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What's the ESL scene like in Tbilsi ?

 
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Archie Rice



Joined: 13 Feb 2013
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:51 pm    Post subject: What's the ESL scene like in Tbilsi ? Reply with quote

I am a CELTA qualified British native with 3 years experience working as an in-company teacher. Am thinking of Georgia as my possible next location.

Anyone with any experiences of working in Georgia would love to hear them.
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jooooooey



Joined: 16 Dec 2009
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There´s not a lot of English long-established teaching institutes there, but there´s a big demand for teachers. I went there with the Teach and Learn with Georgia program. If you don´t mind working with kids, it´s probably the best paying job there compared to the cost of living, but maybe you won´t get put in Tbilisi. I started picking up private students after I´d been there for a while and saved a little money.

I met a woman who had married a Georgian man and lived there. She worked in a university and liked it, but I remember that I made better money than her in the "volunteer" program.

There are one or two international primary and secondary schools there for licensced teachers. I´ve seen them advertised here on Dave´s, you´d make good money there but it`s probably hard to get into.

I loved Georgia, the people there were great, incredibly friendly and welcoming and interested in your culture. I made a lot of friends. The school system had problems, it was still under the soviet mentality, but the students were a lot of fun. You don´t make much money there, but the cost of living is really low.
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:14 am    Post subject: There isn't an ESL "scene" in GE. Reply with quote

I lived and worked there for almost 2 years. Was fortunate enough to get a job on-site with BP at Supsa terminal through a 3rd party contract for about a year. Other decent jobs are far and few in between.

The Peace Corp and previously mentioned government program (suspended ?) has flooded area with cheap to no pay competition. From my understanding and observations the latter tends to work a few months, then realizes/thinks they can (possibly) make better money freelancing in Tbilisi. Lots of bodies little well paying work. For an experienced teacher, Tbilisi is the only shot, but even then it is going to be more famine than feast. There is also a propensity to offer interviews/jobs and then "will get back with you", [after we try to hustle up some business...].

Wonderful country though. Hospitable people, good food, wine and scenery. If you are going for the "Playboy" routine better think again. It is a fairly conservative place. But, I'm sure you're different and will have too many offers to choose from and be fighting the birds off!... Wink


Last edited by maqueen on Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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LAR1SSA



Joined: 02 Nov 2013
Posts: 35
Location: Memphis

PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:40 pm    Post subject: Re: What's the ESL scene like in Tbilsi ? Reply with quote

Archie Rice wrote:
I am a CELTA qualified British native with 3 years experience working as an in-company teacher. Am thinking of Georgia as my possible next location.

Anyone with any experiences of working in Georgia would love to hear them.


I almost did teach and learn with Georgia, but didn't (went to kiev where I made a lot more money and got the chance to learn about post soviet culture). I know and met a few people who did and the pay is pretty bad, yet like the other poster said, they made more money than some of the other teachers there. Teach and Learn with Georgia has allowed for a lot of unqualified random people with just a college degree (and some without) to saturate the tiny country making around 300 a month with some of that going towards the host family. The program now only puts people in rural areas and in schools where the students care less about English education. Its frustrating and unproductive BUT you do get flights included! However, who the hell wants to live with someone parents again as an adult?! You might find yourself blowing money on going to the city and staying in hostels to get personal space and entertainment.

There are few language schools around the city and the pay is bad. Some of the people I know in the government program did freelance which paid decently and is a good option if you can get consistent students who dont cancel.

On another note, the country is absolutely beautiful, the food is amazing, and the people are friendly! However, for the amount of money people are paid there compared to the cost of things in Tbilisi I dont know how anyone survives w/o living with a host family who shelters and feeds them.
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Sumbo11



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the contrary LAR1SSA, village students are usually the most studious, respectful, and interested in learning. The city dwellers were known to be the least interested. There are things more important than money, and the cultural and teaching experience that I had with TLG has left a profound impact upon my life and career as a teacher.

Archie,

I would send BC or IH Tbilisi an e-mail.
http://www.britishcouncil.org/ge.htm
http://www.ihtbilisi.ge/index.php?page=1&lang=eng
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would surmise from OP's experience and qualifications that a "profound impact upon life and career as a teacher" aren't their goals, unless they are wanting to go the altruism route. Somebody somewhere is making a lot of money off TLG recruits naivety. Even happens with Peace Corps volunteers being placed into private businesses.

You're basically just being "the monkey playing a tambourine" or working really hard without being properly compensated. This isn't to say people don't try, but performance standards are nil, hence not having to have any experience. Screws the whole thing up for those who try to be professional and earn living wages. Ditto LAR1SSA almost 100%!
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 179

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:02 pm    Post subject: Re: There isn't an ESL "scene" in GE. Reply with quote

maqueen wrote:
Other decent jobs are far and few in between.


