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Considering moving to the UAE - savings and experience?
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rossc



Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:25 am    Post subject: Considering moving to the UAE - savings and experience? Reply with quote

Hello,

I am considering moving to the UAE to teach at the university level and would appreciate some advice regarding the potential for savings and experience generally required to land a job.

I am currently teaching at the university level in South Korea and by the end of next August I will have two years of university experience and two years experience teaching teaching ESL at high school level. I have a Masters degree in TESOL completed via distance learning with a UK university.

My teaching responsibilities at my university involve teaching freshman conversation classes and ESL learning theories and teaching methodology to education majors. I have also taught a course at the graduate level on teaching grammar to young learners, and I also teach on teacher training courses during the vacation for local elementary school teachers.

From the searches I have completed so far and looking at the HCT website it seems to suggest that one needs 3 years experience at the tertiary level. It also seems that universities in the UAE require experience of having taught academic writing.

The questions I would like to pose are:
1.) With the experience I have would I be a good candidate with only two years tertiary experience?
2.) Is it necessary to have at least three years experience at the tertiary level and experience in teaching academic writing?
3.) If one is single and leads a modest lifestyle how much can expect to save a month? In Korea my yearly savings are at least $15000

Warm regards
Ross
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bin There



Joined: 16 Jun 2012
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1.) With the experience I have would I be a good candidate with only two years tertiary experience?

Your post says you have 4 years experience, 3 at tertiary level. I know teachers who were less experienced when they cane to HCT. It depends on how you compare with other candidates.

2.) Is it necessary to have at least three years experience at the tertiary level and experience in teaching academic writing?

I would sau no. I expect you have taught writing. Be prepared to answer some questions on your methodology in the interview.

3.) If one is single and leads a modest lifestyle how much can expect to save a month? In Korea my yearly savings are at least $15000

At least $30,000 a year.

Good luck
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rossc



Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

Thanks for your reply. You said it`s possible to save about 30 grand, just wondering what salary you based that on? Would that amount of savings be possible with an MA and 2 or 3 years experience?

Also, I haven`t actually got ANY experience teaching writing and I looked into teaching that at my current university in Korea, but the teacher currently teaching it does not want to give it up. My teaching experience would therefore be limited to conversation, content courses on ESL theory and teaching methodology. Will the lack of writing be a stumbling block?

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my first post.

Ross
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16124
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rossc wrote:
My teaching experience would therefore be limited to conversation, content courses on ESL theory and teaching methodology. Will the lack of writing be a stumbling block?

This may very well be a problem because the top employers won't consider conversation classes as "related experience." The reality is that Arab learners' strongest skills are speaking and listening. The problem is shutting them up, not getting them to speak. Laughing Their weakness is in reading and writing (with tiny vocabularies for which they have been taught that 'spelling doesn't matter' and punctuation seems to be random decoration).

That said, look at HCT because your experience in theory and methodology might be looked upon with interest in their education area. It will be helpful if you can tell them that these courses weren't just directed towards how to teach conversation classes.

It is not as though teaching writing is difficult or mysterious. After all, just like speaking(or listening or reading), you learn to write by writing... and having someone to help you avoid making the same mistakes over and over and over. Personally I always preferred teaching writing, but many teachers don't like the necessary homework correction. Also, many/most of the places also teach integrated skill courses (a la Headway), so you might review that sort of text to be able to discuss it in an interview.

You do have an MA so that is a big step. Next step is to apply and see if anyone bites. Most jobs are listed on the websites of the better employers. You may want to consider a trip to TESOLArabia in March. Face to face interviews tend to be more successful that just a CV landing in their inbox or even a video interview.

VS
(PS... I saved 30K+ a year 12 years ago. But, of course it depends on lifestyle and goals)
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iggyb



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading this, I was wondering what the norm is in these programs like ADVETI in terms of curriculum - and flexibility? VS mentioned Headway.

I will be heading over to the UAE soon, and I heard that writing is one of the big issues for their learners, and in the three or so interviews I've done for the UAE and Oman, they always ask how I go about teaching writing. I was thinking about trying out a system I used for ESL in an American high school:

http://www.esolers.org/outline.html

Ideally, it would be a classroom centered on writing - creating a class newsletter - but involves several stages with most stages being centered on collaborative, student-centered group work in which students are encouraged to communicate with each other in English as much as possible and peer review each other's work.

I wasn't able to do the whole semester like that in the US, but the process worked pretty well when we did use it.

I was thinking of trying it out with the UAE students preparing for university...

