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Feasibility of Teaching Immediately after Uni Graduation?

 
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maximondo



Joined: 18 Aug 2016
Posts: 2
Location: Hamilton, ON, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:59 pm    Post subject: Feasibility of Teaching Immediately after Uni Graduation? Reply with quote

Hello all, forum newbie here. I have a huge number of questions about English teaching overseas.
I am set to finish university in Canada in April of 2017 and have decided that I would like to transition into teaching in East or Southeast Asia as an English teacher as soon as possible after I graduate. I am not doing this because I am 100% positive that I want to teach ESL as a career, but because this would be an opportunity to explore a potential career path. Of course, there's also the appeal of going overseas as an adventure, but I'm primarily interested in exploring teaching ESL as a career option.

First thing's first: I have no formal teaching experience whatsoever, and I'm graduating with a degree in History, not English or Linguistics. I am planning to volunteer as a tutor for int'l students in my last year, so let's rule out the possibility that teaching is absolutely is not for me. I'll be making sure I have some idea about what I'm getting into before I head abroad.

I have read that getting a CELTA certification is an excellent start to teaching ESL as a career, and I want to be able to do my job correctly, but I have some reservations about paying for it before I even begin teaching. As I mentioned, I cannot say I am 100% committed into turning teaching ESL into a long-term career, and may be doing it, depending on how much it ends up appealing to me, for as little as 8 months.

I guess Question 1 is: would you recommend taking CELTA from the outset considering that I may not be doing it for very long. FYI I do care about doing my job correctly, but if self-training is a viable alternative and I can still get a job which pays enough to save some money then I'd prefer not to pay $2500+ CDN for the certification and just get a less expensive certification instead.

Question 2 is sort of an extension of the first: can you recommend any particular countries which have a job market for people such as myself, who are inexperienced? I have not really settled on one country in particular, but I am interested in teaching in places such as Japan, S.Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Question 3: Will having a degree in History be an obstacle to finding a job teaching ESL? Does it depend on the country? See Question 2.

I figure that there are a lot of misconceptions riddling my post, and I know I'm asking pretty "big questions" but if you can even partially answer one of my questions, or point me in the direction of resources which might be useful to me, I'd be really grateful.

Hard to TL;DR this thing, sorry
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penguin2004



Joined: 31 Jul 2015
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Maximondo. Welcome to the forums.

Quote:
As I mentioned, I cannot say I am 100% committed into turning teaching ESL into a long-term career, and may be doing it, depending on how much it ends up appealing to me, for as little as 8 months.


It is fine not to be 100% committed to ESL as a 'long term career'. Most ESL teachers seem to do it for 1-3 years before returning home. In the UK we call it a 'gap year'.

I have to say 8 months seems a bit short. Is there any reason for this? You should be aware that most employers will want you to commit to a 1 year contract (I guess an academic year is under 12 months but still, more than 8 months). You may get the odd employer looking for a few months but generally it isn't worth them going through the hassle of employing you for short time periods.

Quote:
Question 1 is: would you recommend taking CELTA from the outset considering that I may not be doing it for very long.


You have obviously done your research and already know that the CELTA and CertTESOL are THE reputable certs for newbies getting into TEFL. They are well-known and seen favourably by most employers, that's for sure.

I would agree that you don't HAVE to get a cert right away! You can definitely get a newbie-type job of some kind with just your degree.

Certain regions/employers DO require you to have the cert. Just as some employers will require the degree, a reputable cert plus X years of experience. It just depends on the region and employer.

Quote:
Question 2 is sort of an extension of the first: can you recommend any particular countries which have a job market for people such as myself, who are inexperienced?


Well...China definitely comes to mind! I had a degree, but no teaching experience or a cert and China welcomed me with open arms! They just need the degree for visa purposes, really. Just look on any TEFL jobs site and you'll see there are plenty of opportunities in the PRC. I know some people are a bit cautious about China but I found it to be a fun experience overall.


Quote:
Question 3: Will having a degree in History be an obstacle to finding a job teaching ESL? Does it depend on the country? See Question 2.

