down recruiting firms which specialize in placing ESP (English for Special Purposes) teachers.

By the way, don't take this wrong but you need to deflate yourself a bit. You're simply not as unique as you might wish to be. I've met a half-dozen JD's teaching overseas (some still in good standing with the Bar Associations back home) as well as PhD's, EdD's. MBA's and so on. Yes, you bring a specialized skill set to the table but it's not necessarily one that the English schools recognize as useful. Equally, ESL programs vary so much in quality that foreign students have difficulty making out what value you bring to the table over some BA in English with an online course that charges $6/hour for a small group class.

Marketing yourself and your talents is the key.

Best of Luck!
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Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecocks wrote:
By the way, don't take this wrong but you need to deflate yourself a bit. You're simply not as unique as you might wish to be. I've met a half-dozen JD's teaching overseas (some still in good standing with the Bar Associations back home) as well as PhD's, EdD's. MBA's and so on. Yes, you bring a specialized skill set to the table but it's not necessarily one that the English schools recognize as useful. Equally, ESL programs vary so much in quality that foreign students have difficulty making out what value you bring to the table over some BA in English with an online course that charges $6/hour for a small group class.

Marketing yourself and your talents is the key.


I didn't want to say this but I'm glad someone did. Qualifications are very welcome (and Czechs tend to set a lot of store by them) but, at least as far as the Czech Republic goes, a degree of modesty in how you present them goes a long way, too.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9500
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, ditto. I think it may be a cultural thing - in the US, confidence (even over-confidence, to some degree) is admired, whereas in Europe and especially in the CR, people tend to be far more low-key about such things.

It's also a bit different in that a higher percentage of people on the continent tend to be highly-educated in terms of post-grad stuff. It's far more common.... likely because the costs of education are far more reasonable.

I was also reticent to be critical, but now that this is out in the open, it's probably a useful point for the OP to consider; how to present the creds he has without coming across as though he thinks he's head-and-shoulders above others (he's not likely to stand out as much as he might guess).
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Roclafacasa



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for responding! Your opinions seem to be both genuine and truthful. As I am still planning on making this move over the summer, I have come up with a few follow-up questions.

In response to ecocks, I do not believe that the terminology you used in instructing me to “deflate myself” was the best. In my initial post I simply intended to lay out my qualifications and garner as much feedback as possible in regard to my employability in the CR. In other words, there is no inflated ego here! Anyway, after considering ecock’s post along with the posts that follow, it seems that I may wish to understate my academic credentials a bit when applying to positions in the CR. Does anyone have advice on this? I was thinking along the lines of removing the MBA from my resume (since it isn’t relevant for a position teaching legal English) and highlighting the teaching experience I have instead (along with the CELTA qualification I will earn in Prague or Brno).

Also, I am becoming more and more interested in teaching in either Brno or Olomouc, as I have a few friends/colleagues who reside in the area. Keeping in mind that I am looking to teach legal English part-time (maybe 10-15 hours per week), would either of these cities be feasible or would it be best to stick to Prague?

Thanks Again,
Dan
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Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Dan,

Personally, I don't think you should underestimate your qualification but rather let them speak for themselves on your CV. Czechs do often value letters after names but I think the original comment was because your description seemed to be less humble than a Czech would appreciate.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9500
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, The MBA will look fine on a CV. It's more a matter of relating to the tiitle of the thread - your quals aren't probably going to be considered wildly unique in the region.

I thnk you should be able to find work teaching legal English is either Brno or Olomouc - there are certainly law firms around - they're not only in Prague, by any means! You may also find that the international legal firms mostly based in the big city are staffed by fluent bi/trilingual staff (therefore they may have relatively less need there for legal English).

Best of luck to you.
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