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Best countries for professional development

 
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Best countries for professional development Reply with quote

I keep seeing claims here that some employers write off Chinese and/or Korean experience as irrelevant, apparently on the grounds that if you teach in those countries, neither you nor your employer is interested in your professional development.

I think that's an incredibly foolish generalization for a couple reasons: first in that it will always depend on the individual employer, second in that it seems like there are some other countries that might have even lower standards.

It certainly is true that my employer in Korea was far less interested in giving me useful feedback than my employer in Turkey. However my impression is that this may be because I was far pickier about who I worked for in Turkey (once bitten, twice shy) on account of my Korean experience, and also that my newly promoted boss in Korea was unusually incompetent, since my coworkers there expressed dismay at the decline in feedback and communication since her promotion.

Certainly I get the impression that many Turkish employers are just as bad as employers in Asia. It's possible that as a ratio, the percentage of Turkish employers who devote at least some effort to professional development far exceeds that of Korean (or Chinese) employers who do the same, but I don't think I've worked for enough of either to make a blanket statement, let alone about Korean and Chinese employers vs. the rest of the world.

So I guess I'm wondering a few things:
1. Are there other countries (besides CN and SK) you've heard of potential employers writing off experience in as worthless?

2. Do you think that this attitude towards East Asian experience is fair? (Particularly given that countries in some countries still hire degree-less backpackers, which I don't think is true of either China or Korea.)

3. From what I hear, it's mostly European and Middle Eastern (well, EU and GCC) employers who write off Chinese and Korean experience. Is the standard of professional development in the Gulf States really that much better than Asia?

4. Which countries would you say seem to have the highest percentage of employers offering at a minimum semi-frequent observations, and useful feedback from said observations?

5. Which countries are most likely to offer other forms of professional development, apart from teaching skills? In particular I'm thinking of language classes, though I know that in its ads Wall Street China claims it grooms all long-timers for management positions.

6. In which country, if any, would you say that the you found your employer to have the highest standards of professional development? (In terms of both observations and other opportunities.)

7. If you're an MA holder in a country that you think does a good job of professional development for you, do you think companies in your country make a similar effort for BA holders? (For example I get the impression there's a huge gap in Europe between unis, usually hiring MA holders and language mills, usually hiring BA holders.)

3.4 kuruş for your thoughts,
~Q
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9307
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I keep seeing claims here that some employers write off Chinese and/or Korean experience as irrelevant, apparently on the grounds that if you teach in those countries, neither you nor your employer is interested in your professional development.


Actually, it's not so much about professional development as it is about the expectations for teaching and learning, and that experience in Asia can be extremely different to what is expected in some other regions.

Basically, one can be very highly qualified to teach in Asia, and find that the skills which are successful there do not translate well to other regions.
I have personally known a handful of extremely well-qualified teachers with experience only in Asia who struggled very much in both Canada and in Europe.

Here's a fairly recent thread that brings in a variety of voices on the topic of Asia and the EU and ways they are different; it's worth reading to the second page as it actually remains on topic: http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=95456

Regarding your question 7: there is less professional development in Europe for BA holders, primarily because the wages at this level aren't enough for most people to maintain themselves long-term; they either move up the ladder as regards quals and therefore get the (relatively few) better jobs around or they move on.

Otherwise, as I say, I don't think the distinction made is about professional development. It's more about skill sets, expectations of teachers and learners, experience with different types of learners, how culture impacts what goes on in classrooms, and other factors.

But on the topic of your thread title, the handful of European countries and Canada where I've taught have all had excellent professional development opportunities (once I moved beyond the BA + CELTA equivalent level). For those of us who have stuck it out, paid some dues, and been a bit lucky, there are good opportunities here.

Post Script:
I'm fairly well-qualified and have nearly 15 years of experience, but mine is mostly in Europe, partly in Canada, and I seriously doubt I'd be a very effective teacher in any part of Asia. It really works both ways.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12096
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is not about PD. It is about what a teacher can do in the classroom.

I can assure you that Korean experience is a negative with MANY employers. Ditto for Saudi expereince if you are applying outside KSA.