I can't see why this would be a problem. My degree in English but few if any of the other teachers I've met had a degree that was related to teaching ESL.
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 1317
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maximondo, I would suggest committing yourself to a minimum of one school year, rather than eight months (if you hate the experience). The job market in Canada is difficult for History majors and most majors in general, so you'll want to make sure you can at least come home with verified employment and/or a good reference - if you decide that it isn't for you.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 742
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Feasibility of Teaching Immediately after Uni Graduation Reply with quote

maximondo wrote:
Hello all, forum newbie here. I have a huge number of questions about English teaching overseas.
I am set to finish university in Canada in April of 2017 and have decided that I would like to transition into teaching in East or Southeast Asia as an English teacher as soon as possible after I graduate. I am not doing this because I am 100% positive that I want to teach ESL as a career, but because this would be an opportunity to explore a potential career path. Of course, there's also the appeal of going overseas as an adventure, but I'm primarily interested in exploring teaching ESL as a career option.

First thing's first: I have no formal teaching experience whatsoever, and I'm graduating with a degree in History, not English or Linguistics. I am planning to volunteer as a tutor for int'l students in my last year, so let's rule out the possibility that teaching is absolutely is not for me. I'll be making sure I have some idea about what I'm getting into before I head abroad.

I have read that getting a CELTA certification is an excellent start to teaching ESL as a career, and I want to be able to do my job correctly, but I have some reservations about paying for it before I even begin teaching. As I mentioned, I cannot say I am 100% committed into turning teaching ESL into a long-term career, and may be doing it, depending on how much it ends up appealing to me, for as little as 8 months.

I guess Question 1 is: would you recommend taking CELTA from the outset considering that I may not be doing it for very long. FYI I do care about doing my job correctly, but if self-training is a viable alternative and I can still get a job which pays enough to save some money then I'd prefer not to pay $2500+ CDN for the certification and just get a less expensive certification instead.

Question 2 is sort of an extension of the first: can you recommend any particular countries which have a job market for people such as myself, who are inexperienced? I have not really settled on one country in particular, but I am interested in teaching in places such as Japan, S.Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Question 3: Will having a degree in History be an obstacle to finding a job teaching ESL? Does it depend on the country? See Question 2.

I figure that there are a lot of misconceptions riddling my post, and I know I'm asking pretty "big questions" but if you can even partially answer one of my questions, or point me in the direction of resources which might be useful to me, I'd be really grateful.

Hard to TL;DR this thing, sorry


I discourage people more and more from this rent-a-career approach. Because money is so tight for everybody these days and salaries/benefits are shrinking for all but the finance boys/politicians, you really need to make a decision - a commitment - and go with it. Sure maybe one year teaching max is okay if you're just gonna quit after, but it would be far better if you got started planning and training for the long-term immediately. What this means is that ideally you would get your CELTA/Trinity/SIT 120 hour certificate before you begin teaching and immediately begin planning for (ie studying for and applying for) your DELTA (module 2 first, then modules 1 and 3) or an MA in Teaching/EFL/ESL/Applied Linguistics or teaching certification for international schools (ie get qualified to teach in Canadian public schools, get a couple years experience at home then go abroad and teach at schools diplomats and rich folks send their kids to - the most lucrative route by far).

Jobs are shrinking rapidly and it is far better to get trained up fast than it is to wander around doing subsistence level jobs.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Know your markets. Places like Japan require only a vanilla degree, so a cert (no matter what its cost is or isn't) adds nothing to the entry-level wages; furthermore, the relatively small classes in private language schools there (in which, given often a mere handful of students, it would be rather perverse for the teacher to just sit back and monitor or whatever too much, assuming of course that the eikaiwa were independent, and thus giving the teacher relatively free reign and not imposing its own methods regardless), or the JTE-led Grammar-Translationy exam-focussed classes in JET programme or dispatch AETing in Japanese public schools, are both ill-suited to or indeed against certainly too explicit a CELTA-style or similarly "hyperactive" methodology.

Places like China meanwhile may be more suited to it, if only because of the generally larger class sizes, though they may still need some "training" in order to more willingly work with if not fully accept lashings of pair work etc. It's an unfortunate fact that in more EFLy than ES(O)Ly climes, the students may feel they have come to talk more to you than primarily just to each other (and then there is the issue of them falling back on their shared language amongst themselves, though translation can be a useful tool if used sparingly by at least the teacher, provided he or she has learnt anything of the local language and isn't thus "dependent" on only the so-called Direct Method).

