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TESOL Opportunity in the SF Bay Area?
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golgol



Joined: 21 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:56 pm    Post subject: TESOL Opportunity in the SF Bay Area? Reply with quote

Hi,

I've applied for the SIT TESOL Certificate program that takes place in Berkeley in a few weeks. I received receipt of my application yesterday, and am up for a phone interview in a few days or so. Before I delve in to this program, which will cost about $2000 and about 3 months of my time, I am wondering...are there opportunities for positions in the world of ESL in the Bay area for someone with a B.A. in English Literature, and a TESOL certificate? I understand that job prospects increase with a Master's degree, but I'm not certain I'm ready to make that career dive/transition at this time in my life. I also understand that a TESOL certificate is, on some level, beginning preparation for teaching abroad. But I've only been in the Bay Area for a little under two years, and for the first time in my life, I'm really enjoying my place of residence. Additionally, I've been in a (happy) relationship for ten years, with 3 cats and 2 dogs, and an international move is not the right thing for my 'family' at this time.

My desire is to work with immigrants in the Bay area on their English language skills as a way of empowerment, and also to work with travelers or business people who wish to improve their English while in the Bay area. Is this realistic on a part-time basis? On a full-time basis? I'm open to hearing what the more seasoned folks within this field think.

Thank you:)
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3621
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:00 pm    Post subject: Re: TESOL Opportunity in the SF Bay Area? Reply with quote

In the Bay area, there's Refugee Transitions (http://www.reftrans.org/adult/), which should be a good resource to contact. (I have no personal knowledge of this organization.) However, if you're looking to earn a living teaching refugees, be aware that many such opportunities in California and throughout the US, for that matter, tend to be low or non-paying positions. Additionally, depending on the immigrant population, many community ESL jobs that do pay, may require or prefer teachers be bilingual in Spanish-English. (You can now understand why some teachers end up heading overseas where the demand is high.)

Anyway, the Berkeley SIT TESOL cert website states they provide "guidance and job support to help you find the kind of job that you want." Consider directing your questions to the course providers; they'd be quite familiar with TESOL opportunities in the area for teachers with your background and interests.
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golgol



Joined: 21 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I've stumbled upon Refugee Transitions' website while searching for possible employment opportunities in the Bay area. They're mentioned on the Berkeley SIT TESOL's website in a quote from a graduate's testimony about their experience. But there isn't too much there in terms of paid work. I've also been checking out Craigslist, Indeed, and Idealist, but there's just a smattering of jobs here and there. I wasn't sure if I just wasn't seeing outside the box. I spoke with the contact/instructor for Berkeley SIT TESOL on two occasions about opportunities for people who take the course, but who decide to stay here and find employment in the field. She told me that the state funding was pulled from many adult language programs for immigrants. But that there are private language schools for foreigners who come to the area for their education or work, who also want to improve their language skills. Of course, the opportunities increase with the level of education, but she advised me against going straight into a TESOL Master's program, and I agree with that since I know very little about the profession. I just think about the end result of having a positive impact on immigrants' lives. Here, I should insert that I'm an Iranian immigrant who learned English upon coming to the States when I was 8 (although I was born here and left at 6 weeks old). I've had the 'English light bulb' go off in my head, and I've also seen it go off in other people's heads. The ability to communicate effectively is a real confidence builder, and I think many immigrants suffer from a language insecurity. So maybe I'm being a little sentimental and unrealistic about how I can be involved in the field, given the low wages of the employment opportunities/lack of paid opportunities altogether.

I'm bilingual in Farsi-English (although if there was some way I could incorporate that into a career path, I'd certainly have to brush up on my Farsi). But I'm not so sure that's much help. I guess I was daydreaming about going to a Spanish speaking country to teach, but also gaining an opportunity to learn Spanish as well, then bringing that knowledge back here for gainful employment at some later time in the future. Of course, that involves going abroad sooner than later, which is what I'm trying to avoid at the present moment anyway. Also, after searching through the eslcafe forums, I became aware that the pay in most Spanish speaking countries wouldn't be enough for us to live on (even frugally), AND pay for debts back here. So I'm not sure if any of that is realistic either.