Not sure that China experience is seen in a negative light by anyone outside PRC.

Best candiudates I have seen are thosw ith a bit of maturity and successful peiod in Peace Corps/VSO etc somewhere DIFFICULT.

The LAST thing I would look at is "The Quality of CPD". Leave that for the IAWAFFLE Conferences.
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spiral, Europe's out for me anyways. This is in part because I'm an American and prefer countries where that doesn't start me at a disadvantage, but mostly because 1. it's so damn expensive there 2. the best opportunities seem to need an MA and 3. I'm interested in emerging economies. (I don't plan to stay in TESOL, and want to develop language skills and contacts where it has the most potential to be lucrative in other lines of work.)

That said, I mentioned point seven, and Europe particularly precisely because of reading your posts on your experience teaching in Europe as an American with a graduate degree, and noticed a sharp contrast between your experience, and the stuff I read on the various European forums posted mostly by people without graduate degrees. I'm curious if it's an issue in other parts of the world.

In Turkey at least it doesn't seem to be as sharp a distinction, though I'll admit I've never met anybody with an MA TESOL here, or any sort of teaching MA for that matter (though I've met a few with an MA in English or literature).

Personally upskilling makes sense if one plans to stay in the game for the long haul, but as things stand now I plan to change careers in a year or two, which isn't nearly enough time to recoup the time and money an MA TESOL would require.

I'm asking about all this more because I was curious about the dismissals of Chinese/Korean experience I sometimes see here than because I think it will help me directly. (Though I will admit that I often find myself wishing Turkish employers offered language classes, as Chinese, Russian, and Latin American ones often seem to.)

~Q
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9307
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Spiral, Europe's out for me anyways. This is in part because I'm an American and prefer countries where that doesn't start me at a disadvantage, but mostly because 1. it's so damn expensive there 2. the best opportunities seem to need an MA and 3. I'm interested in emerging economies. (I don't plan to stay in TESOL, and want to develop language skills and contacts where it has the most potential to be lucrative in other lines of work.)


And I wasn't speaking specifically to you, Quaalchoura, as your OP in this case was general!!


Quote:
I'm asking about all this more because I was curious about the dismissals of Chinese/Korean experience I sometimes see here than because I think it will help me directly.



And it is in that vein that I answered...if you want some input on what people thing about your specific prospects in any given region, feel free to ask for that (we all love to be asked to give opinions:-))!
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 852
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm from Vancouver, British Columbia and did all my teaching in the suburbs. Korean (and Chinese) experience is standard for the majority of ESL instructors because they are the target market in the greater Vancouver area.

The problem is that it is a bonus because ESL instructors here need to use their knowledge of Korea/Korean (China/Chinese) teaching practices when they encounter classroom conflicts. In Vancouver, students are taught in a typical western ESL classroom (focus on verbal communication with less emphasis on lengthy grammar and no rote memory) and this can be a serious problem for students from Asia. Can you imagine my surprise when I read a garbled short paragraph from a Taiwanese student who had an MA in English?

I would imagine that experience in Korea and other Asian countries can be valuable for other urban areas where there is a sizeable Asian immigrant population (Seattle, Los Angeles, Toronto). I'm not sure how this translates to an EFL context though - I can see that being quite problematic.

Unfortunately, many ESL teachers coming from Korea do not have any ESL qualifications beyond a basic certificate and if they do not have experience with a variety of cultural groups, they might be toast in a classroom. How would someone coming from a Korean classroom deal with my French Canadian students? I find them to be the complete opposite to my former students (Korean) in Vancouver. A good teacher can adapt - but there are a lot of fools teaching in Korea.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:10 am    Post subject: Re: Best countries for professional development Reply with quote

Qaaolchoura wrote:

1. Are there other countries (besides CN and SK) you've heard of potential employers writing off experience in as worthless?


Hong Kong: In my first year in China (2001), I worked at a very well-run private language school with a fellow Canadian with a B.Ed. She decided she wanted a more cosmopolitan environment so she applied at a Hong Kong int'l school but was surprised when they rejected her application on account of where she was applying from. However, having mostly Chinese experience didn't prevent me from securing work at private language schools in Vancouver.

