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Working as an entry-level EFL teacher

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Joined: 25 Oct 2013
Posts: 3
Location: ireland

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:27 pm    Post subject: Working as an entry-level EFL teacher Reply with quote

Just say you were at the beginning of your career and you were accepted for a job by an organization who you didn't know much about but were nice to you and seemed professional. Fast forward four months later and the employer becomes overly demanding and you start to feel exploited by the organization and you want to leave, but the problem is that you have no references and you want to apply for a new EFL job. What do you tell the next employer?

(By the way, none of this has happened to me, this is just a fear I have and I want to know what I should do if I was in that situation).
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Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9135
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Overly demanding" and "exploited" are entirely subjective. This could run a range from

'I didn't think EFL was a REAL job - I though I'd have a lot of free time to enjoy the country and stuff!'


'They're breaking the standards set out in the contract I signed."

There is no way to say how you'd explain leaving your first contract early to a potential new employer without knowing what actually 'happened.' Impossible to speculate in advance!
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Xie Lin

Joined: 21 Oct 2011
Posts: 288

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are so many variables that it is really difficult to give any kind of meaningful answer to such a hypothetical situation. Which country you are working in, as well as whether you want to continue working in the same country or move to another will also make a difference. China requires a reference letter from your last employer to change jobs. (While there seem to be ways around this in some locations, not having it complicates your life significantly.) In some countries, you will have work permit issues; in others, not.

Basically you will have to weigh the degree of employer abuse/miserable working conditions against your agreed upon contractual requirements and your legal responsibility to complete the contract. Make no mistake: quitting a contract will weaken you application in the eyes of your next potential employer. You need to have a compelling case that conditions were genuinely intolerable. You should be able to make the case that the EMPLOYER broke the contract by reason of ________ (whatever abuse is causing you to leave.) Otherwise you'll just be seen as a whiny, complaining, pampered prima donna who can't stick with a job. So decide in advance to complete the contract unless your health or sanity is in jeopardy.

Alternatively, as a first job, you may simply be able to leave it off your CV, depending on your location. (Then, of course, you have no teaching experience to offer.) You'll have to weigh the disadvantages to your CV of a broken contract vs. no experience.

However, this is not the best place for your attention as a first-time applicant. Rather than worrying about how to get a second job if your first is so miserable you have to quit, you would do better to focus on how to minimize the chances of such a job in the first place. Long-term, of course, the answer is ongoing professional development and better qualifications. For that first entry-level job, it's due diligence, research, and common sense. Find out everything you can about the potential employer. Try to talk to former employees. Review the contract carefully.

It is simply not possible to foresee all problems you may encounter. But you can reduce them to an acceptable level. You are taking a risk, and that involves a certain amount of . . .well, risk. Once you have a few years under your belt, you'll be much more able to anticipate potential problems. For example: the contract specified 22 teaching hours per week, but didn't mention that you'll spend another (unpaid) 22 hours traveling to your classes? It didn't mention that your first class of the day will start at 6:00 a.m., and your last will get over at 9:00 p.m.? That you are expected to cover your sick colleagues classes without additional pay? And so on . . . Very Happy

Last edited by Xie Lin on Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:29 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8641
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If is your first EFL job, and you have nothing to compare it to, then stick with it till the end. (Unless contracts are being blithely torn up on the company's side, perhaps, or your health ans safety are suffering.) Then, you'll tell your next potential employer that you learnt a lot from your previous school, but do not feel staying with them for another contract will help you to continue your professional development.
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Joined: 15 Mar 2013
Posts: 138
Location: The Land That Time Forgot

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is why it's best to do lots of research beforehand. Asking other, more experienced, teachers about a particular job wouldn't be a bad idea and would be much more likely to provide you with the chance to start working for a reasonable company.
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