But let's not kid ourselves that the more able students anywhere owe that much of their fluency to what some CELTA grad here or there may (or just as likely, may not) have imparted to the unfortunates languishing in their classes, and the CELTA doesn't have a monopoly on the concept let alone the phenomenon of communication, does it. And even in larger classes a more dyadic than too-diffuse "talking or rather lecturing to nobody in particular" tone might be more helpful and desirable, might it not? (It would at least give those listening in a chance to hear some genuine interaction for once). That is, if you are not talking to anyone (that is, preferably to any one person) in particular, that is surely the very definition of lecturing. (NB: Lecturing is certainly an accusation that the more vociferous proponents of the CELTA make against anyone who questions or criticizes the supposedly always so communicative methods that it employs).

So, self-training may indeed be the name of the game...at least for those possibly intending to bail only 8 months into generally year-long contracts. But seriously, I do have some resource recommendations, but will hold off posting them until you (if you ever? LOL) get back to us, Maximondo. All I'll say for now is that the linguistic input and analysis (and principled justifications, functional fidelity, possible alternative exponents, etc etc) from trainers is pretty limited on the CELTA, so you will be having to teach yourself the vast majority of the grammar, phonetics etc and establishing what's really what anyway and either way, and may be wanting to ignore or move beyond the conversationally rather arid style of the CELTA ASAP, especially if your students would prefer a more personally involved and involving than detached approach.

These really are not unfair criticisms versus at least some expectations of a lot of the usual methodology. In TEFL, you are there to hopefully and convincingly instantiate, not just talk about and around, the language, and it may thus behove you to make it actually come alive beyond the text on the page or in the audio. Many teachers only present quite detached models and are made to almost feel ashamed (or certainly look uncomfortable) for fear of accusations of "hogging" the "talk" if they themselves dare to become an actual participant if not the central model. It is a strange state of affairs for any methodology claiming to be communicative, as students will surely ascertain meanings better from truly interpersonal communication than almost arms-length instruction. Try to become the language (but obviously don't just blather on too much with completely unplanned, "unfocussed" chit chat, take your cues from various language points and topics etc in planning beforehand). There are plenty of points somewhat in the abstract/only minimally-contextualized in textbooks, grammars and dictionaries, but making them relate to you and the students is where you the "teacher" come in. Putting that another way, the way a lot of teachers "talk" they might as well just hand their students a self-study book for all the interpersonal value those teachers are[n't] adding (to what often should be more the underlying material). Try to show more of the functions rather than just explain forms (or at least show a wider, less deliberately-constrained range of forms, as alternative forms may express a certain function better). Yes this is language teaching but people don't usually remark too much on the forms they are using in speech (unless it's just in passing or they are playing some form of word game). A lot of students are hoping to "learn" how to speak, not just essentially go over grammar that they may have already studied to some extent.

Anyway, just trying to give you some pointers for what may and may not be more appropriate and more effective for some Asian contexts. And just be aware that some who might presume to give you advice on what you should and shouldn't do in Asia have in fact never taught there (though they may claim to know all about Asian students if not contexts from having taught a few who were studying in the West and thus more at the mercy of a "chosen" methodology).

Lastly, I can see where Spanglish is coming from but think whatever formal investments are facing diminishing returns nowadays. But if you got the money to burn then why not.Cool
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maximondo



Joined: 18 Aug 2016
Posts: 2
Location: Hamilton, ON, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:11 pm    Post subject: Uhhh.... I'm back Reply with quote

Embarassed WOW!! I bet none of you expected to ever hear from me again but "I'm back." Horrific manners on my part, I'm sure, and you'll have to take it from me that I'll be around on a daily/ semi-daily basis from this point onward. Excuses are worthless on the internet, so I'll just get back to the point direct.

In order:
Thank you, penguin2004, I'm glad you could help assuage my worries about my degree.


Santi: I was not aware that contracts less than 1 year were that rare. I am not planning to bail out of a contract. I know as well as anyone that references are important, not gonna burn that bridge. I will likely commit to a one year contract.

Spanglish, though I appreciate the advice, I figure that, at a ripe 21 years of age, I can hold off on full-on career commitment for a year or two. I'm not in a desperate situation. If this "experiment" (though one would hope it will be more) happens to put the nail in my career coffin then so be it.

Fluffyhamster. Thank you so much for the response. I am a bit mortified to have drawn this response out of you only to effectively disappear, that must have been frustrating to you. I must admit that I am having a bit of trouble understanding the specifics of what you're telling me about language teaching but, from what I understand, the CELTA helps in some areas with employment, and to an extent with teaching, but self-education might in fact be the best route to take especially if you want to be an engaging teacher.