This is dead on. IH and BC have the only two good schools in the country. LSE is ok -- maybe. I've had no personal dealings with them, but they run a teacher training course which is staffed by people who only have a CELTA. Raises an eyebrow, to say the least.

maqueen wrote:
There is also a propensity to offer interviews/jobs and then "will get back with you", [after we try to hustle up some business...].


I had several friends who were given jobs and then fired and replaced with Georgian teachers after only a week or two. Why? The companies advertised things like "We only hire TKT/CELTA/DELTA qualified native teachers!", got a round of students, and no longer had a use for the foreigners.

Quote:
Wonderful country though.


True enough.
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mzuri



Joined: 30 May 2011
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also a TLG alumna.

Had a great year in Georgia, based in Rustavi (an under-valued city).

TLG focused almost exclusively on teaching public school students. (There was also a police program, and I spent most of my year teaching police, but very few TLGers participated in that beyond a summer.) The local teachers were paid (and still are unless some of the promised raises went through) barely sustainable wages - they made their income by tutoring students on the side. In effect, then, every TLGer who tutored public school students affected the quality of life for the local teachers who worked in stressful conditions for a pittance.

I did side work tutoring adult professionals. In one case, I was the native speaker that a small private school offered as a separate program. My job was to offer conversational practice in a group setting. My students were mostly bank or telecommunications professionals. I also tutored a small group of doctors. And, finally, I worked with a graduate student on IELTS preparation. All gigs were fairly lucrative by Georgian standards.

This is where I think the money is - working with adults who have missed the transition from Russian to English in the secondary and university levels. IELTS preparation may be another niche.

Tbilisi might be the knee-jerk destination to set up TEFL shop, but consider as well Rustavi, Kutaisi, and Batumi.
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 179

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Posting again to clarify something:

When I said IH and BC run the only good schools in Georgia, I wasn't talking about salaries. I was talking about quality and professional development.

Anyone can go to a foreign country and make a buck teaching English, but that isn't what teaching should be about.

Here's an example of what I mean: at most of the language schools in Tbilisi, Georgian teachers use books like English File, Speak Out, Total English, etc but they mangle the lessons into an hour and a half grammar lecture and the only "speaking" practice the students get is reciting grammar rules or a verbatim recital of something they read. The schools then hire foreign teachers to give "conversation classes" with zero materials, academic support, or care for quality. Anyone who is qualified as an EFL teacher knows this isn't how things should work.

If the only thing you want out of your time teaching EFL is to make a small percent of what a language school charges a group of students without any academic support, development opportunities, materials, or expectations, then Tbilisi just might be the place for you to work (barring IH, BC, and possible LSE).
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mzuri



Joined: 30 May 2011
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I respect your first-hand experience, golsa.

My first-hand experience is that in Rustavi, I was a native speaker who did exactly what you described in rather negative terms. I provided conversation sessions for a small, private ESL school. The director did all the heavy lifting re: grammar work in the students' main sessions. She ensured that her students, by God, *knew* what was what.

I was never at a loss for conversation fodder, sometimes playing a short podcast from a special-English VOA or BBC broadcast as a topic focus. Although the school director was very proficient in English, her students placed a high value on the opportunity to talk with a native speaker. So everyone benefited - me, the director, and the students.

The school director didn't just yank any English native-speaker off the street, either. She had certain qualities/skills she sought, and I happened to meet them. And so would have a number of my TLG colleagues in Rustavi.

But besides all that, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make a buck from one's profession. There's nothing unclean about it.
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 179

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is not my personal experience as I have never worked for a private language school in Georgia.

Perhaps some people are happy to provide conversational lessons to students and some of us are not. Some of us see ourselves as career minded teachers and future employers who demand quality experience do not look highly on such teaching experience. Should you want to progress beyond volunteer programs and third rate schools, I think you too will find that no one respects one's time at these schools.

But if the only thing you want to get from your time spent while teaching EFL is to feel good, just go to class and chat with students while thinking that you're teaching FCE/CAE/IELTS/what ever.
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teablisea



Joined: 22 Apr 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saw this thread and made an account to come here and make a few comment about the EFL scene in Tbilisi.

A while back I went to Tbilisi on an extended vacation and decided to look for work. I have an undergrad in TESOL and with an integrated CELTA and 3 years experience. I joined the local Facebook group and learned about the two main local job hunting sits and started looking for work before coming. EFL job listings seemed plentiful at the time so I wasn't worried about finding work.

Got here and sent off a few resumes and plenty of interviews, so things looked great at first. Then reality set in.

I got to the interviews and quickly learned that the Callan method was the dominant method in the city. I refused to take a position at one of these schools and kept looking.