Yes:) I do see why many teachers head overseas. And not just because of the supply and demand aspect of jobs, but also for the personal growth, enrichment, and life experience they bring. It's just not good timing for me to go abroad right now. I'm hoping to find a needle, or even something silver and shiny, in the haystack. I'd be happy working part-time teaching ESL while pursuing and working in other avenues, as well.
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spanglish



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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to help people, you'll have plenty of opportunities in Latin America. Keep in mind though, that the only people able and willing to pay you even a very modest salary will probably be fantastically wealthy, so most of your time will be spent helping the very rich.

There will be opportunities though on weekends if you have the energy.
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Ixchel



Joined: 11 Mar 2003
Posts: 151
Location: The 7th level of hell

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

golgol wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to reply. I've stumbled upon Refugee Transitions' website while searching for possible employment opportunities in the Bay area. They're mentioned on the Berkeley SIT TESOL's website in a quote from a graduate's testimony about their experience. But there isn't too much there in terms of paid work. I've also been checking out Craigslist, Indeed, and Idealist, but there's just a smattering of jobs here and there. I wasn't sure if I just wasn't seeing outside the box. I spoke with the contact/instructor for Berkeley SIT TESOL on two occasions about opportunities for people who take the course, but who decide to stay here and find employment in the field. She told me that the state funding was pulled from many adult language programs for immigrants. But that there are private language schools for foreigners who come to the area for their education or work, who also want to improve their language skills. Of course, the opportunities increase with the level of education, but she advised me against going straight into a TESOL Master's program, and I agree with that since I know very little about the profession. I just think about the end result of having a positive impact on immigrants' lives. Here, I should insert that I'm an Iranian immigrant who learned English upon coming to the States when I was 8 (although I was born here and left at 6 weeks old). I've had the 'English light bulb' go off in my head, and I've also seen it go off in other people's heads. The ability to communicate effectively is a real confidence builder, and I think many immigrants suffer from a language insecurity. So maybe I'm being a little sentimental and unrealistic about how I can be involved in the field, given the low wages of the employment opportunities/lack of paid opportunities altogether.

I'm bilingual in Farsi-English (although if there was some way I could incorporate that into a career path, I'd certainly have to brush up on my Farsi). But I'm not so sure that's much help. I guess I was daydreaming about going to a Spanish speaking country to teach, but also gaining an opportunity to learn Spanish as well, then bringing that knowledge back here for gainful employment at some later time in the future. Of course, that involves going abroad sooner than later, which is what I'm trying to avoid at the present moment anyway. Also, after searching through the eslcafe forums, I became aware that the pay in most Spanish speaking countries wouldn't be enough for us to live on (even frugally), AND pay for debts back here. So I'm not sure if any of that is realistic either.

Yes:) I do see why many teachers head overseas. And not just because of the supply and demand aspect of jobs, but also for the personal growth, enrichment, and life experience they bring. It's just not good timing for me to go abroad right now. I'm hoping to find a needle, or even something silver and shiny, in the haystack. I'd be happy working part-time teaching ESL while pursuing and working in other avenues, as well.


Not to burst your bubble but rather to give you some insight before you spend a lot of money and waste a lot of time. State funded adult schools you mention are attached to school districts and the teachers all have teaching credentials.And even though the hours aren't good for some reason there never are openings. Teachers tend to die in those positions, they don't even retire.

Farsi speakers in California are thick on the ground. Plus even the new immigrants from Iran tend to be well-educated and have a fair amount of English. And as far as Spanish... Most of us who grew up here are bilingual even if we came from homes where Spanish wasn't our first language. So it would be years and years before your Spanish was competitive if ever.