I do know with Korean adults, say over 25 years old, it would be hard to base the class around such a program, because they are used to rote memorization --- being given "useful vocabulary" to practice - and they resist doing anything that resembles the type of work they had to do in high school. They want speaking-listening and dislike reading and writing when working with a foreign teacher....
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16124
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There will be little transfer from Korea to the UAE... in curriculum, methodology or how your students will react.

You may have to save your newsletter creation idea until you understand the Arab student issues in writing - and learning. To state it simply, they will talk your arm off and be unable to write a one clause grammatical sentence. And they are NOT independent learners. This is something that we want to work towards. Personally I think of writing as more of an individual effort than a group effort - especially with their propensity to... um... help each other. In university writing, they need to learn to write academic papers for their courses. Most time is spent in teaching them how to write a sentence, a paragraph and finally the essay - all of which is actually their own work.

I am talking about university foundations teaching here... naturally if you are teaching something else, you need to adjust to student needs.

VS
(the newsletter idea is used in some colleges, but for upper level classes... not entry or foundations)
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rossc



Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mmmmmm, I kinda feel a little worried about the writing issue Crying or Very sad

I don't think I will be able to get a huge amount of experience here teaching that!

I think the best I could do is research writing methodology and during the interview present how I would teach it based on the research I have done. Then state that part of my reasoning to teach here is too develop that part of my teaching arsenal! Maybe that might sound not too impressive though!

Although, I do teach a 3 hour English conversation class in the Fall semester and part of the exam involves a one page essay. I guess I could try and squeeze in some writing lessons over the next year or two.

Not the best, I know Sad But, at least I have time to plan and gather evidence over the next two years!

Vieledsentiments, you mentioned about being able to save $30,000 a year. Is that a common amount to be able to save for other people you know? Just the financial motivation is the main reason to come here. I have mortgage on an apartment back home in the UK I'd like to pay off, and then I want to save some money for teacher training back in the UK (primary school teaching).

Once again thanks for your reply.

Also, I notice many other people are reading the post but not posting, if you are working here in the UAE I'd be interested to know what your annual savings are.

Thank you Very Happy
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4846
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rossc wrote:
Mmmmmm, I kinda feel a little worried about the writing issue Crying or Very sad I don't think I will be able to get a huge amount of experience here teaching that!

I think the best I could do is research writing methodology and during the interview present how I would teach it based on the research I have done. Then state that part of my reasoning to teach here is too develop that part of my teaching arsenal! Maybe that might sound not too impressive though!

Although, I do teach a 3 hour English conversation class in the Fall semester and part of the exam involves a one page essay. I guess I could try and squeeze in some writing lessons over the next year or two.

Not the best, I know Sad But, at least I have time to plan and gather evidence over the next two years!

VS is spot on. I suggest you start by doing an Internet search on arabic speakers writing problems. Plenty of information on the topic.

and wrote:

Also, I notice many other people are reading the post but not posting, if you are working here in the UAE I'd be interested to know what your annual savings are.

You're probably not getting responses about savings because it would be contingent upon your salary; it's hard to say what employers would offer you given your minimal quals. And that's if you'd even get an offer. All you can do is apply for positions you feel you're qualified for to see what you're worth. But between now and the time you're ready to submit your CV/resume, keep an eye on the job postings to check out what employers are requiring and what their preferred/desirable applicant knowledge, skills, and abilities are. Also, take a look at the various general expat forums for the UAE to get a picture of what it's like to live/work there---cost of living and savings questions are typical.
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rossc



Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Nomad Soul,

Is an MA in TESOL and four years teaching experience (2 HS & 2 uni) really considered minimal qualifications? That's rather disheartening!

For English instructor positions at UAE universities what's the standard applicant's quals and exp? I guess you work at a university, can you tell me what's the average experience of your co-workers?

From your comment I guess you don't see many people getting jobs with an MA and 2-3 years of uni experience. Maybe I need to change my expectations Sad
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4846
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rossc:

You seem to have misunderstood. Although you may have the right number of years in TEFL under your belt (employers typically count post-MA experience), teaching conversation English doesn't fit the quality or type of experience Mid East unis expect. Instead of trying to measure yourself against others' qualifications, focus on what employers prefer in applicants so that you can boost your own quals. For example, a job ad from a couple of years ago stated the following for a university-level TEFL position:

Applicants who possess all or any of the following criteria would be given preferences:
    • CELTA/TESL/TEFL/TESOL/DELTA;
    • Middle East teaching experience;
    • Experience in curriculum development, assessment, writing and use of classroom technology.
I'm not discouraging you from applying; certainly submit your cover letter and CV/resume. But be aware that uni positions in the UAE and the Gulf, in general, are quite desirable and that there are plenty of applicants who possess the solid qualifications/experience employers want.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16124
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the whole savings thing... another reason that you haven't had much response (and it is a common question here) is that there is so much variance in lifestyles. If I think back to the time I was there and saving $30,000 a year, I had single female friends who saved nothing!! And everywhere in between. Cool

