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Is TEFL getting better or worse as a career?
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 584
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Is TEFL getting better or worse as a career? Reply with quote

I'm curious to hear opinions and experiences in different regions.

Are pay and benefits going up or down? Are employers demanding more qualifications and/or hours than before?

Is the number of TEFL teachers in the world increasing or decreasing?

Is the TEFL market getting larger or smaller?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12323
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Worse. Much worse. When I goit into it in the late 60s there were lots of jobs that paid reasonably well, Now.....................
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can only answer for Italy.

Pay and benefits are stagnant. No increases for the last ten years, as far as I can see. This is about in line with everyone else's wages here.

Teaching as a whole is as "precarious" as it ever was. It's hard to fire teachers working in the state, but a whole load of teachers don't have permanent contracts anyway. Worth mentioning that if you don't have a permanent contract, you don't have contributions going in to your pension.

I've just been told that my exam marking work will be paid at an extra 10 an hour from this year. On the other hand, the travelling expenses that I used to be paid have now been scrapped. Result: net loss of about 5 an hour.

Employers aren't demanding more quals, but they are asking for more availability, so you might be asked to teach into the evening. I just turned down work where I would have taught until 10.30 at night. But this is just a reflection on work in Italy. Plenty of businesses (shops etc) close at 8 to 8.30 at night, meaning that if these people want lessons after work, you're teaching late.

As for the size of the TEFL market here - it's not really shrinking as far as I can see. Some corporate work is going, as companies close or downsize, but parents will almost always try to do what's best for their children. That means lots of homework lessons, YL, and exam preparation. (If you can bear it, that is!)
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's getting better and (from hearsay accounts) worse.

In some regions, like East Asia, it is a vibrant and growing industry in the private sector with remuneration packages that are negotiable and there is certainly a large demand in the public sector / mainstream education for those with something more than a high school completion and a TEFL cert. and they tend to have fairly decent remuneration packages.

Demand in East Asia currently hires about 150,000 new EFL teachers per year and with the integration of ASEAN and the continued growing demand in China is expected to grow to over 250,000 positions in the next few years. **

(hearsay) In other regions EFL, like the local economies in those regions (EU or South America), generally appears to be a stagnant industry with low demand in the private sector (and remuneration packages that are just as low) and few openings in the public education sector and those openings in the public sector also usually require related credentials (degree, post graduate degree, teacher certification, etc),

** the vast majority of those positions will require at a minimum a Bachelor's degree, a TEFL cert and English fluency levels at near native speaker levels.

.
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Perilla



Joined: 09 Jul 2010
Posts: 783
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TEFL has always been an industry of two halves. Good jobs and bad jobs. Good countries/regions and bad ones.

At the moment I think it'd be fair to say that in terms of work Asia is generally good and Europe is generally bad, but obviously there are discrepancies and different ways of looking at things.

For example, something which probably doesn't occur to most people when considering where to work is the trend in local air quality. Although most big cities in Asia offer plenty of work, the air quality can be abysmal, and its getting worse. HK is not the worst in this respect, but it's pretty bad, and I know of four expat teachers in their 50s, none of whom were smokers, who died in the last year from lung cancer. This might just be a nasty coincidence, but who knows.

What price do you put on health? Maybe it's better to scrape a living as a private school TEFLer in a remote Spanish town than to save plenty in Beijing while breathing pollution most days.

Overall TEFL numbers around the globe are certainly way higher than they were 10 years ago and are still increasing in Asia. But keep an eye on the details - and I don't just mean job details.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 584
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One issue that seems to be hurting our industry is the Age of Austerity. Any educational program with government subsidies is feeling the squeeze and that gets passed on to us.

More long term, an issue that concerns me is the increase in globalization and technology. Once upon a time a 'native speaker' was a sought after commodity, a rarity. Now, through tech. everybody has got access to the whole world, including plenty of native speakers. I guess it's a case of adapt or die, but in the meantime I fear salaries will continue to go down.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 938
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spanglish wrote:
One issue that seems to be hurting our industry is the Age of Austerity.

Austerity is just the newest term for a decades-old trend. Back in 2003 in Vancouver, there were 100s applicants for just a part-time TEFL position--most were victims of recent public school ESL 'cutbacks'.

spanglish wrote:
Once upon a time a 'native speaker' was a sought after commodity, a rarity. Now, through tech. everybody has got access to the whole world, including plenty of native speakers.


Here in China, the ever increasing demand for native speakers still exceeds supply. If you or others get the sense than online teaching/learning or other tech is taking significant market share away from in-country native speakers, please tell us where you are.

tttompatz wrote:
Demand in East Asia currently hires about 150,000 new EFL teachers per year.

For all of East Asia? Seems low. How old are your figures? Here in China, most employers only prefer a TEFL cert.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fairly current and you will note that it was 150,000 NEW teachers not 150,000 teachers.