There may be private language schools who would hire you but you'd be competing with teachers with teaching credentials and teachers with MA's in TEFL and most private school are low paying and have no benefits and horrible hours.
I've taught in both California and South America and I agree with Spanglish that anyone you'd teach would be wealthy unless you found some volunteer scheme which do exist.
One thing you could do is go to school and get your teaching credential and CLAD or BCLAD and while you won't teach ESL per se in California (all subject matter is now taught in sheltered English) you'd be teaching limited and non-English speakers in low income areas and making a difference.
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spanglish



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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, you'll probably have plenty of middle-class students as well. I was exaggerating a bit. I just remember the multitudes of (children of) millionaires that I taught in my years over there.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3621
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spanglish and Ixchel:

You might want to reread the OP's initial posting; she/he was looking at getting a (SIT) TEFL cert in order to teach English to adult immigrants in the Bay area---to gain experience with adult learners. Golgol is not looking to head overseas at this time in his/her life nor teach in a bilingual education program at the k-12 level.
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Ixchel



Joined: 11 Mar 2003
Posts: 151
Location: The 7th level of hell

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Spanglish and Ixchel:

You might want to reread the OP's initial posting; she/he was looking at getting a (SIT) TEFL cert in order to teach English to adult immigrants in the Bay area---to gain experience with adult learners. Golgol is not looking to head overseas at this time in his/her life nor teach in a bilingual education program at the k-12 level.

Right. I got that from my original reading but as a lifelong (other than overseas) California resident and teacher (and daughter and niece of teachers) I know there are absolutely no jobs of the type she is looking for. None. If you read my entire post you saw my explanation. Which I was trying to do without being nasty (as you were to Joeysu) or burst her bubble.

If you also read my post I told her that adult education is attached to local school districts and receives the same funding as K-12 which has been hacked to death and thousands of teachers let go. Plus adult school positions require a state teaching credential so she would not qualify even if there were jobs available.

I was trying to steer her towards something within the realm of possibility which might some day be parlayed into something more interesting to her. The few teaching jobs there are go to well-qualified, experienced and bilingual teachers in California. There is no such thing as refugee education in California as an institution. There are over the years occasionally tiny underfunded social service orgs (I'm thinking of the Jewish Family Services that helped Russians in the mid 80's, and occasional churches) which usually ask for volunteer teachers.

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the county. San Jose, due to Silicon Valley billionaires, has the most expensive housing in the country-look it up. Therefore the Bay Area is not overflowing with refugees. And Refugee Transitions and Catholic Charities use volunteers to teach.

It was a lovely fantasy though to which many of us have fallen prey . And again, instead of ripping into her as you often do with posters I tried to give some ideas/suggestions.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3621
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Golgol:

It's obvious that helping newcomers through teaching is something you feel passionate about. I don't know if you're working right now, but if your budget allows, one option you might consider is going ahead and completing the SIT cert and then doing some volunteer teaching---for maybe just 1 to 1 1/2 hours a week---through Refugee Transitions, or a non-denominational church group, or some other nonprofit ESL literacy program. You can start out as a teaching assistant alongside a seasoned teacher. Once you feel more confident in your teaching abilities, look into volunteer teaching your own class. (This is what I did; mine was a citizenship class for immigrants.)

Although you're not likely to get paid, you'll be building your teaching skills in a classroom environment while helping others in your community. Then, once you're ready to transition to teaching EFL overseas on a full time basis, you'll already have had enough "practice" and will be more comfortable in your new teaching situation.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12303
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Ixchel,

"Which I was trying to do without being nasty (as you were to Joeysu) or burst her bubble."

"And again, instead of ripping into her as you often do with posters I tried to give some ideas/suggestions."

Huh - nomad soul being "nasty" and often "ripping into" posters?

Is there another "nomad soul" on these forums? Do you have an "evil twin," nomad soul?

Goodness, I've read lots of nomad soul's posts and I can't recall any nastiness and/or ripping into.