Here is what I found:

I took one job at a school teaching IELTS at one school for the princely sum of 20 GEL/hour (~$11/hour) at only 2 hours per week with no other classes. I had to travel 45 minutes to the school, plan lessons, and make photocopies at my own expense. The school yanked me around for two weeks before giving me the job and had me show up 5-6 different times, one of which included watching the students take an exam and giving them the answers, before they gave me the job. After they were convinced the students liked me, they gave me the job and asked me to email anything I wanted to print before the class, which I did the next day. The materials included relevant pages from a Cambridge IELTS exam course book. They quickly called me and asked me to come in for a "training session," where a local yokel teacher told me that I needed to teach 1/3rd of the class from an advanced business English book, 1/3rd from an intermediate level general English book, and 1/3rd from an elementary English Vocabulary in Use book. For the English Vocabulary in Use book, I was told to write all of the words and their definitions on the board and lecture the students. I quit this job after two weeks.

The next place to get in contact with me offered about $10.50 per 90 minute lesson with no materials provided. I reluctantly accepted and started doing interviews with students about exactly why the school offered separate speaking classes, which I was responsible for teaching, as this school used books like Speak Out and New English File, which have integrated speaking tasks. The students told me that classes with the Georgian teachers consisted of grammar, memorizing readings, and coming back to the class to retell (apparently, it's a big thing in their post-Soviet education system) the readings in front of the class the next day. I did a few sloppy lessons using randomly thrown together production activities without any kind of language input or practice for a week and was then told that the school didn't have work for me the next week. The job consisted of working 6 days split shits one week and then no work the second week. Needless to say, this was completely unacceptable as it would make it extremely difficult for me to find a second job, so I quit after learning there was no work for me on the second week. Nope, they didn't bother to tell me until the second week!

One of the job listings I encountered was for teaching EFL at an international school, which seemed appealing, so I applied. The school was in a distant region of the city, but at least it offered the potential for stable work in Tbilisi, which had already struck me as being difficult to find. So anyway, I went to the interview and quickly learned that this international school was run by a Callan method school, so they weren't too please with my resume that had numerous references to CLT. Why did they even bother to interview me? They told me that the job actually involved teaching a content class about computers and internet technology and the interviewers added a very rudely worded question about why I didn't want to work in my own profession. I pointed out that their school made an advertisement for EFL teachers and that my education, qualifications, and experience was in exactly that area and not content based instruction. I suggested that I could teach the course after taking a on-line module on CLIL through Cambridge and the interviewers scoffed at me and said they didn't know what CLIL is. They then asked about pay, to which I told them I would need about $1,200 per month, which is a living wage for foreigners in Tbilisi. They then berated me for wanting too much money, asked why I didn't have private students (uhhhhh because I expect a living wage from my employer and arrived here just a few weeks ago?), and told me they would "make an offer within our guidelines" which I turned down.

Got another job interview where they wanted me to teach groups of 30-50 kids in an after hours public school program for all of $3.41/hour plus $1.14/lesson in transit money with no materials provided. Walked straight out of that interview because they were charging $6/head to the students' parents.

OK. Those were the bad experiences. I did have a two interviews at small schools which were trying to do well, including trying to use good teaching methods and decent pay (~$17/hour), but with very, very few hours per week. At one place, I observed an untrained teacher doing half-baked CLT with an over emphasis on grammar, but it sure beat anything else I'd seen in Tbilisi.

A few other places contacted me about the potential to teach one student 2-3 times per week..... I took these and sent them written placement tests and an oral evaluation to print out before meeting the student. They never bothered to print them because they didn't have a printer or copy machine and couldn't be bothered to spend $0.28 at the copy shop before enrolling a private student. I winged it and they suggested that I use illegally made copies of the old Cutting Edge books (bit hard to make that book work one on one, eh?), which they didn't have CDs or teacher's books for. When I suggested they used a different book, which I have all of the materials for, they became upset and couldn't understand why it was a problem for me to find all of the answers, do without a teacher's CD, plan lessons, and travel to their site to teach a one hour class for under $6/hour.

So there you have a bit of information about the EFL scene in Tbilisi. Someone else mentioned Tbilisi having a few good schools, but I don't buy it. I was quite happy to leave the place and frankly wish I hadn't bothered to go there the first place. Based on my experience, I would characterize the schools as having no concern for quality and that they only want to make money off foreign teachers. Maybe others have glowing stories to tell, but I don't think any reasonable EFL teacher would have dealing with anything I encountered there.
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teablisea



Joined: 22 Apr 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By pure coincidence I got in contact with the person who took the job at the international school I mentioned.

She said they've only been paying her 2/3rds of the promised amount also said that she'd been pressured to change her final grades if she wanted to have a job this autumn. Does anyone want to deal with that for for $375 a month? Evil or Very Mad
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