Qaaolchoura wrote:

2. Do you think that this attitude towards East Asian experience is fair?

To an extent but without stats, how does one answer that? Not all HR personnel are knowledgeable or experienced enough to ascertain ones teaching ability from an interview which is partly why credentials are so important in some regions.

Qaaolchoura wrote:
6. In which country, if any, would you say that the you found your employer to have the highest standards of professional development? (In terms of both observations and other opportunities.)

Based on experience at several Canadian and several Chinese private language schools, there's more variance within both countries than between them.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12096
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Santi84 says, "There are a lot of fools teaching in Korea."

Why is that ? I met a lot of half-wits in the Middle Eaast too but Korea seems to have a much higher percentage.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
Santi84 says, "There are a lot of fools teaching in Korea."

Why is that ? I met a lot of half-wits in the Middle Eaast too but Korea seems to have a much higher percentage.


Interesting! Could it be the credentialism req'd in the ME?

I just did a quick comparison between regions. If the number of posts per thread is any indication of intelligent discussion, then it would support your assertion. Those of you in Europe, don't take offence by the numbers below, we all know you post on General Discussions. Wink

General Discussions: 14.6
ME (excluding general): 12.2
Asia (excluding general): 9.6
Korea (work-related): 11.5
Japan (job-related): 11.0
China (job-related): 11.0
Europe (excluding general): 8.6

BTW, anyone know why Korean threads are separated from the rest?
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LongShiKong wrote:
scot47 wrote:
Santi84 says, "There are a lot of fools teaching in Korea."

Why is that ? I met a lot of half-wits in the Middle Eaast too but Korea seems to have a much higher percentage.


Interesting! Could it be the credentialism req'd in the ME?

I just did a quick comparison between regions. If the number of posts per thread is any indication of intelligent discussion, then it would support your assertion. Those of you in Europe, don't take offence by the numbers below, we all know you post on General Discussions. Wink

General Discussions: 14.6
ME (excluding general): 12.2
Asia (excluding general): 9.6
Korea (work-related): 11.5
Japan (job-related): 11.0
China (job-related): 11.0
Europe (excluding general): 8.6

BTW, anyone know why Korean threads are separated from the rest?

Turkey = 12.3! Razz

I'm not sure that post density is really an indicator of intelligent discussion, so much as a simple function of the size of the forum (the more people on a forum, the more opportunity for discussion). Also, the Middle East may be have a higher density because of the challenges presented living there.

I think the Korean boards are separated simply because the total number of threads and posters is so much greater. Consider that the Korean forums alone have 2,468,994 "articles" while these forums all together have only 1,026,994. Even considering the wider scope of the Korean forums, they have 174,251 registered users vs 250,894 for these forums, covering the whole rest of the world.

As for why you encounter a greater number of idiots, I think it's because Korea is the only country in the world which is attempting to obtain universal English proficiency via recruitment of native teachers. This makes it incredibly easy to get a well-paying job there. It also means there are a a large number of teachers who've worked at least briefly in Korea, and unlike China and Japan, or pretty much any country (except the Gulf States) there are likely to be far fewer people who go there because they like the culture, meaning they're less likely to stay there. (I went to Korea to get a year's experience since I couldn't get hired from abroad in any country I wanted to work in, then promptly decamped for Turkey, savings in hand, to look for work in person.)

This means that scot might hire say 3 people from Korea, and one each from six other countries, and there's three times the chance that at least one of the Korean-experienced teachers is a complete half-wit compared to teachers from any other single country. Multiply this, and you'll notice a pattern.

Regards,
~Q

PS: I just realized that China and Korea (especially Korea, even though China offers better savings) are the only places I've heard of people entering the EFL field solely for the money. I've heard of people taking jobs in the ME solely for the money, but that's usually after they've already decided to enter the field and worked in it for a bit. This might mean that you're likely to get more people who wouldn't normally choose to travel, and I've found that people who don't like to travel (or only like to travel to all-inclusive beach resorts) often tend to be very closed-minded and inflexible.
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