I am extremely interested in the resources you hinted you might be able to provide me, and I hope we can speak further on the topic. (I may PM you, if it is possible, with this same message to make sure you get it. Hopefully that is not obnoxious).

Again, sorry everyone who responded for having disappeared. Real life got in the way.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11512
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I must admit that I am having a bit of trouble understanding the specifics of what you're telling me about language teaching but, from what I understand, the CELTA helps in some areas with employment, and to an extent with teaching, but self-education might in fact be the best route to take especially if you want to be an engaging teacher.


Please note that the above hamster himself has a 20-year-old CTEFLA (and nothing more recent so far as I am aware - he'll certainly correct me at length if I'm wrong) and has spent much of his career on Dave's since disparaging the qualification. Today's CELTA is not the same animal and is generally viewed as giving newbies the basic tools to get started effectively. After that, clearly self-education is a reasonable PART of ongoing professional development. However, don't overlook peer observation, student evaluation, and other actual certification/degrees as valuable. Reading in isolation and trying out what you've read without feedback from at least peers doesn't really produce the best in teaching.

But all this is for later, in the case that you find you want to stay in the field. A CELTA or equivalent is needed to compete on many job markets, and regardless of its other values, that's reason enough to get one.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11384
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maximondo wrote:
I am set to finish university in Canada in April of 2017 and have decided that I would like to transition into teaching in East or Southeast Asia as an English teacher as soon as possible after I graduate. I am not doing this because I am 100% positive that I want to teach ESL as a career, but because this would be an opportunity to explore a potential career path. Of course, there's also the appeal of going overseas as an adventure, but I'm primarily interested in exploring teaching ESL as a career option.

First thing's first: I have no formal teaching experience whatsoever, and I'm graduating with a degree in History, not English or Linguistics. I am planning to volunteer as a tutor for int'l students in my last year, so let's rule out the possibility that teaching is absolutely is not for me. I'll be making sure I have some idea about what I'm getting into before I head abroad.

Instead of tutoring international students, I suggest contacting one of your local adult refugee/ESL literacy programs and volunteering as a classroom assistant, which will give you the opportunity to work alongside a seasoned teacher in an actual classroom setting. It's how some of us got our first taste of TESOL.

and maximondo wrote:
I have read that getting a CELTA certification is an excellent start to teaching ESL as a career, and I want to be able to do my job correctly, but I have some reservations about paying for it before I even begin teaching. As I mentioned, I cannot say I am 100% committed into turning teaching ESL into a long-term career, and may be doing it, depending on how much it ends up appealing to me, for as little as 8 months.

I guess Question 1 is: would you recommend taking CELTA from the outset considering that I may not be doing it for very long. FYI I do care about doing my job correctly, but if self-training is a viable alternative and I can still get a job which pays enough to save some money then I'd prefer not to pay $2500+ CDN for the certification and just get a less expensive certification instead.

Question 2 is sort of an extension of the first: can you recommend any particular countries which have a job market for people such as myself, who are inexperienced? I have not really settled on one country in particular, but I am interested in teaching in places such as Japan, S.Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Any self-training is fine; however, some countries require a 100 or 120-hour TEFL cert for legal employment. Plus, as others have mentioned, the lack of a credible TEFL cert (e.g., a CELTA or equivalent legit qualification) won't help you stand out from the crowd of CELTA holders vying for the same position. Heading abroad with a so-so TEFL cert (or none at all) may land you in so-so teaching jobs with so-so pay that leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and thus, a bad impression of TEFL.

Additionally, be mindful that the TEFL market can and has changed. What was easily doable several years ago is now challenging for some job seekers. For example, although you may want to teach in X country, the type of jobs you'd be interested may not accept inexperienced teachers. Or the number of opportunities for foreigners is limited. Or a specific degree major is required. Or immigration rules have tightened. Or... Therefore, do the brunt of your country-specific research when you're in your final term at university.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 137

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the basis of an exhaustive analysis of the qualifications advice offered to newbies over the years on these forums I offer the following handy reference scale:

YOU HAVE

No degree: You know absolutely nothing

A BA but no cert: You know nothing about teaching, so give us yer money

A BA + cert: You still don't know anything, so give us even more money

A BA + cert + dip: You have now reached the magical saltation point at which you MIGHT be grudgingly deemed a not entirely useless practitioner of the dark art (cf. LLAP GOCH etc)

An MA: Do you have a cert?

A PhD: You lecture too much

A PGCE or similar license to teach in state or international schools: Have you considered doing a cert?
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