China will probably peak at about 500,000 teachers for 200 million students.

Most employers in China would take anyone who can speak English and they pay lip service to a TEFL cert but the requirements for immigration/safea are: a degree, TEFL cert and 2+ years of experience.

Yes, I know that in China, rules are meant to be broken when expedient to do so but if the crap hits the fan it will be the foreigner who pays the price.

.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 938
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
Worse. Much worse. When I goit into it in the late 60s there were lots of jobs that paid reasonably well, Now.....................


But what qual's did such jobs require? Didn't an undergrad degree in 1970 even in something like English lit provide the career opportunities and earning potential of today's masters or doctoral degrees?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9584
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why ask? Are you suggesting that today's qualifications are merely watered-down versions of the degrees issued in the past? If so, I'd agree, as the standard of written English of many teachers has not increased as you'd expect from an increase in higher qualifications. In fact, to judge from just this site, it has drastically fallen, to depths previously described as illiteracy...
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 938
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
Why ask?


I'm curious why Scot47s considers TEFL pays 'much worse' than in the '60s when it paid 'reasonably well'.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 905

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In every field I've ever worked in, anyone who'd been in it say 10+ years would insist it was going to hell in the proverbial handcart. I don't think it's unique to ESL.
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 854
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For any Canadians who have been away from home for a while, there is some serious debate here in Quebec about making all public schools bilingual 50/50 immersion for the year (rather than required ESL courses), so the demand for ESL-qualified public teachers in Quebec is going to skyrocket in the near future. It's not 100% but it is almost certainly going to happen soon!

Quebec is an oddball of TESL/TEFL (being ESL, not EFL, in an English-dominant country) ... and an oddball with many things in general, but the future of TESL here is actually improving with the demand of young francophones wanting and needing advanced English skills.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 584
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LongShiKong wrote:
spanglish wrote:
One issue that seems to be hurting our industry is the Age of Austerity.

Austerity is just the newest term for a decades-old trend. Back in 2003 in Vancouver, there were 100s applicants for just a part-time TEFL position--most were victims of recent public school ESL 'cutbacks'.

spanglish wrote:
Once upon a time a 'native speaker' was a sought after commodity, a rarity. Now, through tech. everybody has got access to the whole world, including plenty of native speakers.


Here in China, the ever increasing demand for native speakers still exceeds supply. If you or others get the sense than online teaching/learning or other tech is taking significant market share away from in-country native speakers, please tell us where you are.

tttompatz wrote:
Demand in East Asia currently hires about 150,000 new EFL teachers per year.

For all of East Asia? Seems low. How old are your figures? Here in China, most employers only prefer a TEFL cert.


Good points, let me respond to some of them.

Age of Austerity: at my current place of work (a not-for-profit entity) we are told everyday via press releases, mandatory training and internal communication that big changes are coming in the near future and that we need to adapt to these changes. We are told that we can no longer do things in the way we used to, that we need to get used to having less money and that we need to start considering ourselves much more as a for-profit entity. Even now, we have strict constraints on budget outlays and everybody from the top down at my organization says to prepare for big changes. How much of this is new and how much of this is a trend of many, many years? I don't know.

Globalization: I was thinking more of Colombia in my post, but I think teachers' experiences there might be applicable to other places. As Colombia has gradually opened up more to the world and more foreigners have arrived there, pay and benefits have come down quite a lot in the last 20 years (a decent high school contract paid at least 50% more 20 years ago than it does now). In the past, somebody with a CELTA, degree and a year of experience could jump into a very well paid, very senior position. Now, you would need 10-20 years experience (most of it in-country), a relevant masters degree and a lot of luck for such a position. Though Colombia is a unique case, I wonder if other countries have seen a greater influx foreigners, which has contributed to driving down wages and benefits.

In terms of technology, this is just a guess (I'm not talking about online classes). Access to a native speaker is much easier through social media than before, a good thing, but makes me wonder if it's also contributing to a downgrade in pay/benefits for our profession.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 905

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spanglish wrote:
I was thinking more of Colombia ... In the past, somebody with a CELTA, degree and a year of experience could jump into a very well paid, very senior position. Now, you would need 10-20 years experience (most of it in-country), a relevant masters degree and a lot of luck for such a position. Though Colombia is a unique case, I wonder if other countries have seen a greater influx foreigners, which has contributed to driving down wages and benefits.


What you are calling 'driving down wages' sounds a lot like 'driving up standards' or at least expectations. Is that such a bad thing? Would anyone argue that a barely-off-the-boat newbie should be able to walk into a senior position?

In the past you could go into work straight from school and climb up through the ranks in almost any field in the UK. Now it's virtually impossible without a degree, often any degree. At least in the example you give they are asking for relevant study and experience. For a senior position, I can only see the positives there.
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