Consider it this way, your housing is supplied by the employer. So, your expenses are food, entertainment, and transportation. I don't drink alcohol and rarely ate out. One can eat out in the 5* hotels or the corner Indian Restaurant. I had a new car, but it was an entry level Japanese model with no bells and whistles. (versus a big honking 4WD or a Mercedes) Public transport is spotty and it is rather like suburbia where a car is really a necessary evil to live comfortably. Gas and insurance were cheap. Holidays can also eat up the money. For your your summer travels, would you head to Europe or the Indian subcontinent? Your employer only provides a ticket for the summer.

At my first job in the Gulf in the 80's back when $2000 a month was considered a good salary, I saved enough in 4 years to pay off my mortgage... as that was one of my goals. I also worked summer school for extra pay and only traveled every other year. (and it was pre-internet, satellite TV, or fancy smart phones. Laughing)

VS
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bin There



Joined: 16 Jun 2012
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

iggyb's advice could well be enough to pass an interview question on writing. I know several teachers at HCT who had never taught writing before - they bluffed their way through the question at the interview.

Read up on process writing - most of my supervisors like hearing about drafts and the teacher involved in the process. Also check out sites that have interactive writing activities - It would be good to throw around a few of these in an interview - HCT is heavy on tech and a showing a knowledge of what's out there will help you. Bear in mind that your interviewers will have a fair few teachers under them who struggle with tech (still) so demonstrating knowledge would do you good. Throwing in a few experinces you've had with collaborative writing and peer editing, etc. would also be something interviewers would like to hear.

Salary and savings - Likely you'd start on a minimum of 17,000 Dhs. You could easily live on 5,000 (think about your housing loan). Saving the other 12,000 is $39,204, plus the full year's bonus of 17,000 Dhs ($4,628) and pocketing the holiday ticket, you could be realistically save $45,000 a year.

Good luck Smile
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4846
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that it's smart to thoroughly do your homework in order to confidently show you know your stuff during interviews. However, Rossc's qualifications (via his cover letter and CV/resume) need to be strong enough to catch the attention of potential UAE universities so that he even gets an interview.
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iggyb



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like process and collaborative writing for ESL as long as it isn't the higher level students doing all the writing for the others. I also like using a blog to show off student work and give (homework) assignments where students read and comment on some of what others have written.

If the students cooperate and do it right, the collaboration will involve them getting help with putting their own thoughts into English -- locating and getting help on items they are weak on.

The process of working to the final text become more important and useful than the product itself.
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rossc



Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

Firstly, just wanted to say thanks for everyone's input and advice, it's really helping me formulate a career progression plan. I think I will stay in Korea at my current uni for the rest of this year and then probably complete another contract. That will give me three years of university experience (2.5 years of it post-MA). I hope that will be sufficient experience for an application to the UAE.

In regards to developing my employment potential and skills I decided in my Practical English class to introduce an hour of writing each week. The classes are 2 hours in the summer and 3 hours in the fall, but the book we have only provides about an hour of conversation material. Therefore, the rest of the time is filled with supplementary material provided at the teacher’s discretion. I discussed my plan to introduce some writing as a balance to just concentrating on speaking and the students were sold on the idea as they felt they would benefit from it. Binthere, thanks for the comments about writing, I’ll look into drafting, teacher involvement, interactive writing websites, collaborative and peer writing.

I have decided to do research into technology in the classroom; I believe there is a book written on the subject by someone like Jeremy Harmer. I'll also attend the technology presentations when I go to KOTESOL conferences. Perhaps I can get some ideas I can use in the meantime.

I have designed some short courses for teacher training here and on the university’s English Education MA so I believe I can evidence curriculum design and development already.

I have also been looking at other areas in the M.E and thought maybe after finishing in Korea I can get a year or two of experience in Sudan. It seems like my qualifications and experience would be suitable there and it would give me some ME experience which someone indicated would be of benefit for jobs in the UAE.

Some questions:

In regards to teaching writing can anyone offer any recommendations on good textbooks for intermediate level students that would be good to base a course on?

Binthere, you mentioned interactive writing websites, can you recommend some good ones to look at?

In regards to getting ME experience before the UAE, can anyone recommend some other places other than Sudan where my qualifications would be considered sufficient and the saving potential is reasonable? I know the KSA is out because my MA is via distance learning.

Once again thanks for the advice.

Warm regards
Ross
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