I'm befuddled and bamboozled, not to mention flabbergasted Very Happy

Regards,
John
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golgol



Joined: 21 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nomad Soul: I like the fact that I could get my foot (or at least a toe) in the door of the ESL world through volunteering at Refugee Transitions, or some other similar organization in the area. It would be a good way to gain teaching experience for myself, and if employers in or out of the area recognize volunteer teaching through the same lens they view paid teaching, then I would also gain experience I could use towards a job in the future. I think that's very sound advice. Since I'm definitely thinking of pursuing overseas opportunities at a later time (I've been interested in teaching overseas for a good ten years, but wouldn't you know it that the first time I finally live in the vicinity of a TESOL certification school, I happen to also really like where I live...high cost of living and all), this approach would be a solid use of my time here. Plus who knows what opportunities would become available locally, as a result of involving myself with the ESL community. From this angle, it's a win-win situation either way.

Ixchel: While I appreciate your insight, I'm truly not interested in working within the k-12 school systems. I finished one lone semester towards a teaching certificate for teaching secondary English (in lieu of the ESL program I wanted to take, but couldn't because of distance) a few years ago in North Carolina. Long story short, but I didn't think it was a good fit for me. I may be interested in getting a master's in TESOL, but I really don't know enough about the field to make that leap. Perhaps I could get certified, gain experience through volunteer or paid work while continuing to enjoy my relatively new place of residence, then teach abroad and gain further experience, and then if I ever want to come back to the States, I could work on my MA in TESOL (or not, if I'm disinterested with the field, or if opportunities are nonexistent at that time). If I take the SIT TESOL course, I'd still only be looking for part-time work, somewhere between 10-20 hours a week, here in the Bay area. I currently work 3 nights a week at one job, and also work on an 'as needed' basis in the micro business I co-own. I'd initially just want to plug additional work with ESL here and there, rather than rely solely on that income (until I become ready to leave the area).

Spanglish: Thank you for pointing that out for the future. It's a good reality to keep in mind, as I'm sure it's a trend not only in Latin America, but also, throughout the world. I think I could be happy combining work with wealthy/middle class folks with volunteer work (and I'd still feel like I was doing something positive).
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DebMer



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 211
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are the requirements for teaching ESL in California and Nevada: http://www.catesol.org/minqual.html

My California multiple subject CLAD credential was of no use to me in getting my non-credit community college ESL instructor position. Rather, it was my B.A. in English that qualified me. Technically, ESL instructors at state colleges are also required to have a (non-specific) TESOL cert, but my department has left it up to the instructors to get it, with the understanding that if the college has an audit, those without certs. will be out of a job.

Also, golgol, it was a long time ago (1986),but I did an internship with St. John's Tutoring Center in the Mission District in SF, and they accommodated my request to work with ELLs by placing me in a local high school ESL class. I'm guessing that opportunities to volunteer and get experience abound.
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golgol



Joined: 21 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DebMer, thank you for the information. It's nice to know that there's a sliver of hope for me on this planet:) I hadn't previously heard of St. John's Tutoring Center (or Mission Graduates, the name they apparently go by now). It's good to have another organization to add to the list of possible future opportunities.
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DebMer



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 211
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

golgol wrote:
DebMer, thank you for the information. It's nice to know that there's a sliver of hope for me on this planet:) I hadn't previously heard of St. John's Tutoring Center (or Mission Graduates, the name they apparently go by now). It's good to have another organization to add to the list of possible future opportunities.


If you have a B.A. in English, a foreign language, multicultural studies or communications, check out any community colleges near you and get a hold of the continuing education department to ask about openings for non-credit ESL classes. You probably won't find full time work (we're limited to 10 hours/week at my site), but it's a start, and can give you a feel for the work. In my case, teaching adult ESL has been such a good experience that I'm working toward starting a related masters in order to be eligible for more opportunities. If you don't have a B.A., you will likely still find places to volunteer and get experience while you decide what your goals are.
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golgol



Joined: 21 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, DebMer. Yes! I have a B.A. in English. I really didn't think that would help me much. Even after reading through the catesol requirements numerous times, I assumed I was missing something (other than a TESOL certificate and experience, of course), but perhaps I can make it work out after all. I'd actually only be looking for 10-20 hours a week, so that seems like it might be a great match.
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